Kick-Ass Fails to Kick Ass

Random blogger hazards movie review out of boredom... Lord save us.

I saw 'Kick-Ass' yesterday for a matinee. It cost me $4.50 to get in; $7.50 for the small popcorn and regular-sized Sierra Mist. I was actually on-time for once, which meant I sat plugging my ears, humming the Om in an attempt to drown out the five minutes and 105 decibels of ghastly local advertising.

Previews were curious. There's an 'A-Team' movie coming out that should be fun if you're not religious about the old TV series. As much as we all liked the A-Team, I don't think anyone will care if today's Hollywood blasphemes it a bit. Those characters were all caricatures of themselves to begin with, so the worst damage Hollywood could hope to do them would be in attaching some over-rich backstory and depth of character they were quite happy without. ...Then destroy the old trademark GMC van in some epic sequence and replace it with the highest bidder's newest-model big, ugly SUV.

Yes, I am psychic, thank you.

On the way passed the ticket counter I also caught glimpse of a poster heralding a new 'Tron' movie in the works. Now that one will suck... balls. A Tron sequel in 2010 will be blasphemous - with little doubt - and in no way worthy of the original. The best you can hope for there is some "amazing CGI" -- presumably the same "amazing CGI" in EVERY movie these days. I'm sure if you look hard enough The Sisterhood of the Traveling Dildo, or whatever, had "amazing CGI" too.

So, Kick-Ass, right... Summarily, it lacks acting. Though you mustn't hold that too much against the actors. Not that they haven't their share in the blame, but the film, as written, plainly just didn't call for any acting.

The main character is the modern movie stereotype of likable teen dork. At least, I suppose Hollywood would call it "likable." As this character might pertain to acting cues: When girl in scene, bumble, crack voice, and look stupid. When danger, bumble, crack voice, and look stupid. When in doubt of motivation...

Before I get too far gone, I should say that the plot is very well-constructed, and both the story and the story-telling have many charms. The movie is persistently self-aware and never manages to take itself seriously, even during what are supposed to be the most rending, grandiose climaxes. (Where the viewer might otherwise appreciate the moment's gravity.) All in all, the framework of the movie is very good. In fact, that's just what I'd call it: The framework of a movie. Girders, columns, beams... An excellent substructure upon which to erect an actual movie, which at this time does not exist.

These characters are dragged along by their collars at the whims of an intractable plot. They don't contribute to it. Their personal decisions don't influence its direction. None of them ever takes hold the rudder and turns the boat. We've got a script here, folks, and we're heading toward the end of it.

No one is likable. The geeky main character never grows a pair; or by the time he does it doesn't count because the story has devolved, by then, into self-parody. This is by design, of course. He's not really meant to stop being an everyman; or rather an everydork; but be it intentional or not the result is you spending two hours watching a nervous, fidgety, voice-cracking leading man whose character must force himself to overcome the same innate sense of mortality and weakness in every third scene, all the way to the credits.

The female lead and love-interest is way too blue-eyed, sugar-bear, flawless complexion, cute to be considered in any way sexually attractive, even when she's nude from the waist up, holding a breast in each hand for modesty, and getting an oily rub down from our half-naked protagonist. Yep, that's in there. Nope, not aroused.

Then there's Nick Cage who plays... Wait a second, I love doing this:

Nick Cage is Adam West as Big Daddy.

Nick doesn't get enough screen time for his particular brand of crazy, moody, monotone to become something humanly relatable. Even in his own films it tends to take a while. So there's another undeveloped character just sort of trucking the plot forward.

Even 'Hit Girl,' the eleven year old show-stealer/death-bringer is written with so little personality that even her bloody, too-cool-for-Neo action sequences can't really carry her into your heart. Oh how I long for Natalie Portman's Matilda.

But okay, here's the thing: It's not really a bad movie. It's good in a lot of ways. It's best if taken as a sort of snake-eating-its-own-tail parody of comics and the modern movie-making standards of comic-based films. Would I recommend it? Meh. If you got time and money...

The reason I'm so down on it here is that I see what could have been. Kick-Ass is a great movie that never got made. Hollywood stopped working on it when they realized there was enough already to sell a reasonable amount of popcorn. It's an abortive film, to my mind, that was either written too well to just be a summer-movie or too poorly to achieve the greatness it hints at, and between these worlds lies my contempt.

That and too much exposure to congested, nasily teenagers, pretending to pretend to be cool.


Post a Comment