Thursday, April 29, 2010

kings of pain

being a fan of the comic, i was amazed that it was actually optioned as a movie even before the first issue. as a result of that, the shipping schedule basically suffered and we basically ended up with a short storyline. maybe creators Mark Millar and John Romita Jr planned it that way. for better or for worse, the early appeal with the fanboys and the modest success in the box office ($42M and counting) has opened the doors for aspiring comic writers to look for that hit book that translates well to Hollywood.

to their credit, Kick-Ass was unlike any other: what if ordinary people aspired to be superheroes, silly costumes and all, notwithstanding the lack of any superhuman talents? Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) wants to find out and promptly lands in the hospital, courtesy of a stabbing and a hit-and-run. despite the obvious injuries, and the unfortunate effect of being rumored as gay in his high school, though opening the door to be the BFF to his crush Katie (Lyndsy Fonseca), Dave resolves to give it another shot and becomes a YouTube sensation following a bloody standoff with some gangbangers.

by the end of the first half, the movie shifts your attention to two people who do a better job than Dave - Big Daddy (real life comicbook fan Nicolas Cage, who's a better fit here than in Ghost Rider) and daughter Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz in a breakout role), a precocious cross between Natalie Portman circa Leon, a profane Dakota Fanning, and GoGo Yubari. the Big Daddy character was changed from an accountant to an ex-cop with an actual beef with mobster Frank D'Amico (Mark Strong, an uncanny Andy Garcia doppelganger in his second straight major villain role). Hit-Girl, trained early on to maim and kill, is the movie's secret weapon, as she completely steals every action scene she's in. in effect, she kicks more ass than the titular character. her epic attempt to rescue her father and Kick-Ass from execution, streaming live on the Internet, is one of the best action sequences ever. director Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake) knows what he's doing and has thankfully not dialled down the tone.

the comic was visually much more brutal and Romita goes all-out with cartoon violence (Romita also created new artwork as a montage for Big Daddy's new backstory), although they did a good job of translating that to the big screen. you would notice though, that despite the severe beatings Dave takes, he's able enough to go through the next phase without limping or anything. but that's okay, this movie was meant to entertain. i actually thought they did a better job with the movie than the comic itself, the latter being plagued by delays. and for true New Yorkers, they'd be cheering at the extensive screen time for Maurice DuBois (take that, Pat Kiernan!).

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