I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Defendor

tn_defendorAs much as I like Marko Zaror, I thought DEFENDOR was a much better take on the “regular person becomes super hero” genre than MIRAGEMAN. To be fair, Woody Harrelson is not as good of a martial artist as Zaror, and is not as Chilean either. But he is good in this movie.

You know, it seems kind of stupid to call Woody Harrelson “underappreciated” when he just got nominated for an Oscar last year. But I think he kind of is, and partly because he doesn’t get too many starring roles these days. In this one he did, but the movie hardly played theaters, and some of you probly never heard of it until now.

mp_defendorWoody stars as a troubled construction worker individual who secretly lives in a workshop where he prepares to go out at night as “Defendor” or, as the community knows him, “That retard I was telling you about.” He wears a helmet and bulky protective gear like a riot cop, plus a painted on Mr. Incredibles eyemask and duct tape letter D on his chest, which stands for Defendor in my opinion. He tries to get fancy, throwing marbles on the ground and different tricks like that but he’s best at just beating the hell out of people with his grandfather’s World War II trench club. Still, he gets beat up alot.

MIRAGEMAN’S strength was the fight scenes. This one isn’t about action. It’s not so much a super hero movie, it’s more of a dramedy about an extreme character, like BIG FAN or something. Harrelson is perfectly cast as a stunted vigilante. He can be dumb and childlike, but likable, and sometimes a little scary underneath that. And enough of a bruiser that the fights are at least semi-plausible.

DEFENDOR’s other secret weapon is a strong supporting cast who make this world seem real. Sure, it’s still a Movie World where one guy can track down the biggest criminals in the city, and where his funny little tricks actually work as planned (“What’s that?” “A jar.” “What’s it supposed to do?” “Very little. Except contain a swarm of angry wasps.” [crash!]) But the characters around him react more believably than in most stories like this, and the actors seem to treat it like a serious drama and not some throwaway.

Kat Dennings is a teenage prostitute who first uses Defendor (he pays her for information because he saw it on The Rockford Files) then becomes his friend. Michaely Kelly is great as a caring but exasperated co-worker who looks out for him, Sandra Oh is all wide-eyed empathy as a pscyhiatrist trying to figure him out, Elias Koteas is in DeNiro mode as a sleazy drug cop. But my favorite character is the police captain, played by the great Clark Johnson of HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET and probly other shows, who knows which ones, there’s no way to really know. He doesn’t fit any of the molds for standard police characters. You want to get to know him. He seems like a genuinely nice guy trying to understand what’s going on in Defendor’s brain.

It does use that cliche that’s in every vigilante movie where they have Regular Joes saying what they think of Defendor – this one uses the talk radio call-in show approach like THE BRAVE. It’s funny, the talk radio call-in show is always used in movies as if it’s a scientific study of the diversity of opinions in the city, but in reality it’s a very self-selecting group. Most shows are on a certain topic (sports, gardening) or about politics with a right or left stance. The more broad ones you might need a similar sense of humor to the host. Most people I think listen to those shows when driving to work, which eliminates those who take public transportation or a short commute or are unemployed, or who don’t enjoy talk radio. And then of those people we’re only hearing from people who feel the need to call in. Have you ever called into one of those shows? Do you know many people who have?

So, I would like to see more data before trying to understand the public’s views on Defendor. Anyway, that part of the movie works fine because it’s over a fast moving montage and it’s done fast. Another cliche of this type of story that they thankfully get rid of quick: the bit where the fake super hero has a comic book that he got the idea from. Why do you always gotta show that, movies? Can’t we assume everybody knows what a super hero is, you don’t gotta explain that he got the ideas from comic books.

The filmatism is real solid, nice shadowy look to the city and an effective score that seems to support his super hero fantasies instead of make fun of them. Now let’s team up Defendor with Blade and see what happens.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 7th, 2010 at 2:06 am and is filed under Comic strips/Super heroes, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

81 Responses to “Defendor”

  1. Never heard of that one, Vern. Will you be including SPECIAL (2006) on this superhero/costumed vigilante vibe you’re on?

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0479162/

  2. whoa, this is from last year? I indeed never heard of it till now

  3. the good version of that kick ass ‘real superhero’ thing.

  4. This seems to happen a lot; A lot of films tend to have their alternate version out there. I don’t know whether it’s the Corman model of getting a similar film out there first or just that two writers put the same ideas on paper coincidentally or that a film gets rushed into production to piggyback on the success of a recent film, but it does make for great double bills. Had a good Gran Torino/Harry Brown double bill last year.

  5. I wouldn’t say Defendor/Kick-ass is some kind of symbiotic coincidence, there have been several post-modern superhero films either attempting to present a “superheroes in the real(ish) world” or subvert the genre. Hancock, Special, Watchmen etc.

    And I still think the Gran Torino/Harry Brown comparison is very loose. Yeah old, badass guys taking on young gang. But other than that they’re very different, HB is far more influenced by Death Wish.

    Also I think Kick-Ass being set in the “real world” is a bit of a lie, it’s still a film version of the real world, so things can get a bit sillier later in the film, I think it’d be more accurate to describe it as a superhero film where superhero comics existed first. Which sounds like splitting hairs, but I mean that in other superhero films there’s always this unwritten idea that superhero comics don’t exist, everyone reacts so shocked and unknowing about the very concept of a crimefighter, kind of like how it’s an unwritten rule that in the world of zombie films, zombie films don’t exist (except SotD). Whereas Kick-Ass goes with the idea of what would it look like if people tried to imitate superheroes, and that simplistic good/bad morality and apply it to a crime film.

  6. Vern, I hope someday you get the chance to check out the 1981 classic “Condorman”. It contains a twist on
    the getting the idea from the comic book to be a superhero: the author of the comic book has to perform all
    the stunts he writes about as Condorman to give integrity to the character for his readers. So he also gets the
    idea from a comic book, but it’s his own idea at the same time.

  7. GoodBadGroovy – very good points dude but you’re sounding worryingly like you haven’t seen Return of the Living Dead, rectify this immediately!

  8. I think Harrelson just has to get a little older and he’ll start being up for all the roles that go to either Billy Bob Thornton or Tommy Lee Jones right now. Or maybe he just needs a middle name like those guys. Woody Joe Harrelson. That sounds good enough to be in a Coen bros movie. Oh wait, he was in one recently.

    Anyway, he probably would’ve made a good Aldo Raine too.

