One of the perks of this job is getting to see movies before they’re released, a privilege we ostensibly get so that we can hype the movie, even though they rarely deserve hyping, and usually comes down to us telling our friends, “you have to go see that movie!” Well, I’m telling you, my friends, that you have to go see Kick-Ass. It will be the most talked-about, beloved movie that comes out next year, in April.
The fact that Kick-Ass‘ release is a whole winter away is as frustrating to me as it should be to you. You have to wait while word slowly builds that this is a film for the ages, and I have no one that can share in my giddiness. Last month /Film posted an article titled Is Kick-Ass the Best Superhero Movie Ever Made? I can now answer that with an emphatic yes. It’s also the best comic book movie ever made, and one of the best revenge fantasies ever put on film.
Kick-Ass is based on a comic from writer Mark Millar, the man behind Wanted. I haven’t read it, but I do know that director Matthew Vaughan (L4yer Cake) made this movie independently to remain faithful to the source material and avoid a studio suffocating it with a PG rating. That’s because the comic is bloody and ultra-violent, and so is the film. But what differentiates Kick-Ass from other cinematic bloodbaths is it’s comedy. Switching from nihilistic, to fratty, to straight-up demented, the comedy works to balance scenes of incredible intensity with a welcomed light-heartedness. It’s Superbad-meets-Kill Bill-meets The Dark Knight.
Kick-Ass asks the question “How ‘come nobody’s ever tried to be superhero?” Then it answers that question in an early scene of bone-crushing brutality that shocks you into the realization that this is unlike anything else you’ve ever seen. Dave Lizewski is an ordinary high school student who decides to try his hand at vigilante justice without the benefit of super powers. He transformers himself into the masked hero Kick-Ass. It’s an origin story better than Spider-Man, populated by heroes and villains far more interesting and likeable than in any of the X-Men films. One of these heroes is Hit Girl, played by the 12-year-old actress Chloe Moretz, who, after this soon-to-be iconic role, has herself an acting career. Last month I spoke to Moretz on the phone and she was as sweet and polite as a twelve year old ought to be. As Hit Girl she curses, gets shot, slits throats, and generally steals the show. It’s the performance of a very young lifetime. And then there’s Nicolas Cage, popping up in yet another film, only this time it’s a good one. His performance here should erase memories of Ghost Rider , the self-professed comic book fanatic’s botched attempt at a superhero flick.
People who are talking about Kick-Ass are talking about it the way they spoke of The Matrix, after they saw it for the first time. It’s action sequences are audacious, balletic, and most importantly, you can actually see what’s going on. They’re talking about it in the way they talked about The Dark Knight—it reinvents a genre, and then beats it to bits. The prospects for this movie are huge. As Lionsgate wisely rolls out more and more advance screenings (and hopefully releases more red-band clips), buzz around this film will continue to grow, which will nurture it towards a massive opening weekend, despite its R-rating. And then, word-of-mouth will make Kick-Ass the movie to see in theaters, before a much bigger, yet far more generic superhero flick brushes it aside. But that’s the thing—every superhero movie (and most movies in general) including Iron Man 2, will seem generic after this.