I have been excited about this film ever since my comic shop owner friend started showing me videos from SDCC on YouTube last summer. Anticipation can be a dangerous thing (just ask any Star Wars fan about those months before Phantom Menace), especially when you're talking about a comic book movie. We comic fans are passionate about our movies, running the gamut from fervent defense to absolute abandonment if the film is a dud. All week I've been defending the controversial themes of the film to the uninitiated of my friends and coworkers in the hopes that my passion would pay off at the box office. I am ecstatic to report that Kick-Ass delivers on all levels; it's funny, it's violent, and it boasts a very faithful adaptation of the comic series.
This is the first comic film I've seen where I've truly been able to compare the source material to the film. With films like The Dark Knight or Superman, you have so many issues and context; with Kick-Ass, there are only eight issues. So many moments in the film looked just like the book, like the Armenian copycat who tries to fly, the discussion at the comic shop, Kick-Ass's training. The basic story is intact and translates well to the screen. There are a few tweaks here and there, but the decisions that Vaughn and Millar made I fully support because they make sense in the context of making the story accessible not only to comic fans but to everyone else.
From the moment the opening sequence hit the screen I got a sense that this was going to be a truly great film. The soundtrack and narration really drive the different emotional directions this film takes. It is a very old school film in terms of cinematography--you can tell there's not a lot of CGI, which I love. The action sequences aren't gimmicky; you can see all the action but it doesn't slow the pace of the film at all. The colors are dead on when compared to the comic, and John Romita Jr.'s art can be found everywhere throughout the film.
The real strength of Kick-Ass lies in the acting. Casting for this film was absolutely flawless. Aaron Johnson understands what it means to be Dave Lizewski and Kick-Ass, and he balances the courage and awkwardness of the character perfectly. Christopher Mintz-Plasse shows he's more than McLovin in his role as Red Mist and Chris D'Amico. Once again Mintz-Plasse finds that balance of nerdiness and bravado. Mark Strong makes a great villain--his Frank D'Amico is unapologetic and calculating. Nicolas Cage as Big Daddy is fun and heartwarming, even if he is a guy who has trained his daughter to be a pint-sized Beatrix Kiddo. That brings me to Hit-Girl. Just like with the comic itself, Hit-Girl is my favorite character. Chloe Moretz somehow manages not only to captivate as a tiny assassin and stunt genius, but she's got the acting chops to handle the depth of her character. She plays the role of Mindy/Hit-Girl with grace and maturity and kicks total ass. Throw in Clark Duke for some comic relief, and this is a perfectly cast film.
No doubt the critics of this film will cite the violence and foul language that are present in this film, but in doing so they miss the point completely. For a movie with so much action, there is a story with emotional depth that is accessible to comic fans as well as anyone who just wants to see something different at the cineplex. There were only a few of us in the theater during the 10:00 showing, but we all laughed, we cringed, we cheered, and a couple of us shed a few tears. You can't ask for much more than that on a Thursday night.
Special thanks to Tri-Cities Cinema 7 for hosting our early viewing of Kick-Ass.