Like an aggressive mongoose, Kick-Ass packs a punch.
I was as giddy as a four-year old after too much Coca-Cola and Haribo after I left the screening yesterday afternoon. It’s taken me this long to try to calm myself long enough to make sure that what I was writing was clear, concise and didn’t appear like I had simply allowed by brain to sneeze all over the blog. Therefore allow me to present my 5 STAR review of Matthew Vaughn’s immense, Kick-Ass.
Unless you’ve been hiding out in an Afghan cave for the past few months you cannot have failed to have been subjected to the buzz and the positive reviews surrounding this colossal new bench-mark film. In the same way that The Dark Knight made us all realise how much more a super-hero movie could be, Kick-Ass further subverts and distorts our pre-conceptions of what a hero movie can and should offer the viewer.
Adapted from Mark Millar’s hyper-violent comic book of the same name, Kick-Ass is set in a world that stinks of geek-cool. In Kick-Ass we realise that it doesn’t matter if you don’t have super-powers… in the words of Mariah Carey… ‘A hero lies within’. Did I just reference Mariah Carey? Yeah I did. We are first introduced to our hero and narrator Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), who doesn’t have super-strength like the hulk, doesn’t have elastic limbs and certainly hasn’t got a laser hidden beneath his moustache. No, Dave Lizewski is an ordinary chap (the name of the character was inspired by an everyday chap that won a charity auction to have character named by him – he chose his own name) and it is clear that the only purpose he has in life is simply just to exist. However, unsatisfied with this role in life and inspired by his one true passion, comic books, Dave purchases a flashy wet suit on the t’interweb and begins a life of crime-fighting. After getting beaten up to within an inch of his life and getting hit by a car on his first solo-mission, he is fixed up with metal plating across his skeleton placing him in the ‘budget Wolverine’ category. Aided by this and his broken never endings, Dave sets out to “kick-ass” and after becoming an internet sensation it becomes clear that he is not alone. This where we are introduced to Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage – Who I will come to later) and Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz) who are a father-daughter crime-fighting duo who have set their sights on the local mob boss. Soon things turn down a dark and slippery route for our hero and only through some truly admirable antics, Kick-Ass attempts to save everyone’s else’s…er… ass.
Simply put this film is… Amazing. Comic book fan or not, it is a sure thing, that unless you are the old chap who was sat in front of me at the screening and left the moment Hit Girl uttered the C-bomb, you will undoubtedly have found ‘your new favourite movie’ (to quote Empire magazine). The whole package is just about as good as it gets. To really appreciate every subtlety to the film, a second or third viewing is going to be a necessity. The direction is poetic and as Matthew Vaughn stated on his Film4 interview “the action film appears to be a lost art”, but apparently not for him. The camera doesn’t just shake around to give you the full sensory attack, Vaughn often places the camera on the sidelines enabling us to fully appreciate the extremely violent action sequences. The editing is fast paced, but not so fast that you don’t have a clue who is getting butchered and who is suffering at the hands of the masked vigilantes. A standout feature of Vaughn’s films are the soundtracks and Kick-Ass is no exception, Vaughn just seems to ‘get it’. The music makes you smile, even when the violence and explicit language should do the very opposite. If you get the chance pick up the soundtrack and relive some of the stand out moments by dressing up in your very own hero costume. As you will see below, I have already given some thought to my super-hero alter-ego, if you have any suggestions for materials/fabric I’d love to hear your suggestions… but I digress. In summary, Vaughn’s directing is ebullient and is perfectly translated with each and every detail of this celluloid master-class.
The sheer beauty of the film is not only in its epic script (much credit to Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn), direction, soundtrack or editing, but the layering and references to comic book culture which is handled in such a way as to not alienate those new to the genre. Kick-Ass does assume that the audience will bring a certain degree of super-hero knowledge, even if it is a basic one. The reference to Spiderman and his famous quote ‘With great power comes great responsibility’ is cleverly distorted by our hero as he questions whether or not the hideous beating and civil liberation are worth it in the long run. There are some really subtle moments inherent within the film, such as the movie that the boys go and see which is clearly targeted at the super astute viewer, ‘The Spirit 3’, which if you have seen The Spirit, you will know that there is little to no chance of there ever being a sequel. I hope. There is also a Tarantino-esque moment in the re-use of a certain Range Rover from Layer Cake. Incredible. It’s got enough here for the surface skimmers and much like an onion, has layers that will bring a tear to your eye.
The cast, for me, were the real standout feature. Whilst set in New York and has all the well polished Mr Sheen glow about it, like an American action film, there is an abundance of UK talent of show here, so much so it will be a case of spot the actor whilst you are watching it. There are some great turns by Vaughn faithful including Dexter Fletcher, Jason Flemyng and the formidable force of the number one bad guy in town at the moment Mr Mark Strong. The lead role of Kick-Ass is also suitably impressive. Aaron Johnson deservedly picked up best newcomer at Sunday’s Empire Awards. Even my arch-nemesis Nicholas Cage puts in a great performance as Big Daddy (You have no idea how much it hurts to admit that). Whilst I can never forgive him for past or future sins committed in film land, I have to say, Vaughn has taken a big risk casting him and it appears to have paid off. However, even with all that smoking hot male talent, the real show stopper/stealer and my new hero, is the formidable Hit Girl played by Chloe Moretz. If I’m brutally honest, this is her film. She is foul-mouthed, a complete bas-ass, and yet still manages to retain the child-like sense of curiosity and vulnerability. Hopefully there won’t be a spin-off film from this though because her raw awesomeness should be restrained to this film, so none of it is lost. I won’t over sell her because she really is the cherry on the cake.