  9. I think Woody’s biggest obstacle right from the start was that he played a character named Woody on Cheers so everyone assumed that he wasn’t really much of an actor and was basically playing himself, like Tony Danza. Then as soon as he got over that hurdle with the success of his early nineties roles he suddenly became more famous for being a pothead than for acting. I’m glad that he’s sort of finding his feet now as a reliable character actor and occasional offbeat leading man.

  10. Defendor is much more like Blankman than it is like Condorman or Kickass. I liked Defendor but Blankman was a much funnier dramedy. How the police treat Blankman is more realistic and much much more funny… I am laughing just remembering it. The cops are laughing so hard they can’t stand up any more but when they get it together they have to show Wayans to more cops, to share the fun – like the cops did in Something About Mary.

  11. I am trying to get interested in Kick-Ass because I love The Cage, but everything I see just makes feel like I’m going to hate it. It looks like it’s got an even worse case of what bugged me about the action parts in Watchmen where a big point of the movie is supposed to be that it is set in reality where people try to imitate cartoons except they film it in some sort The Matrix style hyperbole where people take sledgehammers to the face with only a wince and kick humans twenty feet through the air.

    It also has this major wink-wink tone to it I hope has just been amped up for advertising. The last thing I need is a superhero version of Shoot Em Up where the hero just keeps winking at me and doing everything short of saying he thinks the movie he is in is silly.

    Like I said, trying to stay positive and it’s getting big praise, but I’ve got my doubts on that one.

  12. I know what you mean, Wolfgang. The trailer for Kickass first puts out this idea “what if somebody tried to really be a super hero?” and then a minute later they have a little girl flying around doing wire fu. It seems to me like the various nerd media are so excited by that one and the “scott pilgrim conquers the world” because they’re obscure comic strips that those boys like and then the movies are being made by directors they’ve done set visits and panels with and they follow them on twitter and what not. I mean I guess maybe the Edgar Wright pictures just don’t impress me quite as much as most people but if you see how he’s covered on some of these sights they’re either talking about him as one of the all time great cinematic geniuses or as their “geek” buddy who they know is cool because he knows “geek” shit.

    My guess is that both movies will be clever and fun but won’t make most people who don’t write for a websight faint in their pants. But we’ll see.

  13. I’ve never read the Scott Pilgrimm books but after Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz(which I remember you being luke-warm about from your review) Edgar Wright will have my ass in a seat for that movie.

    And really the trailer is quite amazing.

  14. I think superhero stories about superheros with no super powers are a really hard concept to get right, especially in movies rather than in comics. In comics you can imply a lot of the action and let the reader fill in the blanks so that it walks the line between amazing human ability and supernatural powers. But in movies you have to show the audience exactly how these people are “super” and still try to keep it in the realm of actual possibility. I really prefer the superheros that actually have crazy powers (or at least an explanation for their superhuman abilities, like Blade or Neo) because they don’t tend to break their own rules as much as the ones that purport to be stories about regular people that just put on costumes and wield sticks.

    I think these movies about real-world superheros all tend to be brightly colored knock-offs of Taxi Driver, anyway. And when they disregard their own “real world” rules and internal movie logic by introducing super powers with no explanation, you might as well put a cape on mohawked Travis Bickle and have him wire-fu those pimps and pedophiles at the end. It just kills the story for me.

    But this one looks interesting, I hadn’t heard of it but I’m going to try to find it now, and I second the recommendation for a review of Special.

    Also, your description of Clark Johnson’s acting credits was well played, sir. Did you know he was actually the director of the first few epis– *GUNSHOT*

  15. Scott Pilgrim is a brilliant series. It’s the only thing I’ve read that really captures my generations attitude and style in a way that is honest and engaging, in the same way that Spaced apparently captures the one before mine. I can’t wait for the movie.

  16. I too can’t wait to faint in my pants due to Scott Pilgrim. It’s gonna be epic! Hopefully.

  17. Whatever you say Young Neil. I’m actually really curious to see the public reaction to Pilgrim. It could either be Wright’s most public-friendly movie or a ‘geek inclusive’ in-joke that alienates everybody. I think Wright will nail that balance, but who knows.

    Man there’s a big gap from when Lost ends and that movie opens. I’m going to be miserable. Maybe I should get one of those ‘lives’ I’ve heard so much. Although the last time I tried I wound up drunk posting here, so I guess all roads lead to Vern.

  18. Having read the Kick Ass comic, I can say that at no point does it seem like it takes place in the real world. It’s just way too over-the-top, sarcastic, and gleefully brutal to be reality. The central conceit is less “What if superheroes really existed?” and more “What if superheroes got the fucking shit kicked out of them all the time?” I’m personally really looking forward to the movie.

    I haven’t read Scott Pilgrim, but I’m an Edgar Wright fan so I’m excited about the movie. Vern, I think you’re being a little dismissive of his talents. I think he’s the real deal. He’s got a good eye, he shoots and edits with purpose, he’s good with actors, and he gives his material room to breathe. I think he’s one of the few auteur comedy directors who puts his own stamp on his movies and isn’t just a traffic cop for a bunch of adlibbing comedians. I consider him the John Landis of his day, and I hope you don’t let the internet’s crush on him prevent you from giving him another chance.

  19. Well, I’ll be damned, just showed my girlfriend Gran Torino blu-ray for the first time and as soon as it finishes she says (unprompted), “that was nothing like that Harry Brown film.” That’ll teach me to draw superficial parallels.

    Incidentally, if you’re having problems with the Kick Ass trailer you may have the same ones with the film. It does seem to go from comic rules to real world and then back again at will. Doesn’t help that it was said to be a game changer like Pulp Fiction (don’t blame me! That’s not my comparison, that’s from the guy that wrote the comic.

    My problem with the film was that there just wasn’t enough Cage. His character, his backstory, and of course his Cage-isms, are waaaaaay more interesting than the protagonist and when he’s gone you do tend to be left with kids hopping around like Sonic hedgehog. Cage really walks off with the film, no matter what you read in the reviews about the little girl that swears. I will need to see it again at some point just for the Big Daddy scenes.

  20. Brendan-After Lost(after last week I’m more un-sure than ever that they can end it satisfyingly for me with only 5 episodes,wtf the parallel universes are starting to lap over) and before Scott Pilgrim you should read World War Z. I remember from of the zombie discussions that you dig on them. It’s an amazing read done in a very interesting way. I can’t help but feel it will also be turned into the most epic zombie of all time before too long.

