Thursday, April 29, 2010


Now before I begin the review I want to iterate I have only read a few chapters of the first volume of the Kick-Ass comic book series. Not that it really matters, but from what I've read of the comic and now that I've seen the film, I can say they are pretty different at least in regard to the motivations of the characters. Which is a blessing in disguise, because to be honest, I didn't really love the comic all that much. I have the same problem with most of writer Mark Millar's original stuff. Not that his books aren't good it's just all of his lead characters are such colossal ass holes that it's hard to root or sympathize with anyone. Take for instance his Wes Gibson character from Wanted. You feel sorry for this guy in the beginning, but by the end Wes is such a dick that his kiss off on the last page kind of leaves you unsatisfied and angry. The same could be said for his Dave Lizewski, in Kick-Ass, he's a pathetic loser. When he decides to take the plunge into super hero territory he seems to be only led by his johnson. Which, at first, I can understand but after he gets his ass handed to him left and right I would think he would have thrown the suit away after the first stabbing. Unless he is just crazy, no one would take a constant beating just for a piece of ass. Also he suffers from similar dickhead-itis as Wes Gibson. So naturally I lost interest in the book. When I heard about the movie I just kind of shrugged but I will admit when the first few trailers started to surface my intrigue grew. Also the fact that Matthew Vaughn was directing gave me a lot of confidence. He's still relatively new to the director's chair but I've liked all of his efforts so far. Layer Cake was really fun and it totally set the stage for Daniel Craig to be Bond and I don't care what anyone says I kinda dug Stardust (You can see my review here). The Box Office numbers so far for Kick-Ass have been pretty lukewarm, I'm pretty surprised by that, but it's tough to break into a wide audience being that the flick is a hard R. And make no mistake it is a tough movie. I mean you have a 12 year old girl murdering bad guys and talking like a drunken sailor. The comparison's to Pulp Fiction should not be taken as an exaggeration, it's violent and no matter how colorful the costumes, this is not for kids.The film follows high school fan-boy Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) as he mulls the decision to break away from his pathetic mundane life and do something truly risky--put on a green wetsuit and mask and become a superhero. He calls himself Kick-Ass, although he has no powers and no apparent fighting skill, he tries to make a difference by standing up when others shrink. He inadvertently starts a superhero craze on Youtube which encourages others with far more skill to hit the streets against crime. Like Big Daddy (Nicholas Cage) and his daughter/sidekick Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz). The dynamic duo put Mafia boss man Frank D'Amico (Mark Strong) and his goons in the hurt locker. Which eventually puts Kick-Ass square in the middle of Mafia retaliation. If you listen closely Cage does a hilarious riff of Adam West's 60's Batman. Also his comic flashback mid-way through the film is truly awesome. You gotta give Cage credit for bouncing back after the silliness that was Bangkok Dangerous and Knowing. The movie is fast and funny with a sharp edge. Vaughn outdoes himself as director keeping a good pace as he ratchets up the tempo to the big finale. Unlike the comic I found I really liked Dave even though he was pathetic his heart was in the right place and you can see him become a man throughout the course of the story. The first hour and a half are brutal and hyper-realistic as he tries to fight crime and literally gets the beat down of his life. He truly is the Peter Parker character except he isn't as smart and, of course, he doesn't have powers. The one thing they do share is a compulsion to walk the streets in spandex. I wish we could have seen more of his two comic book buddies Marty (Clark Duke) and Todd (Evan Peters), especially Clark Duke, this guy is really funny, (see Hot Tub Time Machine and Sex Drive.) unfortunately they are relegated to the sidelines for most of the movie. Now as much as I enjoyed Hit Girl and her ability to kick the ass of just about everyone she comes in contact with, I just felt it didn't always match with the hard reality theme they were working with in the beginning. Granted Kick-Ass has no formal training and this girl has but I just felt the combo of the two themes didn't quite work for me. Now you can say it was a progression from the real life to comic book story, but that really doesn't sound that interesting to me. I also was disappointed a bit with Mark Strong's D'Amico. It would have been great if they made him a bit more realistic instead of the same old stereotype of the Mafia. It would have been interesting if he was in the Tony Soprano mold, made him a bit more charismatic. I think it would have certainly added to the realism.Given the box office numbers it's unclear whether a sequel is a sure thing but they definitely set up the possibility for a Kick-Ass 2. I won't give anything away but it does involve the other superhero I hadn't gotten to yet, the Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). Look he's still a little bit McLovin, but I think Plasse is stretching and if a sequel were to take place I would be curious to see how far he could take it. I really can't complain it's a well put together flick and if you haven't had a chance to see it do it soon. You will be mesmerized by Chloe Moretz, this kid is the real deal. She completely owns the role, there are times where you are wondering why the hell the film isn't called Hit-Girl.

