By Claire Castagnera
Elm Staff Writer
“Kick-Ass” is a funny, smart, and exciting take on the superhero movie, but it’s certainly not for everyone. Words like “revolting” and “morally reprehensible” have been thrown around in reference to the film, which is based on a graphic novel and features its fair share of violence and over-the-top gore.
However, in the tradition of movies like “Kill Bill,” “Kick-Ass” uses that gore not for mere shock value, but to satirize a genre and make a point. The movie cleverly shakes up the superhero genre and is hugely entertaining at the same time.
Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) is a quiet, nerdy high school student who, on a whim, buys a green wetsuit off the internet and attempts to fight crime as his city’s first real “superhero.” Having no powers or skills, however, he quickly finds himself in over his head, at which point he discovers the existence of true superheroes, Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz). That’s where things start to get intense.
The title of the movie is a bit of a misnomer, since the movie pays equal attention to the plotlines of all the characters. Because there is no single main character, the story seems disjointed at times, and not all the character arcs are satisfying. Kick-Ass himself is only a part of the story, and many may find themselves rooting for other characters while Kick-Ass spends a lot of his time wallowing in inadequacy.
The gore in “Kick-Ass” is nothing that hasn’t already been seen in any Quentin Tarantino flick or other movies based on comic books. The main point of contention for a lot of people, though, is the fact that an 11-year-old girl is the one primarily doling out that gore (having been trained from birth by her father to be a stone cold killer). But Moretz plays Hit Girl with impressive self-assurance, and I find it hard to fault any movie that has a girl not only taking part in the action, but also dominating it (without donning a leather push-up bra or hotpants).
Though Hit Girl tends to steal the stage, all of the characters are well cast: Johnson as the nerdy but loveable Dave/Kick-Ass, Cage as the creepy but also caring Big Daddy, and Mintz-Plasse (of “Superbad” fame) as the rich kid trying to get his dad’s approval.
“Kick-Ass” is more than your average superhero movie, because it takes on a premise that most viewers never question – the assumption that superheroes like Spiderman and Batman are “good,” not to mention sane, despite the fact that they routinely murder people–and shows how deranged or deluded a person would have to be to actually do what superheroes do. Big Daddy and Hit Girl are basically Batman and Robin (Cage even mimics Adam West), except the delight they take in slaughtering people is a whole lot scarier than anything Batman ever did, and the moral questions are much more far-reaching.
But mainly, “Kick-Ass” is just plain fun. It’s hilarious and dark, and definitely a movie worth seeing. Just don’t take a page on parenting from Big Daddy by bringing your kids or younger siblings to see it. The five-year-old girl sitting behind me in the theater didn’t seem to like it very much.