  21. Majestyk – I don’t mean to be dismissive. I do think he’s funny. I just don’t notice the chops you’re noticing. But the trailer for the new one does look more visually impressive than his previous ones.

    Kind of funny though to see the boys bending over backwards to praise the kind of cartoon gimmicks in that trailer that they wanted to kidnap and murder when they saw them in SPEED RACER.

  22. I always learn some interesting facts. Like how Vern doesn’t like Hot Fuzz.

    I listen to Nick Digillio on WGN in Chicago. He’s a really entertaining show, just like this is a really entertaining blog. However, he is ragging on Avatar as if it’s some really awful movie. Like one of the worst movies ever made. However, if you look at the DVD box art for Diary of the Dead, you have a quote “**** A Masterpiece.” It’s from Nick Digillio. I don’t know how many of you have seen Diary of the Dead but that movie is far from a masterpiece. In fact, I would say it’s an awful movie that I would barely give *. So it brings up this very interesting quandry on how much can we really put our full trust in the reviewers we like. Why is it that I sometimes get a little sad when guys like Nick and Vern call something you like awful. Does that mean we’re wrong and they’re right? I don’t know.

    Anyway, Kick Ass looks good. Scott Pilgrim looks good. I haven’t read either book.

    To Dieselboy – There are actually 7 episodes left. The 5 are just what they’re counting until the series finale. So we get 5 more Wednesday episodes until the series finale which is actually on SUNDAY MAY 23rd. I’m not sure many people are aware of the Sunday finale.

  23. I want to thank Mr. Majesktyk for giving me a frame of mind with which I think I can enjoy Kick-Ass. That whole angle of ‘superheroes who aren’t always successful or cool’ is a better one than the angle they’ve been promoting this from, which is that whole ‘regular people trying to be like cartoons and are successful at it’ from what I gleen in the ads and promotional scenes leaked all over the internet.

  24. Yeah, I don’t get the fucking problem with Speed Racer. Love that movie. Monkey, meet ninja pants.

  25. I’ll also back Vern up on Hot Fuzz. I just went and read his review of it and he seems to just be generally underwhelmed by it whereas I found it even less satisfying. To me it didn’t work as a parody because it really wasn’t any more ridiculous than most of the movies it was mocking. I guess it’s sillier than your average Dirty Harry movie but nowhere near as silly as something like Tango & Cash and I think if you’re doing a parody you need to be ridiculous and take certain conventions to their extreme. I know I’m the guy who likes those Crank movies so I guess I don’t really like my comedy all subtle. So as far 80s action parodies go, I’ll watch my DVD of Team America for the 100th time thanks.

    If it was just trying to actually be one those 80s cop movies and not a parody, then I found it unsatisfying for prettymuch the same reason. It just wasn’t as entertaining as those movies. It had some good ideas, but it kinda lacked the momentum because the good parts were pretty far apart. A guy like Robert Rodriguez also makes 80s genre homages but he keeps throwing crazy ideas at you every couple minutes to keep it fresh.

    It’s not a bad picture, but I can’t really even consider it much of a success on either standard.

    As for Shaun of the Dead, I actually like that one. People (including Vern) are always complaining that zombies are played out and overused, but to me it’s just Romero’s formula that is played out. People keep redoing Dawn of the Dead over and over and wonder why it’s just not entertaining anymore and why people call zombie movies unoriginal. To me this was a good original use of zombies. Using them as the emotional catalyst in an About A Boy type movie about a guy who needs to grow up and appreciate his lady was pretty clever and original if you ask me.

  26. Oh man, it bugs the shit out of me when I hear Mark Millar and others say that KICK-ASS is about “superheroes in the real world”. It’s not, and even if it was it’s not exactly breaking new ground.

    I don’t know if you know this Vern, but the KICK-ASS comic book is written by the same guy who wrote the WANTED comic book. KICK-ASS (the comic) has the same hateful, contemptuous tone as WANTED and the same troubling racist subtext. In the WANTED comic this made a little more sense, as the protagonist joined a group of super-villains that secretly ran the world, so you weren’t actually supposed to like him or them. The movie stripped this idea out (which makes sense) but it means you are supposed to be rooting for a bunch of crazy, psychotic assholes who take orders from a magic loom. What the fuck.

    Anyway, KICK-ASS (the comic) is kind of fun but it has this feel like “Hey look! Blood! Cussing! Comic books aren’t just for kids anymore!”, and Millar makes sure to portray comic-book readers as lonely nerds who jerk off all the time. It’s like, if you hate comic books so much then why do you write them? Still, he got his movie deal out of it. That’s all he was after in the first place.

    Also, SCOTT PILGRIM is awesome, and I have faith that Edgar Wright will do it justice.

  27. dieselboy- Thanks for the advice man, but I’m way ahead of you. I super duper ultra mega loved World War Z and the Zombie Survival Guide. If the movie version gets the Battle of Yonkers right it could go down as the single most epic zombie sequence ever committed to film.

  28. Also to all the people talking about the comic: There are many, many critics praising the shit out of the movie (people like Devin at Chud) who are on record as hating the comic. So have hope yet. I’m going to go see Kick-Ass to see a crazy action movie, and if it happens to contain some well-thought out meditations on comics and super heroes, then yay, bonus.

    Like how I started with Kill Bill just wanting a goofy jung fu movie, only to find out it is one of the most soulful and beautiful examination on reveng and redemption I’ve ever seen.

  29. CrustaceanHate – yeah there’s no doubt that the film is superior to the comic, it might not be perfect but as you point out Millar is a pretty poor writer, with some worrying trends and embarressing “lol blood/swears!”. Although saying that I really enjoyed his Ultimates run.

    And yes Scott Pilgrim is a fantastic comic series, it’s amazing how one note it starts out “boy must fight evil exs, lots of geeky game/anime in-jokes commence” yet the series grows into this really brilliant story with excellent characters and zeitgeist of early 20s in the 2000s. Visually the film looks really fun, I’m not fond of Cera as Scott, but hopefully everything else makes up for it. And yeah Vern, I found it baffling that so many people praised the trailer, who trashed Speed Racer for the exact same visual style. :-/

  30. Mark Millar is kind of the Michael Bay of comics. Unlike Michael Bay, however, you can always tell whats going on. Iguess to get that “Bay effect” you’d ideally do some cocaine before reading. His comics usually get pretty mean, violent, and immature, but I really liked Kick-Ass because of that. A lot of people shat on it for making the protagonist such a weasley little creep, but that’s kinda the point. I didn’t read it as “this kid is symbolic of all you comic nerds.” I just read it as “This kid is the kind of kid who might shoot up the school and this is his idea of doing the right the right thing.” So I guess it’s more like Observe and Report than a Michael Bay movie.

