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Starring: Aaron Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloe Grace Moretz
Writers: Jane Goldman/Matthew Vaughn
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Company: Lionsgate

Kick-Ass is a victim of its own hype. After months upon months of positive buzz and the non-stop playing of trailers in both the theater and on television (and the red band clips on the internet), I should have seen it coming. While this isn't a bad movie by any stretch, it's actually pretty fun, Kick-Ass is at best a one watch only movie and at worst, pure masochism for anyone who isn't a nerd (or a guy).

Dave (Aaron Johnson) is just your typical loser high school kid who is invisible to everyone around him except for his best friends Marty (Clark Duke) and Todd (Evan Peters). After being mugged once again, Dave decides he has had enough and orders a scuba suit online. Taking a cue from the comic books he has read his whole life, he becomes a crime fighter/superhero known as Kick-Ass to tackle the corruption in the city. On his first attempt, he is stabbed and hit by a car, sending him to the hospital and for most, it would derail their aspirations to be the next Batman.

The hospital stay turns positive when Dave learns that the injuries he has suffered has resulted in metal plates in his head and body, as well as deadened nerve endings; in other words, Dave's pain tolerance has shot up considerably. He hits the streets again, and during a tussle with a group of thugs, the teenagers on the sidelines tape him with their cell phone cameras. These videos hit the internet and turn Kick-Ass from "dork in a scuba suit" to a celebrity.

While Kick-Ass becomes famous, there are other superheroes that are already knee deep in a mission. They are Big Daddy (Nicholas Cage) and 11 year old Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz), who are slowly taking down crime boss Frank D'Amico (Mark Strong), gang member by gang member in increasingly violent ways. They cross paths with Kick-Ass one night and their handling of the situation accidentally makes Frank believe that Kick-Ass has been the one killing his men and causing all sorts of havoc. Frank turns his attention to Kick-Ass, using his son Chris (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) to lure him in by dressing up as another teenage superhero named "Red Mist". It turns out that while being a superhero looks good on paper, the reality of the situation is not as easy as Dave once thought.

Kick-Ass is definitely a fun watch, especially if you're a fan of the "balls to the wall" hard-R action genre. The violence is over the top, but in a good way, if that's even possible (Joseph Lieberman would probably disagree with me). Blood flows like wine and limbs are sliced off like it is no big deal, which in this world, it really isn't. Kick-Ass manages to be both realistic and cartoony at the same time; people trying to be superheroes is perfectly feasible, but the violence and the ways it is dispensed would be more at home in a comic book (yeah yeah, it already is, keep it in your pants fanboys).

Matthew Vaughn and his conspirators wrangled up an excellent cast, and they help make the characters seem real and ridiculous (again, in a good way). Aaron Johnson is someone I've never seen act before (at least that I can remember), but after watching his performance in the lead role, I'm intrigued to see where his career goes. He has got talent coming out his nose, and he pulls off the geeky high schooler without trudging into theMichael Cera "annoyingly quirky" style that has been the standard in recent years. Mark Strong is absolutely excellent as Frank D'Amico, mixing in bouts of insanity with a surprisingly comedic twist (a lot of the times I laughed involve things he said, which I didn't expect). I also want to give it up for Duke and Peters, who aren't in the movie a lot, but make excellent comedic relief in their brief scenes.

Like with everyone else who has seen and reviewed this, I believe that Kick-Ass belongs to Nicholas Cage and Chloe Grace Moretz as the father/daughter duo Big Daddy and Hit Girl. Cage's character is both funny and unsettling, almost sociopathic. With a vendetta against D'Amico, he has taken a normal childhood away from his daughter, instead training her to help him get revenge on the crime syndicate. This involves teaching her about assorted weapons, as well as shooting her point blank (WITH A BULLETPROOF VEST PEOPLE!) so she gets used to how it feels. Cage based his characterization of Big Daddy on Adam West, and it shows; whenever he is not donning the mask, he is hokey as heck, playing that kind of nerd dad that you think is funny but that their child is embarrassed to be around. Moretz, after her breakout role last year in 500 Days of Summer, turns in another great performance and looks to have a bright future ahead of her. Hit Girl may be 11 years old, but her mind and actions are definitely of someone way older and may more brutal. She doesn't care about ponies or anything girls her age do; she would much rather get a butterfly knife for her birthday and kill the crap out of some bad guys.

The scenes between the two can vary on cute and disturbing. No matter how you slice it, a man shooting his daughter with a gun is just...awkward and it takes some getting used to, but when they are not in costume, you can tell they love each other like a father and daughter would. Their relationship forms the crux of the whole movie and while it's technically Kick Ass's story, they become the center piece for a good amount of it.

The action scenes in Kick-Ass are well choreographed, bloody, and fun. Hit Girl especially is great to watch, as she runs around and slices and dices with the greatest of ease. Her two fight scenes are the best of the whole movie, and they look great. Kick-Ass doesn't really get any scenes to establish that he is a good superhero, but that is the point; he's just the guy with the moxie and heart to try and even though he gets his ass kicked whenever he goes out there, the point is at least he's doing something.

Even though I just spent so much time praising it, I have to say that Kick-Ass is a movie you only have to watch once. It's fun and everything, but it's not worth revisiting for any reason, at least for me. I feel like I got everything I needed out of it the one time and that's all I need. I also have a hard time believing a mainstream audience can accept this, be it because it involves 11 years old getting the crap kicked out of them and swearing up a storm or because it's too unlike the superhero films they have been groomed to expect for the past two decades. That's not to say it won't have its fans; comic book geeks and people who sway more to the nerdier side of popular culture will get a kick out of this and probably enjoy a helluva lot more than someone who enjoys movies showcasing Vin Diesel driving muscle cars. There's too much story and too much quirk for them to handle and that's fine, to each its own.

One of the biggest problems people seem to have with this is the violence, especially towards Hit Girl. As I mentioned, while she kills with ease and curses like a sailor, she also gets beat up. Not just a nick or scratch; she gets kicked right in the face and slammed through tables. People seem to be taken aback by this, but I wasn't in the slightest. It's just a fight scene, pure and simple...but that probably says something about me I don't want to think about.

Kick-Ass is a fun movie, filled with great performances, fight choreography, an engaging story and an excellent visual style. It was created outside of the studio system and I commend them for being able to do something like this without someone meddling in with their vision; it's always nice to see a director's vision fully realized. However, this movie won't be for everyone. If you like your stuff nerdy (especially if you're a guy), you'll enjoy Kick-Ass a lot more than if you weren't, and there's no real replay value to it. Still, Kick-Ass managed to kick a good amount of posterior...although not fully living up to its namesake.

Final Verdict:
B




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