Often there are times when I am told that a film is un-real it fails to deliver, but please take my word for it Kick-Ass delivers blow after blow and still makes you beg for more. It is a true, and if you’ll excuse the weak pun, “marvel” to behold. If you haven’t seen it, make sure you go and if you have… I’m free to see it at least another 6 times. Matthew Vaughn allow me to personally thank you for bringing this tale, brimming full of ultra-violence and cool, storming into my life-like a drunken wildebeest.
Kick-Ass is in cinemas NOW!
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*As always… Spoiler Free*
I work closely with Paramount and Dreamworks and I have the privilege of usually being exposed to their titles very early on in the development process. How to Train Your Dragon was no exception. Last October, my partner in crime Harry, and I, were invited along to BAFTA headquarters for a preview of the film. From the moment the footage started we knew we were in for something special. Large parts of it hadn’t even been animated yet, but we both walked out with a mixed party bag of emotions. We were exhilarated and frustrated. What we had seen was simply incredible and the frustration was simply the fact that we enjoyed the taster so much that we wanted to watch the entire movie there and then!
How To Train Your Dragon is hot off the press from the studio that brought us the awesome Shrek and one of my personal favourites, Kung Fu Panda. Set in the mythical world of burly Vikings and wild dragons and based on the book by Cressida Cowell, this is an animated comedy/adventure with something for everyone. The story centers around the Viking teenager Hiccup, voiced by Jay Baruchel, who lives on the island of Berk, where fighting dragons is a way of life. Initiation is coming, and this is his one chance to prove his worthiness to his tribe and father. However, when he encounters, and befriends, an injured dragon, his world is turned upside down.
I always had my suspicions that this would be a winning film and I can honestly say it’s well worth a watch. Unlike the somewhat average Monsters vs. Aliens last year, this is a colossal return to form for Dreamworks. With this film, you really become aware of each and every element that is used to draw you into the Norse landscape, cultural traditions and heritage. The music throughout is emphatic and the scenes in which Hiccup and Toothless the dragon soar and descend at great speeds is a pulsating and exhilarating visual treat, which is only further enhanced by the 3D. The story line, whilst it is simple and the script isn’t perhaps brimming with as many quotable lines like Shrek or Kung Fu Panda, it is well paced and apart from a small section in the middle that dragged slightly, there is a constant bombardment of twists and turns, both in the plot and in the aerial acrobatics of the dragons. There is of course the obligatory sad moment in the film and I have to admire the film-makers for sticking to their convictions with regard to the fate of our hero. I genuinely didn’t see it coming! Thankfully it won’t make you sob in the same way that Up did for countless people around the world, but what it will make you do is… smile. I left the screening with a facial gesture a mile wide.
The beauty of the film derives from the film-makers staying faithful to the original source material written by Cressida Cowell (this film has been in development for over 6 years) and whilst I was watching, I found that I was considering, quite heavily, which dragon I would invest in if Tommy would let me have a pet in the flat. Hey! It could happen… Back to the review… Each dragon has its own personality and you can’t help but warm to each and every one of them, as the Vikings’ perceptions of these wild, flying reptiles is slowly changed throughout the course of the movie. The “Pay off dragon”, which I shan’t go into too much detail, is epic. The final scene is so immense you’ll probably need to make sure you take a spare change of shorts with you. I didn’t and was left with a cold, degrading tube journey back to the safety of Camden. Anyway… The voice talents are perfectly cast in the movie, with the standout characters being voiced by Jay Baruchel (Hiccup), who will soon appear in She’s Out of my League (which I have seen and is hilarious) and Gerard Butler (Stoick), who has such a warming Scottish accent I can’t get mad with him for the smelly rom-coms that he’s been knocking out recently. I was also over the moon when I heard everyone’s favourite ladies man Christopher Mintz-Plasse playing Fishlegs. He has some of the best lines and his voice is perfectly suited for his rather rotund character.
But wait! One might be forgiven for saying, “Surely your opinions are biased Rob you filthy pirate hooker! You sort of work for Paramount!” However, to that I would say “No. How did you get this number?” Having worked on several titles over the past few years at Feref you soon know what titles are good and which ones are bad. Whilst I am actively encouraged to up-sell films like Dance Flick and G.I Joe, this is MY blog and on here honesty is the only policy. Now, let’s all just get along and play naked twister.
Dreamworks aren’t Pixar, we all know that, but based on this fantastic new addition to the Dreamworks family, How to Train Your Dragon will certainly tick many of the boxes that a Toy Story or a Finding Nemo of this world would. If you get the chance definitely go and see it. If your partner, child, parent, pet goat doesn’t want to, give me a shout and I’ll come with you instead. Oh and to fully understand why I enjoyed the film so much, make sure you watch in full 3D awesomeness! Arguably my experience was enhanced by the face-painting, Viking photo-shoot, food, drink and the infectious laughter of the children during the film, just trust me when I say that, you could go on your own and sit in an empty cinema and you’d still leave with your heart racing and a desire to hop on the back of a Night Fury and head down to Waitrose.
Right, that’s your lot…
How to Train Your Dragon is at cinemas everywhere March 31 – View the trailer here
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The post will be short, sharp and to the point. Some of you may remember me man-gasming about Scott Pilgrim last year. Well, yesterday saw the arrival of the new trailer from Mr Edgar Wright. If you don’t think that this look magnificent then I suggest you take yourself outside and whip yourself with a wet towel. Enjoy