  31. Jareth Cutestory

    April 7th, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    It got to a point a while ago where I had to avoid KICK ASS promotional stuff. I’d seen a few too many trailers, and the idea of sitting through the actual film was beginning to seem like a chore. I’d have preferred to go in not knowing that I’d see McLovin in tights, or every fight scene with the little girl who swears.

    Someone sure spent a lot of money ensuring that the world knew about the film.

    Was all the SPEED RACER hate just a backlash against those MATRIX sequels? I’ve never seen it. Two hours seemed a bit long for all those gaudy strobe effects. Is there an actual compelling story in there somewhere?

  32. Jareth- Yeah, I think you hit on most people’s problems with the movie. There is definitely a group of people who would’ve hated whatever the Wachowskis put out after Matrix, no matter what. It makes me really wary of what kind of reaction Inception is going to get.

    Beyond that, Speed Racer is a deeply, fundamentally flawed movie. For one thing, it’s a half hour to long, with an incredibly unnecessarily convulted plot that has absolutely no bearing on what the movie ultimately is about. While I quite like the visual style it is NONSTOP and I can imagine that the constant barrage of Skittles colored images must have made people sick.

    Oh yeah and there’s stuff like the dialogue being fucking awful, the fact that all the non-racing CGI was Spy Kids-y in it’s unconvincingness, the actors all coming across as terrible because of that dialogue and you get a movie that is just head-scratching in how far from sane it is.

    And I love it. The racing scenes are insanely well put together and it manages to get my pulse up every time I watch them, and seeing as how 90% of the movie is all racing scenes once you get past that watching-paint-dry first 30 minutes, that counts for alot. As bad as the script is, the Wachowskis managed to get all the actors to pitch their performances in the same tone, so it works well against the stylization. Some of them (Matthew Fox, John Goodman) manage to elevate the movies because of how perfectly they matched their performances to the crazy reality that was created.

    I really enjoy Speed Racer, but it never surprises me to hear about people wanting to stab it to death. It’s a stabbable movie.

  33. Jareth Cutestory

    April 7th, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    Brendan: That’s probably the most sensible description of SPEED RACER that I’ve read. Thanks for that.

    Let me ask you this: I like the supporting cast a lot, but the lead actor looks like a charisma vacuum to me. I forget his name. How did he do?

    Also, is the action just car racing, or is there running around and stuff too? Truth is I find car racing kind of dull.

  34. Lawrence, I definitely wouldn’t call Hot Fuzz or Shaun of the Dead awful. I like them both. I just think of them more around a B but it seems like everybody around me is really sad there is no grade higher than an A++++ to give them. So I feel a little left behind by the Edgar Wright train. That’s all.

  35. Jareth- His name is Emile Hirsch. He’s actually a VERY VERY strong actor in other movies like Into the Wild, and he’s fine, but he’s handcuffed by that script. If anything he deserves credit because he manaes to play character who is naive and innocent without falling into the trap of playing the character as ‘simple.’ He actually manages to make his relationships with people like Christiana Ricci and Goodman and whoever was the kid with the monkey seem affecting.

    It’s mostly car racing, or cars used in action scenes. But the car racing involves dozens of different courses that defy physics at every turn, and the drivers can do things like flip the car dozens of times, to smack into other cars, then land perfectly and keep going. Also, stuff like guns, buzz saws and catapulted snakes get implemented. They do mix it up with a couple ninja fights and whatnot, keeping some variety in there.

    Let me say one more thing in Speed Racer’s favor: It’s saved by the same thing that saved the Spy Kids movies (the first two at least). Whatever it’s faults, many of which I’ve listed, it is still one of the most heartfelt studio films I’ve seen in a long time. The Racers are cartoons, one or two traits per character, but it is obvious that the Wachowskis completely believe it when they throw around the idea of anti-corporation (SR is also probably the most anti-corporate studio film since Robocop) and family strength. They love these characters and believe in this world, and it gives the film a weight and a heart that sets it apart from all the plastic tripe that gets pumped out and masked as ‘family’ entertainment (fucking chipmunks).

  36. “Mark Millar is kind of the Michael Bay of comics.”

    Now, now. Let’s not say anything we might regret. I’d love to believe that Millar is making some sort of meta-textual statement about violence and vigilantism and the kind of people who get off on it, but after WANTED and KICK ASS I think Millar just thinks that violence and swearing are totally awesome. Haven’t read his new book NEMESIS, but it looks to be more of the same. Apparently he promoted it with the line “What if Batman was a total cunt?”, which is a question I thought Frank Miller has answered pretty thoroughly.

  37. Jareth – Don’t know if you live in the L.A. area (or U.S., for that matter) but in July, the Nuart is having a midnight screening of SPEED RACER, if you want to catch it on the big screen. I guess the programmer there is taking a chance on finding out whether there’s a cult for this movie or not. Either way, it’s still worth a watch on the big screen (preferably tripping balls).

  38. I disagree Mark Millar is totally the MIchael Bay of comics. Michael Bay provides a service for the masses that for uninterested viewers who are just out for a little boom boom pow is totally great and they get there moneys worth. That’s how I read Kick-Ass and the first issue of Nemesis, it’s totally just a whole bunch of fun, but unlike Michael Bay it’s actually mildly intelligent and good. Even Millar’s work on major series in the Marvel Universe is very much “big-budget” kind of stuff where it’s like “What if Captain America started bitching about personal rights, and Iron Man wanted to fight him”.

    Frank Miller answered the question “What if Batman was Dirty Harry?” Back in the 80’s and “What if Batman was an 8-year-old?” with All Star Batman and Robin.

  39. ok if this is going to be a series i have to mention “Zebraman” by Takashi Miike

  40. Awesome description of Speed Racer Brendan, completely agree. It really is terrible in many ways and I remember the first time I watched it, it took a while for it to click for me. But when it did, man, it was awesome. It’s visually astounding and the unique editing choices are quite simply fantastic. I’d found so much of the films attempts at emotion earlier in the film to be horribly cheesy, yet when they montaged it together during the final race sequence I was completely sold, it got to me. The plot suffers from “Phantom Menace syndrome”, it’s meant to be a kids movie, but the plot is an overly convoluted tale about corporate sabotage?

