Kick-Ass (2010)

(In theatres, March 2010) Every year, there are now a few movies that make me feel old.  Old, as in having finally escaped the sociopathic, bloodthirsty, surface-obsessed 16-32 age bracket.  Old, as in rolling my eyes at conscious attempts at shock spectacle.  Old, as in not being overly amused by films catering to the comic-book crowd that thinks that R-rated films in which they have to sneak into are necessarily better than anything else.  Old enough, in short, to be left cold by Kick-Ass’s deliberate crassness, buckets of spilt blood, titular profanity and general hypocrisy.  Nominally a “realistic” attempt to fit super-heroes in the real-world, Kick-Ass ends up in the same super-heroic fantasy world it claims to avoid in the first few minutes.  Compared to Mark Millar’s original comic book (which is quite a bit harsher, although not that much more respectable), the film is generally lighter, often better-structured and ends on the kind of conclusion fit to leave anyone exit the theatres whistling happily.  Never mind the sociopathic 12-year-old girl that murders without remorse, the convenient Mafioso villains or the jaundiced view of an alternate world where super-heroism is needed.  There’s a reason why I never fit into comic-book culture, and Kick-Ass only reminded me of about a dozen of them.  And yet, despite everything (and the blood-thirsty jackals braying for gore and laughing inappropriately during my screening at the Brighton Odeon), I still found a lot to like in this film.  The rhythm is energetic, Matthew Vaughn’s direction shows moments of inspiration, Chloe Moretz is more adorable as a tween killer than you’d expect and the movie features not one, but two tracks from The Prodigy’s Invaders Must Die album.  When it works, Kick-Ass is a darkly comic film that almost has something to say about superhero power fantasies.  When it doesn’t, though, it’s just another reminder that I’m now over the hill in terms of pop entertainment.  Now let me shake my fist at those lawn-trampling younglings and mutter unintelligibly in my creaky rocking chair.

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