tn_kick-assKICK-ASS is the new movie that for the first time since DEFENDOR, MIRAGEMAN, SPECIAL and the first part of SPIDERMAN where he wears the pajamas asks the question “What would happen if a comic book nerd dressed up as a super hero and tried to fight crime?” The answer is partly the same as DEFENDOR’s (he’ll get beat up badly, except when he has clubs) but partly different (a little girl will fly around spinning knives and doing kung fu, murdering dozens of people and give him a jetpack and [SPOILERS for KICK-ASS and DEATH WISH 3] he’ll kill a mob boss DEATH WISH 3 style).

Either the movie is confused or just I am, because I really thought this was gonna be about what would happen if people tried to be super heroes in the real world. I thought this mainly because the lead nerd (who buys a mask and scuba suit and comes up with the dumb name Kick-Ass for himself) narrates through the entire movie and explains explicitly and in detail that that is in fact exactly what the story is about.

mp_kick-assOther than a wacky opening they do stick to a basically realistic world of ordinary people for a while. Until the flying murdering supergirl character, and then it becomes the movie that he was assuring us at the beginning that it was not gonna be. Either they never proof read so they forgot what the first part of the script was about, or more likely it was written by people who just have no idea what the difference is between comic strips and reality. Whatever their excuse is their postmodern subversion of comic book cliches is exactly as old and empty as what they’re apparently trying to comment on.

Did these guys get to see DARK KNIGHT and IRON MAN yet? How can you have a “super heroes in the real world” story but in a world that feels less real than the ones in the most popular super hero movies of the day? To me that seems like a conceptual air ball, like trying to do a parody of AIRPLANE. They start out with this hugely flawed premise and then they just lightly sketch out that premise and don’t go in many unexpected directions with it.

This kid Kick-Ass tells us that he’s not doing it for revenge like Batman, as if to say that’s a stupid cliche. Later we meet Nicolas Cage as Big Daddy, who dresses like Batman and is doing it for revenge, and I think everyone would agree that he’s a way more interesting character than Kick-Ass. So maybe our narrator shouldn’t be so smug about that shit. Maybe it’s a cliche for a reason.

Cage is an obvious stand-out in the movie, his alter-ego a nerdy ex-cop who brainwashes his daughter to obsess over weaponry and trains her to spin butterfly knives and shit, and his super hero talks like Adam West (a weird speech pattern that seemed to confuse the audience at the Cinerama). And yes, there’s a sprinkle of his MEGA-ACTING in a scene with a coincidental WICKER MAN parallel where he starts screaming his lines like Steven Tyler or somebody.

There are very few smart touches or details in this movie, but of what’s there two of them belong to Big Daddy:

1. You see him painting on black eye makeup, something I’ve always wondered about in the Batman movies.

2. He wears a fake mustache visible under the mask. A double disguise – real bank robber shit.

Maybe I’m being harsh. This is not a terrible movie, and has a few funny lines and what not. I liked that the nerd immediately got stabbed the first time he tried to be a super hero. Not enough stabbings of nerds in movies these days. Also there’s a couple laughs in a subplot about him pretending to be gay to get close to a girl. I never saw the one where Adam Sandler does that to see Jessica Biel’s boobs, so this version seemed pretty funny. And there’s a self-reflexive type narration line that made me laugh even though I don’t buy the idea that a teenager today is familiar with AMERICAN BEAUTY. SUNSET BOULEVARD, sure, but nobody gives a shit about AMERICAN BEAUTY.

But I don’t think it’s a very witty movie, it’s mostly the-same-old-shit in sly-commentary-on-the-same-old-shit’s clothing. I’m guessing the idea was to make it all obvious cliches, but to invest the characters with some kind of extra depth. If so they never got around to Phase II of that plan. There’s no sense of emotional reality, especially with the girlfriend character that’s probly meant to be the heart of the movie. She’s supposed to be this perfect good girl, but for reasons of plot convenience her boyfriend is a murderous drug dealer in the ghetto who looks about 40 years old. She only hangs out with Kick-Ass because she thinks he’s gay (because he got beat up [?]) but when she finds out he’s a fraud, but also dresses up as a super hero, she immediately demands to fuck him. You know, because it’s about what would really happen. Just ask those guys in CONFESSIONS OF A SUPER HERO. Women can’t fuckin control themselves around some weiner dressed as Superman. Their legs open automatically like the doors at the grocery store.

Also it gets Kevin Smith-style uncomfortable when she starts name dropping comic book artists. Gentlemen, get your boners ready. She knows about so and so who draws such and such. But she has boobies.

The main thing people seem to like about this is the little girl, Hit Girl, because she shoots people, stabs people, talks tough, blows kisses, and says “cunt” and “motherfucker.” Only… get this… she’s a kid though. Kids say the darndest things! I don’t know guys, it’s kind of funny how excited she is about buying new weapons, but you can only bang on that piano key so many times.

In her first and best scene she shows a little bit of being a kid, asking to be taken out for ice cream after taking hits in a bullet proof vest. But the rest of the time they just go for the joke where she’s an adult killing machine in a little girl’s body. Maybe if she had a little bit of dimension it would be more interesting, I don’t know. Drew McWeeny sees an “aching sadness” in her character, but I don’t see that in the movie. At the end she gets bloody revenge, lives with a responsible adult, and it ends on a joke about her beating up school bullies. It’s a happy ending. There’s no sign that that the filmatists want you to think anything else.

People are talking about the violence in the movie, as if it’s some kind of envelope-pushing shocker like Verhoeven used to make. Maybe I’m desensitized, but it didn’t seem that violent to me. More violent than the FANTASTICAL FOUR movies, sure. But again one of the serious super heroes already did it better: PUNISHER WAR ZONE is just as stupid and sloppy as this but gets more mileage out of the same joke of the super hero going way overboard in killing criminals. I can prove that mathematically, too. Kick-Ass (spoiler) uses a rocket launcher to kill the main villain. Punisher uses his on a petty drug courier. (For that matter, is this any more violent than Dolph’s Punisher? I’m not sure it is.)

If they really wanted to be edgy I think they would’ve had to have some kind of realism with Hit Girl. Like, more believable than Natalie Portman in LEON/THE PROFESSIONAL at least. How can anybody really find this disturbing when it makes that movie look like a documentary? Maybe if there was some kind of emotional or other consequence to the mass murder that happens in the movie, then we could marvel at how “fucked up” it is because it would actually mess with our emotions. Like in KILL BILL VOLUME 1 when we’re having fun and then it stops for a full minute or two for The Bride to cry about losing her baby. KICK-ASS never asks you to confront anything like that. It just plays it as a joke. We’re supposed to just be happy that the nice normal kid murdered his friend’s dad in front of him, because the dad was a Bad Guy.

(I have to admit I kind of understood the mobsters. They have the best motive after Nicolas Cage. These people are murdering all their friends and co-workers, of course they want them dead.)

I guess the comic book this is based on is by the same guy that wrote the one WANTED was based on. Makes sense. Both are hollow and derivative and seem overly convinced of their own genius. Both have weiners for main characters, but the one in KICK-ASS gets the edge for being less douchey. On the other hand WANTED has the funnier action scenes. KICK-ASS has Nic Cage, but you gotta admit Angelina Jolie was really cool in WANTED, so the supporting grown up category is a wash. Both have an ending that sets up a lame unwanted sequel, but KICK-ASS’s is worse since it doesn’t seem to realize that ending the exact same way as SPIDERMAN doesn’t count as “commenting on” SPIDERMAN. What is this, one of those EPIC MOVIE type deals? A reference is just a reference. If you want it to be a joke or make a point you gotta add substance.

I guess ultimately WANTED kind of rubbed me the wrong way more than KICK-ASS, but kept my interest more. I’m leaning toward WANTED being better, but I’ll be generous and call it a tie.

* * *

I’m not sure about writing this next part, because I don’t want to insult anybody or piss on anybody’s parade. There’s just no sense in parades getting pee on them. So I mean it only as constructive criticism, but I kind of feel like I gotta call bullshit on the amount of hype my internetical colleagues have been giving this thing.

Ordinarily I would just shrug off a movie like this and forget about it, but some of the people I read have been raving about it since it played Harry’s Butt-numb-a-thon months ago. Maybe it’s just over my head or something, maybe I just don’t get it, and it only comes across as seeming obvious and empty-headed. But it seems to me like some of these guys have been so invested in the movie since before it was made that they’re projecting things onto it. They’ve covered it from cradle to grave, they’ve done set visits, they’ve interviewed the director, writers and stars, they’ve run exclusive photos and posters and clips and trailers, they all saw it late at night with a crazed Butt-numb-a-thon crowd, and if they could vote for it for president or wear it as an outer skin they would do it.

Harry, in his defense of the movie from Roger Ebert (which seemed more outraged by Ebert’s response than Ebert seemed about the movie), indirectly compared it to TAXI DRIVER. Drew called the action “just jaw-dropping,” and talked about some EQUILIBRIUM-style strobelight as “a gorgeous nod to the power of the comic page… electrifying, emotional cinema.” Devin Feraci from Chud, stepping outside of his usual Mr. Grumpypants persona to write two separate rave reviews, called it “the single best Western action film I’ve seen in maybe a decade”  and Hit Girl “one of the most bad-ass characters to ever hit films. Hit Girl is going to be a fucking phenomenon…”

I’m not doubting their sincerity in loving the movie. And they’re the winners here. I wish I could love it too. I should be happy for them. But it reminds me of why I try to avoid reviewing movies after some minimal contact with the director (like the quote I got from Guillermo Del Toro, or the introduction from David Gordon Green). It seems to me that with their premature canonization of this director (based mostly on two comic book movies he didn’t end up finishing), the personal relationships they have with the filmatists and the in-depth coverage they’ve done of what the movie is supposed to be they maybe built up a movie in their minds that’s not available on screens for the outside world to enjoy. So in the land of internet hyperbole a perfectly fine child performance becomes a breathtaking, star-making moment in cinematic history, McLovin’ putting on a MYSTERY MEN costume for a laugh becomes Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s complete re-invention of his onscreen persona, and a meaningless rehash of comic book cliches becomes a startlingly original statement on the I’m not sure what of comic book something or other.

The positive reviews talk vaguely about how it comments on comic books or super heroes or whatever. But what is the comment? What does it have to say? What does it mean? Did it really point out some thing about a guy in a mask that you never heard a hundred times before? I mean other than the fake mustache, because I agree, that was a good one.

I’m not filing an ethics complaint or nothin. Film criticism isn’t objective. But the way these websights work I think lends itself to clouding up the ol’ critical judgment a little. So as fellow excellence-strivers I’d ask the boys to just meditate on that a little bit when reviewing movies of people they hang out with at the Comics Con or who they like to send tweeterings to. That’s all.

* * *
I might have to come back here and admit I’m wrong in a couple years, but my guess is this will be the WEDDING CRASHERS of nerd movies. RIght now people might talk about it as the greatest thing they ever saw. And get mad at me for saying this. In three years though according to my theory they won’t talk about it all. They’ll have some comic book equivalent of THE HANGOVER to keep them occupied.

Of course, there’s a strong argument against me here, and that’s that the Cinerama crowd I saw it with hooted and hollered for it. They loved that shit. Afterwards I heard one guy explain to his friend. “That was the whole reason I wanted to see it. A 13 year old girl killing people!

And maybe that’s really what it comes down to, not the Entertainment Media Industrial Complex – people just think it’s hilarious that a little girl kills people.

I don’t get it, man. I don’t think it’s offensive at all, I just don’t think it’s very funny. It’s just such an obvious fake-shocker, like drawing Disney characters fucking each other. I don’t think it bothered Ebert because it was violent, I think it bothered him because it was violent but also dumb. I bet if it had something to say he’d feel differently. Anyway I agree, he shouldn’t be outraged, because there’s nothing outrageous about it. It bothers some of these guys that Ebert is offended by it, but the whole joke is predicated on it supposedly being shocking. Which one is it?

So maybe I really just don’t get the joke. There’s alot I don’t get about this movie. For example I don’t get the music choices at all. Why the BANANA SPLITS theme while Big Daddy teaches his daughter how to take a bullet? Why FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE during a scene that was more like THE MATRIX than a spaghetti western? Why is it funny that they sing along with Gnarls Barkley? And I guess Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” was supposed to give some kind of spunky girl power to Hit Girl, but I don’t get why it just starts jarringly in the middle of a loud action scene already in progress. I guess I don’t speak this movie’s dialect. But it seems to me like every aspect of the movie is only thought through about half way and then just thrown on screen.

I’ll be interested to hear what you guys think.


(get it, that last line is a commentary on the comic books)

This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 20th, 2010 at 12:45 pm 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 skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

243 Responses to “Kick-Ass”

  1. haven’t seen it.
    mildly interested. if fir nothing else but Cage.

  2. Let me just say (for now) that I’m so annoyed with today’s geeks and nerds (and how they get excited about the dumbest things, but nitpick very good stuff to death), that I don’t wanna have anything to with them anymore. I mean, I’m still enjoying comicbook movies and SciFi, hell, next week I’m even visiting a Star Trek convention and I’m sure I will over the years still talk to some nice and (kinda) sane ones, but whenever someone refers to me as geek or nerd, I will throatpunch him. I just don’t wanna be associated with them anymore! I hang out with them, but don’t necissarily share their views.

  3. This movie has absolutely zero original or insightful to say about comic books or the people who read them. It is also a movie that has a jetpack with two gatling guns attached to it. I liked it a lot and will happily watch it again.

    I don’t know, I hate to play this card, but I think a lot of people on both sides are taking this movie too seriously. It’s got no depth at all and everybody trying to read any into it is just reaching, but just because those assholes are taking it too far doesn’t mean that the people on the other side have to tear it apart for not having something nobody in their right mind should have ever expected it to have in the first place. It’s basically just the Zombieland of superhero movies. Nobody took Zombieland seriously either as a zombie movie or as a deconstruction of same, and that’s why it was fun. You just sat back and watched some likable people cracking jokes, having a little light romance, and occasionally indulging in some medium-grade violence. I think Kick Ass is fun in the same way. It never occurred to me that the violence was supposed to be shocking. I just think it’s funny to see a little girl in a purple wig scampering up onto a mafioso’s shoulders and shooting him through the top of the head. But hey, either you laugh or you don’t. I did. The world goes on.

  4. Not seen it yet (damn volcanic ash), but will let you know my thoughts when i do

    The review and extended section (unrated version ?) pure gold. Finding someone who can breakdown the fanboy frenzy out on the interweb about this movie and isn’t bothered about being seen to go with the flow, its why i visit this site. (Until i see it i don’t know if i will agree or disagree on the movie) but i appreciate the honesty

  5. It left me feeling a bit empty. I have to agree with all the points Vern makes.

    I thought the same thing RE the music choices in Watchmen too, why pick songs/music that immediately make you think of other superior films?

  6. CJ Holden – I think Vern is onto something about the investment made by people before release. Because if said movie backfires, well people get defensive and will come up with questionable lacking logic because they take it personally. We see it in partisan politics all the time.

    There was a point I wanted to see KICK ASS because well, the comic made me laugh. Nothing witty or intelligent per say about the medium, but I enjoyed it. Like Majestyk I laughed. Plus I liked the idea of seeing a little kid curse like a sailor and murder like a hitman.

    Then the Nerd Internet took hold of it and well, now I can’t be enthused to go see it anytime soon. Maybe in a few years when the hysteria dies down and it becomes just a movie that may or may not be decent.

    Imagine if something like the Internet was around in 1987, and the same Internet prodded

    Anyway I think the nerds are pissed at Ebert more that he outright dismissed it than for whatever logic he employed. Boo hoo, he didn’t like your movie. Grow up guys, he didn’t like DIE HARD at the time either. Or A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. Or FIGHT CLUB. Or…you get my drift. I like Ebert, I enjoy his reviews even when I disagree with him.

    Ole Rog has done more for film than any of those fucking McWeeneys or Farraci or any of those suckers have or can ever do. Maybe one reason I like that old fart is that he isn’t too damn nerdy. On his old TV show, he was a nice balance between the arthouse circuit and the weekly Hollywood popcorn. Quite frankly, I’ve checked out more movies from his recommendations than I have with those other guys. Hell he got me to watch IMPULSE, an underrated good thriller directed by one of Clint Eastwood’s exes. And lets admit it, Ebert was on the Bigelow bandwagon before the rest of the mainstream was.

    Vern – Not to be redundant, but FYI that WANTED sequel got cancelled.

  7. “I thought the same thing RE the music choices in Watchmen too, why pick songs/music that immediately make you think of other superior films?”

    Chase – Maybe because subconciously we were wishing we were watching them instead of WATCHMEN?

  8. I tried to roll with this movie’s punches, but then it pulled all of them. I think that analogy makes sense. Basically, it’s a dumb-downed version of the comic, which is pretty absurd, considering the comic isn’t exactly that insightful. It is more intelligent than this, though. And way gorier. One of the most violent, goriest thing I’ve read or seen in a while. If the movie had kept a consistent tone throughout, it would’ve been great. It doesn’t even matter what that tone is, just keep it consistent.

  9. “Either they never proof read so they forgot what the first part of the script was about, or more likely it was written by people who just have no idea what the difference is between comic strips and reality.” … Or you just diddnt get this film at all. I stoped reading after that. Im not gonna read a review about a movie from a guy who clearly diddnt get it.

  10. Chase-the Watchmen soundtrack comes almost entirely from the comic. Each issue closed with a quote from one of those songs.

  11. Well I would classify myself as a geek and a nerd, but not a fanboy. And while I can shrug off a bad film, there is something particularly offensive about an EXPENSIVE bad film, to me. (Hello, “Bad Boys 2” – my personal pick for worst mainstream film ever.) So you might say that my prejudices have nothing to do with any particular canon, they’re purely commercial.

    As for this one – I’ll give you an opinion when I see it. Which I will, enough people have posted positive reviews that don’t seem to be fanboy-driven for me to be interested. The annoying thing is that I already know WAY too much about it – which frankly makes me less inclined to go to the cinema to see it.

  12. Maybe I didn’t get the comic either. I’m one of the few people who thinks it’s about a kid getting the shit kicked out of him, everyone is convinced it’s a commentary on the comics public and violence and shit like that. The thing is, most Mark Millar comics are about superheros, that’s the vein he works in. If he is commenting, it’s on deranged teenagers, as told through the lens of a superhero comic. That’s superhero comics 101. It’s ALWAYS about something else. Superhero comics commenting on themselves have been done so often, and so much better, that it’s more or less pointless to do it anymore.

  13. Oh jesus, can we all please get over ourselves? We’re all nerds, geeks, and fanboys. Every last one of us. If we weren’t, we wouldn’t be here.

    Do you know who directed more than half of the movies you watch? You’re a nerd.

    Do you have an opinion on where the Nightmare on Elm Street series lost its way? You’re a geek.

    Will you watch pretty much anything Steven Seagal is in simply because he’s in it? You’re a fanboy.

    All of us have our things that we take too far. Some of us can never forgive the Star Wars prequels for some half-remembered childhood molestation. Some of us fly into a rage at the very mention of the name Michael Bay. Some of will rag on Christian Bale’s retarded Batman voice at any opportunity. These are not the behaviors of normal men. I’ve met normal men. I’ve attempted to speak to them. It doesn’t turn out well. Believe me, they don’t give one flying fuck about the things that we care about. We’re a different tribe. Some of us are more reasonable, more eloquent, or more forgiving than others. But this is a difference in degree, not kind.