  41. millar is not the michael bay of comics.
    he’s the Friedman and Seltzer of comics.

  42. Did all this ‘Millar is the Michael Bay of comics’ stuff come from here? (http://www.aintitcool.com/node/44471) I’ve never read the guy’s work, but he comes across in interviews as a fairly self-aggrandising blow-hard. KICK-ASS has been getting pretty good reviews from most people, though.

  43. Condorman! Starring the guy who went on to play The Phantom Of The Opera in the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical….God, I loved that movie when I was a kid. Haven’t seen it in years.

  44. Anaru – when i first saw your username i thought, “does that mean what i think it means?” then you mentioning ZEBRAMAN seems to confirm it (i live in japan).

  45. It’s just me (it usually is) but the defending of Speed Racer and the backlash against Kick Ass seems to be a bit on the side of snobby. It’s almost as if you’re trying to be so different from the internet fanboys but then acting just like internet fanboys. So odd.

  46. Jareth Cutestory

    April 8th, 2010 at 6:53 am

    Brendan: Anything with catapulted snakes is probably worth my time.

    Do you have a list of movies that you’re mildly curious to see, but can never remember when you’re actually wandering around the
    video store looking for something? INTO THE WILD is on that list for me. I oughta write that shit down.

    Carlos: Travelling from Eastern Canada to L.A. to see SPEED RACER would be nutty. But not as nutty as those guys who flew all over the place to see a TRON trailer.

  47. Millar isn’t the Michael Bay of comics. Jeph Loeb is.
    Millar I think just tries way too hard to make his comics “cool” or shocking at times, and he comes across these days as if everything creator-owned he rights is an attempt to get something to sell to Hollywood. But I do like plenty of his stuff. His Ultimates seems to be getting used as a loose template for the Avengers Movie, and Kick-Ass was a lot of fun if it quickly abandoned the advertised “real life” element.

  48. Holt shit Brendan made me want to see Speed Racer:The Movie…..

  49. Lawrence – No backlash. I’m excited to see KICK ASS. I would just call it a healthy skepticism about the pre-worship of the movie from some of my internet colleagues like Chud and Moriarty. Moriarty has seen it like twelve times already so I don’t doubt that he genuinely loves it, I just wonder if people outside of that comic-con/butt-numb-a-thon/movie-websight/calling-famous-directors-by-their-first-names circle will be as blown away. Moriarty loves it and chronicles everything KICK ASS, he wrote a breathless post about the genius of some poster but to me it just looked like MYSTERY MEN. I’m not sure how much of this translates to the outside world.

    Those guys have been in love with Matthew Vaughn for years based entirely on movies that he hasn’t even ended up making. LAYER CAKE was pretty good but I don’t think it’s based on that, it’s all based on their interviews and set visits.

    But hopefully I’ll think the movie is as great as Moriarty says and then I will concede that this was silly to discuss.

    As for SPEED RACER, I only kind of liked it, but I understand the cult following just based on it being so unlike any other movies that have been made so far. If somebody wants to be an anti-nerd contrarian they should just love the Star Wars prequels.

    (note: that is not an invitation to discuss Star Wars prequels on this thread)

  50. Lawrence: Well I’m not trying to be snobby in my defense of Speed Racer, I made it quite clear that the movie isn’t ‘good’ and is riddled with flaws, but I think despite being a failure it is a fascinating, interesting failure that I genuinely enjoy watching and I think it has some really strong merits. And Kick-Ass and Scott Pilgrim are two of my most anticipated films of this year, so believe me when I say that a movie doesn’t have to be Dark Knight heavy for me to appreciate it.

    Although there is probably a fascinating essays to be written by someone else about how Speed’s conquering of the racing world corresponds to Daniel Plainviews’ ambitions in the oil business, or how Hit Girl and her wig embodies the philosophical struggle between the desire to express free will and an acquiescence towards a deterministic universe.

    I just like catapaulted snakes man, don’t tread on me with that ‘snob’ stuff.

  51. FUCK Vern beat me to respond to Lawrence. Fuck.

  52. Jareth Cutestory

    April 8th, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    Brendan: I think Vern’s original review for SPEED RACER applauded the Wachowskis for letting their freak flag fly; even if he didn’t entirely like the film, he respected the integrity of the Wachowskis, and recognized that no one else could have made the movie.

    And I agree with Vern about the KICK ASS posters: it’s MYSTERY MEN: THE NEXT GENERATION as far as I’m concerned. And they’ve got that shit plastered all over the subway up here, real big banner advertisements jumping out at you. It’s kind of difficult to not resent the scale of it all.

  53. yes… if “someone” wanted to be an anti-nerd contrarian….

    As much as I enjoyed Timur Bekmambetov’s direction, I thought WANTED was an almost unconscionably amoral and hateful film, offering up the most unpleasant and disturbing apsects geek wish fulfillment as if it was a fun ride, with zero awareness or commentary on its moral nebulousness. It kind of sounds like KICK-ASS has a similar streak, which makes me wary of it. I don’t really know Millar’s work though so I can’t say for sure, and I guess I’ll have to check it out based on the raves it’s pulling.

  54. Mr. Subtlety-“As much as I enjoyed Timur Bekmambetov’s direction, I thought WANTED was an almost unconscionably amoral and hateful film, offering up the most unpleasant and disturbing apsects geek wish fulfillment as if it was a fun ride, with zero awareness or commentary on its moral nebulousness.”
    That’s because the film changed the premise of what the source material was about.

    (SPOILERS FOLLOW)
    In the comic, Wesley’s joining a secret society of SUPERVILLAINS who’ve secretly taken over the world after dealing with the heroes in some way or another. He does a lot worse things in the comic as part of his training alone, and for no noble reason. Just to become one of the villains get all the perks associated with that, taking the place of his supposedly assassinated father. But one of the other major leaders of the group attempts a coup and Welsey is caught in the middle of it. He helps foil it, only to learn his father is alive and set all this up because he was disappointed in how much Wesley was a pathetic loser in real life, and wanted Wesley to follow in his footsteps and become what he considers a man, and to top it off, be the one to kill him. Welsey does, and then when told he’s now entitled to his full inheritence by Fox (who survives the story and doesn’t have the tragic backstory or anything. She’s basically Catwoman minus redeeming moral qualities), he says no, this has all gone too far, and he’s going to quit, and go back to life before all this started. She can’t believe he says that, and it turns out he’s just joking. The comic ends on a montage of Wesley taking up his position as the new dominant supervillain, while mocking the ordinary joes, and particularly the reader who bought the comic and just thinks it’s a story, and ends on him hatefully glaring out and saying “This is my face when I’m fucking you in the ass”. THE END.
    So Millar’s version of it is aware of how horrible what Wesley does, but has Wesley not caring because he’d rather live like a successfull asshole than a “good” nobody.
    (END SPOILERS)
    Kick-Ass the comic and movie are pretty close to each other. The main character isn’t really played up as particularly bad or anything, just maybe naive and a bit foolish. He’s also largely inept through most of the story, and only gets to have a real major win at the end (and in the movie does it in a way you’ll either love for it’s ridiculousness, or loathe for the same reason).

