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SXSW Review: Kick-Ass

March 14, 2010

SXSW started off opening night of the 2010 film festival with the world premiere of Kick-Ass in the historic Paramount theater in downtown Austin.  Red Carpet arrivals preceded the screening, and several cast and crew members stayed after the film for a Q&A.

Make no mistake about it, Chloe Moretz (500 Days of Summer) owns this movie. She may only be 11 years old, but her performance as Hit-Girl is spunky, sassy, and exciting.  Hit-Girl is poised for becoming a new comic cult icon, and Kick-Ass is quite simply a rollicking good time.

At one of the panels I attended this weekend, someone likened Kick-Ass to a comic type Pulp Fiction, which I would say is a pretty accurate description.

British Actor Aaron Johnson plays Dave Lizewski, a nerdy high school type whose only interaction with the popular kids is when he brushes up against one at his locker. One day out of the blue he decides he is going to become a vigilante superhero.  He concocts a hideous green costume that resembles a wet suit, sets up a social media homepage for his alter ego, and starts “training.”  When someone asks his name, he proudly proclaims, “I’m Kick-Ass!”

Completely inept and not blessed with any actual powers, Dave gets the living crap beat out of him by a few thugs mere moments after his official debut as Kick-Ass.  This results in a multitude of injuries requiring steel plates and rods being placed throughout his body, which makes him a little more impervious to injury, but still not in possession of actual powers.

After the accident, Dave is more determined than ever to be a superhero, so he doubles his training efforts, and fares much better on his second outing as Kick-Ass.  A random person videotapes his takedown of some criminals, and the video is placed on YouTube, making Kick-Ass an overnight celebrity.  A media frenzy develops when everyone is trying to find out who Kick-Ass really is.

Of course, since Dave is still a mere mortal, when he finds himself in mortal danger, Hit-Girl shows up with her father Big Daddy (Nicholas Cage in the best role he has had in decades) and saves the day.

You then get the back story on Hit-Girl, who has basically been indoctrinated from a very young age to become a vigilante superhero by her eccentric single dad, who can’t stand missing out on the action, and dresses up as “Big Daddy,” a cross between Batman and Nite Owl from Watchmen.

Chloe Meretz is Hit Girl in Kick Ass

Chloe Meretz is Hit-Girl

The scenes between Big Daddy and Hit-Girl are quite unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.  They are equal parts hilarious, and disturbing.  The fact that Moretz is so young and portraying this cursing, murderous hellcat is disconcerting, but sort of awesome, but you feel kind of icky for thinking it is awesome.

Christopher Mintze-Plasse (McLovin from Superbad) plays Red Mist, the son of the man that has served as the impetus for Big Daddy’s vigilantism,  and eventually suits up as a rival to Kick-Ass.

Director Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake) was not beholden to studio restrictions because he was turned down by every major studio when he pitched this film.   The result is a hyperviolent action/gore mashup with a wicked sense of humor. The action sequences are complemented by a great soundtrack (Joan Jett singing “Bad Reputation” will never really be the same) and innovative editing.

As for the kills- they are amongst the most creative I’ve ever seen.  This movie just feels fresh and fun, and I really can’t imagine that it won’t be one of  my favorites come year end.

If you liked Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction, or Watchmen, you will love Kick-Ass and its new cast of anti-heros.  Fly, don’t walk to see this when it hits theaters next month.

Here is the trailer for Kick-Ass.


3 Responses to “ SXSW Review: Kick-Ass ”

  1. hazMatt on March 15, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    The jealousy that I have for those of you who got to see this movie, which I have been following for close to 9 months now, is best left for spouses of cheating partners.

    I have never been one to be so into something that I would follow it so, but for some reason this movie caught my attention the moment I read about it… then when I saw clips from last year’s comic-con of a wee lass with purple hair say “all right you cunts, lets see what you got”, and then she goes on to beat the shit out of a bunch of thugs, I felt a deep slow burn that has built up to a core need to see this film.

    The interaction between Big Daddy and Hit Girl seems so “normal” on the surface, but it’s deeper darker side smacks you to the point where I had to rewatch the trailers multiple times just to get over my “NO FUCKING WAY!” reaction. It’s that interplay that has pulled me to this movie. The matter of fact way the two discuss being shot in the chest at point blank, the same way most families discuss carpooling to soccer practice… in it’s total “that ain’t right” shock value is something that I just must see.

    I am counting the days till this film is released, and will be the first person in line at the theaters for the midnight showing April 15th (16th midnight).

    Yes, I am a sick bastard.

  2. Shannon on March 15, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    I am so sorry I am taunting you with this movie. I can’t wait for you to see the movie. I think you might spontaneously combust.

  3. hazMatt on March 16, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    I want a cute fluffy dog… just fucking with ya.

    yeah, that’s just gold right there.