    Do not cast judgment on your fellow nerd, your fellow geek, your fellow fanboy, though their views and the fervor with which they’re expressed might sicken or confuse you. Remember that we are all of us devoted to pursuits that the vast majority of people walking this planet have no knowledge of or interest in. And when you see a nerd, a geek, or a fanboy going into palpitations over some minor slight or trivial triumph, be compassionate, for there but for the grace of getting a piece of ass every now and then go you.

    Also, it was pretty fucking sweet when “American Trilogy” came on during the jetpack part. I’m glad they kept in the applause at the end, I thought that really sold it.

  14. My reaction was pretty much the same, Vern. after the showing, I was in a car with two other guys who were wildly entertained by it. I thought it was a pretty standard exercise in superhero cliches amped up by some extra sex and violence. The WATCHMEN did it a lot better. At least it had something to say about the genre. Granted, this one didn’t take itself nearly as seriously but as an obvious parody of SPIDERMAN it failed for me. Probably because I didn’t feel that SPIDERMAN needed to be more violent. A lot of people seem to think that by adding more sex or violence to a formula they are being subversive and somehow smarter than the source material but unless you have something else to say about it, it’s just the formula with more splatter. How is that smarter or more entertaining? I’m pretty sure by the time IRON MAN 2 arrives, KICK-ASS will have been forgotten and that’s as it should be.

  15. I thought the action was alright. As for realism, who knows what would happen if you took a five-year-old and trained it to be a superkiller for six years? I think in the comics it turns out that her mum isn’t dead, her dad just kidnapped her from his divorced wife.

    What really got me going was the way it turned into male wish-fulfillment. First off, Kick-Ass gets to fly to the rescue, he gets to save Hit Girl twice and he gets to kill the bad overlord? And second, the perfect (save for druggie boyfriend) girl (volunteers at drug exchange, reads comics – really?) whom he lies to so badly that he gets to be in the same room with her with almost all their clothes off because he’s gay and non-threatening instantly drags him into her bed after he comes clean, and then fucks his “brains out” at the garbage cans? (and his geek friend gets the girl whose hair he sniffed earlier)

    So they begin the film with showing the consequence of violence and how comic books would work in the real world, and then they make the real world into comic book world. Shit.

  16. I don’t post often, but I read everything.

    This review was like a bracing splash of aftershave – in a good way.

    I am also a big AICN reader, and I have come to cherish their hyperbole and sycophancy. But when /Film got in the act, I thought this movie was going to be the real deal. I can’t help but think that Vern is right on the nose about the critics getting too close to the action. If I read one more mention of the close personal relationship between Harry Knowles and [insert directors name here], I may be sick.

    I haven’t seen the film, and I may wait till the Blu to watch it, but I think this was the first truly honest review of the movie I have read.

    God Bless Vern.

  17. @loudabagel

    Didn’t realise that about the music in Watchmen.

    Think it worked against them following the comic so closely in that regard.

  18. “Of course, there’s a strong argument against me here, and that’s that the Cinerama crowd I saw it with hooted and hollered for it. They loved that shit. Afterwards I heard one guy explain to his friend. “That was the whole reason I wanted to see it. A 13 year old girl killing people!”

    And maybe that’s really what it comes down to, not the Entertainment Media Industrial Complex – people just think it’s hilarious that a little girl kills people.”
    While I think that oversimplifies it, yeah, that’s the appeal. Just the fun craziness of it. I do think you’re overthinking it and being harsh on it for it not following the “real life” aspect to it. Fair enough if ALL you knew of the movie was a simply explanation of it as such, but I get the impression you have been aware of the more fantastical elements, just from TV ads and trailers, so you should have known what to expect.
    It’s funny though the things you say Cage’s character is more interesting and the situation with the girlfriend is unrealistic though, because (SPOILERS FOR COMIC)
    In the comic, Big Daddy ISN’T a widowed ex-cop. He’s an accountant. His wife’s still alive, but he’s basically took off with the kid to be a superhero. It doesn’t really go into how he gets to that point, but it does paint him in the end as more of a lunatic who’s doing some fucked up shit. He only goes after the mobster because “we needed a villain”, and he dies pretty unceremoniously, shot the in back of the head while begging for a doctor to see to the bullet in his stomach. He’s basically a bigger fanboy than Kick-Ass, but with less admirable motivations. Hit Girl is pretty much the same in the comic though, only at the end she goes back to live with her mother, not the same school as Kick Ass (though the writer of the comic says he wants to do a “History of Violence” thing with her in the future where she has to resist the urge to go violent under provocation, and when she eventually can’t stop herself, it’ll be spectacular).
    The girlfriend doesn’t become a girlfriend in the comic. She doesn’t know the drug dealer he goes to see on her behalf (it’s just a request he gets from someone else on his websight). He doesn’t tell her he’s Kick-Ass, but at the end he does tell her in public that he’s not gay, that he loves her and he’s happy to have gotten so close to her during the past few months, which she responds to by calling him a fucking creep and having a jock beat the crap out of him. This I was madder about being changed in the movie. The Big Daddy stuff at least on one hand made what he was able to do a bit more plausible than if he was just a fucked in the head accountant.
    Red Mist is also much less sympathetic, and is out to get Kick-Ass from the start, doesn’t warm up to him, and isn’t actually revealed to be the mobster’s son until the double cross happens.

    I really don’t know what to make of you being pretty brutal about “nerd shit” as you call it, as I think I’m the sort of person you’d lump in with that, but I think I’m one of the less hardcore ones when it comes to this sort of thing. So I try not to take it personally, but it’s hard not to think it’s affecting your view, even though you enjoy plenty of other nerd shit and even superhero movies in general. And you run a websight where you review movies. And you wrote a book analysing Steven Seagal movies. Not that I’m saying that’s nerd shit, just…some people would.

  19. I’m with Mr. Majestyk on this one, I enjoyed the hell out of this movie

    maybe it was just because I was shocked that such a crazy ass movie got a wide release and I was seeing it in my local theater (I was the one laughing the most and you could tell some of the movie was going over the audience heads, of which they weren’t a whole lot of)

    the Zombieland comparison is pretty apt, this is essentially just an irreverent action comedy I think, it’s not trying to be TOO deep a statement on anything

  20. oh and I’m afraid the “sing along with Gnarls Barkley” scene had me ROLLING

  21. If Sir Nicolas wasn’t in this it wouldn’t even be on my radar.

  22. and Vern, no offense buddy, but don’t even act like you’re not a nerd


  23. AICN does often have that whole echo chamber effect. It seems like at least once or twice a year all the writers rally unabashedly behind some big nerd property, showering it with unwavering adoration, with no dissenting opinions. I’m not a big fan of their criticism in general, though.

    The thing I always found kind of fucked up is this whole internet trend of becoming a fan of something before its even released. I can understand why people would be excited for KICK ASS if they were a fan of the comic and or the director, but sometimes there’s this weird internet effect where it seems like everybody pre-judges something as good, sight unseen, and they’ve so convinced themselves of that fact that it doesn’t really matter if the movie is any good. They’ve already seen it in their minds, and its a masterpiece.

    Most of the positive KICK ASS reviews I’ve read on the internet smack of that mentality, which really made me less interested in seeing it (perhaps unfairly).

  24. The wacky action comedy thing makes sense. My favorite parts almost all revolved around the jokes. However, the way people were talking about it, you’d think it was Spider-Man 2 meets Taxi Driver. Everything the movie tries to lampoon, every observation it tries to make, every cliche it thinks its subverting was done better in other movies that just came out. Punisher: War Zone, Observe and Report, Defendor, Zombieland, even Watchmen. Basically, the bar was raised for Kick-Ass, but the filmmakers were completely oblivious to what expectations they were being held to.

  25. Dan Prestwich – you’ve just discovered the secret of most uh “internet people”‘s (for lack of a better term) opinions, they decide that they’re gonna like or hate something before they even see it

    I think this happens a lot more with people who hate certain movies instead of those who like certian

    take the fourth Indiana Jones movie for example, the majority of talkbackers were already talking about how much the movie was gonna suck and how much they hate Geroge Lucas and Shia “The Beef” long before it came out and low and behold the majority of them hated the movie’s guts

    or even Avatar, you had tons of people saying that was gonna suck before it came out and it seems like the majority of the people who hated it were the ones who hated it before they even saw it, hmmmm

  26. I will repeat what I wrote in the Aintitcool-Forum, because that´s still what I think about this mess of a movie:

    Where to start? It´s made with incredible intelligence and style. But, and this makes the whole experience even more sad, I found the story flatout boring; in fact, it became depressing after a while because there was nothing left but pseudo-coolness. No believable characters, no real consequences of all the ultra-violence – even the death of an important person left me cold. And the biggest mistake is to establish a world where superheroes don´t exist – and to throw this rule out of the window when the story has written itself into a corner. When everything is possible, nothing matters anymore. I´m sorry, but in my opinion Ebert is right, spot-on, with his view of “Kick-Ass”.

  27. caruso_stalker217

    April 20th, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    I was optimistic about the fourth INDIANA JONES outing. I wasn’t offended by the film so much as I was bored by it. I had to see it a second time to try and figure out why it didn’t work.

  28. caruso_stalker217

    April 20th, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Also, aside from Nic Cage I have no interest in this KICK-ASS picture.

  29. caruso_stalker217 – if it’s fine if one didn’t like it provided they gave it a damn chance

    it just pissed me the hell off how so many people had decided they hated it before there was even a trailer

  30. Henrik – enlighten me then, bud. Why does it go from “this is what it would be like in the real world” to “forget what I said about this is what it would be like in the real world”? What do I not get?

    Please tell me. Then I will quote parts of the rest of my review back to you and trick you into reading the whole thing.

  31. Wow, you’ve just completely nailed everything I felt about this movie myself. As such, I don’t feel like there’s anything else for me to add. Good work.

  32. ***Not enough stabbings of nerds in movies these days.***
    Laughter from Mouth’s mouth ensued.

    Also, Mr. Majestyk’s nerd-geek-fanboy manifesto is intriguing. I refuse to allow myself to describe it as applicable to myself. Because I’m not a nerd or geek or a fanboy. I’m better than that. He’s talking about everyone here except for me.

  33. Man I think I’m one of those assholes that’s getting more out of the film than is actually there.

    Ok first of, I don’t think anyone involved in making the comic/film really thought about it in any particular depth other than “lol this is so crazy it’s awesome!!”. Millar definitely didn’t, and the confused tone of the film definitely implies that the writer/director were more going for the “this is awesome!!” and any depth that I get from it is accidental. I’d like to think they weren’t, but when they’ve actively changed things from the comic (like Big Daddy’s real origin, and kick-ass not getting together with the girl) that would have helped contribute to some deeper level, you know they’re not really going for that. I think I need to watch the film again, but overall i consider it entertaining and thought provoking but a bit of a failure in some respects and very confused tone.

    As for the whole thing about the film being “what if superheroes really existed?!” i think that’s a bit of a misnomer, it’s more “what if superheroes existed in a world where they existed in comics first?”. The world doesn’t have to be real to explore the impact of what superheroes would be like in the real world. I know that sounds like bullshit, but I think Watchmen did a much better job of exploring that concept of “real” people as superheroes, our own attraction to the idea of it and the horrible violence that being a vigilante would inevitably entail – all in an alternate 1987.

    Anyway, in Kick-Ass I think we get a lot about our own relationship with excessive violence in the film. I’m sure most of us here are all fond of a bit of extreme violence in our action sequences, and happily cheer on the hero to kill/maim the badguys and hey it’s all ok, because they’re the badguys. Ironically I’ve read a lot of articles defending the film with this “it’s ok that the 11 year old kills peopel ‘cos they’re bad people”. This seems to drastically miss the point (well…my point that i’ve got from the film, ha, probably not what the director set out with) and essentially defend the film with a point i think the film is trying to discuss and point out as being a really flawed argument.

    I think Massawyrm raises some interesting points about the finale of the film:


    Seeing an 11 year old girl deal out all this action film violence is a novelty, and an entertaining one, and you back her and want her to win, despite how fucked up having this girl do this is. But then that sequence between Frank and hitgirl is really brutal, it’s not gorey, it’s not sweary, it doesn’t need to be. We’re finally seeing the 11 year old girl treated like one, and it’s horrible. As Mass says, we’re always crying out for “gritty” comic adaptations, but we don’t really want it to be “realistic”, we want fake grittiness, the reality is way too uncomfortable. And so Kick ass coming in with a rocket launcher takes us back into the comic book. He got blown out of the window with a rocket launcher hahaha this violence is funny and ok, not like the violence we just saw 2 seconds ago.

    The comic was apparantly originally just about Hitgirl/big daddy. As Leon is one of my favourite films, to essentially have that “re-imagined” with them as superheroes would have been kinda spectacular for me. I don’t dislike Dave/Kick-ass in it. I think we need his perspective for some of the film to work. But then at the same time he’s basically just used for geek wish fulfilment. Ironically it’s that wishfulfilment that leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth after the film, far more than the violence and hit girl did. It’s that kind of stuff that leaves me feeling like the filmmakers aren’t really trying to make anything more than “lol violence”. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, maybe I’m more moralistic than I think, but to have a sequence where hitgirl/big daddy crush a car with a man still in it and watch without emotion whilst the dude screams, and to then turn around and say “yeah it’s all just lol entertaining violence!” seems kinda stupid and I guess I can see where Ebert got all morally outraged about it.

    Erm, so yeah, there’s more I want to say but I can’t think of it all right now. I think my main point is that I think the concepts and ideas in the film have more to say than the filmmakers realise. I think they’ve made some really interesting points completely by accident. But then perhaps I was looking for them, or perhaps I made myself see them because there were some parts of the film I couldn’t sit back and just ‘enjoy’.

    The director/writer’s intention is pretty much unimportant though as I’m all for “death of the author” analysis heh.

  34. I realized I started but never completed a point I was making in my bitching.

    If AICN and Internet was around in 1987, they would have done something quite KICK ASS-esque similar to THE MONSTER SQUAD, a wonderful little movie. And that is all.

  35. I haven’t seen KICK ASS, and don’t really plan to. I was wondering how it compares to Takashi Miike films like FUDOH, ICHI, maybe YATTERMAN etc. Does anyone have any thoughts on that comparison?

  36. Vern shame on you for ruining the jetpack surprise at the end. After a half hour or so of teasing that got the biggest laugh in the audience I saw the movie with. Since people are bringing up Zombieland as a comparison anyway what you just did was the equivalent of ruining the Murray cameo in ZL(spoiler).

  37. I actually like the character of Kick-Ass. Not so much because he’s all that great in and of himself, but because he’s one of my favorite hero types: The hero who’s not really good at anything except getting back up after he gets the shit kicked out of him. Maybe it’s because I was raised Catholic, but I like to see my heroes take a fucking beating. I guess that’s why I’ve always loved John McClane.

  38. Well I liked it. I thought it was damn entertaining above everything else, so I didn’t mind some of the sloppiness.

    How about this: Instead of the premise being-What if someone really became a super hero, it should be, What if an ordinary kid got caught up in real-life comic book shit? The kid Dave starts out dicking around in a scuba outfit, and when confronted by real-life super heroes, ones with horrific tragic pasts and gadgets and training, he cowers in a corner crying and whimpering. But by the end of the movie he steps up and actually fights back.

    I don’t think it is as mean-spirited and nihilistic as Wanted was. That movie seemed to say that it was OK for a dweeb to brutally murder dozens of innocent people because it improved his self image, in this one the heroes wholesale slaughter of people is sort of justified, at least in movie logic.

  39. The movie really dropped the ball in many many ways, Vern has outlined most of them without even having read the comic. My main beef was that so many things in the comic were great and would have worked much, much better in the movie than the crap they put in. Mainly the Nic Cage Big Daddy character, the secret origin of Hit Girl and Big Daddy in the comics is very seriously one of my favorite things I’ve read recently, but instead they stick with the Punisher-esque dead ex cop with dead wife and mob thing. And don’t tell me to look at this as it’s own separate thing, the comic is incredibly cinematic to the point that you can tell that Mark Millar made it with every intention of it being directly adapted to the screen.

    Also fuck the jet pack that was fucking stupid.

  40. Got to agree with the part about the internet fan world making this film their darling before even seeing it. It happens a lot, and maybe that hype is actually supposed to be a tangible part of the movie going experience.

    If you get high on… fandom(?)… and that makes the movie going experience better, is it such a bad thing? Sure, a few years later you’ll probably realize it was crap and be embarrassed about proclaiming it as a near religious experience, but you still got that initial high off the film and it was real while it lasted.

    I know a lot of people who would say that the initial high is all that counts. They really truly feel that these big films being one time event hype vehicles is not only just fine, but exactly as it should be. Maybe they are right, but damned if I can make myself go along with that kind of approach.

    In any case, I really like that Vern tries to separate his site here from all the hype everywhere else out there.

  41. If you’ve only seen five movies, three of which had the hyphenated word “Spider-man” in the title, then “Kick-Ass” must be mind blowing.

    That’s the only context in which this movie could possibly work.

  42. The comic is about how much Mark Millar hates the people who read his comics.

    You know, like all this original stuff.

  43. finally a reviewer who’s mind isn’t clouded.
    God bless you Vern.

  44. Jareth Cutestory

    April 20th, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    Mr. Majestyk: Your geek manifesto is awesome. I wish the narration in KICK ASS was half that inspiring. Seriously, guy, write a fucking screenplay or something. That’s some nice BRAVEHEART shit right there.

    Wes: KICK ASS isn’t anything like any of the Miike films I’ve seen, even the dopey ones like ICHI THE KILLER, and it isn’t made with the same skill as his good ones like AUDITION. Miike’s tone is way more grim, even when he’s making junk. KICK ASS isn’t even as serious as stuff like VOLCANO HIGH.

    Leaving the theater, I thought that if DEFENDOR was white bread, KICK ASS was a pop tart, sort of like SHOOT ‘EM UP (maybe not as tacky and idiotic as SHOOT ‘EM UP).

  45. Yeah, Millar is a pretty weak writer; he has great ideas but his execution of them usually leaves a lot to be desired. Far too in love with his own cleverness. And every character he writes sounds like Ray Winstone or Micheal Caine. My all time favorite was during his run on “The Authority” (which now, post Bush administration and Iraq War, reads like Cheney and Rumsfeld’s neo-con power trip fantasies) when he has this character who’s supposed to be Captain America say something like, “Come along, Goliath, now off some of these little brown buggers along with this sod, why don’t you?”

    Yep, that’s authentic real red-white-and-blue American dialouge there!!!

    Kick Ass was supposedly inspired by this episode in Millar’s teen years when he and his friend decided to become real superheroes and made costumes, trained at the gym, practiced with weapons, ect, and then realized a). how stupid they were and b). that there was no real crime to fight in their small Scottish village anyway. Now, there’s a touching, funny story there somewhere. Too bad he seems to have basically one story he’s stuck writing over and over again: thinly veiled versions of famous superheroes (in this case, Spider Man, Batman, and Robin) shout fuck a lot, do weird sexual things, kill lots of people in horribly bloody ways, and then get humiliated. And talk like British Soccer hooligans, even they’re from Iowa.

  46. Vern’s prettymuch confirmed all the doubts I had about this film despite the parade of positive reviews that have been flowing for over a year.

    They kept putting scenes and images and posters online like they were so super confident in every inch of this film but all they did was keep convincing me that I probably didn’t want to see it.

