Random Acts of Movie-Watching: Andy Burns Catches Up On Kick-Ass

It’s almost been a year since The Princess arrived on our scene, totally changing the way that we live our lives in our household. I’m not complaining at all. Unlike Garth in the first Wayne’s World, I don’t really fear change all that much. I’ll tell you though, it has been an adjustment not going to as many movies as I used to. During blockbuster season pre-2010 it felt like I was at the movies every weekend during the summer, seeing the latest big budget monstrosity. During this last year, movie going has become even more selective, trying to manage the date nights with The Queen versus movie nights with the fellas. Looking ahead to this summer, it’s nice to know that the wife and I have similar film tastes so that I’ll be able to hopefully have movie excursions with the whole gang.

This past weekend, The Queen and I finally caught up on one movie I missed last year, the hyper-violent Kick-Ass, adapted from the comic book by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. and directed by Matthew Vaughn, the man behind this summer’s upcoming X-Men: First Class. As someone unfamiliar with Vaughn’s work, I was pretty keen on seeing how he’d handle a comic adaptation. Originally set to take over for Bryan Singer for 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand, it was clear Vaughn had an interest in the graphic world, so I shouldn’t have been surprised to see how ably directed Kick-Ass was. The film, about a nondescript high school student who decides to become a super-hero, moves briskly from the very first shot and doesn’t ever let up. This movie is intense, mind you, from the violence to the language, so be prepared for some gory killings.

There were a lot of things I really enjoyed about Kick-Ass. First off, it doesn’t take place in the Marvel Universe or one of DC’s many Earths. The characters in the film read the same comics you and I do and wonder things like “why are there no real life superheroes?”, a question that’s perplexed me for years now. Ok, roll your eyes if you want, but I often wonder why cities around the world don’t have their own vigilantes out there, fighting for truth, justice and the Canadian way. I know there are costumed characters out there trying their best, but I think I’ll always be waiting for that one hero to come out of the world and capture our imaginations. Just the way Aaron Johnson’s Kick-Ass does.

One or the more pleasant surprises from the film is the great performance by Nicolas Cage as Big Daddy, out for vengeance against Frank, the film’s villain. So driven and determined (and admittedly psychotic) is Frank, he trains his pre-teen daughter Mindy (Chloe Moretz) to act as his side-kick, Hit-Girl. I think we can all agree that as a leading man, Cage has been on a bad run of films where he’s the headliner (do you know anybody that saw Drive Angry because I sure don’t). However, in this supporting role Cage is pure gold. As for Hit-Girl, it’s safe to say she’s the most baddest hero since Wolverine to hit cinemas.

After watching Kick-Ass, the Queen and I started talking about the film’s success and how it wasn’t a huge box-office hit when it was released last spring. We both agreed that having an R rating certainly didn’t help, but when the Queen suggested some of the violence and language could have been toned down to appeal to a larger audience, I had to disagree (something I try not to do where she’s concerned). With the majority of Marvel and DC films required to hit that PG or PG-13 audience, I like the fact that Universal and Lionsgate went out on a limb and released Kick-Ass as is. While it wasn’t a huge box office hit, for a creator owned comic book without webs, bats or kryptonite, the $48 million it brought home in North America was definitely decent.

With creators Millar and Romita working on a comic book sequel, it won’t be long until we see the return of Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl in one form, so perhaps they’ll be back on the big screen some day. In the meantime, director Matthew Vaughn’s next big movie is June’s X-Men: First Class. While I’m looking forward to it, I’m fairly certain it won’t be Kick-Ass.

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