Monday, April 19, 2010

Kick Ass Sorta Kicked Ass..

In early January when the Hit-Girl centric red-ban trailer hit, Kick-Ass became one of my most anticipated movies all year.  From the onset the idea of the move hit's upon primal feelings that all superhero geeks dream about.  The question, Why Can't I Become a Superhero?  Normally this question is answered pretty quickly.  You can't fly, you don't super strength, inhuman speed, or healing abilities.  This conversation always leads back to the same few examples; what about Batman, Nightwing, Nick Fury, The Green Arrow?  Each of these are at the very least self made men, they got where they are via hard work, endless training, bottomless bank account, and last but not least extraordinary talent.  The one thing that hold sets all of these characters apart from you and me is the fact that each and every one of them is a psychopath.  They're unhinged.  This is the real reason superheroes don't exist.  You'd be bat-shit insane to actually do it.  This is what Kick Ass truly examines.

 Dave, the protagonist, is your normal Peter Parker type character.  He's a invisible to everyone but his friends.  He's had a tragically normal and boring life, and he's a comic geek who's always wanted to be a hero.  As the narrator of the story he openly admits his obsession with becoming a superhero borders on the psychotic.  His biggest problem in being a hero is that he has absolutely no skill whatsoever.  He's horrible, and he never get's better.  There was an 80's movie geek inside of me praying for a training montage, or something.  Alas it never came.  His is not without "Superpowers" though.  His first outing as a hero ends fairly badly; the injures from which he get's a sturdier frame and a high pain tolerance.  This never, of course helps him because his absolutely sucks.   This for me was one of the most painful part.  The whole move you're wondering when this will turn around, and it never does.  Failure it seems to also be a big theme.  

Big Daddy is the best example of pure insanity in the film.  He's exactly what a "real" Batman would actually be like. Lets face it.  Batman would not be a normal human being.  He couldn't be.  He'd be completely insane.  In the later years of the comic this has been examined quite a bit more.  Big Daddy is exactly the same.  Forged in tragedy and seeking vengeance, he vows to rebuild himself to defeat those who destroyed his life.  The only real difference his he has no qualms about Murder, Death, Killing any criminal that get's in his way.  An additional twist to the Big Daddy vs Batman is where the money comes from.  Unlike Bats, Big Daddy steals most of his cash from the Criminals and Dealers his kills.  Nick Cage does a great job of playing BD.  He's of course Nick Cage so there isn't a whole lot of range, but there is no doubt that Cage captured who BD was suppose to be.  Insane and funny.  With Cage, when he's being funny, you always have to wonder whether he actually intends to be funny/campy or if he's completely oblivious to it (see: Wickerman), In this case though it is intended and played up for masterful effect.  

Vengeance isn't Big Daddy's only responsibility.  Filling the "Robin" role is Hit Girl.  Big Daddy's 12 year-old daughter.  She is by far the most controversial character in the film, and probably the only real reason to see it.  Again, if Batman were real she's exactly what his ward would be like.  Forged in the same vengeance, and a complete audience to the formers psychosis.  Trained for years and brainwashed into believing that their way was the only way, this in and of itself is tragic.  What about childhood?  This question is almost never asked of Batman and Robin.  It's just assumed that Batman's wards get all they ever wanted or needed, including revenge against those who wronged them.  The question of a lost childhood is asked in this film.  Big Daddy is all too aware that what he had done to his child.  From his perspective of course training her to kill and enjoy killing was so that she could be strong, and never allow what happened to her mother happen to her (Suicide).  In the end he was did the right thing, as she is the only one who actually has the strength of will to do the right thing.  Yes she kills without abandon, yes she cusses like a Sailor, and yes is it is mildly uncomfortable seeing all this out of a 12 year-old girl.  Her awesomeness quickly outshines this, and IF they make this into a franchise like Wolverine to the X-Men she'll be the headliner.  

My overall impression of the movie was mixed.  It was one of those situations where the awesomeness had a very short half-life.  The further away I get from walking out of the theater I realize more and more that the movie was really lacking in many ways.  Again, for me at least, the fact that Kick Ass himself never quick sucking really puts a damper on the whole film.  He's suppose to be our underdog hero, and he never steps up.  He didn't add anything.  They could have cut his character out completely and given us two hours of Big Daddy and Hit Girl and I'd have been happy as a clam.  So the other problem is that with too much Kick Ass, there was too little Hit Girl.  She only really had two big scenes, which was far too little for the breakout star.  The ending does seem to set this up for a sequel, but I have no idea why they'd do one.  The story does wrap up nicely, where would they go?  Would Kick Ass actually get better?  If he does what was the entire point of the first movie.  So if anyone at Lionsgate is taking suggestions...  Drop Kick Ass and make it about Hit Girl and Hit Girl only, and for the love of god don't make it about Hit Girl getting her first kiss...