    Also, does anybody else deeply resent these transparent aggressive overmarketings of movies? Am I strange for wanting a bit of mystery? Is it weird that the kind of trailers I like are ones like Unbreakable and The Dark Knight that don’t reveal anything from beyond the first ten minutes of the film? I’m just not really sure why they think they can basically show me the entire movie for free and then expect me to show up and pay for it? The movie industry keeps bitching about these evil pirates downloading their movies but the industry itself spends so much money and to do exactly that. They give their movies away piece by piece and then get pissed that fewer people are interested in the whole thing.

    I read a lot of movie websites and I can’t help but get annoyed at this stuff. Listening to them talk about how the crowd went “insane” at Comic Con at the big unveiling of the socks that Gwenyth Paltrow will wear in Iron Man 2 or some shit. I find by the time half these movies come out I am kinda burned out on them and tend to get more excited about lesser-publicized ones because I feel there will be some sort of surprise.

    And it always astounds me that people who call themselves “geeks” let themselves be manipulated so easily. I thought geeks would’ve learned from back in high school when a cool kid would butter them up so they would do their homework for them. Some guy obviously trying to sell his movie seems to only have to do a light buttering to get all the websites singing his praises without thinking he has any kind of alterior motive for these set visits other than to hang out.

  47. And I gotta admit, my reaction to Hit Girl was that she somehow remains adorable even when committing the most horrific violence. She’s stabbing and shooting people and I’m like, “Awwww, she’s such a cutie!” I dunno, guess it was the wig or something. She seems to remain innocent despite everything. I think I gotta give props to Chloe Moretz for that, though.

    You can kinda read the relationship between Big Daddy and Hit Girl as being like a metaphor for a comic book loving father introducing his little daughter to the world of superhero fandom, and her being the only girl in the fifth grade who knows who Green Lantern is. And who tries to tell the other girls that Hannah Montana is stupid and Spider Man is a better story about somebody with a secret identity and great powers, and is ostracized by the dumb shallow girls for it, and so she feels like an outsider from the human race. Actually, that’s a more interesting story then Kick Ass, come to think of it. Screw the metaphor, I wanna see that movie.

  48. You know I can’t really complain as far as the film subverting stuff goes. I think you’re right on, for a movie that is supposed to be set in the real world it does feature an overuse of Jet Pack.

    I already feel like the Hit Girl topic has been mined, I wrote it up here, (http://thingthatdontsuck.blogspot.com/2010/04/kick-ass-names-taken.html) in the unlikely event that anyone wants ANOTHER opinion on the whole kurfluffle.

    That said, I do think your underrating this as an action film. In all fairness I was actually at the BNAT screening so my opinion is suspect, but I do think its the best English Language action movie I’ve seen since Kill Bill Vol. 1. But fairs fair here Vern, this is basically the movie you’ve been asking for for the last couple of years. Nice measured editing, propulsive, creative choreography (The Nic Cage, one take but jump cutted, Gunfight blew me away) with plenty of Wide and Medium shots, not just a bunch of indecipherable close ups.

  49. I had a lot of fun at Kick Ass. Vern, I think the reason you are so frustrated with the movie is because you are looking for something in it that is not there and was never supposed to be. I don’t think this movie is supposed to be a deconstruction of the super hero genre. That is a subtext the people who have reviewed it have assigned to it. It is meant to be what the title implies “Kick Ass”. It is an over the top fun action movie, nothing more. There is nothing going on beneath the surface, and I believe that is by design. Is it a classic, no. However, it is a good time at the movies. It reminds me of Zombie Land both are violent fun movies playing in a genre that we are all familiar with. I do agree with you that the movie is not as extremely violent as everyone makes it out to be. I just think it is the context the violence is presented in that gets people all worked up. It is not everyday you see a movie with such a playful tone where a little girl savagely murders people, and (SPOILER) takes a brutal beating from a grown man.

  50. Aw, well now i can’t decide if I want to see it or not. After hearing my local film-geek reviewer sing this films’ praises as if it shat holy ambrosia on his face, my bs meter was registering. I have so far managed to avoid all other publicity, and thanks Vern for writing an honest review. After I discovered the writer was Mark Millar I had a feeling this would be the result. I have a copy of Wanted here: now, I don’t think it’s fair to compare the screenplay of Wanted, and especially not the direction (by the guy who did Night/Day Watch? seriously?) to the comic. The film was strange and meandering and directionless and a lot of the downright evil shit perpetrated by the protaganist was either omitted or hacked into some kind of ridiculous fairy tale justification. Anyway having said that, Wanted the comic was still a too-motherfucking-cool nihilist piece of garbage that I think would have been mostly appreciated by the kind of people who don’t read books without pictures in them.

    Anyway yeah I would actually like to see a movie where “what if—” was actually drawn out and worked. This doesn’t sound like it.

    P.S. Watched Defendor yesterday, it must have been one of those ones that doesnt even warrant marketing in australia, cos I’d never heard of it. Fairly weak but I thought Woody was great. Might watch Zebraman today instead of Kick-Ass

  51. Jareth Cutestory

    April 20th, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    CC: As far as KICK ASS is concerned, I would have liked it if Hit Girl swore more than she did; it might have lent some much-needed depth to her character, like Frank Booth in BLUE VELVET. The few swears she fires off in the film just feel like ornaments that signify bad-assness, not actually any real effort to inhabit bad-assness.

    Wolfgang: I’m not going to watch trailers anymore thanks to KICK ASS. The entire structure of the film was revealed in the trailers, and all of the best fight scene. I already feel like I know all of IRON MAN 2. I’m actually going to plug my ears and sing whenever something INCEPTION-related is being shown; that’s one of the few teasers that didn’t give away too much.

  52. Does anybody interpret it in a ROBOCOP/STARSHIP TROOPERS type of way, that the movie pretends to be in favor of the violence but is making it intentionally awful to make a point? Just wondering.

    As far as the action scenes, I thought they were fine, but didn’t really move me. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t really accepting Hit Girl as more than a novelty so it took me out of it. I guess I did prefer the Kick-Ass and Big Daddy fights, so that supports the theory.

  53. Vern, I don’t think this movie is in anyway trying to make a statement about violence. As I mentioned in my post I don’t think there is an intellectual subtext to this movie. If anything this movie is as much a love letter to violence as the most recent Rambo movie.

  54. Here is a link to an older interview with Mathew Vaughn from AICN http://www.aintitcool.com/node/41672. In it he does say they tried to ground the film in reality but he also says this when the film is compared to Zach Snyder’s Watchmen,

    “I think the difference between WATCHMEN and KICK-ASS is… I mean, I thought WATCHMEN as a piece of filmmaking was exquisite; I thought Zack Snyder did stuff that was jaw-droppingly brilliant. My only criticism of it was that I thought it was a little too faithful to the structure of the comic. It just felt episodic; the narrative drive wasn’t working. That’s the one thing I would’ve changed.

    But it was very serious, WATCHMEN, and [KICK-ASS] isn’t. It hasn’t got a serious bone in its body, to be frank. But it ain’t a spoof or a comedy either. When I say it’s not serious, I mean it’s meant to be fun. Someone described it as “Teenage Tarantino”. And as much as I’d love to think I could walk on that man’s coattails, that a description that made me smile. ”

    In the interview Vaughn makes it very clear his only goal in making the movie was to make a fun film nothing more.

  55. Vern, thank you for expressing something that’s been bugging me for a while now. AICN (there’s lots of sites I could mention instead here cough cough CHUD but I’ll stick to AICN as my example because it’s still the highest profile geek news site) used to be the place to go for an honest opinion on a movie. To its credit AICN introduced me to Vern in the first place, and I still read the site almost daily. But back in the day AICN was more guerilla than insider, kind of an everyman voice for film criticism removed from the ivory towers of academia and the out of touch newspaper reviewers. They used to actually break cool news whether it pissed off the industry or not: script reviews, casting scoops, developmental rumblings, and they used to run reviews that seemed like they weren’t bought and paid for.

    I don’t think it’s exactly fair to say they’re totally bought and paid for now. I don’t think money is exchanging hands here. But I think that AICN and sites of its ilk have been bought and paid for by exactly what Vern describes: a shrewd marketing team that sets immediately to work on fellating the geek press whenever the powers that be start putting together a geek movie. I think a lot of these guys, like Faraci and Harry and Drew, are actually being honest in their orgasmic response to KICK ASS. In a more general sense I believe that every time a person views a film they have an emotional, subjective experience, and assigning “objective” criteria for the goodness of the badness of the film is something that one does when they’ve already decided whether they love or hate the thing on an instinctive level. But these guys have every reason to experience that emotional high when they watch KICK ASS, because they’ve dedicated a year or more of their lives to convincing themselves of its greatness. And when they then expound on why they loved it they’re not lying, they’ve just been whipping themselves up into a frenzy of delayed gratification for so long that they can’t help but to splooge hyperbole all over the place when it finally comes time to write the review. The opposite can also be true, just witness Devin Faraci’s response to AVATAR for proof. And as Majestyk so eloquently pointed out we are all guilty of uncalled for hyperbole, we would not be writing comments on Vern’s websight if we didn’t engage in this behavior ourselves from time to time.

    But we’re not doing this professionally. And when the place that used to be a place to go for an opinion from the common man is now a place to go for an opinion from the guy who has visited the set (an experience not unlike summer camp), made friends with the above-the-line talent, and indoctrinated themselves with details of the project well in advance of laying eyes on the finished result… well I just don’t trust the old guard anymore. They’ve changed. They’re trying to get their own movies made now, and they have to be more pragmatic in who or what they choose to be honest about. Shit, my own experience in the industry has taught me that it’s really fucking hard to do anything but smile and compliment a writer, director, actor, producer, whoever, when you’ve met them face to face in a place where you’re both trying to coexist professionally. Just the way the game works. And that’s why Vern is right to keep to himself and call em as he sees em in order to maintain his integrity, I mean I’m sure it’s not pleasant for him to point out the problem with a site that has been kind to him.

    But it has to be said. Because he’s right. There is a problem. And the problem with all of this seems perfectly exemplified by that little TRON 2 stunt that was pulled at Wondercon recently. There was some viral campaign thing where they staged a fake press conference from the world of the movie and some guy jumped out of a helicopter but it was really windy and they screwed up somehow and it could have been a huge accident but it wasn’t, the guy’s OK. Instantly the internet exploded about this thing, and I can’t be bothered to figure out why the fuck I care about some idiot stunt pulled just to give the internet geek press their jollies. And it perhaps received more attention because it almost ended tragically, but TRON 2 will come and go and whether or not a bunch of AICN and CHUD writers got to see a guy fall out of a helicopter will ultimately have no effect whatsoever on the movie TRON 2 as a viewing experience. It was a publicity stunt designed solely for the purpose of baiting the geek press into writing about TRON 2, a transparent attempt to court the overwhelmingly large geek readership of these internet sites, the majority probably too young to remember TRON and in some cases even too young to remember that Simpsons TRON episode. The studio is relying on the pundits of the internet to drum up interest, and while they’re not buying them outright they know exactly how to dangle the carrot in front of them. And the AICNs of the internet are not being dishonest when they get hungry and want to eat that motherfucking carrot right up and brag about how good it was. It is now at the point where the newspaper guys, Ebert being a good example, are waaaaaay more reliable for an honest opinion than the denizens of the geek press, simply because he has been around the block enough times to reach a place where he can speak from the heart without too much undue influence or compromise.

    As for KICK ASS, I’m not seeing it until tomorrow night so I’ll have to reread the spoilery parts of Vern’s review and most of the comments in here that I skipped. But my general impressions from the trailers and all of the propaganda I’ve been subjected to are only confirmed by Vern’s feelings of “come on, really guys?” I mean I like child killers as much as the next man but Mark Millar’s brand of lowbrow nihilism has never really done it for me.

    Phew, good to get all that off my chest. And I know a lot of it was just echoing our man Vern, but I don’t see enough people calling bullshit on what’s going on here.

  56. Yeah, but how does that redeem the picture in any way? Why are we supposed to give it a pass because the director never had any intention of making more than a superficial piece of violent fluff? Why couldn’t it do more than scratch the surface? Why can’t I hope for or even expect that the movie could go even a little deeper; it’s characters even just a little more alive; it’s plotting just a little more original. Ramping up the violence didn’t elevate the formula, it just highlighted it’s staleness.

  57. Darryll, I am not saying the film deserves a pass. I enjoyed it. I just feel that Vern and others reactions to it would be different if they saw it without the expectations of looking for a subtext that does not exist. I am not saying he is wrong about the parts he didn’t like. I am just saying he might have responded to it differently if he had the chance to see it it without exposure to all the hype and misguided analysis. To put it another way if you go to the strip club looking to find stimulating in depth conversation about the meaning of life you are setting yourself up for disappointment, but if you go there looking to see some tits and ass chances are you are going to have a good time.

  58. Charles, how can I possibly argue with strip club logic. It trumps all.

    However, I will say this: The modern superhero film genre has only been around a short and I feel it’s potential to tell engaging stories has not yet been diminished. It still has some things to say to audiences and something more to show us than just shaking it’s tits and ass in our faces. So while I totally get your point let me throw a question your way. How much more impressed would you be if you went to strip club expecting to see the regular show and the dancer came out and read a few paragraphs of Cormac McCarthy or Hunter S. Thompson, instead?

  59. I don’t think it’s fair to say that the subtext doesn’t exist. Millar himself has often described KICK-ASS as being about “superheroes in the real world” and the narration pretty much lays it all out for you, so when you’ve got 10 year old ninjas, wire-fu, John Woo stunts and jetpacks etc, I think it’s reasonable to question their intention. Plus, I doubt you’ll find many supporters with check-your-brain-at-the-door style arguments here.

  60. Darryll, it would blow my mind! I agree with you that the modern super hero film genre has a lot to offer. I think it will be around for a long time, and sooner then later someone will use it as a vehicle for some thought provoking and engaging social commentary. I think both The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen took swings at trying to be more then just “superhero movies” but neither were able to really nail it and knock it out the park.

  61. But you’ve got to admire them for trying, right? At least they tried for something.

  62. Oh my goodness, Vern, thank you so much.

    I saw this movie back in November and thought I’d lost my mind. This was right around when all of the early “easily one of the best comic book movies ever made” internet hyperbole was just starting to appear. I was screaming it to anyone who would listen all through the end of ’09: you can’t make a “what would happen in the real world?” superhero movie then introduce a character with fucking super powers. I don’t care how young her training started, Hit Girl has super powers. Remember Ryan Reynolds in WOLVERINE? Superpowers. Same as Hit Girl. Then we’re supposed to keep caring about our main character who boring and can’t do anything once he’s stumbled into the middle of much more interesting people and situations. Like having Iron Man show up forty minutes into NICK AND NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST then asking us to keep caring about and wanting to spend time with Michael Cera. And having a little girl curse and kill people in a Looney Tunes universe neither impresses nor scandalizes me. The movie still has far too high a rottentomatoes percentage. I don’t know what’s wrong with everybody.

    So glad we’re on the same page with this one.

  63. I am with you Darryll. However, The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly lacks the subtext of westerns like the Wild Bunch and Unforgiven, but that doesn’t mean I like it any less. I think there is room for both fun and thought provoking films in the superhero film genre, and one day we see one that is effectively both fun and thought provoking at the same time.

  64. boy, this seems to be the most divisive movie since Avatar

    anyway after reading all these comments and everything I think at the end of the day the movie either works for you or it doesn’t

    if it doesn’t work for you that’s fine , but it worked for me and I enjoyed the movie for what it is

  65. “I don’t think this movie is supposed to be a deconstruction of the super hero genre.”

    But, Charles, that is exactly what it seems to be publicised as. You know what Mark Millar, the comic’s creator said of the film? That it’s the Pulp fiction of superhero films. WHAAAA?!

    Also, there’s some official Kick Ass group on a popular internet social site that drew comparison with The Dark Knight and then asked for people’s thoughts on the two. “…we feel that TDK is a fantastic movie . . . . albeit one which took itself so very seriously whilst KA – no lesser dark material at its source – feels a far more honest interpretation of the genre . . .” They don’t like it when you disagree with their logic. They also seemed angry with Ebert. Even film reviews get film reviews.

    I did enjoy kick ass a lot until *SPOILER* Cage left the building and then I lost interest. It should have focused on Cage’s character instead of that pip-squeak kid. I said it on here in the Defendor comments I think, but Kick Ass should have been toast instead of Big Daddy. Killing off the hero before they’ve even managed to meet the big villain would at least have been different.

  66. Well, it doesn’t necessarily need to have subtext. Saying it’s “just for fun” or “only meant as entertainment” as Harry said doesn’t excuse it from making some kind of sense. I mean Henrik still hasn’t explained it to me, maybe somebody else can. I honestly don’t understand why you tell a story that literally tells the audience directly that it’s about what happens if somebody decides to become a super hero for real, and then completely violates that about 20 minutes later. It just seems like terrible storytelling, like maybe in the comic book they didn’t know what the hell it was about and changed their mind after one or two episodes and the movie just followed that even though it didn’t make sense.

    Gwai Lo – thanks for the comments. It’s something I’ve thought alot about and have been uncomfortable with for years, not so much because of being a writer but just as a reader of those websights. I hope if any of those guys read my review that they’re not offended by it, especially Moriarty, who has always been real cool to me and is quoted on the cover of my book. (Jesus, speaking of questionable, there is a quote from Ain’t It Cool News on the cover of my own book. Not my idea, I swear.) I agree with you that they’re being honest, and that nobody is “bought and paid for.” And you have a good point about those comics con stunts, but I don’t really mind it that much because it’s all showmanship, I don’t mind those guys having some fun.

    It just seems to me that they don’t think about or forget how having the jobs they have can affect their response to some movies. I don’t think it’s a sinister plot, just a slip-up in the evolution of these websights. I don’t think we can go back in time – Ain’t It Cool can’t be what it used to be, because its existence changed the whole industry. Being part of the promotions machine is just the reality now. But most of them are smart guys so I’d just ask them to try to be thoughtful about it. Or even just to acknowledge their closeness to the material at the beginning of a review and then it wouldn’t seem so iffy. Like when I admitted that i was being easy on that movie Ca$h because it was from Seattle and most people probly would enjoy it less.

    I don’t know. I don’t know the answers. If I did I would sell them on ebay to get some fuckin money out of this shit.

    p.s. What is the point of set visits anyway? I don’t understand why they’ve become a regular part of movie coverage. If it’s primarily an interview but describing something that happens on set, I get that. But they’re usually “the publicist met me here, I was still jet-lagged, I almost didn’t even notice Director standing over there, he was wearing a hat, then he got called away, I saw a guy with a long pole, there was lots of lights, man I can’t believe I met so-and-so. It all began when I was 2 years old, I remember my dad blah blah blah”

  67. “What is the point of set visits anyway? I don’t understand why they’ve become a regular part of movie coverage. If it’s primarily an interview but describing something that happens on set, I get that. But they’re usually “the publicist met me here, I was still jet-lagged, I almost didn’t even notice Director standing over there, he was wearing a hat, then he got called away, I saw a guy with a long pole, there was lots of lights, man I can’t believe I met so-and-so. It all began when I was 2 years old, I remember my dad blah blah blah”

    hahahaha, that’s a perfect imitation of all those set visit stories

  68. I’m up past my bedtime but the main thing I want to agree with and possibly add here is that you’re definitely right about them changing the industry, but then they didn’t keep pace with the rate of change, they didn’t adapt as the industry got savvier. We’ve seen the rise and are perhaps starting to see the fall of the superhero genre on the watch of sites like AICN, who provided a pretty loud mouthpiece to the industry about what the target demographics want to see. But now it seems like the studios have gotten craftier than the news sites, now they have finely tuned strategies for leaking information and gauging fan response, such as leaking false info and/or “testing the waters”, for example if a talkback reaction to a casting idea looks disastrous they can just dismiss it as scuttlebutt. So the fan sites often come off looking like tools of the studio, not only because of all the set visits and interviews and perks and stuff that they get, but because the studios have figured out how to manipulate them. Is it a bad thing? I don’t know, we’ve seen really good superhero movies recently and I don’t doubt the influence of AICN and the likes bringing the common fan’s opinion to the fore. But yeah, every once in a while you get something like KICK ASS where the hype is so transparently the result of motherfuckers turning into giddy little schoolgirls because of their insider bias.