Grade 4 Buckets

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Clash of the Titans

Lately it's hard to tell when you are witnessing the beginning of the Summer extravaganza, mostly because they seem to start earlier and earlier every year. it's becoming clear that for 2010 it's gotta be Alice in Wonderland, just based on the massive box office total so far. After watching Clash of the Titans I'll be the first to tell you that they were trying really hard to be that vehicle, but I just don't think it gets there. I shall explain further but I do want to stress that there will BE SOME SPOILERS here!!!!!! I really don't want to but, Director Louis Letterer and Warner Brothers are forcing my hand. They made, what was supposed to be, a visually stunning story about Greek Mythology but it turns into an angry revenge movie riddled with plot holes and major character gaffes. There isn't anything wrong with taking certain liberties with a story, I understand it, but when you change a classic story so much it becomes unrecognizable it might just be best to change the names and call it something else, cause that's really what they do here.Perseus (Sam Worthington), as a young child is found by a simple Fisherman and is raised as one. Years later his new family becomes collateral damage when some rebellious soldiers decide to desecrate the statue of Zeus invoking the wrath of Zeus' bad little brother Hades (Ralph Fiennes). So adopted Mom, Pop and Sis bite it sending young Perseus into his quest to somehow find a way to kill the Gods. That's pretty much about it. It is revealed that Perseus is a demi-god, the son of Zeus (Liam Neeson), and that only he can stop Hades from destroying Argos with his super-weapon the Kracken.I'll be the first to tell you I have a soft place in my heart for the 80's cheezetastic version of the same name. In that story Perseus was a bit of a dandy, the acting was a bit rough in spots when it wasn't chewed in others. But the story they told had drama and conflict, and a whole lot of heart. This flick tries so hard to be hard edged, but the script is stupid and as I said before they fuck up the already established mythology. Perseus is a pissed off fisherman looking to get his revenge on, if he saves a few innocent folk along the way, then yippie we can slap a hero sticker on Perseus and move on. Now I've seen Sam Worthington in a few big action flicks (Avatar & Terminator 4) and I was warming up to the guy. But he took some major steps back for me in this movie. His Perseus is just a boring and predictable piece of cardboard, he whines a lot. But on the bright side, he's definitely tougher than Harry Hamlin's Perseus. If that was the Filmmakers only goal, then they succeeded. I think this is where the idea to remake something goes horribly wrong because instead of making a better, more complete film the filmmakers seem more intent on fixing the perceived flaws from the original. There are some references to the original, like the Stigen Witches and the various monsters from the Kracken to the scorpions and there is a throw away cameo for the mechanical owl Bubo. Sure the creatures look nice but again there doesn't seem to be any personality here. It's all paint by numbers plotting.The original Clash of the Titans also took many liberties with the original myth but they kept the main element of the story of Perseus and Andromeda (Alexa Davalos) in tact. Not so here, for some reason they felt they needed to add another chick to the mix in IO, played by the very capable (and hot) Gemma Arterton, the only problem is they don't do anything with it. Love triangle? Nope. Perseus, when he isn't angry at the gods falls for IO and when Andromeda practically throws herself at him in the end, he says nah, don't need ya. Wha???? Which classical mythological story are you telling here? Which begs my original question --if you want to change the established romance between Perseus and Andromeda, why not just use different characters altogether? But if you do want to be bold and change it up then why keep the big dramatic sequence to save some chick, Perseus could give two shits about, from the Kracken? I guess it's nice that he wants to risk his life going to the underworld to save a pretty girl, but it just doesn't make any sense. If he just wants to get revenge on Hades he should do what every other character does in this movie when they feel bold enough to stand up to the Gods, insult him. Then he can show up, Perseus can get that lightening bolt from Zeus, and then he can send his raggedy ass back to Hell, why all the elaborate setup? But that would be a question for the director Louis Letterer who apparently decided to change the story. He apparently didn't understand why anyone would kill the Kracken for love. Um, ok --but he makes the admission that he thought this when he was 8 years old. Ok, that makes much more sense, except that once you got old enough, or you know once his balls dropped, then you would probably understand why Perseus would do such a thing. Apparently that concept is just over his head.The other problem is the Gods themselves. I think it's great that they have Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson as Hades and Zeus but after a few minutes it's clear that they're actions are only there to keep the story moving. Zeus wants to make an example of Calibos/ Acrisius by knocking up his wife without him knowing it. When C/A gets angry at the big God in the sky, Zeus shoves a lightening bolt up his ass. But later in the story Zeus acts surprised that he has a bastard son, why not just establish he does this kind of thing all the time, that way he doesn't look like a dumb ass for forgetting. Also it makes no sense at all why Acrisius becomes Calibos all of a sudden--they are two different characters in the original Mythology and the 80's film, now once Acrisius is struck down he becomes Calibos? Why the name change? That makes no damn sense. Another thing that makes no sense is how Perseus becomes an experienced fighter. Supposedly he has never picked up a weapon his entire life, he's a Fisherman, which they like to remind us over and over again. But as soon as he has his first training session with Draco (Mads Mikkelsen) he gets the better of the more experienced Draco after a few minutes and the explanation from Draco is, "You have a God in you." What the hell is that? Hey Louis, you couldn't have had a montage at the beginning where Perseus took a few days or weeks to train? It could have been literally one minute or less. But as usual with this film, they just took the lazy way with a simple throw away line to explain the impossible.As far as the technical aspect of the film goes it ain't too bad. The Scorpions, Medusa the Kracken the demon things they all looked pretty cool. But because I didn't really care much about the characters I couldn't really feel the suspense or the scare of what the creatures were doing. Also I want to add that I did not see this in 3-D. I had heard from way to many reliable sources that it just looked like utter shit. Which I'm not surprised since I heard they made the half ass conversion at the last minute to raise the ticket price. After looking at the box office it's either bad word of mouth or the NCAA's that see them drop off on Saturday. I don't buy it. No one was watching Duke kick West Virginia's ass or Michigan State blow it to Butler. I think the bad buzz on the 3-D was affecting repeat performance and I think it's going to continue into next week. And it should, honestly, this is what happens when Hollywood continues to remake movies with lazy writing and directing. (Despite the flaws the film still made over 60 million this weekend.) They love the originals but they don't seem to understand or care why they work. They have, as my friend Ben told me, no sense of whimsy. That's supposedly what they hate so much from the original, so they decided to make it ultra serious. Which is why it now is more silly and irrelevant than the original. You have to have a little goofiness in these kinds of movies it's just the way it works.In closing if you want to see some decent CGI with some truly great Character actors trying to make the best of this turd, then by all means go and see it. But I would avoid the 3-D if I were you it may only make it more painful.

Grade: 1 and half buckets

CGI Grade: 2 and a half buckets