    (VAGUE SPOILERS)
    Hitgirl and Big Daddy’s backstory is different, and I’m kinda conflicted about it, because in the movie, what they go with makes what they do/why they do it more plausible, but it also kinda says “it’s okay to train your 11 year old daughter to be a killer and put her in dangerous situations like that”, while the comic sorta (without really having to say it) kinda goes “that’s fucked up, and you’re a bad father, Big Daddy. Shame on you”. Don’t get me wrong, the film has people point out how fucking insane the idea is and protest, but the backstory they pull seems to be done to make you sympathise more.
    Also, for a movie that had to go get independant funding because no hollywood studio would take a risk on it, I was disappointed that another aspect of the story went the traditional hollywood route rather than the more realistic (and much, much, funnier, imho) way it goes in the comic.
    (END VAGUE SPOILERS)

    But I still thought it was a great, enjoyable movie. I’m going to pull the “you aren’t meant to think about it too hard” card(I’m a card-carrying TF hater), but I don’t think Millar wanted to particularly SAY anything with the story when he wrote it, he just had a crazy idea that would be something different for a comic. This kinda goes back to my comments in an earlier review for a horror movie about how I don’t think every single horror movie has to really be representing some real life issue in order to be “worthy” of critical success. Sometimes a machete wielding maniac is just a machete wielding maniac.
    Next time someone makes a movie like this, I would like to see one concession to reality that unfortunately Kick-Ass doesn’t employ (maybe Defendor uses it?) by having someone easily recognise who the hero is under the costume. It’s one of those things you can’t buy in the case of the Red Mist Character, because Christopher Mintz-Plasse (sp?) is pretty clearly wearing that costume, and he’s got a really recognisable voice. I think the only reason Kick-Ass doesn’t recognise him in the film is because he doesn’t know him too well.

  55. Speaking of kids trained to be killers, say hello to my little friend…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uovMpapeCJQ&feature=related

  56. To the people calling Millar the Michael Bay of comics, I would recommend you read his book Red Son. It’s not perfect, but it’s a fascinating idea that’s played out wonderfully and if nothing else it is clearly the work of a man with a brain and artistic ambition.

  57. Jareth Cutestory

    April 8th, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Mr. Subtlety: When you say that WANTED offered “the most unpleasant and disturbing apsects geek wish fulfillment,” are you saying that the film is depicting these particular geek wishes as shoddy, mean things, or that the film is celebrating only the aspects of geek wishes that are unpleasant and mean?

    Also, is it possible to cast McLovin in a geek wish fulfillment movie and not have him also serve as an indictment of geeks in general?

  58. I loved red son’s concept.
    but really, the dialogue was bad.

  59. Watched WANTED yesterday. It was the first time since BAD BOYS 2 that a mainstream action movie made me feel uncomfortable. But I think Wanted could have fixed this problem if they had lost the off-screen narration, that tells us every few minutes that learning how to become a cold blooded killer makes our lives so much better. It does pretty much what FIGHT CLUB was critizised for when it came out, only that Fight Club not just knew that it was some kind of dark comedy, but also wasn’t talking about beating up helpless victims, but about getting beaten up himself or at least having a fair fight, which is not nearly as disturbing what Wanted tried to tell us.

  60. I watched Wanted when it first came out and I have to say I thouroughly enjoyed it. Not that I’ve seen it since but I’m sure the last line of voice over offers something positive beyond all the mindless mayem. What’s wrong with being amoral in cinema anyway? Isn’t that our get out clause at times just to get lost in a world where we can disconnect and not give a fuck for two hours? I certainly didn’t come out the cinema wanting to be a “Wanted” killer.
    Anyway, we started off with Woody Harrelson who I also think is underrated. I watched a movie with him the other week, “Transsibierian”. He takes a train with his wife through, surprise surprise, Transiberia only to be involved unwittingly in drug smuggling and dodgy Russian cops one of whom is Ben Kingsly. (excellent as always) Just like the aforementioned Woody film, I hadn’t heard of this and was really surprised how much I enjoyed it. I recommend it for all you Woodyphiles out there and I will check out “Defendor” if it sees the light of day in the UK.
    And to those who get annoyed at Vern and other reviewers not liking your fave films, well that’s just down to opinion. Although it hurts that you didn’t like “Crank” to much Vern…ha ha!

  61. Mad typo on thoroughly.

  62. my problem on WANTED is, beyond being a FIGHT CLUB/THE MATRIX myriad….what else is there to its identity to stand out within the genre?

    Other than the rat bombs?

  63. I would say the curving bullets is a unique twist. Even in The Matrix the bullets had to go straight.

  64. Woody’s busy lately. I really liked his performance in The Messenger. I prefer his Tough Guy to his Dumb Ass.

  65. My problem with Wanted, apart from the derivative style, was that the assassins were being told who to kill by a… loom? Wasn’t that the big reveal, that once in a while there’s be a weird flaw in the cotton or something and then the assassins would know who to kill? What the hell was all that about? Or did I dream that part?

    But like everyone said at the time, it was good to hear Morgan Freeman say motherfucker.

  66. I never bothered to see Wanted. I’m not a guy who demands originality to have a good time at the movies, but when your entire movie is an obvious rip off one or two high-profile recent movies in a totally transparent fashion it just feels kinda lame.

    I also had no interest in the cast. Jolie’s face just bothers me for some reason. I don’t watch her movies.