  69. Long time lurker here, love this site.

    Vern, to address your question about the set up of this movie: I went to see this knowing nothing about it besides that Nic Cage was in it. I stopped reading AICN a few years ago because I was sick of the hype around crappy or mediocre movies (I think INCREDIBLE HULK was the last straw). So I knew little about this and hadn’t seen the trailer. I have to say I enjoyed this a lot, not a brilliant movie or anything but I thought it was fun.

    I think what you say about the film makers setting up the “superheroes in the real world” and then not going with that premise is correct, but not really a problem. First of all that whole premise is to me bullshit. Superheroes can’t exist in the real world, they need to exist in a black and white, good guy/bad guy world. This point was illustrated excellently in WATCHMEN, where the character who saw the world in black and white was obviously a psychopath (Rorschach). In KICK-ASS they start out as if it’s going to be superheroes in the real world, and that’s what I thought it would be until about 20 mins in when kick-ass is stabbed. Because that probably is what would happen in the real world. So then I was thinking “Right if this is the real world then he’s dead and the movie is over”, but then they have him recover with some broken nerves or something so that he can take a beating. So right there you know this isn’t a serious movie, it’s just a bit of fun. Or that’s what I thought anyway, so I just went with it and enjoyed it. Nic Cage of course stole the movie. The idea of a little girl killing lots of people is a bit “ha ha, isn’t this wild?”, but I think how over-the-top it is kind of makes up for it (I liked the scene where she cut up the drug dealers with the sword). That and the jet-pack with gattling gun. So I think the premise of superheroes in the real world, if they had stuck with it, basically would have meant the movie would be over after 20 minutes.

    I see your point about the hype beforehand though. If I had been exposed to that I may not have enjoyed it as much (did people really say this was the best comic book movie ever?). I agree it won’t be that memorable a movie, but certainly more so than WEDDING CRASHERS.

  70. On stabbings of nerds in comic-book movies – Tobey Maguire’s death’s-rictus-of-a-smile survives near-impaling in the closing scenes of “Spiderman”. Literally, the villain has a brace of sharp blades heading directly for his face, but he avoids them. It’s very disappointing.

  71. It did occur to me while watching this that some people might feel this suffers from “LAST ACTION HERO syndrome” (i.e. a movie using a fiction/”real world” contrast which falls down because the “real world” isn’t all that, well, real; ENCHANTED being the worst case of this syndrome), but it didn’t bother me personally. I enjoyed KICK-ASS as kind of like a more cynical modern rendition of Adam West era BATMAN or DICK TRACY style capers. I’m all for superhero films being more mature and, I guess, quazi-realistic like THE DARK KNIGHT or whatever (although I’m not sure IRON MAN was really all that much more realistic than KICK-ASS and I’ll _never_ understand how SPIDER-MAN 2 got and still gets such praise), but I’m all for them being silly, campy far-out fun at times too. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to fall into “based on toy, so doesn’t have to be good” kind of rhetoric. It can aim for fun, but it has to actually _be_ fun to get away with anything (so FANTASTIC FOUR or whatever doesn’t make the grade). I do agree that many are overrating it, especially (I’m guessing, I don’t really read the site any more) the ACIN crowd. I do agree with a lot of the criticisms you’ve made. It is often obvious “geek-bait”. I certainly have no idea why characters listening to Gnarls Barkley is somehow funny. So it was certainly a very flawed film. But I had fun anyway.

  72. the Gnarls Barkley scene is hilarious because Kick Ass is such a giant dork

  73. Now that I think of it, maybe the most successful “realistic” superhero movie is “Sky High”, just because it doesn’t try to squeeze the comic book logic into the real world, but instead embeds banal elements of the real world (In this case the typical High School stuff with bullies, girlfriends and trying to make your parents proud) into a crazy comic book world.

  74. Thank you for understanding the importance of arguments in a subjective text, Vern. I don’t agree with you on the film, but it’s cool that you think what you think, because you argue really really well for it. And that ladies and gentlemen is a rare thing these days in film criticism.

  75. But am I really the only one that felt the “brutally beating up of Hit Girl” felt pussied out? As I’m writing this, this feels even beyond what Mr Majestic wrote about us people being concerned about stuff normal people couldn’t care even an ounce of crap about, but nonetheless – I think Mark Strongs punches in that scene felt restrained.

  76. Outlaw Vern: saving me admission $ for 8 years running.

    (and turning me on to some stuff I’d never thought of re: THE BEAST. Bonus!)

  77. Incidentally, I’ve heard that there was a shot cut from Batman Begins (in the scene where he’s coming up from the cave to the party) where he’s forgotten to wipe off the black eye makeup and Alfred has to remind him about it.

    Not sure if that’s apocryphal or not, but a close check of how that scene is edited lends a lot of credence to it.

    Also incidentally, I’m not sure why the black eye makeup has to be used anyway. “Batman: Arkham Asylum” has an almost photo-realistic Batman, who doesn’t use the makeup around his eyes, and critical consensus seems to be his design is an artistic triumph–which I’d agree about. Is it because Adam West and Burt Ward never used it?? Is it because the Phantom of the Paradise did??? (Notably, films which use it, except for KA I guess and maybe BB, always treat it as not really existing; even Phantom of the Paradise. You can briefly see it in one scene when Winslow removes his mask to show off his scars, away from the camera, but when the BIG REVEAL finally happens at the end of the movie he isn’t wearing it even though he was clearly wearing it in every single shot leading up to that point. But my point is, why did film designers start using it at all?)

  78. I guess two reasons, Sabreman. From a story perspective it probably made sense for a guy that wants to be invisible in the dark to black out the one exposed area that would give him away. From a design perspective they probably decided it just looked cooler.

    Vern: You are a true gentleman and everyone knows it. With a reputation like that you are the perfect one to open a dialogue with your fellow critics about the effects of marketing on film criticism. Don’t be shy about it. Put it on the table and I’m sure you’ll find a few adults willing to engage in a rational debate. It’s good for them.

  79. Jareth Cutestory

    April 21st, 2010 at 7:34 am

    Vern: Here’s the explanation a buddy told me about the issue of “terrible storytelling” that you mentioned: the film is playing with your expectations. It is adopting different tones and narrative perspectives in order to keep you guessing, much in the way that some works of prose (say Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying”) adopts the contradictory perspectives of numerous characters. My buddy argued that KICK ASS is employing no single narrative voice, no single style, tone or thematic arc, but rather a hodge-podge. It’s a film that refuses to make up it’s mind on purpose. It’s deliberately trying to be disorienting, contradictory and unreliable.

    I have no problem with a film that adopts such a strategy, but I think my pal’s argument would be better suited to Pynchon novel than to KICK ASS.

    epleterte: I didn’t think the “beating up Hit Girl” scene at the end was particularly visceral either. Certainly nothing compared to the first scene in KILL BILL. Even the scene where Nic Cage shoots her is more brutal.

  80. Vern = “Does anybody interpret it in a ROBOCOP/STARSHIP TROOPERS type of way, that the movie pretends to be in favor of the violence but is making it intentionally awful to make a point? Just wondering.”

    Yeah kind of, that’s what I was trying to explain further up the page. I don’t think it works for all of it, but i think there was meant to be that mixture of “this is awesome!/this is really fucked up” for each scene of violence with hitgirl. When she attacks that group of drug dealers when she first meets kickass, she ends up stabbing some woman for no reason. The woman wasn’t attacking her, in fact was trying to escape, and whilst she hangs out with the drug dealers we don’t know if she’s actually involved in it in anyway. Along with the car crushing scene I can’t believe they honestly put these things in thinking it was just for “yay violence”. That’s why I like the silly ending with KA blowing up Frank, because it’s so DW3 silly, so divorced from reality after we’ve just seen this really horrible bit of violence between Frank and HG. It has to be a conscious knock at the idea of “violence is fun in some situations, wrong in others”.

  81. I think they really slipped up and missed out on a great idea. I WOULD really like to see a flick with someone who has no powers going out and trying to be a superhero. The movie starts that way but than gives our lead numbed nerve endings after an accident, the ridiculous HitGirl and even her super rambo dad. I was entertained by it, I thought all the leads were fun to watch and the action was fun, but the whole movie is a bait and switch. It sells itself as this “real people trying to be super heroes” film and really is nothing at all like that. Even the mob boss is half ninja for chrissakes.

  82. May not be fair to compare, but I still think MIRAGEMAN is the best of these movies. For me, it successfully walked the line between providing fine action entertainment and following through on its grounded premise. Just look at where it ends up compared to KICK ASS. Both protagonists finally resort to guns to get the job done, but the weight of the decision is felt only in MIRAGEMAN. Kick Ass soars through the city via jet pack, Mirageman is shot in the back of the head. The no-budget production values have a scrappy charm appropriate to the tale of a low-rent, blue collar superhero. Zaror doesn’t need shakycam, stutter frames, flashy editing or CGI to bash up a room full of baddies. And most importantly, despite the occasional crowd-pleasing crime fighting montage, MIRAGEMAN never loses its moral dimension. It’s sincere and risks getting darker/less amusing to honor the themes it has set up. I was surprised Vern didn’t enjoy it more.

    I know I’m probably in the minority here, but the low point of KICK ASS for me was when the Banana Splits erupted on the soundtrack during Hit Girl’s first big rampage. Reeked of desperation, like: “Don’t worry! See, we don’t mean it! It’s okay, you can enjoy! Haha, get it?!?” Personally, I prefer the tyke fighters of Hong Kong/Thai cinema.

    Not to say I didn’t enjoy KICK ASS to a certain extent, but in my opinion only Cage consistently strikes the right note.

  83. Wasn’t the schoolgirl kicking the heavies’ asses routine done as long ago as The man with the golden gun?

  84. Kevin Holsinger

    April 21st, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Good afternoon Vern and all,

    Just saw the movie. Decent but overhyped, in my opinion.

    I think the thing I find odd about Hit-Girl is that South Park’s been doing the whole “cursing, violent kid” thing since the mid-90s. And it’s not like that’s some obscure TV show that went off the air ten years ago. It’s still on. Yet Hit-Girl is treated as something nobody’s seen before. Quite odd.

    As for the inconsistency of realism and fantasy, Daredevil and Watchmen both had the same problem (even though I liked both)…at least where violence was concerned. Daredevil had a superhero who realistically needed painkillers but then could leap around like in the Matrix, and Watchmen had a semi-realistic tone that was compromised by people giving and taking unrealistic punishment.

  85. I thought it was an enjoyable mess.

    I found the girlfriend stuff terrible and would have happily traded all those scenes to maybe give Mark Strong’s character some depth. He’s a great actor, but he didn’t really get to do anything beyond the normal gangster shtick we’ve seen before.

    As much as I enjoyed Hit Girl and Cage’s scenes in and of themselves, I just didn’t understand them (Or rather, I think their story doesn’t actually make sense). Is it ever explained why Cage uses comic-book tropes to brainwash his daughter? We know Kick Ass is a comic fan, but (beyond his talent for illustration) what’s the connection for Big Daddy?

    But here’s my real gripe, and I think it’s kind of crucial. For whatever reason Big Daddy is obsessed with super-heroes, so he trains his daughter in combat skills, makes some costumes and goes on a murderous rampage of revenge. But superheroes don’t do that. That is precisely what superheroes are the antithesis of. Superheroes sublimate excessive violence (beyond a well placed right-cross) in the name of justice, truth and fairplay.

    I suppose you could counter that modern-day comic characters are often very violent – but the movie has Cage do an Adam West voice – Big Daddy’s association with comic books is not of the modern era. His main point of reference would seem to be the comics of his own childhood. He is clearly modeled on Batman – but Batman specifically prohibits himself from killing his enemies. So instead he is more like the Punisher, but the Punisher has never been a superhero (the whole point of the character is that he is basically Charles Bronson walking around in the Marvel universe).

    I just think it would have been better if BD and HG didn’t kill the gangsters. They could still be extraordinarily violent (maiming, crippling, blinding etc) but stopping short of murder, and always leaving the miscreants tied up in a neat bow for the “Authorities”. I just think that might have maybe hinted at some sort of funny comment on the violence and morality of masked vigilantes in comic books.

    Like I say, I thought it was a lot of fun, but completely shallow and pretty much mindless. But there were enough effective sequences that I didn’t mind so much.

    Plus my expectations weren’t too high, as I hadn’t read all the stuff building it up. I loved Zombieland and District 9 when I saw them too, partly because the were such fun, exciting genre surprises – I can understand that I wouldn’t have dug them half as much as I did if I’d been repeatedly told that they were going to change my life.

  86. Oh yeah – Why did Hit Girl swear? I assume it’s some sort of spoof on Robin’s “Gee Willikers, Holy smokes Batman” type dialogue – but it doesn’t make any sense. Cage talks to her in very loving and well-mannered ways throughout, and he can hear her when he’s covering her with the sniper rifle. What’s all the potty-mouth stuff about, other than shock-value?

  87. Jareth Cutestory

    April 21st, 2010 at 10:13 am

    Jimbolo: The Japanese have had versions of ass kicking schoolgirls for years, bless their hearts.

    Kevin Holsinger: And SOUTH PARK enderwent the same tempest-in-a-teapot scandal that is being re-run over KICK ASS. Yet neither is particularly scandalous. The SOUTH PARK kids are actually quite admirable as role models (okay, not Cartman) and, ultimately, the little guys are quite cute. Same deal with KICK ASS. I’d actually argue that the SOUTH PARK kids have more psychological dpeth than the KICK ASS kids, but obviously SOUTH PARK has had ten years to flesh out those nuances.

  88. I suspect i’ll have a similiar opinion about KICK-ASS as Vern’s. Which is a pity, because i really liked LAYER CAKE. Maybe Vaught should stop trying to sell himself as a geek moviemaker and try just being a filmmaker. Work wonders for Christopher Nolan.

  89. I thought of another thing I liked in the movie. I liked Mark Strong. He wasn’t realistic but he reminded me of Craig T. Nelson in ACTION JACKSON, how he is established as a practicioner of martial arts at the beginning so you know he will use it later. Also some of the conversations with his right hand man were pretty good, like when he realized maybe there really was a guy dressed as Batman and they shouldn’t have killed that other guy.

  90. Jareth Cutestory

    April 21st, 2010 at 10:52 am

    Vern: Strong’s interaction with the bazooka-loving bodyguard had some nice moments, some of which were nonverbal. They demonstrated a kind of comfort or familiarity with each other’s foibles that made for some effective jokes.

    But didn’t you find the whole crime operation a bit lacking? I didn’t get a sense of the mechanics of the criminal activity Strong was engaged in, or of the hierarchy of the goons. Apart from bazooka guy, they all just seemed like redshirts to me.

  91. The “investment” thing that Vern talks about his online reviewer collegues like Drew McWeeny and Harry Knowles and his groupies clouding their judgement makes sense to me. McWeeny and Knowles and his troupe are hardly the most rational beings on the planet, and they go into blind hysteric nthusiasm abiout some “geek” movie which they have followed from conception to release. Made worst if the movie is from a filmmaker they happen to have a friendly relationship. They just can’t think straight anymore, and don’t even pretend they want to.

    Critics with close relationships with filmmakers is nothing new. Look at Roger Ebert and Werner Herzog. Herzog even dedicated ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD to Ebert. The problem with Mcweeny, Knowles and his buddies is THE AGENDA. They have a geek creed which they follow strictly, and like all creeds and faiths, they blind people to the the less and more obvious. In that, it leads them to overhype a lesser movie while be blind to better movies, if they fit or don’t fit into the lines of geek moviedom. It’s one thing to support and advance the cause of a negletect type of genre movie, and call attention to it by supporting and make noticable the best of the genre can offer. It’s another thing to mount on a mule and use it as their battlehorse. It lessers their cause, it makes them look like fanatics. When geekdom hails as masterpieces such poor weak geek movies like WATCHMEN or exacrable shit like JJ Abrams’s FRAUD TREK and use them as the paradongs of virtue for their movement, at the expense of better offerings, it’s when you know the geekdom has lost perspective.

    Whenever i see a geek who finds absurd reasons to nickpick on THE DARK KNIGHT and find problems and defects in it for the most damned reasons, it makes me wonder what is their deal afterall. I have seen geeks putting down THE DARK KNIGHT because Batman wears armours instead of spandex. Because Batman doesn’t talk with his normal everyday voice when he’s Batman. Because the Batmobille loks liek a tank instead of a dragracer. Finding the damnest (and dumbest) of surface reasons to put down a movie, but ignoring and put aside more indeep reasons like faithfulness to the spirit of a comic or the inicial show, if it’s an adaptation of a previously recorded program. Who cares if Batman uses armour in nolan’s movies? Is the spirit of the movie faithful to the comic? Are the characterizations spot on? Is the world created in the movie in tune with the story intended to be told? If so, when one should hail, not bash for feable reasons.

    THE DARK KNIGHT is a geek movie that also looks like a mainstream movie, and it was embraced by both type of audiences. And it did so because it’s agenda is TO BE GOOD, not to fill some geek quota. It’s one thing to make a movie or show which makes references that geeks understand faster then the rest of the hoi polloi (example, CHUCK). It’s another to do one so that chokes the telling of the tale. Guys like McWeeny, Harry and his troupe, i’m affraid, are mistaking the forest for the trees.

  92. I had to fill out a survey when I saw the movie. I’m surprised “Did you get a sense of the infrastructure of the criminal enterprise?” wasn’t one of the questions, because I’m sure that ruined the movie for a lot of people. Personally, there’s no way I can enjoy any story unless the villains’ chain of command is explicitly explained to me. That’s why I hate every action movie ever. Like Die Hard. I got the sense that Karl was Hans’ #2, but what about the rest of the gang? Could Al Leong order around the dude who pretended to be the doorman? Was Marco a recent hire and that’s why he didn’t know better than to waste his time talking when he should be shooting? Die Hard is a classic action film but it is also a piece of shit for not answering these very vital and important and not trivial at all questions.

  93. Vern, one notion i’d like to call your attention to is, have you ever felt that you are so caught up in your love for action movies, specially 80s action movies, that you have been too lenient to the failures and the bad of the genre, like Harry and co are of comic geek movies?

  94. Mr. Majestyk, watchign DIE HARD, i get the idea that Hans was thr absolute uncontested leader of the gang, with Karl as his lieutenant, and the two were so badasses, nobody ever contested their actions and orders. They didn’t need any more of a chain of command because everybody else were footsoldiers. Notice in the movie that whenever the robbers need to split, Hans or Karl stays behind and the other leads. In fact, it’s quite a close ida to what would happen in a special ops military structure, where you would only have a captain and sargent and there was no other higher ranks then footsoldiers. And the footsoldiers are savvy enough to go about their orders with in loco improvisation if somethign unexpected happens. That’s also good soldering, a good soldier also improvises deepnding on the cuircunstances. Soldiers are incentivate to be creative to deal with circunstance,s because not everythign goes always to plan, which is a military maxim. And remember, the robbers in DIE HARD are all ex-soldiers and/or ex-terrorists with military training.

