Review: Kick-Ass

* *1/2 out of four stars

“Kick-Ass” is a rebellious superhero film, a movie that throws away convention and has a real bad attitude. It’s gloriously violent, incredibly crude and very funny. It deserves a positive review for its originality. But I must express my misgivings about the film; feelings I’m not thrilled about and in response am knocking down a half-star.

The film is about regular people wanting to be superheroes. Dave (Aaron Johnson, “Nowhere Boy”) is an average, normal teenager. So ordinarily normal, in fact, that the object of his desires doesn’t even notice he’s just a few lockers down from her. His only friends are comic-book geeks and his favorite activity is masturbation. Dave wants a life. So he decides to dress up in a costume and go around town helping people, just like a superhero. He gets his butt kicked, and is even rushed to the hospital for his wounds. He doesn’t give up his superhero personality, though. In fact, he gives it a name: Kick-Ass.

His heroic struggles are captured on camera, and soon he is getting emails of praise and cries for help. Even the girl he likes begins to notice him, though she believes he’s gay.

Kick-Ass inspires a father and his daughter to put on masks. They are Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage, “Knowing”) and Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz, “500 Days of Summer”), a dangerous duo on the prowl for a crime boss who got Big Daddy framed and put in jail, during which time his pregnant wife committed suicide. Fortunately the baby survived, and is all a part of her father’s plan to take down the crime lord, Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong, “Sherlock Holmes”), whose son Chris (Christopher Mintz-Plasse, “Superbad”) is eagerly awaiting his ascension into the family business.

Big Daddy and Hit-Girl are characters I kind of liked. I thought Hit-Girl was a very sympathetic character as well as a very fun superhero. Big Daddy was a little too far on the dark side for me to sympathize with him. When we first meet BD, he is teaching his daughter how to take a bullet to the chest while wearing a bullet-proof vest. He has also trained her to become a very skilled assassin.

But superheroes are not assassins, they’re saviors. Kick-Ass wishes to have this image, but as he continues to get beat up, he begins to see the side of Big Daddy and Hit-Girl.

So… is “Kick-Ass” supposed to be a superhero film? Or a dark comedy about superheroes? Or a movie about trained killers fighting trained killers? There is a lot of bloody violence in this film, which I’m all for… but when it’s the heroes doing all the dirty work, it makes me question how “super” they really are. To me, real superheroes don’t use guns (no comic fans, The Punisher is not a superhero) and they don’t set out to kill people. Any portrayal of these costumed heroes doing just that is dead wrong.

So if you go with the argument that “Kick-Ass” is not a superhero movie, good. You will definitely like this funny, well-done film. If you go in expecting “Spider-Man,” “Batman” or even “Mystery Men” prepare yourself for disappointment.

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