  67. Yeah the loom was ridiculous, and leads to a bit logic hole later on in the movie, where Wesley is convinced that Morgan Freeman’s a bad guy because the Terrence Stamp gives him a piece of tapestry that he says is genuine, and has Freeman’s name on it. Uh…why does he not consider that he was possibly lying and faked the fabric himself? The only concrete proof about it being true is when Freeman admits to it. Otherwise, up till that point, it could have just been a bunch of bullshit to get Wesley to kill all those guys from the Fraternity (which he does do, even though there’s no reason to suspect the ones he does in are in on it with Freeman).

  68. I can’t believe there are this many comments and no one is talking about how awesome Clark Johnson is. This movie sounded awesome, then I found out it had a HOMICIDE alum, not it sounds really awesome.

  69. Jareth — The zeal with which WANTED promotes sadistic violence as method of empowerment feels deepy ugly to me. I think a lot of people, (especially some geeks), have a deep simmering resentment at the world which they feel like doesn’t treat them well enough or give them enough control over their lives. Wesley is a disempowered guy who self-actualizes and gains power, women, self-respect, and identity by taking brutal revenge against everyone who he thinks wronged him in some way (and then unrelated people who he has no connection to). I don’t necessarily want to say its targeted at a specific group, but it’s definitely packaged as wish fulfillment for a set of angry, resentful, disempowered people. So I guess I mean it offers an empowerment scenario which is about as ugly and mean as they come. ‘Think people are mean to you, well what if you could get the power to KILL THEM!!!! Then they wouldnt push me around so much anymore!’ The movie’s idea of moral strength is to ensure that you’re following the wishes of a magic loom. I mean, I don’t demand that every movie present a positive role model or anything, far from it. But the glee WANTED takes in its empowerment-through-brutality scenario kind of disturbed me and made it not very much fun (although, again, I did find it to be really sharply directed and am looking forward to Timur’s next film. And actually I think Angelina Jolie is pretty fucking spectacular in it, too — one of her better badass roles.)

    Stu — thanks for the info, man, that makes a lot more sense. The whole loom thing makes for a very confusing moral universe. If the movie had presented the characters as actively amoral or nihilistic, I might have actually gone along with it a little easier, because at least the moral nebulousness is being addressed by that scenario. “Yeah, they’re bad people, just enjoy the story.” The movie creepily seems to pretend that they’re basically cool people with one bad apple who foolishly DISOBEYED THE WILL OF THE LOOM!! It actually sounds like they kinda did the same thing with KICK-ASS’s Big Daddy, playing down the loathsomeness of the concept so they can focus on how cool everything is and pretending that if they dont address it no one will notice. Course, I haven’t seen it yet so maybe it will strike me differently _ I’ll definitely give it a chance. But anyway, its nice to have some gaps filled in, thanks!

    solo — spread the TRANSSIBERIAN love, man. Thats a fantastic film.

  70. I don’t know if the changes in the Kick-Ass movie are so much changes though, because the film was shot before the first volume of the comic was completed, and apparently at the time, Millar said he was cool with however they wanted to take liberties, as long as they kept alive the characters he had wanted kept alive. They might have been just trying to fill the gaps, or maybe working off an early outline Millar had. The things that are changed come fairly late on in the original story, so that might be more why it’s different. Also, I’ve read an interview with the artist where he says that the story was first about Big Daddy and Hitgirl, and Kick-Ass was added later, so maybe what the film uses was the original plan for when the story was more about them.

  71. Subtelty: “It actually sounds like they kinda did the same thing with KICK-ASS’s Big Daddy, playing down the loathsomeness of the concept so they can focus on how cool everything is and pretending that if they dont address it no one will notice. Course, I haven’t seen it yet so maybe it will strike me differently _ I’ll definitely give it a chance.”.

    I think Kick-Ass is constantly struggling to balance that tone of “this violence is awesome/horrible”. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. They’ve definitely made Big Daddy more sympathetic, I’d rather they’d have played it more ambiguous and kept some of the comics original twist (though as you say stu maybe that was a late decision in the comic writing), his batman-esque outfit would have made more sense with the twist as well. But then I think it works a lot of the time with Hit-Girl, there’s definitely a level of uncomfortableness with how she has no trouble with such horrible violence, whilst there still being a “cool” vibe to some of it. Though I think Watchmen did a better job of managing that tone, but then I’m very fond of that film heh.

    I think it might depend on the audience you see it with, if you’ve got a bunch of 15 year olds behind you cheering/laughing at every little moment of violence then you might leave feeling that the film only wants to just be “this is cool lol”, which is how a lot of film bloggers have been reviewing the film :-/. Also the way the film becomes more comic book like as the film goes on, I think is a kind of parody of how we can become comfortable with extreme violence if it’s presented as spectacle with simplistic morality.

    But yeah it’s nowhere near as bad as the Wanted fuck up, taking away amoral/nihilistic tone and making the killing “good for the world” and making the whole film an unpleasent “taking control of your own life”. Although saying that I think Timur is an awesome visually inventive director, and I wish he’d get a script that matched his talent.

  72. Brendan, I would agree that Superman: Red Son is a better work than Wanted and Kick-Ass, but the thing that makes me identify Red Son as a superior work is the ending, which elegantly ties the whole thing together.

    The thing is, the ending was supplied by Grant Morrison. They used to do quite a bit of co-writing together, back in the day . . .

    Having seen Millar’s later work, I honestly don’t know whether he has a good ending in him when it comes to his creator-owned stuff. I think both Wanted and Kick-Ass could have been saved (for me personally, as an individual reader) with better endings, even despite some of the questionable material within those stories. But that’s just me.

  73. I thought the ending to Red Son was based on one of the early ideas for the regular Superman’s origin?
    I actually love the crazy guerilla version of Batman from it too and the takes on other characters like Hal Jordan as a POW using his imagination to keep himself going.

  74. ***Kick Ass Spoilers Ahoy***

    I’ve also heard that the Kick Ass story was originally centred around Hit Girl and Big Daddy. I really wish they’d stuck with that set-up because as soon as Big Daddy made his exit, I was pretty much done with the film (though the whole shouting instructions while dying angle packed the biggest emotional wallop in the film for me, even if it seemed way too spiteful for a comic book film)

    I couldn’t help but wish that Kick Ass had gone the way of Big Daddy, and Big Daddy survived to clear up the rest of the mob to avenge him. Killing him off was like crashing a new car; they could have got plenty more mileage out of it.

    ***End spoilers***

  75. Jareth Cutestory

    April 9th, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    Mr. Subtlety: Thanks for the clarification.