  95. Asimov, that’s a good point. I have noticed that I’ll forgive an older movie a lot more than I will a new one. Is it because the pressure is off? No one’s talking about some random old action movie, so there’s no hype to raise your expectations. You just take it for what it is, and since you actively sought out the movie rather than seeing it because it was the big movie opening that weekend, you were probably open to whatever the movie was selling in the first place. How long does it take for a movie’s “glaring plotholes” to mellow into “charming quirks”? Ten years? 15?

  96. Asimov: We may need to change the batteries in your sarcasm detector.

  97. What about Karl’s brother, though? Where is he in the chain of command? He’s pretty bad ass (“Come out, I promise I won’t hurt you….”) but Karl still treats him like garbage (“I can’t heeeaaaar you! Got the chainsaw running! Don’t get electrocuted, hah ha ha ha! Hey, just fuckin’ with you, bro. Guttentag.”)

  98. I think Ellis tried to pole vault into second-in-command for about 30 seconds or so there

  99. Jareth Cutestory

    April 21st, 2010 at 11:32 am

    Mr. Majestyk: Damn it, man, I want to know the temp agency that placed all those goons! I won’t rest until I know each of their social security numbers!

    But seriously, all I was trying to say (in my clumsy way) was that there seemed to just be a bunch of guys in suits standing around in KICK ASS whenever there was a need to beat on villans. And when they ran out, a bunch more came in. I’m not asking each goon to be a fully formed character, or to know the villan’s business plan, but it would have been nice to know a little bit of information that would estabiish the threat the crime organization is supposed to represent.

    Like in CHOCOLATE. You knew where each human punching bag belonged in the scheme of things, often just by the fact that a goon was working with a bone saw or wearing a dirty shirt. KICK ASS could have used some of that detail. It involves you more.

    At the very least, they could have given me a dutch angle or two so I could pretend that these guys were supposed to be scary.

    Also, I would have liked to have even a glimpse of the impact the crime has on the world in KICK ASS; as it stands, the whole thing felt strangely insular and remote to me, like one of those dinner theater murder mystery parties. It was an aticeptic crime world in a vacuum, something neither of us would accuse DIE HARD of.

    I know, I know, it’s a small quibble. Vern took care of all the good complaints already. And I think I enjoyed the movie more than Vern did. I can certainly see areas where it could have been significantly improved.

  100. Love ya, Mr M – but I’m not sure Die Hard was the one to go for there. Hallowed ground…

  101. I think Asimov is right about the hypocrisy in the same culture bitching at the little things in some things which they conveninently forget in others.

    For example, the grating voice in THE DARK KNIGHT. I get the point of it, though I do think maybe it wears off the patience of some when it’s done in lengthy monologues like the ending. I may not agree with the criticism, but I get it.

    Yet where were the nerds with the equally scratching/talky voice of Rorschach in WATCHMEN? They were like those supposed fiscally responsible Teabaggers under the Spending orgy/wreckless foreign adventurism of the George W. Bush Presidency…..deadly silent. But oh boy, they go off at the next guy of the other party who actually helped reduct the deficit slightly with the passage of Health Care.

    There was a time, me very young when AICN was indeed quite a revelation, a whole sub-counter cultural community responding to which the mainstream at the time was refusing. I mean I was there with the BATMAN & ROBIN release, and that whole sack of bullshit, the infamous talkbacks and chatting was a good cathartic release for my very young angry inner-nerd. And to discover that despite the mainstream’s claims, David Cronenberg was indeed a visionary master, and that John Carpenter’s so-called “failures” like THE THING and THEY LIVE and BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA…were indeed kickass.

    But now I’ve understood that hich AICN represents is a geek culture which can help in thought but within itself alone, is an intellectual deathtrap. It’s like how Marxism, I give those socialist fuckers credit for pushing the idea of analyzing history and culture through the prism of economics, which hadn’t been practiced seriously until those Commies came around. That was good.

    But Marxism in a world of itself…well, there is a reason why China, Cuba, and Vietnam put down the red flags after several decades and are now whoring themselves out for Western tourists to visit their beaches and party with the indigenous population. Especially the wealthy pedophiles.

  102. Vern, just wanted to say. I agree whole-heartedly with this review. Thanks.

  103. Interesting, one of the most thoughtful takes on film violence I’ve come across is this 1969 Ebert review of the Wild Bunch:


  104. Vern — I love Mark Strong. He’s been fantastic for ages, playing loads of diverse, low-key character-acting roles, always fantatically (even in awful rubbish like REVOLVER, where he puts in one of his best performances). It’s nice to see him get some bigger roles, even if they’re as boring as his SHERLOCK HOLMES heavy. Guy’s got four movies in the can already and two more shooting, so it looks like he’s hit the big times now. Hopefully he’ll end up with some directors who know how to let him shine.

  105. He was the best thing about BODY OF LIES.

  106. I just saw it last night and I loved it. Yes, I would compare it to Robocop. Tonally, the two films are as different as night and day. What they have in common is the operatic level of over the top violence mixed in with some very sly humor. Both films take a supremely silly concept that sounds goofy on paper and makes it work because of the strong emotional undercurrent. (The scene where Big Daddy’s ex-partner accused him of robbing Hit Girl of her childhood worked for me.) They are also kindred spirits in that both of their directors are fucking lunatics that went for broke. Like Paul Verhoeven, Vaughn combines elements that in a lesser director’s hands would’ve ballooned into gaudy excess. He is able to elevate the film above it’s pulpy trappings and turn it into art. Am I saying it’s as good as Robocop? No, but it was a lot of fun. On a superficial level, it’s a lot like Robocop 2 (in that a kid kills a bunch of people) and 3 (the jet pack ending).

    I have no idea what Ebert was smoking. Sometimes he’s dead on target, and others he misses the boat by an entire ocean. After, this is the guy that gave Die Hard TWO STARS here…

  107. Mr. Majestyk, i saw DIE HARD back in the day when it was released. I’m that old.

    And what you americans might call sarcams we here might call it something else. I suspect not many americans are well versed in the art of sarcasm… with the exception of such people as Pale Force himself Conan O’ Brian. Must be a cultural thing. Canadians, however, another matter.

  108. Our friend RRA brough up a good point, and he even made the perfect example when he mentioned BATMAN & ROBIN. If ever you guys do an archeological search to AICN’s older stuff, and check out the reviews and talkbacks about BATMAN & ROBIN, you will see movie geekdom at it’s finest. It was when movie geekdom gained merit on it’s own. It was when geekdom called a spade a spade and took no fools from a studio run by accountants, who unleashed a terrible comic book movie which insulted every type of defenition of intelligence ever understood by man. For a while, geekdom was a force, geekdom was heard, adn geekdom was enforcing and upholding the truth.

    And then Harry Knowles and his associates sold their asses to Micheal Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer and they started crying at the “dramatic” moments of ARMAGEDDON. That movie is one that can make one cry, but not because if it’s so-called drama. From encefoward, it seesm AICN goes through filmmakers hailing them as great visionaries whenin fact most of them are nothing short of exploitive hacks taking advantage of the naiveté or greed of the AICN crew. I came to the conclusion that AICN have tried many times to gain favour from filmmakers and producers by washing their hands and hyping their movies, in exchange of a chance to some of them to kickstart a filmmaking career, namely Harry Knowles, but far more flagrant, Drew McWeeny. And everytime they have done it, the bomb has busted on their faces.

    They hailed the shit out of Bruckheimer and Bay, and for all their efforts, all they got was, at the very best, crumbs. Fro a short while, Zack Snyder. Now, the golden goose is JJ Abrams. AICN goes to great extents to hail Abrams, or hailed Synder or Bay, as visionaries, those who are saving cinema and brining back the fun to movies. Complete nonsense. It’s a blatant scratch-my-back-I-scratch-yours, the only problem is Harry and AICN have been played, and this filmmakers never once pay up their promises. And yet, AICN keep on being fooled time and again. Ocasionally, they get it right, they hail a movie that deserves to be hailed, like THE DARK KNIGHT or MOON, but that stuff is few and far between.

  109. Jareth Cutestory

    April 21st, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    AsimovLives: I was going to use some of that Mighty Canadian Sarcasm on your use of the word “paradongs” (you probably intended to use “paragons”) in a previous post, but I decided not to. Canadians may be saracastic, but they’re not dicks (our current Prime Minister notwithstanding).

  110. Jareth Cutestory, how about Brian Adams, hem? That guy owes me the 80s. And yeah, i did wanted to say paragons. Though paradongs is funny and somewhat apropos.

  111. Jareth Cutestory

    April 21st, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Some countries get floods, some get earthquakes. Canada got Brian fucking Adams.

  112. Jareth Cutestory, i see you are deliberatly forgetting Celine Dion. I can understand why.

  113. I believe Rush cancels out Celine Dion, while early Bryan Adams lessens the blow of later Bryan Adams, leaving Canada just under par.

  114. Over par, I mean. I think. I don’t golf. I’m a New Yorker. I walk all the time without the need to chase a stupid little ball around.

  115. Mr. Majestyk, nice try, but it doesn’t cut it, the evil cyborg of doom that’s Celine Dion is a evil so great that Canada could produce 10 THE POLICE bands, they wouldn’t still be enough to counter-act. And THE POLICE was excelent.

  116. hey AsimovLives, I liked Star Trek, how does that make you feel?

  117. Asimov – well, I don’t agree with all that. There is no “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” While ARMAGEDDON is one of my all time most hated movies, I have no question in my mind that Harry really loves it. Some people like stupid shit, including me. If you want to argue he has bad taste then that’s fine, but he’s not faking it.

    And the same goes for KICK-ASS. They’re not faking it, and more power to them for liking it (as many people did here). I just have the feeling that if it was just a movie that they came across one day they wouldn’t be reading as much into it as they are after being buddies with everybody involved. But I might be wrong, as some have argued persuasively here.

    As far as BATMAN AND ROBIN, I don’t think it takes a genius to see that’s a terrible movie. I don’t really agree that “geeks” being “at their finest” means they tear apart bad movies. What I like about Harry actually is that he spends way more time on the movies he loves than the ones he hates. It’s fun to write a bad review sometimes, but if I hated most movies I saw I’d look for a new hobby. I think the obsessing-over-things-you-hate trend is a much bigger problem than the one I talked about in this review. For example, you really gotta let the Star Trek one go. Throwing out “FRAUD TREK” in your comment there makes you sound like a lunatic. In fact, in general I’m against bullying/parodying nicknames for movies and people, but I guess that’s a whole different debate.

  118. I thought the J.J. STAR TREK was decent too, though there is alot of bullshit in it that I suppose I can sympathize with Asimov on.

    Anyway Asimov, I wouldn’t categorize as you did on AICN “selling out” to those Hollywood idols, but I consider it alot more shameless pandering. I mean remember that Mr. Beaks interview with Michael Bay around time of THE ISLAND I believe, something about that dork’s “evolving sensibilities.”

    In what way has Bay evolved beyond getting bigger budgets and bigger explosions?

  119. Jareth Cutestory

    April 21st, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    And just to prove that Vern walks the walk, he refrained from quoting the joke title LAST YEAR AT MARIENBORED when given the opportunity, thus sparing my delicate feelings. That’s a class act.

  120. RRA: THE ISLAND was Bay’s first movie that had some kind of themes or plot beyond “There are these guys who are trying not to get exploded, possibly in space or the past” even though he mostly used it as an excuse to crush cars with metal objects that were thrown off the back of a moving truck, which is his favorite thing in the world to do. The first 40 minutes of THE ISLAND are actually quite slow-moving and atmospheric for a Michael Bay movie, so it was fair at the time to say that his sensibility might be evolving somewhat.

    Then that movie flopped so he said fuck it and devolved even further into his own peculiar insanity. Which was probably a good idea, in my opinion. Nobody wants a “serious” Michael Bay movie. And if they do, they want it to be a lot funnier than THE ISLAND.

  121. After thinking about it, I find that my opinion of KICK ASS (negative) is pretty much defined by what it is I like about, and look for in a superhero picture. When it comes to comic book movies I like the big, glossy, effects heavy, high concept with a heart of gold type films. I like flashy, CG super powers. I like brave heroes with cool gadgets who are willing to sacrifice everything for the greater good. I like snappy dialogue and interesting, menacing villains. I guess that’s why I enjoyed DARK KNIGHT so much and why I’m really looking forward to IRON MAN 2. I like a guy in power armor flying alongside fighter jets while AC/DC belts one out. That, to me, is good times.

    I like those movies for the same reason that I don’t require a revisionist INDIANA JONES picture where Short Round goes around chopping heads off and saying cunt. I don’t mind having the genre subverted or re-invented but I would really prefer you did it smartly, with a real point of view that makes it interesting. That’s why I enjoyed WATCHMEN and why PLANETARY is my favorite comic. Hell, PLANETARY re-evaluates and subverts the comics of the whole twentieth century and does it with such intelligence and wit that even the fleeting moments of ultra-violence seem smart and sexy as hell.

    I’m aware that, to the people that loved KICK ASS, my first paragraph probably seems hopelessly old fashioned. So be it. If KICK ASS did one thing for me it allowed me to re-evaluate what I liked about comics, comic movies and superheroes in general. So thanks, KICK ASS, for being so stupid. You made the good stuff seem even better.

  122. Oooh boy a fanboy talkback. Guess this was always going to develop into one of those.

    I generally decide what movies I’m going to spend money on by looking at websites like this one and AICN. The trouble is that the “fanboy” element often skews the result, either positively or negatively.

    Frexample (and I know Vern said forget about them, but I have no particular love for the original trilogy here so I think I can be objective) all three Star Wars prequels were given largely positive reviews when they came out, despite them being (in my not-so-humble-opinion) utterly without redeeming qualities. At least I didn’t pay money to see #3. But you know what? That’s a slice of money I could’ve used seeing a good film, like watching “Dude, where’s my car” one more time.

    On the flip side, Spiderman 3? Not that bad. I actually preferred it to the first two movies because at least it seemed to have some self-awareness. I thought the first two were craptastic but took themselves a little too seriously, whereas the third one knew exactly what it wanted to be and showed it in scenes like the emo-dance, etc. To hear the fanboys talking you’d think it was worse than Superman 4.

    Occasionally they get it right: for example, I think most of us would agree that “Batman and Robin” was a stinker, although it’s kinda fun to watch if it’s on and you’re very drunk. And I hated “Superman Returns” and “X-Men 3”, even though they may not have technically been as bad films as “B&R”, for reasons that I think the fanboys would probably appreciate – because they took characters I liked (mostly from other films), and then ripped them to shreds. Plainly that depends on a knowledge of those characters, which means I’m not entirely judging the films on their own merits. And I know that you can do that with “Superman Returns” and it would be – well, still pretty bad, but not quite as terrible as the likes of “Batman and Robin”. But let’s be honest – who WANTS to see an asshole absent-father vainglorious version of Superman? Or to put it another way – do you want to see a superhero film where the only single likeable character (and yes, there is one) is the guy who gets completely screwed over at the end, while the supposed lead characters all act like assholes or whiners?

    And when the fanboys are effusive, it’s sometimes with good reason as well. It’s not exactly a blockbuster, but I went to see “Lost in Translation” purely because of the great reviews it had had on the ‘web, and that’s probably my favorite film. “Zombieland” as well – I have a lot of love for that movie, and it’s not something I would generally go out of my way to see. A lot of the people whose opinions I’d automatically discount when it comes to things like “Star Wars” and “Spiderman” were also the ones who were praising those two films to the heavens.

    When it comes down to it though, does any of this matter? I expect people will be debating “Titanic”, “Star Wars” and their ilk for a long time to come because they’re huge, massively popular movies that everyone’s seen. It’s easy to make reference to those movies and know that people will understand what you’re talking about. And because so many people have seen them, there are going to be dissenting viewpoints. That’s the nature of the internets. If I made reference to “Twelve Monkeys” or “Twelve Angry Men” or – any other good film with twelve in the title? – then the vast majority of people would probably not know what on earth I was talking about. Most of you guys will, because, hey, look at the forum we’re on now. But that’s not the case for most people. If you want to make a point about a movie where a character’s apparel being fastened by another character is a symbol of their lack of freedom, you don’t go to “Monkeys”, you go to “Titanic”.

    The thing I think Vern may be missing is that while people still mention movies like “Star Wars” a lot, it’s not necessarily because they’re obsessed with them. Heck, I’ve used the prequels as an example of really bad qualities in movies myself enough times, not because I’m obsessed with the prequels but because I think everybody here would “get” what I’m referring to – even if they don’t agree with me. Whereas if I made the same point but referenced a more obscure movie, nobody would understand it.

    And in the end, it’s a few people posting a few opinions on a few websites that really won’t matter to anybody except a few accountants who want to make sure that they can wring every last penny out of the franchises they’re invested in. Now THAT’S obsession, if you like.

  123. Mr. Majestyk – I think its quite funny that Bay’s “serious” movie was basically a $120+ million ripoff of an obscure 1970s Z-movie once shown on MST3K.

    Which resulted in a lawsuit which those people behind that CLONUS won. By OOC settlement. If I remember right.

  124. No, that’s what happened. Which is unfair, in my opinion. Sure, the entire concept and most of the plot points were identical to those of PARTS: THE CLONUS HORROR, but did that movie have flying motorcycles? No, it did not. Totally different.

  125. I’m not really sure what “fanboy” is so I don’t use that word. Also I keep forgetting that “nerd” is considered an insult but “geek” has been reversed into a compliment. I use them interchangably but I guess they’re different.

  126. Are there really dorks out there who insist on a difference between the words “nerd” and “geek”? I had always thought they were synonymous.

  127. I think “nerd” implies extensive knowledge of some sort. “Geek” implies abnormal devotion to something inconsequential. “Dork” implies social awkwardness. “Fanboy” implies a geek without any self-awareness of the ridiculousness of his geekitude. “Pothead” implies someone who would sit around one night thinking of the difference between “nerd”, “geek”, “dork”, and “fanboy”.

  128. The Island: The only Micheal Bay that’s actually anything even close to resembling good. And ya wanna know why? Because that was Bay working as a director for hire for Dreamworks and Spielberg, and Steven kept his foot right on Bay’s neck the entire time, during shooting and straight on through editing; made him work efficiently and professionally and basically co-created the film, just like he used to back in the 80s with stuff like the Goonies and Batteries Not Included. And the result was something that actually emphasized Bay’s strengths as a director (which he does have) not his weaknesses (which every other title in Bay’s filmography has done).

    The Island does have some authentically good performances (Both Ewan MacGregors, Micheal Clarke Duncan, Buscemi, the African actor who’s name I’m forgetting) and some genuine moments of moving drama. Some of the action scenes are even pretty decent, meaning they approach coherancy. The Rock, Armageddon and Pearl Harbor have all those things too, except they’re just almost buried under the white noise of Bay’s usual cinematic excess. He COULD be a decent director, but he needs serious, hard-core, old-time studio system discipline imposed on him by producers. Which, after Transformers, he’s now probably never gonna get again.

