Adaptations of superhero tales have had possibly the rockiest road to travel, ranging from the terrible as in Frank Miller’s take on The Spirit to the acclaimed with Zac Snyder’s Watchmen and Christopher Nolan’s heralded The Dark Knight. Fortunately, Matthew Vaughn’s interpretation of Mark Millar’s Kick-Ass falls closer to the latter, and thankfully never forgets its roots in being a daringly fun and unflinchingly violent superhero story. Kick-Ass goes straight for the throat by telling a brutally honest story of quite honestly the worst case scenario when a teenager decides to become a superhero and ends up going head-to-head with the ruthless mob. Much like Zac Snyder’s Watchmen last year, tit aims for the angle of stark realism, but instead of blue schlongs and sociopath protagonists, we get twelve-year-old little girls with a preference for saying the c-word and wielding double-edge swords. Matthew Vaughn fills his film adaptation, just like the comic, with more graphic violence than a vintage Clint Eastwood outing, however keeps its style at the forefront with an impressive soundtrack and some surprisingly hilarious leads. The music in the movie ranges from The Dickies’ hysterically inappropriately fun pop tune “Banana Splits” during Hit Girl’s first featured murder rampage to the infectious tunes by The Prodigy and The Pretty Reckless in the opening and closing credits. Vaughn’s team also fills the ranks with normally comedic actors that aren’t afraid to get down and dirty with the action. Aaron Johnson and Christopher-Mintz Plasse move the geek typecast forward some with a few great one-liners in the vein of Superbad and execute some frantic nerd-violence flailing. The real meat and bones though comes from the pairing of Nicolas Cage and Chloe Grace Muretz as Big Daddy and Hit Girl, two recklessly violent murder machines that aren’t afraid of anything and prove to have some of the most entertaining segments on screen thanks to Nicolas Cage’s hysterical Adam West-esque accent and Muretz’ fearlessness on screen while capping multiple baddies at once. The script penned by Vaughn is one of the film’s finest aspects, capturing the pure Apatow-esque comedy of being a teenager with the hallmarks of heroics the comic acclaims to. All in all, any casual moviegoer heading in is sure to have a grand time with the film’s daring and exciting perfect balance of comedy and action, although in some spots it can lean with the latter. However, for those that have had a turn through the pages of the comic, there will be some considerable head turning when it comes to the changes that have been made in the plot. Some enormously bizarre shifts in the story come in the latter half and how certain characters are revealed that are drastically different from the comic’s version. This can be a complete turnoff for some viewers who know nothing else but the comic, however if you enter into it with an open mind, Vaughn’s tweaks begin to make their own sense in a way. While this is by far the weakest part of the film, one can’t help but wonder why Vaughn made the changes he did to some of the best elements that worked so well on the page. The film also has some trouble pacing itself towards the halfway mark in the film, as it seems to slow down things a lot and beginning to shift towards getting to know the characters. Not that this banter isn’t ridiculously entertaining, it just seems that there should have been a little bit more hardcore action when the film’s called Kick-Ass. These are nothing more than small complaints, as Kick-Ass is still one heck of a ride. The inner comic nerd in me feels some disdain for the alterations made to the story, however the film Matthew Vaughn is still a daring and exciting piece of superhero gore-laden fantasy, and deserves to be seen by anyone planning on taking their own adventures into the vigilante business anytime soon.
4 out of 5
I’d like to start posting some movie thoughts along with my movie reviews and some other game reviews and stuff, not to mention some of the usual humor-related stuff and newish news. Here are just some tidbits of what I’d like to do in the next few weeks.
- Summer Movie 2010 Preview
- Movie Ideas-Bond 4/23
- Movie/Show Ideas-Star Wars
- Movie Ideas-Pirates of the Caribbean 4
- Movie Review-Date Night
- Movie Review-Clash of the Titans
- Breaking Bad Catch-Up
- More Humor-Related Stuff That’s Not That Funny
A quick look to the board to check the progress of both Pixar and Dreamworks Animation can tell a lot about the unevenness of the rivalry at times. Pixar makes a film about a cooking rat, while Dreamworks does a film about a rat in a toilet. Pixar makes a film about toys coming to life, Dreamworks makes a billion dollars off a green ogre in a swamp. While I’ve loved practically everything PIxar puts out and almost always side with them in the fight. (Up and Finding Nemo are two of my favorite films of all time.) Dreamworks has made a valiant effort more than once with Shrek 1 and 2 and Kung Fu Panda. Now as Pixar enters a third lap with Toy Story 3 and is planning a second turn at the Cars franchise, Dreamworks Animation is trying something new with the movie adaptation of the story “How to Train Your Dragon”, and the result is nothing short of amazing. The film follows a village of vikings in a constant war with a number of species of fire-breathing dragons. Over the years the elder Vikings pass on the tradition of slaying the dragons. That is until the lead Viking’s son, Hiccup who has no interest in being like his father, comes across a legendary dragon he took down with one of his inventions. After he realizes he cannot kill the dragon, he realizes there’s the hidden aspect of training and riding dragons.
While some of Dreamworks’ recent projects in the animation/character design department have been a little hit or miss (the humans looked sorta wonky in Monsters vs. Aliens, everything in Madagascar is animated in a weird way), How to Train Your Dragon 3D finds a comfort zone and sticks with it. There are some gorgeous shots of different lighting situations that bring out the film’s beauty that go along with the fire and aerial they get that coincide with the movie’s greatest strength. If there’s one particular thing HTTYD dows perfectly, it’s the immersion and true feeling of flight. From the first training flight sequences to the epic climax, the film gives you a true sense of wonder every time Hiccup and Toothless take to the skies. Dreamworks Animation utilizes every animation capability known to man to make an awe-inspiring experience. Especially when the camera is taken behind into a third person perspective that evokes a true sense of wonder I doubt will be topped this year. It even brought me as an audience member to my nerve’s end as Hiccup began to fall, and thus you as well, to the ground to an early demise. These scenes rival the shots of the true awesomeness of flight, and capture the full range of wonder there is to be had.
This combines in a great way to provide an awesome 3D experience that is in some ways better than Avatar. Whereas Avatar really just pushed that bar so that we could look at 3D providing that extra layer of dimension, HTTYD pushes it to the limit and wholely captivates you. The film also hits a great stride when it comes to the superb voice cast. Unlike other Dreamworks Animation films that incorporate a large list of A-listers when it doesn’t particularly help the movie at all, this one brings to the table relative newcomers like Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson and TJ Miller who are all in the right dynamic. Not only are the characters of a solid build but in their off-screen work but in on-screen they’re written in a great way that gives them all a distinct style. It’s also worth mentioning the score of the film is a soon-to-be favorite of mine, it’s truly fantastic.
As I stated earlier, this film really takes a stab at Pixar with not just it’s overall grand quality but the strength of its story and where they take it. There’s a unique balance of both simple nature and extended concept that any college student could adapt a meaning or moral plague to that can’t be neglected. You can dig deeper and deeper, but there’s a core meaning here you can leave the theater with that will stick in your mind. That being said, a few of the story elements can feel somewhat cliche, and while that’s not a bad thing, it definitely just feels a bit off-kilter and somewhat rushed towards the final act. An extra 30 minutes could have helped the film a little. These are very very very minor complaints, without a doubt this is a film that deserves to be seen and earns your $10 + of your hard earned money for a ticket, regardless of age, and especially in 3D. How to Tran Your Dragon is a film like no other, it brings a sense of childlike wonder like no other, and in short, soars.
5 out of 5