The cinematic year has become a predictable beast. Follow me for a second. January and February kick off with the remnants of the epics (Titanic/LOTR/Avatar) coupled with the ‘worthier’ choices of the awards ceremonies. Hitting the end of April right through to September is ‘Blockbuster disappointment season’ as we glide from week to week saying, “This looks really good!” before decrying our childhoods collectively raped. October and November sees ‘Indie heaven’ with offerings from Sundance, Cannes and the like finally hitting British shores, before the inevitable epic hoves into view in December again.
So what’s been left out? That’s it, March and April. For the average film-fan all you can do in these months is clutch your cock and wait for the summer. Yet every now and again a film pops along in these months that you can’t label, you can’t easily categorise.
The only thing you can say with any certainty is that this film Kick’s Fucking Ass.
The master-stroke of what will quite possibly go down as the Film Of The Year, (I shit you not) is that Matthew Vaughn did this by himself. I don’t mean in an auteur/’director is king’ kinda way but in a ‘fuck the studio, there’s stuff I wanna do that you really ain’t gonna like’ kinda way. And it’s this freedom that makes Kick-Ass so damn exceptional.
Fed up of having his butt handed to him on a plate by bullies and muggers, Dave Lizewski decides enough is enough. Baffled by the fact that no-one has thought of it before Dave dons a mask and sets out into the street. After some not-so-super attempts to save the day, Dave, aka Kick Ass, finally gets the hang of crime busting. Enough so that he attracts the attention of ‘good guys’, Big Daddy (Nic Cage) and Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz), as well as uber-baddy Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong).
It’s safe to say Dave’s first foray into vigilante justice goes pretty much as expected. And it’s this that sets Kick-Ass apart from the ‘oh-so’ many comic book movies that try to be a little different. Whereas Spidey may pratfall his way through the ‘learning stage’, Kick-Ass’s education is much less family friendly. And importantly much more realistic.
As subversive of the genre as Watchmen, Kick-Ass is, of course, still just a comic book movie but one that takes an almighty shit on the rest. This isn’t to berate Peter Parker et al. There’s no way Kick-Ass could have found the light of day without its predecessors, but it finds the flaws in them with some menace it does beg the question where can Iron Man go this summer?
As Dave, Brit Aaron Johnson nails it, all highpitched, voice-breaking and gormless faces. The makers also knows that Kick Ass is so inept at his new career path that his alter-ego differs from his real life persona by the distance of a gnat’s pube. It’s pure luck that no-one who knows Dave also gets to meet Kick Ass as the unmasking would be immediate.
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Then there’s Big Daddy and Hit Girl. What is it that kids type nowadays, OMFG? Yeah that’ll do. Never one to give up faith in Mr. Cage, despite his valiant attempts to ruin his career with the likes of The Wicker Man and countless other piss-poor remakes, when he hits he really hits. The secret to him hitting more is playing just the wrong side of crazy. As Damon MacReady the world’s best/worst father of all time (depending on your moral stance) Nic is all silly laughs and stupid tache’s. As Big Daddy he’s Adam West era Batman, with the killing power of Leon.
Like Leon, Big Daddy also has his own schoolgirl assassin in training. But whereas Mathilda never passed the “Can we try with real bullets now?” SAT, Hit-Girl has already graduated with honours. Her entrance, fuck it, every scene she’s in, is jaw-droppingly awesome. Watching her rip through baddies with the dexterity of a world class conductor, in some of the finest action scenes you’ll ever see, may be the most fun you’ll have had in a cinema for a decade.
So as the credits role you may, like Maggie in The Simpsons Movie, be tempted to utter the word “sequel”. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. For now let’s just sit back and enjoy a film that comes along all too rarely, a film that will reignite your love of celluloid. A film that… well, you can finish that sentence.
Owen Nicholls writes for www.thisfilmison.com