  129. Your theory doesn’t hold water, CC. For one thing, one thing you can never accuse Bay of is not being efficient. If the special features on his movies are to be believed, he routinely does five, six or even ten times as many setups per day as any other director. That’s one of the reasons he keeps getting hired. He gets the job done on time and on budget, and he puts every last penny on the screen (for up to 18 or 19 frames at a time). For another, The Island was a huge bomb for DreamWorks. So if you theory is to be believed, they kept him on a tight leash for The Island, then hired him for their next movie, a huge tentpole production called Transformers, and suddenly decided to loosen the reins on the guy who just lost them a hundred million bucks so he can throw hugely expensive peeing CGI robot jokes in there? And lastly, when has Bay not been a director for hire? He went straight from being the biggest show pony in Bruckheimer’s stable to working for Steven Spielberg. He always has a strong producer holding his chain. I don’t doubt that Spielberg had some positive influence on him during that production, but it’s not like he was on the set every day. He doesn’t even get a producer credit because he was pretty busy with the two major motion pictures (Munich and War of the Worlds) he released that year.

  130. the biggest problem with The Island is ScarJo wanted to show her wonderful breasts and Bay told her NOT to, what kind of maniac does that? flash forward all these years later and she still hasn’t let the twins roam free, fuck Michael Bay indeed

    and what does Spielberg see in the guy anyway? remember when Spielberg produced movies used to be stuff like Back To The Future and The The Goonies? heck even lower tier movies like the aforementioned Batteries Not Included have more heart than any of Bay’s flicks

  131. Darth Irritable

    April 21st, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    “Not seen it yet (damn volcanic ash)” – Not something you hear every day.

    The fascinating thing to me is that with Cage looking like a redneck Batman – the fights in this were better staged than either Batman Begins or The Dark Knight. The Big Daddy fight put the docs scene in “Begins” to shame.

  132. Jareth Cutestory

    April 21st, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    Mr. Majestyk: Is it possible for you to envision the kind of creative conversations that went on between Spielberg and Bay in the early production stages of TRANSFORMERS? Do you think that Bay brought a vision to the table? I always wondered if he operated according to some master plan, or if he just bungles through with the few tools car commercials have taught him.

  133. Jareth Cutestory

    April 21st, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    Darth Irritable: Good point. And I actually like the big Hit Girl fight at the end, the botched music cue notwithstanding. I just wish I hadn’t seen the whole thing in the commercials.

    But ultimately I think CHOCOLATE was way better.

  134. Jareth: I think Bay was probably the guy who insisted on seeing every single little gear clicking into place. He’s a pretty literal-minded guy from what I can tell so the idea of the parts just disappearing or changing shape during the transformations would not compute. He wants to see where they go, even if it makes the robots visually unintelligible. Spielberg probably would have gone for something more elegant and streamlined.

    Wait, do you mean did he have any story ideas? God no. His whole strategy seems to be that, since he’s not a geek and doesn’t have much of an imagination, he doesn’t really know to to take the robots seriously as characters, so he feels the need to throw a whole bunch of other shit at the movies so he doesn’t have to figure out how to give them personalities. I think he’s happiest when he’s just kicking back and letting his actors improv.

    Have you ever noticed that Michael Bay movies are like humongous mutated Troma movies?

  135. Jareth Cutestory

    April 21st, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    Mr. Majestyk: Bay is kind of unwieldy like Troma, neither have much regard for structure, and good taste certainly isn’t at the top of either of their agendas.

    Still, I think Bay is lacking the campy surrealism, at least intentionally. Unless he has a penis monster in an upcoming movie that I haven’t heard about. Maybe the studios are preventing him from letting his freak flag really fly. God help us.

  136. “he doesn’t really know to to take the robots seriously as characters”

  137. Majestyk: I got info straight from people who worked on The Island–they said Bay was chafing under being kept on a fairly short leash and that there was basically a vision already in place for what the film was going to be. Bay was told to implement that vision and stick to the plan, unlike the Bruckheimer films, where he was allowed to pretty much indulge whatever he wanted.

    And just shooting a ton of setups does not make someone efficient; in fact, it can be the opposite of effiency. These guys who cover the hell out every single second in the film, require endless setups, multiple cameras, then do take after take after take, all they’re doing is spending five times as much money per day as other directors and generating a vast ratio of expenditure vs. final product. This may be apocryphal, but I heard there were days when Bay was literally shut down in the middle of filming certain scenes; that the producers basically told him, “You’ve been filming this for two days. You have enough coverage; now move on.” And he’d have to do it, because they made it clear he was working for them. He needs that kind of discipline.

    As for the subsequent reversal of policy on Transformers, my impression is that the failure of The Island actually gave Bay leverage to, when they came back to hire him on that, accuse them of stifling his talents as a director; that they’d advertised The Island as a Micheal Bay film and then the audience didn’t get what they expected from a Micheal Bay film, so if they wanted him for Transformers they needed to give him more free reign like he was used too. And then Transformers was a big hit, so he could say he was right, so we got Transformers 2, and he will probably continue to reign unchallenged now. That is, unless somebody gives him 500 million to try and top Avatar or something, and the resulting film makes about 90 million and wipes out an entire studio. Then I suspect it’ll be back to car commercials.

  138. CC: You mean the special features lied?!

  139. I will say THE ISLAND is the closest Michael Bay will ever come to making an actual movie. It wasn’t a good movie, but it at least had stuff I expect from a movie such as an idea, a story, and characters with motivations.

    I’m pretty sure Bay intended to make the whole part in the clone facility sterile and he probably thought he was directing it so that it was uncomfortably slow and tense like Soberburgh’s SOLARIS remake, but since he’s Michael Bay aiming for slow-paced and tense that just resulted in it looking like a normal movie and not his usual shakeycam jumpcutting mess. Ya know, stuff like letting a guy finish a sentence without a cut or keeping the camera still or having expository shots? I actually didn’t even know Bay was capable of those basic functions.

  140. I remember watching the island, as soon as amistad appeared, I said to someone jokingly “he probably appaers at the very end and looks like hes gonna kill them, but will then let them go and give them a silent “black men know what its like to be slaves” nod”
    30 minutes later exactly that happened.

  141. Well I’m both a nerd and geek, which is the same dang thing to me.

    With regards to the Nerd Internet*, I feel like those Catholics currently disgusted with the Vatican run by the sex criminals.

    *=Though as others have highlighted, they still have positives: With AICN, indeed I wonder how many would have checked out say MOON if not for that crew. And they did basically get MONSTER SQUAD onto DVD. I just wish they did more good and less the bad, you know?

    Alright no more AICN whining from me in this thread. I promise.

  142. So Vern, does this review break a record for amount of responses to a review?

  143. Majestyk: I can’t really be more specific because I don’t want to get anybody in trouble, but, yes, considering who I heard most of this stuff from, that may possibly be so.

  144. Man, when you can’t even trust a behind-the-scenes featurette, who can you trust?

  145. Jareth – The chief difference between Bay and Troma is that Troma at least once upon a time made at least one good movie: THE TOXIC AVENGER.

    I’ve had more sincere raging joy and fun from that trash classic than I’ve had with Bay’s entire filmography.

  146. But you have to admit that the giant robot testicles is exactly the kind of gag that Lloyd would do if someone gave him a couple hundred million dollars.

    RRA, you need to see TERROR FIRMER and POULTRYGEIST. Ever since TROMEO & JULIET, Troma’s original productions (not the camcorder crap they distribute to no one in particular) have really been striving for excellence.

  147. Over the last few years internet hype has led me to some of my favorite films; Primer, The Host, Moon, Black Dynamite, Let the Right One In, Sukiyaki Western Django, The Fall, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, District 9, Serenity, Trick R’ Treat, Thirst, Special, Ink and the films of Tony Jaa and Johnny To. Rock on internet hype. I loved Ninja Assassin, it had internet hype, but that turned to internet hate just before the release, still loved it. Before the internet I got into Whit Stillman through fax hype.

    I really enjoyed Kick Ass, the look of Toronto, Queens (it was Christmas time in Toronto Queens!), the action, the expert comic timing, Michael Nispoli was hilarious as the consiglieri. Stand Up by the Prodigy is an awesome theme, I really liked In the House in a Heartbeat for the Big Daddy warehouse massacre. Hope they make a sequel.

  148. Vern, thanks for the thoughful reply. You know, usually i respect titles even from bad movuies, except when they are stupid beyond the call of duty, which for me JJ Abrasm’s latest is. I don’t detest it because i’m a trekkie, because i’m not, i detest it because it’s incompetent filmmaking and stupid storytelling build on cliches and impossible coincidences and deux ex machinas working over-drive, while robbing plot points left and right from STAR WARS and THE WRATH OF KAHN. It’s either a story made by people who think audiences are mad eof retards, or people, without any talent for storytelling. Or both.

    I still can’t help but fell that AICN has been trying to go to bed with some filmamkers. Yes, i also think that Harry Knowles loved ARMAGEDDON (doesn’t make it any better, but that’s besdie the point). But i just can’t shake the feekling that the AICN people have made deals with certain filmmakers, like Bruckheimer, Bay and JJ Abrams. McWeeny and Knowles have always been upfront in saying they really wanted to have a career as filmmakers, and there’s nothing wrong about it. But it seems to me, they are using AICN as a means to it. Well, it’s not the first time that a reviewer who knows filmamkers have used their connections to kick-start a filmmaking career. Francois Truffaut and Paul Schraeder started that way, among others. What i find, well, bemusing, is that AICN decided to champion Bruckheimer, Bay and Abrams of all people.

  149. Mr. Majestyk, i think you flipped the defenitions of #nerd2 with “geeks2 and vice-versa. Though i’m like Vern, msotly i also use them interchanchably. there was a time when i considred thw work Geek as closer to a praise, as in, a person with a indeep knowledge of a given subject. Like movie geeks, until those geeks disapointed me to no end when they started praising the hell out of FRA… i mean, JJ Abrams’ S…. JJ Abrasm’ St…. JJ Abrams’s latest movie, if you know what i mean. From encefoward, geek gained a negative connotation for me. So much so, that i call that type geekoids, movie geeks that love dumb crappy stupid movie like Armageddon, any Bay movie, and JJ Abrams’s latest, to name a few.

  150. Asimov – For the record, you’re European right? Not that means anything, just wondering because otherwise your English as a second tongue is good, better than some of my neighbors. Not quite CJ Holden excellent, but hey when the Germans fully dedicate to something we usually get quite good slick efficiency whether it be movies, cars, beer, rallies, you name it.

    Anyway I know I’ve been guilty of it too but….stop it. You’ve said your piece on the AICN stuff, I mean repeating it won’t make it go away. If so, then the Birthers would have gotten that fictional Kenyan Obama birth certificate by now.

  151. Jareth Cutestory

    April 22nd, 2010 at 10:57 am

    RRA & Majestyk: I read an article a while ago that describes how Torma is in the process of licensing many of their properties, opening a floodgate for remakes and musicals, one of which, MOTHER’S DAY, is being developed by Ratner. POULTRYGEIST and CLASS OF NUKE ‘EM HIGH are apparently in development for remakes, while TOXIC AVENGER will be a musical like that EVIL DEAD musical from a few years ago.

    I can’t help but see that as an end to an era.

  152. RRA – Don’t forget Rock Festivals!
    I still wonder though, why the people here tend to praise my english. More than just once I post things here, that I think make no sense in a grammatical way. But hey, since I don’t get many compliments in real life (that have nothing to do with my hair), I won’t complain. :)

  153. “an anticeptic crime world in a vacuum” was precisley one of my problems. To say the film was set in NY, it never felt like it existed beyond half a dozen people. Not necessarily a bad thing, but then there is no level of threat to the bad guy. No sense that Kick Ass is this cultural phenomenom he supposedly becomes. I guess this was down to the budget and the fact it was filmed in Toronto, but all in all I couldn’t get involved in the world they were trying to create. I was also failry unimpessed by the ultra-violence. I have no objections to it per se (comparisons have been made to Kill Bill Vol 1 which did cartoonish ultra violence spectacularly better) but the attacks on people seemed almost pathological. Killing people at the drug dealers house who might not even be bad guys? Unjustified and a bit fucked up. Was that supposedly the point? I don’t fucking know – but its hard to really care for a character who is supposed to be a real life super hero who does shit that super hero villains actually do (like crushing the guy in his car – I mean seriously thats a classic bad guy maneouvre…).

    All in all I guess a lot of how you react to a film is based on what expectations you went in with. Mine were pretty high, but I was left disappointed. Perhaps if it hadn’t been hyped to death as the new benchmark in geek cinema I may have been able to enjoy it more. But I still suspect this has been a case of polishing the turd.

    Kudos to Vern for hitting the nail on the head yet again with this review – and also to the comments of strong.nuklear, Shortshirt, Darryll, Blitzkrieg – couldn’t agree more (yes I have just read through all of this shit)

  154. Michael – real good point. Although this one didn’t live up to the internet hype for me, there are plenty of movies I did love that I found out about from the various websights. And I would like to think I help people find out about a few gems now and then, including at least one on your list (BLACK DYNAMITE) and one not (BLOOD AND motherfuckin BONE). And some might say I’m guilty of the over-hyping myself.

    thanks for all the comments, everybody

  155. I generally like these movie websites and I agree with you guys that they are doing us all a good service by introducing us to good entertainment, even though it frequently involves overselling certain movies.

    My problem is more with the industry itself and how they over-promote and prematurely promote their movies to the point that they burn me out on their product and already know everything about the movie without even having seen it.

    One of the more recent debacles is this remake of Red Sonja where they made a poster and a trailer and stuff but forgot to make the actual movie. I guess I feel that is an extreme case of trying to sell something before there’s anything to sell, but there’s lots of other less silly examples and Kickass has definately been one of them. I probably would’ve gone out and seen it if a few months before the release date they’d just put out a short trailer telling me it was a movie with Nic Cage as a superhero and maybe a poster here or there. But the people who made this movie have been selling it at me from every angle for over a year now and I just got sick of hearing about it long before it came out.

    I know I’m not alone on this because I frequently see other people at the cinema mocking posters that advertise a release date that’s like two years in the future.

  156. I’m portuguese. Which means i’m from Portugal. Which means i’m from europe, yes.

  157. I will reiterate that I did not like this film. But one thing that occurred to me, Vern, was that in your review of Defendor, you said:

    “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.”

    In retrospect, it seems like you were sort of already soured to Kick-Ass before you’d seen it. I agree, the scene where the kid is literally holding a comic book and he’s like, “Man WHAT IF THIS WAS REAL?!” was retarded. But I would also freely admit that I hate Internet hype and that I’m negatively biased against something nerds/geeks/whatever are salivating over.


  158. You hated AVATAR and DISTRICT 9, then?

  159. Also, why does every comic book film have to be structured in the exact same manner? Why does there have to be an hour-long origin story and then an hour and a half of tangential plot?

    It’s not like every movie based on a book has to begin with a narrator going “It was a dark and stormy night!”

    The problem with “comic book” movies in general is that they are insanely slavish to formula. Every single one of these films tells the same god damned story in the same god damned way.

    Like, people comparing “Kick-Ass” to Tarantino… excuse me? But what Tarantino film was told in sequential order? I think I missed that one.

    Even shit like Death Proof and Jackie Brown gets playful with its structure.

    Why can’t we have some sort of super hero movie where it starts in media res? Or “Usual Suspects” style, the whole thing is narrated from the perspective of a witness to some shit that went down? ANYTHING other than some twerp retelling his with great power comes great responsibility shpiel.

  160. I didn’t like District 9. Never got around to seeing Avatar.

  161. Jareth Cutestory

    April 22nd, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    AsimovLives: Saramago e lobo Antunes são homens justos.

  162. Lukas, I have the same problem. That’s why superhero sequels are usually better than the originals because the origin stories are out of the way and they can focus on telling a complete story.

    But for examples of where they don’t do that, check out both Ray Stevenson’s and Dolph Lundgren’s Punisher movies. Both of them start with the Punisher in the middle of doing what he does best, with only a quick flashback to explain why.

  163. Yeh I loved dolph’s punisher movie as a kid. Didn’t Burton’s batman also sort of forgo the origin story?

  164. Yeah, it just had a quick flashback. So much better that way. I really don’t need to see Bruce Wayne receiving all the ninja training that he’s never going to use.

  165. I HATED the Ninja training shit. Why didn’t they just stick to the comic book, where it begins w/ dude coming in on a flight?

  166. Lukas – that actually is one aspect that worked better in KICK-ASS than DEFENDOR. In KICK-ASS it was important to the story, they were comic book nerds. In DEFENDOR he’s an adult who lives in a garage, there’s really no need to have him show a specific made up comic character and say that’s where he got the idea from. We can figure out that he is in the world and that in the world when a guy wears a mask and puts a letter on his chest it is because of comics and cartoons.

    BLADE is another one that starts with the hero already fully operational and later on gives us a short flashback. Also I believe he’s the only super hero who remembers being born.

  167. And that’s maybe why blade works as an action film better than most other superhero shit.

    Also, don’t get me wrong, it isn’t just superhero shit where I think this storytelling technique is problematic. The Harry Potter films and LOTR put way too much exposition in there.

  168. Jareth Cutestory – Doesn’t surprise me. Troma has been in financial trouble for the last few years. You all know of that TALES FROM THE CRAPPER debacle, which apparently almost did them in. But they survived, but basically (unless I’m mistaken) they got chased away from NYC and had to relocate their offices in New Jersey. Disapointing to me since I always fancied visiting that old firetrap office building of theirs in Hell’s Kitchen if I ever ventured to the Big Apple. Pity.

    So yeah if some hacks like Hackiva and Ratner want to spend tens and tens of millions to overspend in remaking a movie that probably had a shoebox budget….well I can’t blame ole Lloyd Kaufman for selling out. Not the first time, nor the last.

    In retrospect, a CLASS OF NUKE’EM HIGH remake could actually work. There was a gallup poll, over 62% Americans support nuclear power now. Well how about a nice reminder about the effects of a nuke power plant next to a high school can lead to radiation poisoning, mutation which turns kids into punk gangs who wear too much mascara and aborted fetuses into monsters, and oh yeah a giant ass model explosion.

    Funny enough, I just realized TOXIC AVENGER is the only movie with an overt pro-environmental message that didn’t SUCK. Maybe because Kaufman didn’t hit that point over the head like Steven Seagal and that Keanu Reeves alien movie think we’re supposed to care for polar bears and trees because they’re living beings. Or Kaufman showed how trashing the environment hurts humanity in the long run. And who hates the local wildlife preserve becoming a toxic waste dump site?

    Batman has the Bat Cave, Superman has the Fortress of Solitude, and Toxie has his Trash House.

  169. Lukas Kaiser – Like Burton’s BATMAN?

    No thanks mate.

    Though I suppose MASK OF THE PHANTASM did it the Stevenson/Lundgren method.

  170. Troma’s not in New Jersey, unless they moved again. They’re in Long Island City, which is not actually in Long Island. It’s a neighborhood in Queens. Their office is just a few blocks from mine. I keep meaning to stop by and ask if they’ll hose me down with fake poop or something.

  171. Mr. M – Well better Queens than New Jersey. Thanks for the correction.

  172. I agree that this movie was completely overhyped. I agree that the movie turns out to be exactly what it promised not to be at the opening. I also agree that there should be some separation between film criticism (reviews) and publicity (set visits and other promotional bullshit) and if you have the same people doing both things, you’re doing it wrong.

