It’s not often that you have completely satisfying cinematic experience. Last Thursday when I went to see a screening of new comic book movie Kick-Ass I had a mini-epiphany of film-based bliss. This movie is awesome. I know that that’s a generic phrase for praise, but I’m using it accurately and with child-like enthusiasm. It’s showing from the 26th of March, and if you have ever run around with your coat fastened around your neck like a cape, you will love it.
Kick-Ass approaches the super hero movie in the same way that Shaun of the Dead took on the zombie flick. The tone is irreverent, but there is so much love, respect and talent behind it that it becomes better than the best example of the genre it is aping.
Quick plot roundup: Kid decides to become crime fighting hero based on nothing but the idea that someone should stand up to criminals in an indifferent world. Kid finds out that there are already a couple of other heroes out there taking things a bit more seriously than him. Bodies fall, bad guys die, boy gets girl, audience grins.
The standout features of Kick-Ass are its ultra-violent aesthetic and its leading characters’ penchant for using swearwords as punctuation. It is gratuitous and glorious in the same kind of way that 300 was, but Kick-Ass is far more intelligent and culturally relevant beneath it all. The power of social networking sites like Myspace and YouTube to create celebrity and obsession from nothing is analysed, with the negative and positive ramifications that using them can have displayed in full. The modern person is depicted as an impotent voyeur, looking at the injustice in the outside world either through real windows, or the virtual window of a computer screen, and failing to act against it in both instances. This provides a disquieting backdrop against which the decidedly silly characters weave their stories.
Brit director Matthew Vaughn brings in a lot of his countrymen for support, including half of the core cast of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, in which he himself played a cameo role 12 years ago. Even that bloke from Dead Man Running gets a look in. Nick Cage is excellent as avenging angel Big Daddy, and Aaron Johnson is solid in the lead role. Chrisopher ‘McLovin’ Mintz-Plasse turned out to be a pleasant surprise, as his character was made to look like an over-the-top uber-geek in the trailers. In actual fact he is far more subdued and effective in his morally dubious role than audiences will have ever seen him.
Action, violence, inventive swearing and plenty of depth for those who are looking for it. This is what Kick-Ass is offering. I urge you to watch it, even if you are not a traditional comic book movie fan. It is one of the best ever made.
In other news, Shutter Island and The Crazies both offer generic thrills, and the latter is actually much better than you might think. They should tide you over until Kick-Ass arrives.
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