Posted: April 24, 2010 in Movies

Kick Ass is based on a comic book, (that was written about the same time as the film’s screenplay, oddly enough) and asks the Watchmen-esque question, what if someone really decided to be a superhero. Interestingly enough, it opens with a kid in suit, leaping off the Empire State Building, falling to his death.

The main character is Dave Lizewski, a dorky comic book reading loser teenager. His mom died of a brain aneurysm, and he lives with his dad, who has some kind of job where he works nights. In his first few scenes we see he has nerdy friends, isn’t respected at school, is ignored by girls, and whacks off to his middle aged English teacher. This about exactly how the first Spiderman should have opened (except for the comics and masturbation).

He and his friends hang out at Atomic Comics in New York city. (I think there really is an Atomic comics in Pheonix AZ.) This comic book store has an area that looks like a diner, where kids hang out and drink milkshakes, etc. I’ve never seen a comic book store that has that. Also there’s lots of Marvel comics present on screen. Kick Ass is a Marvel comic, though not set in the Marvel Universe, and it’s not a Marvel Studios film.

Anyway one day they’re sitting around the comic shop having a drink when Dave wonders aloud why someone hasn’t really tried to be a superhero. Comic book heroes have been around for decades, how come someone didn’t really try it? His friends chip in that a real costumed hero would get their ass kicked and might die on the first day. Later they get mugged, and there’s a Kitty Genovese-esque scene where someone watches from their apartment and does nothing. Dave wonders why people don’t stand up and do something.

Dave then buys a scuba suit and thinks of the best name a kid would think of, Kick Ass. After some funny shots of him training (reminding us of the first Spidey film) he patrols the streets with two billy clubs strapped to his back. Realistically enough, he gets stabbed on his first outing, and then accidentally hit by a car. He begs the paramedics not to say anything about the suit, and they don’t. The Doctors put some metal plates on different parts of his body, which Dave remarks make him seem like Wolverine.  It’s also mentioned that something’s off with his nervous system so he’s less sensitive to pain. This tiny stretch of the imagination let’s us believe that he can take the punishment he later gets in the movie.

A rumor gets out that Dave was found naked when taken to the hospital, leading to speculation that he’s gay. This makes his crush at school comfortable to talk to him, leading to a funny romantic subplot.

Giving hero-ism a second try he fights off three thugs who are gang beating somebody, while someone video tapes it and puts it on youtube. In a powerful moment he says something like “Three guys are beating on someone while everybody else watches, and you ask what’s wrong with me?”

He becomes a media sensation, with everyone wondering who it is. The Kick Ass myspace page also takes off, and is a big plot point as it’s how he communicates with some other characters. You could criticize the use of myspace, as opposed to the cooler/more today Facebook, but I always liked myspace better anyway so whatever.

In the midst of all this we get scenes of mob boss Frank D’Amico, whose operations are being hit by some strange vigilante people describe as being like Batman. He mistakenly thinks this is Kick Ass. Frank’s bald like Lex Luthor, and practices martial arts, like that other NY comic book mob boss the Kingpin/Wilson Fisk. D’Amico is the main villain of the film.

We also have some strange scenes of Nicolas Cage playing a father who trains his 12 year old daughter in weapons and fighting. In their opening scene he shoots her in the chest while she wears a bullet proof vest. This is part of her training, but we don’t get what’s happening at first. Cage draws some comic book pages of the mob boss (which made me think the story would turn out to be a comic or something). The pages give some exposition. Cage was a cop who D’Amico boss set up on drug charges. He served time in jail, had a wife who died giving birth to their daughter. He’s now planning vengeance as a costumed hero Big Daddy. As Big Daddy Cage channel’s Adam West’s Batman, with slow pauses between his lines. His daughter is Hit Girl, who wears a wig like Bat-girl of the Adam West Batman TV show.

D’Amico has a son who is also a lonely comic book reader who knows he’s going to run his father’s empire one day, but is frustrated that his dad doesn’t include him in more things. He offers a solution to the hero problem by creating his own hero, Red Mist, to gain Kick Ass’s trust. He brings the cool super car, the Mist Mobile, complete with technology not alien to this world. Red Mist smokes a joint as he and Kick Ass ride through town into a mob trap.

Frank’s son is a great character, but he’s slightly inconsistent at the end. He realizes Kick Ass is just some dorky kid, and doesn’t want to mob to kill him. It appears that he’ll turn on his father, but he doesn’t, and fights Kick Ass at the end.

Another thing I want to mention is Kick Ass’s dad. He’s not distant or overbearing or bad in anyway. It’s shown that he loves his son, but he’s in the movie so briefly I think the film-makers didn’t know what to do with him.

Frank of course meets his demise, but he never realizes who his two enemies were, never realizes they were on a mission of vengeance.  Red Mist survives, and, while wearing his costume, get’s the final word of the film. Channeling Jack Nicholsen’s Joker, he declares, “Wait till they get a load of me.”

At some parts there’s comic book panels providing narration. That was cool. It’s a violent bloody movie, but the violence is kept in quick shots.  There’s some controversy over Hit Girls violence and language, but get over it it’s not a kids movie. Besides while watching a kid fight mobsters may seem over the top, they’ve fought crime in comics almost since their beginning. Remember, Batman’s sidekick Robin is a kid, as is Kid Flash, Aqua-lad, the Teen Titans, etc. Kick Ass is just a quasi-realistic look at kids fighting crime, so how could it not be violent?

Kick Ass excels last years Watchmen in analyzing the superhero on film (Which the Watchmen comic of course did wonderfully). We see the ridiculousness of costumes, media exposure, merchandising, the real possibility of hero’s getting hurt, sexual aspect of superheros, lack of super-powers and no costumed villains.

While the Watchmen film in the name of faithfulness crammed scenes from the comic so hard they couldn’t breath, the Kick Ass movie is allowed to be a movie. The results are superb.

I’ve enjoyed the Spider mans and X-Mens and other comic movies of the last decade. They’re fun movies, but they’re not GREAT movies. My favorite movies are Rocky and American History X, stuff like that. Kick Ass is a GREAT movie, and maybe the best comic movie ever. 9.5 out of 10.

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