    I’m not one of those guys who thinks there is a causual link between movies and violence in the real world, but the folks who take that position would probably find some support for their position if they dug deep into the psychology of a young man who really got off on WANTED. Certainly this film is a better candidate for that kind of thinking than the more optimistic message in THE MATRIX.

    Your astute observation about the “sadistic violence as method of empowerment” really hits home when you consider that if WANTED was released 20 years ago, the film-makers would probably be accused of misanthropy, like Kubrick was after CLOCKWORK ORANGE. At the very least, few people would have identified with such a sociopathic protagonist.

    Back in my adolescence, all we wanted from our wish fulfillment was to play the guitar, ride a skateboard and dump a truck load of manure on Biff.

  76. Red Son is flawed. There are some pretty obvious stuff in things like the dialogue and story. But as I said, the book is filled with ideas and ambition and it shows a smart guy pushing himself to do something new and play around with iconography in a manner that other people hadn’t yet. So I give him credit. Not a genuis, not a visionairy, but a smart guy with some cool ideas.

  77. Jareth — just to be clear, I don’t at all subscribe to the notion that violence in media has any causal relationship with violence in real life. I’ve actually studied the topic fairly extensively, and there’s just not much evidence to support that theory at all — in fact, most of the evidence is to the contrary*. I just found the film ugly and unpleasant.

    Your analogy to CLOCKWORK ORANGE is quite astute, I think. On a similar line of thinking, I’d like to mention PERFORMANCE. James Fox’s character in that is a sort of charismatic sociopath, and also the film’s ostensible protagonist. One of the most interesting classes I took in college was called “Documenting the 60s” – basically, analyzing the films of the 60s. The professor showed PERFORMANCE at the very end of class, to highlight the slide from the idealism of the late 60s into hedonistic nihilism in the mid 70s. The movie does a good job of demonstrating that – except, although its fascinated by the darkness of its characters, its clearly kind of horrified by it, too. There’s not a single decent act in the whole movie, but there’s an implied commentary on that. It’s not like I demand we only watch good role models. The problem is, by the time Guy Ritchie took Fox’s character and made him a cornerstone of his British gangster movies, the commentary was gone. It’s hedonistic nihilism which is meant to be flippant and cool. Which is harmless enough, but I can’t help but find it just a little disturbing.

    WANTED even more than those two finds great appeal in violence as a means to empowerment and self-actualization. Lots of geeks feel angry and disempowered, and this movie is marketed right to them. Not that I think that they’ll go off and act violently, I just think it plays to the worst in that kind of person, like Glen Beck. I guess I also ought to say that I was a student at Virginia Tech in April of 2007. It’s not that I think violent media had anything to do with what happened there; its just that I see WANTED trying to play into that same simmering, generalized rage which is so obvious in Cho’s writing — and also into his violent fantasy which became our reality. I guess I don’t have much stomach for that anymore.

    Again, what happened there happened because of mental illness. I don’t think really anything could have been done to prevent it with the current system. But I see people all the time, especially on the internet, who just seem to have a pretty similar egomaniacal rage at the world (they are just sane enough to act on it less extremely) and to see a film which seems to just want to play to that without any moral awareness or even any introspection at all… it sort of upsets me. And maybe that’s not the film’s fault, maybe its just the result of my personal experiences with violence, especially violence so tied to anger and hate. Anyway. uh. I guess it really got to me more than I realized. There’s just a certain ugliness there that gets under my skin.. and I guess in a way brings me right back there. Funny thing is, its not the violence, really. I know the difference between movies and reality, and I like violent films and Ive watched a whole mess of them since then. It’s the idea of the darkest kind of thoughts and fantasies people have so slickly and strategically packaged, so enthusiastically sold, so willfully excised from any kind of compassion or humanity. That’s a place I just can’t bear to spend much time in.

    *Although of course, it would also be foolish to argue that consuming media has NO effect on people. Of course it does; everything we consume adds to our perspectives on reality and normalcy, etc. etc. In some cases, media can have strong effects on specific humans (especially ones who are already crazy). So, like everything, it’s complicated. But I would definitely say I don’t think WANTED has or will cause any real-world harm.

  78. This movie’s playing at my local science fiction convention this next weekend (Denver Starfest), I’ll have to check it out.

  79. I really like Speed Racer. Just a pure, joyous movie. Lots of slick action, a messege i enjoyed, and fun CGI stunts. Even got a Speed Racer poster for my wall

    as for the Wanted stuff… i kinda agree with you, Mr. Subtlety. I’m sorry about your esperiances in VT (my college had a shooting, but it was before my time) but more then that i remember being one of those bitter, rage-filled nerds. It’s not a good place to be, and i’m glad i found some positivity instead of simmering in it. There is alot of media that plays on that resentment (often sexual) and bitterness

    Scott Pilgrim is better. It’s ‘hey, he’s kinda a loser, but he’s in a band, and he plays videogames, and has friends. It’s chill’. that’s a better way to live, i think

  80. Brimstone — I’m with ya on that one. Chill is better. I also think you make a worthwhile point about how sexuality plays into this kind of empowerment fantasy. As much as I think Angelina Jolie has a great performance in the film which she actually makes much more layered than the role as written requires — she’s a classic example of the sort of super-sexualized but icy/unavailable female characters which routinely accompany this kind of fantasy (and other kinds of fantasies aimed at nerds… most embarrassingly in the last two Star Trek series). I’m not sure quite how this kind of fetishized image of a women plays into it, but it seems like that’s part of the formula, which is also kind of ugly (although as I said, I think Angelina makes more of the part than she has to and saves it from being a totally uncomfortable role).

  81. Well, looks like Ebert had the same problem with KICK-ASS that I did with WANTED. He just finds its bloodthirtsty amorality kind of a bummer. I don’t know that I really worry about “the kids” like he seems to, but I’m not sure Harry helps the movie much by arguing in his response (at least, I think this is what he’s arguing. Its hard to tell, exactly) that kids of yesteryear played violent games with guns, so whats wrong with kids today laughing and cheering for gruesome amoral carnage for the sake of pleasure and empowerment? I dunno, sports fans. Its not like I think this is gonna destroy society or even make people act badly, I just think it plays to the worst in them in a way which makes me sort of sad. I’ll be seeing it this weekend so maybe it’ll convince me that it’s just dumb action-y fun and I’m wrong to see it as kind of disturbing.

    Roger:
    http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100414/REVIEWS/100419986

    Harry:
    http://www.aintitcool.com/node/44670

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