Wednesday, August 28, 2013

KICK-ASS 1 and 2: Graphically Violent Kids!

August 28, 2013

KICK-ASS 1 (2010)

I never got to watch "Kick-Ass" when it was first released in 2010. Now with the sequel in local theaters this week, several people recommend that I should probably watch this first installment first before I watch Part 2. So I did.

I did not know exactly what this film was about so I was surprised when this film and its sequel had posters of what looked like kid superheroes, yet the rating is R-16! Now that I have finished watching Part 1, the answer is very clear.

"Kick Ass" tells the story of Dave Lizewsky, a nerdy guy who decide that he wanted to be a real superhero like those in the comic books he loves to read. He buys himself a dorky green uniform and tries to fight petty criminals around town as Kick Ass. Unfortunately he had absolutely no fighting skills.

However, his exploits apparently inspired a ultra-war-freak father-daughter team,, Damon and Mindy Macready, to don superhero uniforms themselves as Big Daddy and Hit Girl. Can these new superheroes stand up to the very real threat of the evil crime boss Frank D'Amico, his son Chris (who also took on a superhero persona Red Mist) and their entire gangster organization?

While Aaron Johnson does well as the titular character Dave/Kick Ass, the more memorable actor and character in this whole film is Chloe Grace Moretz as Hit Girl. It was disconcerting to see a real 11-year old girl do all the killing Hit Girl did because this film did NOT sugarcoat any violence. THIS IS GRAPHIC STUFF! OK, it is CG but still very bloody graphic. However for some perverse underlying reason, Hit Girl was great movie character!

This movie sets up Part 2 very well, and yes, I am now quite excited to watch it as well. Now I know exactly what I am getting into. I am eager to see how the lessons Kick Ass and Hit Girl learned about being heroes here in Part 1 will affect their characters in Part 2. I am also itching to see how Red Mist steps up his game to be a worthy adversary.  7/10.


KICK-ASS 2 (2013)

The first "Kick-Ass" literally kicked ass because of its revolutionary R-rated violence in a movie with very young characters. It was very shocking yes, but it also had heart and laughs with it that made it the hit it was.

This second "Kick-Ass" shows our heroes Kick Ass and Hit Girl grown up a few years. Hit Girl had been forbidden by her strict guardian from being a superhero anymore. Now partner-less, Kick Ass joins a vigilante group of hero wannabes led by Captain Stars and Stripes. Red Mist becomes more insane, collects his own set of super villains and calls himself a monicker so filthy even his lieutenant (John Leguizamo) cannot say it.

Aaron Johnson does not really look like a teenager here anymore. He still acts more like a sidekick than a title character, and that may really be how it is. We get to see more interaction between his character Dave and his dad (Garrett M. Brown) here, and Aaron delivers in that aspect.

Jim Carrey, I did not immediately recognize to be Captain Stars and Stripes. If not for the posters, I would not have. He was actually very good in this film, and his character is bad-ass. His relationship with his dad gets explored here a little more so there is a little more drama in his character than in the first movie.

Christopher Mintz-Plasse is really crazy in this film, vicious yet hilarious as Chris D'Amico, madly wanting to avenge his father's death. I do not think it is easy to achieve that balance, so it is impressive. We see only a suggestion of what he can do in the first film, but he goes full blast with his insanity in this one.

Chloe Grace Moretz has certainly grown up to be one pretty lady in this film. She was indeed the star of the first film, and I'd say, she is still very much the star of this one as well.  The screen lights up whenever she is onscreen. She was spectacular not only in her fight scenes as the awesome Hit Girl, but also as Mindy Macready, who was tormented by the mean girls at school.

Being the sequel, we are not really surprised anymore as to what this franchise will give us. The fight scenes seem to be more graphic and bloody than the first. The seriously ultra-violent killing machine, the macho Mother Russia (Olga Kurkulina), made sure of that. However, the shock factor is clearly diminished already, and this sequel just goes through basically the same motions. But the entertainment value of the first film is still very much there. 6/10.

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