Saturday, January 4, 2014

My Thoughts on the movie "Kick Ass" (the First One)

(This is an old post of mine from before I was on blogger.  It is about the movie "Kick-Ass" and is far more of a summation followed by critique rather than the trimmed down criticism I mostly do now, I am posting it here because I will be talking about "Kick Ass 2" shortly and want to refer back to this.)
Okay, the movie Kick Ass has generated some controversy for some things that I will address along with my comparison between the film and comic book adaptations of the story.  Considering that they were created simultaneously I see no one work as an interpretation of the other, nor do I see one as inherently superior to the other for various pluses and minuses that each have been awarded by my own mental predispositions.  This little rant contains numerous spoilers for the film and comic and if you have a desire to remain untainted in that regard feel free to not read this as it will most certainly have some impact on how you see the movie or comic (whichever you choose to personally imbibe).

It is an okay movie.
First up I am going to explain the plot of this little yarn.  In the comic a teenage comic book fan who is socially awkward and unremarkable chooses to spend his free time as a costumed superhero, on his first venture out he is stabbed and hit by a car as he wanders into traffic, while he manages to ditch his costume and gets medical treatment, he nearly dies and suffers permanent damage to his skull which has to be treated with plates that deaden blows to his skull, making it difficult to knock him out or cause him great pain through head trauma.  After recovering he returns to the streets and actually manages to successfully save a man’s life against a group of thugs, this action is caught on camera and broadcast to the world which sets of a wildfire of people dressing as superheroes as a fashion statement, the teen dubs himself “Kick Ass”.  Other heroes then appear, killing criminals with great skill, these heroes are Hit Girl, an eleven year old sword fighter, and Big Daddy, a massive man who uses snipping to support his daughter Hit Girl as she takes the more hands on approach.
Later on Kick Ass finds a friend in Red Mist, another Geek hero who has been stealing a lot of Kick Ass’s spotlight recently.  They decide to join up with Big Daddy and Hit Girl with their quest to take down the city’s mafia.  But surprise, surprise Red Mist turns out is working for the mafia being the geeky son of the main man in town.  After torturing Big Daddy and Kick Ass Big Daddy reveals his origin: he is an accountant and comic book collector who sold off his collection and kidnapped his daughter (telling her that her mother had been murdered by the mob) so that he could run off to be a superhero, have a sidekick, and have a bad guy.  The main man blows Big Daddy’s brains out, and commences to stomp Kick Ass into the floor (he resists because of the plates in his skull).
It is at this point Hit Girl (previously thought killed) appears and commences the slaughter of the mafia in mass while Kick Ass arms himself and goes after Red Mist.  Kick Ass confronts Mist, beats him with some sticks, takes his gun and runs back just in time to find Hit Girl overwhelmed by mob.  The main boos tells Kick Ass he doesn’t have it in him to take a shot, then gets shot in the penis by Kick Ass, and then his head cut off by a now free Hit Girl.  With the bad guys dead Kick Ass comforts Hit Girl as she mourns her father tearfully.  The story ends with Hit Girl going to live with her mother, and Kick Ass returning to his pathetic life having been downgraded to social pariah.  The comic ends with Red Mist vowing to take revenge saying “What till they get a load of me.”

The comic is rather intentionally cynical and mean spirited.

The movie follows that outline strongly with a few key divergences: 1) Hit Girl’s mom really is dead, and Big Daddy is a former cop, disgraced for having been framed for a crime by the central mob boss.  2) Kick Ass gets the girl in the end and becomes significantly less of a social outcast by the end of the film.  And 3) The criminals are vastly more developed as guys who deserve to be taken out rather than just being the bad, but mostly just unlucky, targets of a vigilante madman.  Also, Kickass uses both a mini-gun touting jetpack and a bazooka (both originally Big Daddy’s) to kill people in some rather over the top action sequences.  But that has more to do with movie spectacle than story and theme.
My thoughts on a straight comparison between the two mediums: I like that Kick Ass gets the girl in the movie as opposed to whacking-off to a picture of the girl blowing some other guy, a picture gets massaged at the end of the comic as a hateful little fuck you buy her friends who hate him for reasons I can understand.  I like Hit Girl as a character more in the comic because she reacts much more human to her father’s death, crying and asking for a hug, as opposed to the movie in which she basically just lets it drop after having gotten revenge along with Kick Ass.  I dislike Big Daddy a lot in the comic, and really think of him as a villain as much as any other character in the story, because he kidnapped and brainwashed his daughter into a murderous vigilante because of his own sick need for wish fulfillment, whereas in the movie he is trying to give his daughter a part of the catharsis he needs to settle the crimes done to the both of them.
Aside from direct comparisons let me tell you my issue with the Comic that exudes from the story and characters: Mark Millar (the writer) hates you (the reader) for living in the dream world of comics, and he hates you (the reader) for wanting to be a superhero.  His entire point in writing this story seems to have been to underline the inherent insanity and stupidity that comes with wanting to be a garish crusader for hope and justice.  Let cops be cops, let firemen be firemen, and let superheroes be fantasy.
Let me tell you what the overall message of the movie seems to be: “This shit is gruesome fun isn’t it?”  that is it.  The movie wants you to fantasize, and it wants you to feel the heat of your face as the blood rushes to the bruises, but it wants you to also say: “hell yeah, and I’d do it again.”  But it also has a message to it that is underlined by the character when he says this: “Am I willing to die for someone I don’t know?  You think it’s right for three guys to lay into one while everyone stares on and watches as it goes on and does nothing?  Yeah, I’m willing to die.”  It wants you to get mad at the world’s blank stare at everything that is tragic and evil, and that is a good message.
I suppose the clearest way to say this would be to put it thusly: the comic is the cynical one, the movie is the childish (albeit more naively noble) one.
The last thing I'll talk about is the most interesting character in either work: Hit Girl.  I have read (specifically the article “Intermission” by Moviebob Chipman on “The Escapist” online magazine) that Hit Girl presses several buttons that individually cause panic and anger in people, violence to an by children and women being too tough and not simply damsels in distress.  I would also add another and more uncomfortable insight, the movie has one of Kick Ass’s friends say that he is in love with Hit Girl after she has a particularly thrilling action sequence, this is a very big spoof that I think most people will ignore because it  is really weird: Hit Girl is the sexy action girl before the sexy action girl was even old enough to be interested in boys.
If the character of Hit Girl was played by a 19 year old actress who was the love interest of Kick Ass (the normal guy she gets to save but later comes to rely on when her dad dies) then she would be the hottest thing in fiction right now not for being controversial but because people would find her hot.  She would be the new and exceptionally vulgar Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  But instead she is the undercutting of all that, with pink hair and a schoolgirl outfit and being 11 she makes fun of Manga, and the Japanese’ sexualizing of cartoonish women who look far to young in their respective animation styles to be sexualized.  That I think is the real message of her character, that violence has become sexualized and can create a false aura of maturity that shouldn’t exist, an unhealthy coupling of sex and violence even when personified by a character that shouldn’t be personified as such.  That is a weird statement for a movie to make, but it’s in there.
This is Rikku, a very fetishiezed Final Fantasy character... She is supposedly 15.  Is there any reason in the story for her to be labeled as 15?  No.  In fact her being so young is a strain on everyone's suspension of disbelief.

No comments:

Post a Comment