Friday, November 26, 2010


Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
Produced by: Matthew Vaughn; Brad Pitt; Kris Thykier; Adam Bohling; Tarquin Pack; David Reid
Screenplay by: Matthew Vaughn; Jane Goldman
Based on Kick-Ass by Mark Millar; John Romita, Jr.
Starring: Aaron Johnson; Christopher Mintz-Plasse; Chloƫ Grace Moretz;
Nicolas Cage; Mark Strong
Music by: John Murphy; Henry Pryce Jackman; Marius de Vries; Ilan Eshkeri
Cinematography: Ben Davis
Editing by: Pietro Scalia; Jon Harris; Eddie Hamilton
Studio: Marv Films; Plan B Entertainment
Release date(s): 26 March 2010 (UK)
Running time 117 minutes
Country United Kingdom; United States

Among the film critics I have read, like and frequently consult to, Roger Ebert tops the list. I discovered him little late, after reading more literary, cerebral film critics. Therefore, perhaps, there is an admiration for what has been doing to popularise good cinema for decades, and for his lucid prose, and how he can combine all elements of a film in a nutshell in his 700-word review.

I always consult Ebert after seeing a film. At most times we agree. Sometimes we don’t. Even when I don’t agree with him, his review reads convincing enough for me.

What I like most about the person is that he can take criticism with a pinch of salt. In the recent years, there has been anti-Ebert school of film criticism, claiming that Ebert’s reviews are too generic, the reviewer goes for the emotion than the art of filmmaking, and most importantly, his writing is shallow. These criticisms are proffered by more cerebral American film critics like Armond White and A O Scott. At one level, the criticisms are valid; Ebert is all these. But, what’s wrong with that, if you can connect to more people, if you can spread the love of movies to others? Despite everything, you cannot doubt Ebert’s passion for moving. Watching films for decades and still sustaining the passion, and writing about it, is a big deal. That’s the reason I admire the man.

Every year, Ebert kicks the hornet’s nest by offering a verdict about a movie that goes against the grain. Sometimes he offends the fanboys, and sometimes, the cerebral critics. If nothing else, it shows his influence in the field of American film criticism. Last year, he made enemies with the fanboys when he penned The Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Which was however a right reaction, the film was indeed trashy.), and made enemies with the cerebral-types when he chose Knowing as one of the year’s ten best. (Which even I found hard to agree with, despite the fact that I loved the Nick Cage end-of-the-world saga.).

This year, the same plot is being repeated with Kick-Ass, which he gave one star, even saying aloud that he would be flayed for his review; but couldn’t care less; he would not support a film that not only project violence by minors, but also reeks of bad taste.

After the review was out, the internet was rife with comments, mostly opposed the review, not just the fanboys, even the cerebrals. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the film four star, for example.

I saw the film very late, after reading several counter-reviews, aware that there is nothing much to look forward to in the film. I was right. Kick-Ass is just another film, there’s nothing extraordinary, and even the action sequences, criticised for its visceral goriness, are not so visceral, if you have seen any of the films by Takashi Miike, for example, or better still, Kill Bill. You known what I mean.

In a way, Kick-Ass is fun, though I would still prefer Scott Pilgrim, or for that matter, Sin City — the ultimate comic book-to-film masterpiece. Sin City sort of paved the way that adaptation of comic book to films need not be realistic. 300 took it to the level of hyper-realism. A while later, several filmmakers toyed with various other ways, all in adapting the works of Alan Moore — From Hell, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, V for Vandetta, Watchmen. The results were varyingly satisfactory.

Come 2010, and comic book adaptation goes ‘meta’. I quote the word meta, since there is no one way to describe it. Let me try. Cinema as a medium of artistic expression demands a certain level of realism which is inherent to cinema only (the moving picture with sound.). In comic book, you imagine the moving picture, and freeze the most dramatic frame to give the reader/audience the feel of what’s happening. In cinema, the same thing may take five seconds, and 75 frames, several angles, and so on. Now, how do you marry the two mediums, especially when you want to retain the comic book feel in the film?

The key is to do something which is neither comic book nor conventional movie. (There have been various attempts, of different kinds. Some random examples, A Scanner Darkly, The Polar Express, Wanted.)

Whereas all the earlier examples I have mentioned tried to achieve this artistic integrity seriously, the recent ones, Scott Pilgrim, and especially Kick-Ass does it as parody. Now, this is in the structure of parody to exaggerate reality.

This is the reason why Kick-Ass is filled with pop culture reference (The alt-Olivia of the Fringe series on TV can use this film to learn more about our world.) It also tries to break the proverbial fourth wall, a little bit forcefully. (When Dave/Kick-Ass is being beaten up, he asks the audience, do you think I will be alive? Haven’t you seen American Beauty?) All these gimmicks in the film are supposed to be jokes, nothing more.

The plot involves a regular school kid, a comic book freak, asking a simple question, when so many people want to be Paris Hilton, why nobody wants to be a superhero, say Spiderman, or Batman — and one day, he decides to be a superhero. He buys a wet-suit costume and devise a name for himself — Kick-Ass. But the consequences are more than he could ever imagine.

So far the plot was okay. Even Ebert agrees. After that, I think, the film, fell in the trap of the blockbuster formula. The film which wanted to be a parody, started to take itself very, very seriously (There’s are touching father-daughter, father-son sequences, and so on.).

What do you expect when the parody tries to become as ‘good’ as the object it is parodying?

I shouldn’t waste time on the plot, there’s Wikipedia for that:
Roger Ebert also give an idea about the plot:
So does Vadim Rizov on Salon:
A hilarious, very violent black comedy puts a new twist on superheroics, says Peter Bradshaw:


  1. Anonymous5:44 AM

    "What do you expect when the parody tries to become as ‘good’ as the object it is parodying?"

    I expect it to exceed it. And kick-ass did.

  2. I guess it indeed did. Thanks.