    I thought Hit-Girl was okay. I actually didn’t think her performance was that strong. She didn’t seem that comfortable with the profanity. I didn’t believe that she was someone who just talked that way all the time. Some of the fight choreography for her was pretty good, though, with her jumping around onto peoples’ heads and making them shoot themselves and stuff. Of course, she also kills people she doesn’t have to kill, out of expediency, and aside from showing that Kick-Ass is horrified (we’ve established that he’s a pussy), there is no comment on this or judgment of it. It’s celebrated, which kind of bothered me. Those gratuitous musical cues (especially the fucking Banana Splits) just make it worse. I didn’t know I was supposed to be jumping out of my chair with jubilant excitement until I heard that fucking music.

    And the stuff with the girlfriend was pure bullshit. It sounds like the comic got it right. Why change it? Because you’re pandering to your audience, is the only reason I can think of.

    The excitement over Hit-Girl (tween who curses like a sailor and kills people) reminds me of something Mike D’Angelo refers to (but he didn’t coin it) as “the fallacy of the profane granny.” Since the character is not grounded in any sort of reality, how different is it from those horrible Hollywood comedies where we’re supposed to think it’s hilarious that someone who curses a lot also happens to be elderly? Showing people rockin’ out to “Crazy” in lieu of actual character development is another bullshit Hollywood Hostess Twinkie kind of thing.

    I don’t hate Kick-Ass, but after reading how so many people loved it, I was disappointed to find it so mediocre and half-assed. They should have called it Half-Ass.

  173. Jareth Cutestorym, i undestand the word but i don’t understand the point. It’s the trouble with online translators of english to portuguese. Portuguese is such a complex language, that online translators always screw it up, speciially if the original language is english. Portuguese is very complex.

    The portuguese phrase you wrote above reads, translated back to english as” Saramago and Lobo Antunes are just men”. Is that what you really wanted to say? Because i suspect something was lost in translation.

  174. Let’s also remember that while the primary producer on The Island was Spielberg, the producer of power on the Transformers films was Don Murphy. Slight difference there.

  175. CC – I thought Parkes was on THE ISLAND?

  176. Here’s my big contention with the movie.

    It was not a patch on the comic book.

    I just do not understand why they made Cage’s character a wronged ex-Cop instead of the accountant-turned-vigilante in the book. I also missed the ‘jerked off to it’ comment when Kick-Ass’ balls got electrodes attached and subsequently fried. Hell, the execution of Big Daddy was done to perfection and the “Kevlar to my underoos dickhead” line was my favourite in the whole book. And as for having Red Mist LIVE instead of having someone NEW deliver the whole super-villain spiel at the end of the film — that was a right royal kick in the nuts. Imagine if Efron in costume delivered that line. Or Cera. Hell even her from Panic Room. Or him from Into the Wild. Or either of the main actresses from Martyrs! Some really strange decisions were made in differentiating from the comic.

    Now I understand that the script was written while the comic was still being written but still the twisted bent of the whole piece should have been reflected better in the movie.

    The whole film left me feeling what I vowed never to do again after Transformers 2 :- believe the hype.

    Perhaps I was also disappointed that the film didn’t match my dark, twisted mood at this time like the comic did. I don’t know. I am rambling now.

    And Mark Millar > Jane Goldman – as if that needed clarifying.

    Thank you, Vern, for your continued work. Amazon sent me the new book today. Cannot wait.

  177. This thread shows that the number one thing internet geeks like to talk about…more than movies…is themselves and their culture and how they relate to movies. Like it’s the main topic that Devin at CHUD relates to and writes about endlessly and long windedly.

  178. You guys have already made good cases, I’m late here so in short I give it 7/10 and yes Faraci has been snorting pixie sticks or something. I read both of his reviews now that I’ve seen it and we definitely didn’t see the same movie, I have no idea how someone could blow this thing up to religious proportions even under the influence of a screaming mob of BNATees, pizza, ice cream and loot bags from the Knowles family. That said the things that bothered me aren’t the same as Ebert or Vern. I would have liked a bit more depth to the characters. I mean maybe it was because the movie was trying to tell two stories (the Kick-Ass story and the more interesting Big Daddy/Hit Girl story) but every character in the movie is lacking dimension. Like the girlfriend for instance, a pretty transparent wish-fulfillment device that feels like it’s pandering to the bridge troll types that are supposed to be the main demographic I guess. The action was good, but I felt like the movie just wanted to give me a geek boner and didn’t think I’d care if we had any chemistry, common interests or stimulating conversations. Favorite part of the movie was definitely Cage, especially when he was “screaming his lines like Steven Tyler or somebody.” And I echo the complaints about the soundtrack, WTF where they smoking with that thing?

  179. Lukas–

    What you’re talking about with the excessive exposition and origin stories and everything is why I’m surprised we haven’t really seen the comic book stories adapted to TV. I mean, monthly comic books are a whole hell of a lot closer to weekly television shows than a singular 120 minute movie, I would think. And a weekly show has much more leeway to explore the sorts of deep backstories that the hardcore comics fans might like more than the average moviegoer.

    I think that’s what so many people ended up disappointed by the disaster that is HEROES. It was making up its own comic book mythology as it went along (and boy, did it show!), but the concept was solid.

  180. I don’t really get the excitement for a little girl killing stuff either. Anyone who has watched anime or reads manga
    has seen plenty of moments where cute little girls kill shit in more violent ways with all manner of weapons, and they’ve also seen
    little girls do things in anime and manga I really really really wish they didn’t…

  181. One Guy From Andromeda

    April 23rd, 2010 at 1:32 am

    jesus, i wont read all these comments! i only wanna say good on ya, vern. you’re the only voice of reason among the online film critic crowd.

  182. Grim Grinning Chris

    April 23rd, 2010 at 5:43 am

    Trying to deconstruct a genre, while still attempting to exist as a solid legit entry in said genre (which seems to be what was being attempted here) is a thin thin tightrope. Galaxy Quest did it, Scream did it, Shaun of the Dead (and Hot Fuzz) did it… Kick-Ass did not.

  183. You are exactly right… In the past, budget restrictions may have put the kibosh on that sort of thing (with the only successful and kind of long running attempts being Wonder Woman and The Incredible Hulk) but I think Heroes STARTED out showing that television is the perfect medium for these types of stories (despite its later failings) but then you look at a show like Buffy, which while not strictly comic-book oriented in its day, had more in common with modern comic book storytelling than pretty much ANY feature film.

  184. Also, Mr. Majestyk, how do you figure Batman didn’t use his ninja skills? I only figure he used them for…let’s say…every single time he was in the suit, ever. It’s not JUST fighting (although he used those skills too).

  185. Jareth Cutestory

    April 23rd, 2010 at 8:26 am

    Josh: I agree with you about Chloe Moretz. She obviously has screen presense, but most reviews of the movie that I’ve read seem to confuse her screen presense with acting ability, which I don’t think she has demonstrated yet.

    I mean, Ashton Kutcher has screen presense, but I don’t think anyone will argue that he’s a great actor. Hopefully Moretz will be given better opportunities than Kutcher to act in her future work (no offense to the guy on this board who likes DUDE WHERE’S MY CAR).

  186. Jones: Sorry, I’m not getting sucked into this one again. I’ve said my piece on the new Batman movies before and I am now prepared to let that old dog rest. Suffice it to say that while Batman may have used his ninja skills, he used them to little effect and even lesser awesomeness. In my opinion.

  187. Jareth Cutestory

    April 23rd, 2010 at 9:25 am

    “Members of the jury, on the charge of using ninja skills to little effect, have you reached a verdict?”

    “We have, your honour.”

    “And on the charge of lesser awesomeness?”

    “Fuck yes, your honour.”

  188. “You Honor, on the charge of instigating a ninja battle without intent to engage in said ninja battle, we find the defendant guilty. We sentence him to a year of 24-hour DTV action viewing to reorient him with the basics of badassery so that he might be a better role model for the children of the world.”

  189. Yeah, I’ve always thought BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER tv series was the greatest superhero comic that was never actually a comic book. It’s amazing how well, by a certain point, Whedon and co. were achieving the superpowered-soap-opera feel of the great 70s and 80s team books like Wolfman’s New Teen Titans, Claremont’s Alpha Flight and X-Men, the Simonson’s X-Factor, and the almighty 60s originators, Lee and Ditko and Romita’s Spider-Man and Lee and Kirby’s Fantastic Four. For anybody who grew up reading those comics, or reprints of them, Buffy was like coming home to the Tower or The Mansion. : )

  190. Yeah, and Spider-Man wasn’t a team book, I know, but it was the original “teen angst saga wherein superheroes are metaphors for adolescence” story. An older friend of mine who was reading Spider Man when he was in college in the early 60s, actually during the real Silver Age, said once that the secret of Spider Man that no one has ever really caught on too was that, for the original audiences, he was like Holden Caulfield in a superhero costume. That people his age who had read Catcher In The Rye made the connection (some people even pointed out the fact that Spider Man lived in New York as some kind of homage) but no one has ever really mentioned it since….

  191. Jareth – I love your assumption that there’s only “one” guy on this board who likes “Dude, where’s my car”. Yeah, that’s probably right. :)

  192. Jareth Cutestory

    April 24th, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    Let me modify that: there’s only one guy who I’ve seen admit to liking DUDE WHERE’S MY CAR. And I meant no offense to that guy. I’m sure he’d get a real chuckle out of some of the crap I’ve admitted to liking.

  193. There are at least two peopllhere who like “Dude”. Me and someone else.

  194. “people here”, not whatever I wrote. (Wireless keyboards can be a little bit buggy sometimes)

  195. I liked Dude Where’s My Car too.

  196. <—— That guy.

    And now that makes three, anybody else want to "admit" to being a fan of "Dude"?

  197. Let me clarify that actually. I would never claim that “Dude” is a GOOD film. Hell, I think it falls short of “adequate” a lot of the time. But there’s this ridiculous subtext to it that I find hilarious, and there are certain bad films that I can enjoy while knowing that my reasons for doing so have nothing to do with any objective merits of the films themselves.

    And that was probably a helluva lot more analysis that the subject deserved… but oh well.

  198. I would say that “Dude” is a good film. “American Pie”, “Harold & Kumar” and 99% of all Apatow productions failed to made me even smile, but “Dude, Where Is My Car” made me almost laugh tears and I’m willing to confess this without the good old “I know it’s a bad movie, but that’s what amuses me about it” apology.

  199. Long after the subject is dead, here are my feelings about the nerd/geek internet hype machine:

    It’s interesting to me that most of the people driving that thing probably love and identify with the movie “Almost Famous” (Personally, I think it’s ok, but I’m not really a fan) and yet none of them seem to have listened to or understood what the Lester Bangs character actually says during the movie. You know, that the people who you’re writing about are not your friends, and that they want you to write sanctimonious stories about their genius in order to buy respectability, which will turn the form you’re writing about into an “industry of cool”. And that’s the sense I get from movie geek journalism, that they’re all insecure, socially awkward young men being manipulated into blindly promoting a bullshit “industry of cool”.

    To be fair, I don’t think what these guys are doing is any worse than what “legitimate” journalism is doing and has done. In fact, it’s probably better (I recently found a old mid-90’s Movieline magazine I had stored for some reason, and there is unbelievably dumb shit in there that one good AICN talkback would have justifiably and righteously torn apart). I just don’t want to read either one anymore.

    Did I really quote “Almost Famous”? I’m sorry, guys.

  200. WS – I seriously have no idea what you’re doing on the Internet, you poor masochistic fool.

    Also there are a lot worse things to quote than “Almost Famous”.

  201. I just saw Dude, Where’s My Car a couple of weeks ago for the first time and I have to agree, that movie is hilarious.

  202. FINALLY!!!!!!!!!! Someone said it!!!!!!! Thanks Christ, Vern. Thank you for saying it. The AICN guys are drinking some kinda Mark Millar Kool-Aid over there.

  203. Unfortunately, Vern, that 13 year old girl is much more of a badass than Seagal has been in YEARS! Of course, he’s a fat old man, but he’s still putting it out there so he still gets the criticism.

    More importantly, kids kill people all the time. They’ve been doing it throughout history. Wake up. That’s not news nor is it something to make a movie about. But what this flick does is give the tired vigilante mindset to a kid. It’s just funny to see that in our culture. That nonsense is usually reserved for pampered action stars who sell the gimmick with posturing and snarling. But the kid delivers because she’s a tyke who kills.

  204. Not sure I follow your logic there, Terran. First you say that kids kill people all the time and I need to “wake up” as if this is supposed to be an exposee about some brutal reality of the streets that I have been too naive to see for myself. Then you say that it’s just funny because she’s a kid that kills. It seems like you did a complete 180 within one paragraph.

    But on the far more inflammatory argument about Seagal, I disagree and this is because I’ve seen those movies. No, Seagal can’t fly around and have magic powers in his movies like the girl does, but I think he’s far more menacing and movie-credible in, for example, URBAN JUSTICE. But you’re comparing real apples with cartoon oranges there, it’s not really worth measuring I don’t think.

    anyway thanks for commenting but maybe you could clarify

  205. I’ve seen the movie three times and I totally love it. I think it works on a couple levels. First, I think it’s a well-paced action movie that amps up the action more and more as it moves along. Secondly, I think the whole “superhero in real life” thing that it’s trying to do does work. There’s this nerdy dork who wants to be a hero and tries it a couple times but really just sits in his room and practices and goes on MySpace. That’s what would really, actually happen if someone tried to become a superhero. The people who actually become superheroes aren’t realistic: they’re insane murderers with superhuman fighting abilities, tons of money and epic origins. He can’t become a “real” hero until he gets just as murderous and crazy at the end. I think the movie pokes fun at comic fans and comic book stereotypes while pointing out what we like about these stories: they’re crazy and ridiculous and unrealistic and could never happen in real life. They appeal to us because everyone wants to be the hero and help everyone in ways nobody else can, which is unrealistic, and superhero antics are kind of like a base expression of that idea.
    Kick-Ass works for me because it points out all that stuff while exercising it and being entertaining.

  206. Just wish to add to the ‘what a load of garbage’ posts…..and i kind of liked the comic book! So if there is a geek in me that exaggerates how good a film is that ive been following through its development then he was dormant that night. Must have been the cold I had. Anyway, Id be wasting my time typing my thoughts as Vern said SO many of the things I said after I saw it better than I ever could (Kiss-Ass!). I felt like a bloody alien as NOONE else agreed and I just thanked God Ebert was saying what he said so as I knew I was from this planet. Just found this review and will post this to the hordes. Agree with your points that are put across very well with your writing. I’ll be back on this site more often from now on.

  207. and Ebert has no problems whatsover with violence….he gave the pretty violent Watchmen 4 stars.
    Other points I would make is that the pacing was and tone were dreadful (as you say, its a ‘realistic’ superhero movie for a bit and then gets ridiculous whilst after all these (not funny in the slightest) comedic antics there are moment of ’emotional resonance’…..and they dont sit well at all. Using your reference to Airplane!, how can you put emotional or hard hitting moments in a spoof?!?! Imagine there was genuine relief and hugs from loved ones after the plane lands in Airplane! So when i say ‘tone’, i mean i either want a film that goes for realism and gets the laughs from the obvious absurdity of it, or a garish and colorful fantasy that goes all out in its pursuit of sillyness. The two can’t sit side by side.
    Still, Nic Cage was funny….
    Oh, and in the comic, the girl REALISTICALLY dumps him when she finds out. And I dont even remember him killing anyone to be honest. Imagine Batman killing someone! I can’t root for a murderer!!!

  208. James, when you say you can’t root for a murderer, are you saying that you don’t root for John Rambo, John McClane, John Matrix, or various other badass motherfuckers named John who didn’t get the memo that killing the people who are trying to kill you is a bad thing? I don’t get this whole idea that if a guy wears a tanktop he can blow away everybody in sight but if he puts on tights it’s non-lethal force or nothing. Is it just because that’s what Batman says, because that’s more about his own hubris than any sense of justice. The best thing he could do for his beloved city is discreetly snap the Joker’s neck so he stops killing several hundred people a year, but he can’t come off his high horse and get his hands dirty. Besides, the real reason superheros usually don’t kill is so their villains can keep returning again and again. It’s a matter of narrative practicality that has for some reason been accepted as a comic book commandment, even among people who’ll let the heroes in every other medium and genre kill as many people as they feel like.

    Well, that and superheros live in children’s comic strips for babies.

  209. Hey Timmy – thanks for the explanation. Glad you enjoyed it. As a positive indivudal I would rather everybody loves a movie I hate than hate a movie I love.

  210. Mr. Majestyk, of course the difference between McClane and the superheroes is that the heroes go in specifically to murder a bunch of people. Even Rambo wasn’t doing that, he killed in self-defense or to save people for the most part…except for the more realistic first one where at the end he was just out for revenge.

  211. If that’s your criteria for what makes a murderer, then the heroes in KICK-ASS fall squarely within the time-honored vigilante tradition. Did you not root for Charles Bronson in the DEATH WISH movies? Sure, the original was supposed to be somewhat ambivalent about the idea of a private citizen taking the law into his own hands, but come on. Nobody was buying that shit, even back in the 70s. The fun of the movie was watching Chuck blow away scumbags, because everybody agrees that scumbags suck and it’s a fun fantasy to think that one badass individual could wipe them out. How is KICK-ASS any different?

    Or even better, there’s the beloved revenge genre. Did you not root for The Bride in KILL BILL? She was definitely setting out to kill people. She was not trying to protect herself or rescue anybody at all. She had a list of future dead people and she stuck to it (almost) without fail. Perhaps there was some moral gray areas concerning her quest for vengeance, but I was personally still completely on her side. At no point did I think that she really ought to just konk them on the head with a batarang and tie them up for the cops. Like Michael Madsen said, “That woman deserves her revenge.”

    The point is, if you liked any of the movies I mentioned, then yes, you can root for a murderer. So why is it any different if the murderer in question has a cape on?

  212. Well, Bronson in Death Wish was doing what Big Daddy in Kick-Ass was doing…NOT what John McClane was doing. I’m not saying you can’t root for a vigilante murderer in a movie, but I’m saying not every character in an action movie who kills someone is created equal, and your comparisons are flawed. Death wish and Kill Bill are better examples, and yes I rooted for the protagonists in all of those, as well as Kick-Ass. But in those three movies, the main characters are murderers.

  213. Then you CAN root for a murderer. That’s all I was getting at. I just needed to arrive at what your definition of what a murderer was. I hereby withdraw my comparison of Big Daddy to John McClane (unless we’re talking about the alternate ending for WITH A VENGEANCE, which was some cold-blooded shit).

  214. I was going to come in here and post my own thoughts after having actually seen Kick-Ass, but it looks like everything that could be discussed has been; in great detail.

    So I’ll give it an arbritary numerical rating of 7 (I want to say 6 for the handful of downright egregious things that occur in the film, but I don’t know if that’s fair), and be on my way.

    Before i go though I kind of wonder what sort of world we are living in where a 12 year old girl violently murders a room full of people all to the tune of the banana splits. Like we should be clapping and cheering mass murder. Which is I bet what would have been happening in the cinema had I been attending.

  215. this was pretty good, but ya, certain things about it’s attitude bothered me.
    i’d rather be shocked by something than have to be convinced something is shocked because someone tells me so.

    B+ though, i’d watch it again someday.

  216. bah, type-o in line 3 there.

