Saturday, 5 June 2010

Kick ASS

An adorable moppet in a makeshift crimefighter's costume, "Hit Girl" [11-year-old Chloë Grace Moretz], flips like an Olympic superhero, curses like a sailor, kills like a maniac and ignites yet another useful if irresolvable debate on the limits of screen violence, the desensitization of the culture and the wisdom of exploiting children for entertainment. Yet there's no doubt about it: Hit Girl is a kick, and Moretz is an instant child star. Adapted from the self-conscious comic-book series by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. about "normal" people who long to be Marvel-ous.

The premise seems innocent enough:  A high school dork is sick of getting mugged, so he decides to order a costume, do some pushups, watch a martial arts training video online, and take to the streets to start superheroing.  He gets his butt kicked pretty good by some common streets thugs, but he holds his own against a mugger, and has the good fortune of becoming a youtube sensation. Kick-Ass is born! WOHA~

During the Kick-Ass storyline, the script does little to distinguish itself from other superhero stories as triumph, failure and redemption all occur on cue. There’s no sense of daring here and Dave comparing his awkward feats of heroism to the amazing feats he reads about in comic books is what passes for parody.

However, the film comes alive when chronicling the adventures of Big Daddy and Hit Girl, a father-daughter crime-fighting duo whose exploits Kick-Ass has accidentally stumbled into. Inspired by Batman and Robin, these two light up the screen with blood-soaked exploits laced with sardonic commentary that jumpstarts the story. 

Channeling Adam West, Cage gives an ironic, poignant and entertaining performance as a man whose obsession consumes not only him but his family as well. Moretz is equally engaging, sweet as pie then hard as nails when she puts the bad guys in their place. To be sure, her character will be offensive to some as she dispatches the villains with bloody precision while her taunting quips would make a sailor blush. However, Moretz elicits enough sympathy when she’s out of costume that we come to look at her in a sympathetic light, recognizing that she’s an innocent who’s been molded by her father’s vengeful behavior.

Cage and Moretz provide an energy the rest of the movie sorely lacks. Had the focus been on their characters, Kick-Ass would have been truly special. However, Vaughn winds up too enamored with the genre to truly put it through its paces. In the end, the film is so busy unsuccessfully trying to parody other films that it winds up having no identity of its own.

1/2 Wanted
0 Star Wars Kid
1/2 Kick-Ass


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