DVD: Kick-Ass

Photo: Amazon.com
(Kickin' it high school.)

Starring Aaron Johnston, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Nicholas Cage and Chloe Grace Moretz. Directed by Mark Vaughn. 117 minutes. 18A

Everyone loves superhero movies. Or so Hollywood thinks. They keep churning out live-action regurgitations of classic comic book characters, coasting away on the geek chic trend that has been going strong for the past few years. During that time, they've given us more than a few pretty-good men - Batman, Spiderman, Superman, Iron Man, the Watchmen - but have totally neglected the female comic book contingent. Well, until they released a little movie called Kick-Ass.

This year's coolest superhero movie (well, other than Scott Pilgrim which looks like it will kick every movie's ass - comic book-related or not - in the awesome department ) introduced us to one of the most badass masked crusaders of all-time: an 11-year-old girl.

The unconventional heroine in question, played by the ridiculously remarkable Chloe Grace Moretz (the little sis from (500) Days of Summer) is a ballsy blonde tween named Hit Girl (or Mindy Macready to the costume-less). According to the movie (and the comic it's based on) genre-defying character was taught how to well, kick ass, from her widowed father, Damon "Big Daddy" Macready (Nicholas Cage), who wanted her help in punishing Frank D'Amico (Mark Strong), the high-class criminal who sent him to jail for suspicious actions that lead nowhere. Over her years of training, she's become a physical and psychological battle expert, a pint-sized Uma Thurman if you will, able to fool a group of men into thinking she's an innocent schoolgirl meanwhile taking them down, one-by-one. Oh, and she's got the mouth of a sailor. Could this girl be any cooler?

Many critics, including Ebert, criticized Kick-Ass for allowing a young actress (and character) to be a part of such excessive violence and fowl language. I say, take a chill pill. As Moretz explained in several interviews, it's not like she hasn't seen or heard this kind of stuff before. In all honest, what kid hasn't seen or heard this kind of stuff before? This is the generation who kills people - albeit digitized versions - in their basement every night. Plus, we've seen MUCH worse (See: any movie that features a child in a rape/sexual abuse scene. Actually, please don't. ).

Although Hit Girl is arguably the best part of Kick-Ass, she's not the main focus. The movie actually follows a nerdy high school student named Dave (Aaron Johnston) and his quest for superhero-dom. Dave isn't an alien, mutant, victim of a freak spider bite or steel-powered robot-man. He''s just a teenage loser who spends every afternoon cruising the local comic book store. But one day he gets sick of his lame life and decides to try and become the Batman of his neighbourhood. Armed with a terrible green face mask and body suit and some makeshift weapons, he takes to an alleyway and gets ridiculously beat up by some thugs.

After a few more epic fails, Dave finally manages to step in at the right time, stopping a gang fight and garnering some serious attention from some random bystanders. One takes a video and puts the whole event on YouTube. Way too many hits and a MySpace page later and Dave's alter ego, Kick-Ass is a celebrity. Unfortunately, his celeb status can't save him from the D'Amico or his villianous wannabee of a son, Chris (also known as "Red Mist").

Kick-Ass's story might seem identical to most other superhero movies but it's more of a satire than a tribute. And not in a lamely overdone Superhero Movie kill-me-now-make-poop-jokes-later kind of way. Sure, the backgrounds are filled with too much colour, just like many of the fantastical panels that make up most comics. But the more personal scenes are more Superbad than Superman, going for awesomely raunchy self deprecation over stomach ache-inducing stylized righteousness. It's even got McLovin' (he's Red Mist) as a main character. Can you say, chicka, chicka, yeah? B

EXTRAS: Commentary with Matthew Vaughn, "It's On!: The Comic Book Origin of Kick-Ass" featurette, photo gallery

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