Looking at the Oscar nominations (and Bafta winners), it isn’t surprising that this didn’t get a mention. After all, it’s not exactly awards fodder: psychotic 12 year old murdering junkies and using the c-word? Drug lords beating up said girl? Superhero films doing the most un-superhero like things? You would be forgiven for thinking that this is a dark, brooding film that is to be taken with the utmost seriousness at all times. You would be wrong. Kick-Ass was the most entertaining film of the year.
Granted, the initial set-up is a bit flawed: in the real world, one boy wonders why no one has ever become a superhero. It then turns into an unrealistic, ultraviolent movie on its own. But to criticise it for this reason alone is to deny yourself the full experience. This is what would happen if Stan Lee watched Scarface and went under the influence of chemicals. You shouldn’t take it that seriously.
After this initial premise, the film then follows his exploits, as he realises that he isn’t the only wannabe superhero after all. It also manages to juggle a lot of subplots, and at times it feels like this is two films bolted together: a slacker comedy and an ultra gory superhero film. Most notable is the inclusion of Big Daddy and Hit Girl, the revenge seeking crime fighting duo who thought the very same thing as the eponymous anti-hero, and did it before him. They serve up the films most entertaining scenes, particularly in a warehouse siege sequence that will quite literally have you scratching your eyeballs in disbelief.
The cast is miracle, bringing in newcomers, rising stars, and an Oscar-winning actor in to each give the film something special. But the highlight, by a long way, is Nic Cage as Big Daddy, a man so hell-bent on exacting revenge on the crime lord that did him wrong that he trains his daughter (Chloe Moretz, another one to look out for) into the ultimate killing machine. Yet for all of the parading about in a Batman suit and dispatching bad guys in artistically bloody fashion, he never lets us forget that he is, at heart, a father. Albeit a very, very bad one, but Big Daddy is a character who just wants to raise his daughter in the best way possible. He’s a complete nutter, but as we peel away the layers to his dark past, we see that he truly was a man who was done wrong, almost turning the film into a ‘little man versus the system’ story. Admittedly, a very big man against a system of criminals.
The action here is spot on. The film was reportedly made for under £40 million, but as District 9 proved, that doesn’t mean it can’t have incredible effects and fight scenes. The action is on a par with most big budgeted films of recent years, and all I can say is that the tight budget has made them focus and put more thought and care into each shot. The level of control is visible in every sequence. As the half pint hero slices and dices her way through hordes of goons, we can see that care has been put into how this film looks. It might not particularly reinvent the rules of cinema, but it certainly does a good job of taking the existing ones and making them feel fresh and new.
It all adds up really: all I can say is don’t be put off by what you might have heard. It’s not the most accessible of films, admittedly, but it deserved far more attention than what it got on release. Go, enjoy, and don’t worry about the mess afterwards.
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- Behind The Candelabra offers an insight into a fascinating relationship - June 17, 2013