  217. Uh – i’d say you’d find 10X as many teenagers today who know American Beauty than Sunset Blvd!

  218. Wow. Buncha haters here.

  219. I think that was what you eartlings call “a joke”, though perhaps making the point that ten years on AMERICAN BEAUTY isn’t the all time great masterpiece people thought it was, and it’s pretty much fallen off everyone’s radar.

  220. Sorry about the late review, but I’ve only just seen this.

    When I first read Vern’s and Ebert’s reviews I thought they were being fuddy-duddies about the Hit Girl thing. Why? Because I’d only read the comic and I assumed that being a “geek” movie it would be absurdly faithful to the comic, because you know otherwise the geeks would revolt en masse.

    Anyway, this movie is faithful to the comic in the same sense that Robocop 3 is faithful to Robocop 1.

    I’ll try to explain why without spoiling the book as I strongly recommend you read it. ESPECIALLY if your main problem with the film was its morality (or lack thereof).

    They changed MANY things that significantly affect the overall message the book was trying to convey.

    With Hit Girl, the comic makes it abundantly clear that her dad having trained her to be a killer is a pathetic, sad, and wrong thing for him to have done. He’s revealed to be a creep, a loser and a liar. And Hit Girl is explicitly RESCUED from the essentially child abusive situation of being a 10 year old killer. In the movie? She kicks ass and it’s cute and at the end she clearly is ready to put the costume back on at the drop of a hat.

    As far as the MOVIE goes, Vern and Ebert are bang on about Hit Girl.

    As for Kick Ass himself, in the movie his idiotic and delusional foray into vigilanticism is rewarded with hot sex, nifty gadgets, cool blockbuster movie style mayhem and a warm fuzzy happy ending. In the book… not so much. You know that whole voiceover at the start that promises a film about what would REALLY happen if you tried that shit? The book follows through on that promise quite brutally.

    The book has a frank, non-feelgood message about living in the real world and a clear moral compass. The film basically ripped the story’s heart (and brain) out to blatantly set up a franchise.


  221. Well I thought it was ok. Didn’t hate it, didn’t love it. Not going to take your advice, sorry Anaru, but I got no problems believing the book is far better in terms of philosophy and execution – both of which I had some serious problems with in the film.

    That said, I think a lot of people here are pretty much demonstrating MilesDyson’s point that there is no “okay” any more. Other than Anaru – and again, I can see why a fan of the book would feel ripped-off by the film – I’m not getting why people are hating on it so much.

    Also the scenes with Kick-Ass himself, I have to say, bothered me more than the scenes with Hit Girl. I felt like the Hit Girl scenes were completely cartoonish, and they didn’t bother me any more than a Tom and Jerry cartoon would. Or Punch and Judy – a puppet show about a wife-beating lunatic and a policeman who abuses his powers, how terrible!

    The Kick-Ass scenes, though, disturbed me a lot more because I felt like I was supposed to take them “seriously” – the fact that he gets stabbed the first time he puts on a costume and goes out on the streets makes that clear – and yet they were obviously geared at the wish-fulfilment of a certain type of person. Let’s just say the type of person who might get off on the idea of a bespectacled geek dressing up in a costume and beating up a load of bullies and becoming an Internet sensation.

    I felt like those scenes were very cynically marketed to a certain audience; and not being so far from that particular audience myself, I also felt that I didn’t particularly like the person they imagined they were marketing to.

  222. To clarify, Paul, I think the book is “OK” :)

    I just thought it was worth pointing out that pretty much none of the film’s flaws can be blamed on the source material.

  223. Dikembe Mutombo

    March 13th, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    I saw this a few weeks ago and I guess I didn’t like it very much. It’s like that deleted scene from THE FLY where a baboon & cat are combined in the telepod and it results in an abomination that has to be beaten to death with a lead pipe. The tonal nightmare of Apatow lovable loser bullshit combined with Solondz or LaBute style button-pushing (minus any of the actual talent, creativity and conviction those guys have), set against a charmless and uninspired recreation of Raimi’s SPIDER-MAN, seems to have been the magic formula for making one of the grossest and least appealing movies on the planet.

    I don’t care about the little girl saying cunt and murdering people, it’s not offensive but it’s not provocative or funny either. It’s a naked and deeply lame form of pandering. What grates even more is that, for all the middle school level provocation, it’s really balls-less. It wants to shock you and feed you a bunch of feel-good gruel at the same time. That’s way more off-putting than if they’d really committed to making something transgressive, instead of the calculated crowdpleaser with a little bit of R-rated edge that we got.

    Matthew Vaughn’s made a couple of movies that I find watchable, but if you were to evaluate him off KICK-ASS alone it’d be 100% fair to assume that he didn’t possess any taste or talent at all. I think you’re right Vern about it being a WEDDING CRASHERS kind of thing where people forget about it, and it works doubly because they’re both surprisingly unpleasant movies. Though I guess a sequel to KICK-ASS is coming out so maybe someone was demanding more of it:


  224. Sequel suffers from a dire lack of Nic Cage, whose Big Daddy spirit too haltingly & briefly hovers over the continuation of the franchise.

    Twould be fun to see Vern rip apart K-A2 and the weird hypocrisy of some others’ reactions to it, but I can’t recommend he sit through this thing. Although it is nice to see the lead protagonist weiner get his ass kicked (but not re-stabbed, alas) by random lowlifes again, the production values (other than an occasionally haunting or jolting score, largely reused from the first film, I believe) approximate those of an early 1990s tv show. Enemies, cops, props, & weapons just appear out of nowhere and cramp themselves into the mise en scene, which wouldn’t be such a problem in an action-based entertainment if the script’s one repetitive line weren’t, “This is the real world.”

    The humor is sub-AMERICAN PIE, worse than that of an amateur fanfic comic strip.

    Chloe G. Moretz deserves better. On the other hand, the CARRIE REMAKE trailer that prefaced K-A2 suggests that maybe she deserves much worse.

  225. Mouth – Pffffffft. I’m sorry but I really don’t understand people who “loved” the first one hate the 2nd. I think this has more or less have the same charms and flaws as the first KICK ASS. Both definately have the same problem that Vern didn’t like about the first K.A., that the movie wants to be a “realistic” parody of the comic book movie genre, instead ends up being a routine entry and defeats its whole premise. Like #1, certainly watchable and some amusing bits, though #2 I suppose is weaker in that Mr. Kick-Ass doesn’t have that much of a story here. Sure in superhero cliche form he’s given new obstacles to overcome, but in retrospect his story was already told. Hit Girl had a better story here, truncated as a subplot remake of MEAN GIRLS.

    You know what’s better than both movies combined at this sort of genre parody? VENTURE BROS., which at least from the start threw away pretentious of taking itself seriously in anyway as an adventure and just goes full-on pissing. Terrific satire and much much better characters. Brock Samson would be the one guy who could ground Hit Girl for the weekend.

    Speaking of VB, I hope CJ Holden sees KICK ASS 2 soon because holy shit the villain and his guardian/sidekick John Leguizamo remind me exactly of the Monarch and Dr. Mrs. The Monarch/Dr. Girlfriend. Like Monarch, Mother Fucker is a rich imbecile who inherits a fortune that he splurges on his supervillainy fetish and loves all that shit with the hammy theatrics, stupid costumes, nonsensical gimmicks, overelaborate villain base not exactly concealed well in public, while Leguizamo basically is the sane/smarter partner who has to make this juvenile fantasy a reality.

    In short, I think people are being too hard on KA2. Like the creative bill for the first movie finally rang up and the sequel is stuck having to pay it.

  226. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lsRVla8BA8


    K-A2 lacks anything one tenth as compelling or filmatically competent as ^that K-A1 footage^.

    I’ve been way too easy on K-A2. It’s wretched. It’s supplanted SUSHI GIRL as the worst film of 2013. It’s amateur hour, and all the amateurs involved are petty, mindless misanthropes.

  227. The definition of insanity is describing something without Nic Cage as being essentially the same as something with Nic Cage.

  228. I get it dude, you loved KA. I didn’t in the first place. There was nothing for me to treasure and protect in the dark while petting it, my precious! I only see a ring. Sometimes being free of love allows you to love.

    “I’ve been way too easy on K-A2. It’s wretched. It’s supplanted SUSHI GIRL as the worst film of 2013. It’s amateur hour, and all the amateurs involved are petty, mindless misanthropes.”

    You realize Matthew Vaughn is a producer on this movie and picked the director/writer to make KA2, right? Gee what an amateur he is. Don’t worry, I can kinda relate to your disappointment at him dropping the ball in passing the torch. Sorta reminds me of Nolan with MAN OF STEEL, but hey shit happens right? (Weirdly I kinda enjoyed KA2 more than MOS, but not by much.*) Not seen SUSHI GIRL, but worse than the very lame R.I.P.D.? Worse than PHANTOM? I think not son.

    But wow, Mouth. I love it whenever you unleash your nerd rage and rain terror with the hyperbole. Who knows, if I randomly bring up that one movie I didn’t like that you did and annoys the fuck out of you whenever I trash it with a retarded juvenile pun, I really believe you’ll Hulk out and reduce this website to rubble. Oh shit, too late!

    *Mouth hulks out, threatens a family, RRA reluctantly breaks his neck. Then cries.*

    “The definition of insanity is describing something without Nic Cage as being essentially the same as something with Nic Cage.”

    Considering how most of Cage’s movies the last few years have been…….you know, shit…..then most folks are insane, with your reasoning of course. I mean I like the guy, and the first KA was one of those rare few tolerable ones, but he’s not that indespensable.

    *=On second thought, that’s not a good comparison. MOS was a hit and the nerds liked it generally. They accomplished their basic goal of relaunching Superman. KA2 is getting served by the friggin Oprah Oscar Bait movie and getting harsh reviews.

  229. If you care (and I know this won’t have as much weight as the box office #s or the rottentomato % or your reaction to K-A2 vis a vis other movies that have nothing to do with it, but…), I’ve called the majority of KICK-ASS 1 “unwatchable” and ranked it in the “getting bad now” section of comic book movies that are connected to Marvel publishing.

    It’s an objectively bad film. There’s no geographical sense to the set-up & arrival of the climactic “brawl,” which is poorly filmed. Mintz-Plasse’s face is anti-cinematic, and his voice (He’s 24 years old, for fuck’s sake, yet he sounds like the embodiment of face pubes.) would be intolerable even as a brief guest character spot on Howard Stern’s radio show (that’s still a thing, right?).

    The script wheezes from moments of misogyny, moments of homophobia, moments of racism, and moments of pure douchetastickery, with zero interesting to say about any of that, other than Jim Carrey’s too-brief Conservative Christian convert character (the interestingness of which is sadly compromised by a couple of *very* unfortunate dick-biting lines & gags).

    It’s all the worst things about cheap Thai action (bad guys & weapons suddenly appearing with a musical cue for no reason), without the innocence or skillfulness of the best examples of that style of cheap entertainment.

    The camerawork is as shoddy & uninspired as the film’s attempts to pass Toronto for NYC.

  230. Also, and I guess this could be a SPOILER, so SPOILER ALERT for anyone reading this text in the righthand sidebar so I’ll keep typing long enough for this to only be readable by someone scrolling down the entire KICK-ASS thread and several messages into KICK-ASS 2 reviews so they should be expecting spoilers at this point:

    Also, there was no rape in KICK-ASS 1.

  231. RRA, I won’t rule out that I might watch both KICK-ASS movies one day (mostly because of my plan to watch every movie ever made at one point), but so far they are very low on my watchlist.

  232. The Undefeated Gaul

    August 17th, 2013 at 5:37 am

    Looking forward to seeing Kick-Ass 2 next week. Just like everyone else on here, I think the first Kick-Ass is a classic and I’m glad we’re still talking about it, unlike say Wedding Crashers

  233. I liked KICK ASS 2 about as much as I liked the first one. They’re both broad, violent black comedies that have somehow managed to fool one group of people into thinking they’re about something and another group of people into getting pissed off that they’re not. I just like watching nerds hit each other with sticks. Good or bad, I want to see ’em bleed.

    Points for attempting to turn Hit Girl from a sight gag to a person. As a man with three little sisters and three baby nieces, I have a vested interest in the cinematic representation of badass girls who know how to take care of themselves and don’t fall victim to all the cunty bullshit that teaches them to be boring, superficial, and useless. Boys have all kinds of stories about outsiders who blaze their own trails, but the pot of gold at the end of most young female characters’ hero’s quests is a conversion from tomboy (self-possessed, practical, idiosyncratic) to princess (image-obsessed, vacuous, conformist) and a slow-mo liplock with some empty prettyboy she needed to change herself to land. Hit Girl gets her first kiss, yes, but it’s her idea and on her terms. She leaves him on the curb, confused and half a step behind, while she rides off into the fucking sunset, solo and strong.

    Is four years old too young to watch it with my nieces?

    Demerits for introducing fertilizer bombs and not setting any off. They all went off in the comic (in Times Square, no less) but I can only imagine there were budgetary concerns. I can sympathize, but I still don’t condone that kind of behavior. If you’re not gonna bring me to the fireworks factory, don’t even bring it up.

  234. Nerd stickfighting is indeed fun to watch, and watching bombs blow up in public would have been perversely enjoyable. But the film lacks the balls and lacks the purity of bad taste to do that.

    For some reason I remember seeing the lawnmower placed atop the car trunk by Mother Russia, but I don’t think she ever started it. And you city boys raised in 120 square foot apartments with front yards made of sidewalks & broken glass might not know this but lawnmowers don’t stay running without holding the handle-lever-accelerator down. But then the camera blinks a couple times and the car is in reverse and suddenly a couple of cops are being eaten by lawnmower blades. It was all so insultingly dumb, such nonsense, yet it wasn’t cartoony enough to be excused for its ridiculous and it really really didn’t gibe with the “This is the real world” theme of the script.

    Same thing with Hit Girl on her bike. She’s so smart to evade law enforcement by… riding a gaudy custom-painted motorcycle with matching uniform in broad daylight, with a presumably illegal counterfeit license plate, and she’s 15 so she obviously doesn’t have license or registration.

    These are stupid nitpicks that make me sound like an anti-fun prude if you buy into the KA universe being all cartoony, which it sort of is, but not in any satisfying way. And if it’s *not* all a cartoon world (“This is the real world.”), then that means it’s supposed to be realistic-ish (with real-ish touches like the omniscience of Youtube & smartphone videos, getting beat up instead of being a hero when muggers attack, the police not allowing costumed vigilantes, etc.), which should preclude mindless glossing over of some important plot, character, and world-building points. I’ll never be against stretching believability in favor of cinematic/thematic/symbolic meaning, but in this case the in-your-face stupidity & gratingly inconsistent cartoonishness made the whole thing a sour experience, a projection of infantilism mixed with ugly misanthropy that I will never be in the mood to enjoy (at least not without having that sourness tempered & augmented by a flammable mega Nicolas Cage).

  235. Points for Hit Girl’s audition scene for evaporating the thin permeable line between dance & fight technique, though. I always enjoy being reminded of STEP UP 3D (rooftop capoeira!) or old Jackie Chan set pieces, even in shit movies.

  236. The mantra-like repetition of “This is the real world” is, to me, the film’s best joke. It is completely, utterly not. It’s a movie-movie fantasia, a blend of DEATH WISH III’s multicultural gangland, MEAN GIRLS’ hyperaware high school sociology, the Farrelly Brothers’ sentimentality-via-scatology, and FIGHT CLUB’s self-actualization through nihilism. It’s a murky stew to say the least, but a puckish sense of humor and a commitment to ultraviolence as the solution to all of life’s problems save it. I even like its message, as muffled as it is: If you want to do something, stop fucking around and learn how, asshole, because nothing worth doing is easy.

  237. The best joke is that the movie-within-a-movie most successfully threaded into the main narrative (or tacked awkwardly on top of it, actually) isn’t Hit Girl’s MEAN GIRLS,
    it’s Kick-Ass’s HE’S ALL THAT.

  238. I liked that Kick Ass became sexy as a naturally occurring by-product of devoting himself to his craft. Get good at something, fanboys, and the world will open up for you. Stay angry and useless and you will be ignored. These are facts.

    I was shocked and a bit saddened to learn that the panty-moistening boy band featured in the film was not a pitch-perfect parody but an actual real-life example of the form. What I thought was an ace pastiche turned out to be product placement. Disappointing.

  239. The self-improvement as a function of anger and the nunchaku expertise development as a function of one’s desire to beat down a motherfucker/MotherFucker is more poignantly & memorably presented in a little Korean film called THE SPIRIT OF JEET KUNE DO aka ONCE UPON A TIME IN HIGH SCHOOL.

    Very strange film; I kinda love it. Bruce Lee fans will appreciate it for obvious reasons, but it’s not a fight-genre film, so every viewer will be surprised at the depth of the drama & angst infused into a bizarre but simple high school fable that only sparingly delivers the violent goods. The ending especially has the same kind of surprisingly nuanced, half-shocking-comedy-half-breathtaking-tragedy of the best parts of KICK-ASS 1, for example.

    In conclusion, go watch BLADE II again.
    (You can get the blu ray or dvd from Vern’s amazon link at about the price of a theatre ticket.)

  240. It’s too bad the great internet hyperbole of 2010 seemed to (understandably) sour Vern’s view of Kick-Ass; it’s held up remarkably well and I have to admit those action setpieces, which all have their own individual flavor and style, are still pretty incredible. I’d put this up with Equilibrium and Sucker Punch as an example of big studio action done right.

    The fight scenes in Kick-Ass 2 are also above average but nowhere near as well done and despite the same “look” and music, the whole thing sort of feels like a cheap DTV sequel to the first one, which may or may not be a bad thing. The story’s ok, Carey is actually kind of awesome in his small role, and Moretz is alot better here than in the first one – probably because she’s an older and more experienced actress but also because she actually has character development this time. I like how her Mean Girls subplot gets blown through almost in fast forward; it’s like the filmmakers know you’ll guess the eventual outcome so they just skip to the end of that story. I also like how the only two “superpowered” people on both the villain team and the hero team are both women; and their eventual showdown was surprisingly well-done. Oh yeah, I also liked the Alfred/Bruce Wayne stuff with Leguizamo and Mintz-Plasse, even though I could have done without him literally saying “it’s like I’m Bruce Wayne and you’re Alfred but I’m evil!”

    Wait, KA2 was on Tarantino’s “10 best of the year” list??? Man, I still kinda liked it but Tarantino must have not seen too many movies last year.

  241. Man, what a headache inducing thread to wade through. I think I got the gist about a quarter way down then exited the house to go for a long quiet walk, out into the sunshine and the fresh air, where no one’s bitchin and moanin about a fuckin movie. I got that some were upset that KICK ASS said nothing new about comics. Sorry for your loss. With a movie like this I have the advantage of not being a comic reader so I have to take it as it is. Or not. And I loved it. I thought it was unlike anything super hero related that I’d seen till then. It was a bizarre mix of teen comedy, super hero origins and warped serial killer thriller. It’s got Cult written all over it.

    I’m pleading The Majestyk Amendment on this one, in other words he makes the most relatable sensible argument for enjoying a movie like this. (see his first post).

    When headache passes, I will continue through thread. If headache returns, I will unleash Hit Girl on yo asses.

  242. Did Vern not review Kick Ass 2?

    Anyway, the director of Kick Ass 2 has a new moving coming to Netflix starring Kevin James. I’m sure it’s going to have some broad humor and I found what I saw pretty funny. I mention this movie, though, because I think the action looks top notch.

    True Memoirs of an International Assassin | official trailer (2016) Kevin James Netflix

    official trailer for True Memoirs of an International Assassin with Kevin James

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