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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘Kick-Ass’ better than average

    Matthew Vaughn

    ‘Kick-Ass’

    Lionsgate Films

    Released April 16, 2010

     

    Score: B

    When I was young, I saw a movie called “”The Phantom.”” It starred Billy Zane as a superhero who basically wore a purple leotard and had a ring of power — or something like that. I repressed the movie. I remember thinking, “”Are they letting everyone be a superhero now?””

    With “”Kick-Ass,”” the answers are yes and thankfully.

    The motley crew in Matthew Vaughn’s breathless superhero deconstruction comes from diverse backgrounds and moves forward with different desires. Only the titular hero, Kick-Ass, stands for the basic tenets of superherodom: Do good to others and protect the innocent.

    Played with excellent restraint by Aaron Johnson, Kick-Ass is the perfect emissary between the world of superheroes and the world of average people — mainly because he is completely average. As a narrator and hero, he is difficult to get behind because he is dull as a rock. This ultimately becomes an important part of his character arc but makes for a shaky start.

    The father-daughter team of Big Daddy and Hit-Girl (Nicolas Cage and Chloe Moretz) is pitch-perfect. One part loving American family, 500 parts sadistic weapons experts, the two provide many of the film’s most exhilarating moments. Their chemistry projects a necessary symbiosis coated with genuine adoration for one another. Both do a tremendous job of chewing up the scenery without stomping on the other’s spotlight.

    Behind the camera, Vaughn deftly juggles the film’s erratic tone through the entire human spectrum of emotion. He interchanges youthful lust with despondent rage almost reflexively, providing a bracing experience.

    Beyond the film’s resonant atmosphere, Vaughn injects each action scene — of which there are several — with reckless glee and inventive presentation. Using motifs from Westerns, kung fu flicks, chamber shooters and more, the action of “”Kick-Ass”” comes off as unique as its superheroes but still warmly familiar.

    The film’s greatest innovation to the genre is its handling of violence. Much has been made of the film’s graphic violence — most of which is perpetrated by and toward a young girl — but I feel as though calling the violence irresponsible misses the point entirely. “”Kick-Ass”” does not glorify violence, since it suggests that violence destroys lives, families and innocence. Just because the violence in the film is hyper-stylized does not mean it is condoned.

    With other slick, action-heavy superhero films, vigilantism is accepted as a necessary byproduct of evil. But what makes Peter Parker an authority on justice? Putting on a cape does not make you a good guy, as “”Kick-Ass”” cleverly suggests. If anything, the cape or mask distances its wearer from the lines of justice.

    If superheroes are the epitome of good in our world, why do they feel a need to hide themselves? It’s a valid question, and as “”Kick-Ass”” would have it, they hide because they cannot be the epitome of good. Not in our world. Sometimes, they have to do terrible things; things that could never be classified as “”good.”” They have to do things superheroes would be ashamed of. Instead of being good, they must be the epitome of right.

    And just like “”Kick-Ass,”” that is never as easy or as fun as we would like it to be.

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