Sunday, May 2, 2010

Kick Ass - Overview

Kick Ass was a great movie. There's no way around it. If you like entertainment, you're set, if you like genius satire, you're set, if you like intelligent undertones, you're set. Go see this movie. That being said, see it before you read this review. Also, as much as I have built it up don't think it's the most perfectest moviest everest, because you'll be one of those assholes that says, "I heard it was SOOO good that it didn't end up meeting my expectations," and then everyone is allowed to beat you over the head, one time, with a staple gun. Then I get to use it to staple your mouth and eyes shut.

There are several very interesting characters in the film. The main character, Dave (or Kick Ass), is an idealistic, relatively geeky high schooler. There's awesome Mindy (Hit-Girl) and her very interesting father (Nicholas Cage), which both add a very real side to the story-telling, which is genius. Then there's Chris/Red Mist and his father, Frank D'Amico, the villain (drug trafficker). All of the characters have their own personality that is well-defined, well-maintained, and adds a certain great element to the film. There are a few minor characters that...well...are a bit cliche and undefined, but without them we lose a certain exaggerated comedy that is meant to show us the extremes. And Frank D'Amico suffers from what many villains suffer from: Flatter than Paris Hilton. It's unfortunate, because a movie can often suffer from FtPH but if it tries too hard it can suffer from RBSoTG (Really Boring Style of The Gladiator) where all it does is do character development and mostly on the villain, and then we don't know any of the other characters, hardly even our protagonist. So I guess, if had to choose the lesser of two evils, I'll go with FtPH.

The plot is flawless in its rising action, slow build up, and beautiful character arcs. You would think such a basic comedy/satire wouldn't spend so much time being a thorough masterpiece, but it's done right here. Dave starts off as a standard approachable protagonist, reaches a point where he decides he wishes to change something, and then struggles as he progresses to do so. It starts off rough, he reaches certain hardships, ends up at the lowest of the low, and then realizes what he is capable of, reaches his arc, and then makes his change. We have another great arc with Mindy, a perfect development with Nicholas Cage (Damon/Big Daddy), and even a great character arc by the end of the film for Chris/Red Mist. All aspects have a build, a culminating moment, and there's all sorts of great power surrounding it. The only plotline that struggles, as I suppose it may always be a struggle, is the love story. I'm being nit-picky here, but that's because I don't want to pretend this movie is perfect and I know damn well fanboys of anything will wish to bitch and moan if I rip on their great movies and don't point out any strange inconsistency in this movie. SO THE LOVE STORY is really funny, but because of that it really doesn't have much in the way of realism. There's one scene in particular that is funny realistic when he tries to be all "surprise sexy" behind her as Kick Ass, and she maces the fuck out of him. Then it gets weird when she's suddenly ready to just do him after he's told her all their weird bff stuff they did when she thought he was gay was a lie because he likes her and he's not gay. COOL? I LIED A LOT, THAT'S OKAY, RITE?! SURE TEEHEE SEX TIEM. I guess it may be realistic in some awesome nerdy fantasy world that I certainly have never made up in my head or spent long nights wishing was real, but it doesn't translate when this film is so realistic otherwise. The great thing, though, about this plot, is that there aren't a lot of holes. Which certainly makes the ride up to the climax run more smoothly and exciting than if it was like going up the first part of a rollercoaster. WAKE ME WHEN WE GET TO THE REAL PART OF THE RIDE

The film clearly had a few ideas in mind when setting up for themes and motifs. Part of it is mimicking that childhood fantasy, making us try to think about why we all have wanted to be comic book superheroes. Part of it pokes holes in those childish dreams. We have a theme about what it takes to be a hero, who's really the crazy person, where things change from childhood fantasies to real-life danger and death, and even the cost of revenge, trying to be a masked hero, and so on. Like I said, each character embodies a different element, a different perspective on the story, a different theme. So it's no wonder the film is able to accomplish so much so efficiently.

The tone of this film is balanced between about three: comically childish, comically satirical, and dramatically real. You may be honing in on my language, I didn't say "muddied" tone, I said "balanced." Balanced like a trapeze artist (fuck those weirdos). Unlike Zombie Land, where the film sort of got confused because it's comical tone was very campy but sometimes very realistic, and these two were at odds with each other because of their placement, as well as them being mortal enemies, comically satirical and dramatically real are best friends. Comically childish can always be maintained in what can be known as "The Silly Group." Knocked Up understood the concept of TSG with all of the main character's pot buddies that would do stupid shit, say stupid shit, and make stupid jokes while the main character, though somewhat like them, was just a bit more realistic and a bit more normal to maintain the audiences' attention beyond a cheap laugh, gave us a little depth. This film does that just as well. And since the TSG is somewhat similar to our protagonist, it flows nicely because our protagonist is still capable of all those other moments (comically satirical and dramatically real). Part of it is a paradigm, part of it is a satire ripping on our very childhood dreams with a unyielding voice of realism that leaves us laughing, crying, horrified, disappointed, impressed, and confused, but these tones are not confused, they don't get in each others' way. They flow smoothly from one another, help each other, like some sort of human period (fuck those weirdos). Unlike Star Trek, which seemed to consistently distract even itself with meaningless, mind-numbing, cat-drooling action, Kick Ass can maintain focus and direction at all times. It knows what it's doing and it does it well.

Bitches! Finally! Be excited, bitches! This movie actually has an awesome female character! Her name is Mindy, also known as Hit Girl. This chick kicks ass. She's the best character in the film. I'm not saying she's perfect, she most certainly isn't, but her imperfections are the cause of good character development, rather than bad writing (cough cough The Office cough). She is one of the best fighters in the film. She's smart, funny, bad ass, and her father complex doesn't turn her into a bitchy, whiny chick, it turns her into an even stronger woman (despite being like, fourteen). Hit Girl is the savior, rather than the damsel in distress, she's the truest hero of all the characters, and it shows every step of the way. But there's also Dave's girlfriend...Katie...well, she's that chick that "likes to help people," which is why she likes Dave (because she thinks he's gay). But she ends up telling Dave all her problems and he helps her...then of course he admits to being a huge liar the entire time after sneaking in her room and she decides to have sex with him, and then date him, and then be extremely protective and not want him to be Kick Ass anymore because it's dangerous. Sigh, the problem was in the beginning her element was kind of funny, and it fit in with the TSG, but then suddenly she flowed into the dramatic real, and I was suddenly very upset with her character. I guess the tone did screw up her character, but a movie can't be perfect, and the hero DOES need to get a girl to fit the satire, even if the girl ends up being a stereotype herself. Besides, with a character like Hit Girl in your film, you're allowed to have a female character that isn't a good representation of women. You don't need TWO good female characters just like you don't need TWO good male characters. Although, I could start running down the sexist road in this film with the representation of men: two guys are actually geeky losers that make themselves seem badass with their masks, media, etc., so they're liars and weak. Another male character is hell-bent on revenge so much that he turns his daughter into a comic book action hero and practically eliminates her childhood. And the rest are cowardly thugs or a completely evil drug trafficker willing to do whatever it takes to kill all hope in humanity. So maybe I should have a section called, "Douches," this time around?

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