Advertisements

Tag Archive: Kick-Ass


Review by C.J. Bunce

Underneath The Boys, a series so full of all things offensive, with language, misogyny, immorality, violence, sex–something sure to offend everyone, lies a backbone of a story that might have something to say, if the way it was laid out wasn’t so exploitative.  It’s easy to imagine show execs Eric Kripke, Evan Goldberg, and Seth Rogen pulling the strings behind the curtain on this project, but what exactly are they trying to say?  Mocking the real-life modern horrors on your TV, protected by the acknowledgement that the moral is clear that all the bad they show is bad, it’s intended as satire, as social commentary.  It’s an unusual medium to convey its many messages, questions without answers for many things Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson took on in their source material comics of the same name, very much like Alan Moore and Frank Miller’s stories from the 1980s it attempts to pay homage to.  It’s impossible not to compare The Boys to Moore’s Watchmen–superheroes for a dark and modern time that are different but familiar to the superheroes we all know so well–it may be even closer to Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns despite its lack of well-known characters.  The entirety of the story of the first season, now streaming on Amazon Prime, is the familiar “Who watches the watchers?”

Who are “The Boys” of the title anyway?  Led by ever-angry Bill Butcher, played by the actor of all franchises Karl Urban, it’s a small team of five rebels determined for their individual reasons to take down Vought, a corporation that manages the superheroes that protect Americans from almost every crime that’s occurring.  As good as the production values are, the series is not that clever, but its difference is how over-the-top and grimy it’s willing to get to tell its story.  From the previews you might think it compares to The Umbrella Academy.  Make no mistake, the storytelling in The Boys is better and less yawn-worthy, except The Umbrella Academy showed off some better superhero special effects along the way with its Number Five character.  You’ll find a lot here no one else is willing to touch on TV, making it a clear NC-17/R+ show: Carlin’s seven dirty words get explored, anti-fundamentalism, blasphemy in themes and situations, assault on today’s politics and extremism, nationalism, misogyny, sex abusers and other deviants, gender issues–most of these used to make valid points about issues mirroring modern times.  But like watching the daily news (or newsfeed) it’s not that enjoyable.  It never manages to approach similarly violent but fun efforts like tongue-in-cheek superhero films Deadpool or Kick-Ass.  Except for the vengeance.  When the bad guys pay–and that’s strangely rare–it’s hard to deny some of the scenes are pretty satisfying, especially when Urban wields a newborn supe as a laser gun.

The Boys has some cream-of-the-crop acting, which elevates the entire project.  Urban leads it all as the Daniel Craig-in-Layer Cake level, put-upon, amped-up mercenary Butcher.  As with all of his performances he jumps right in, creating one of his best, ugly characters (compare to his Caesar, Vaako, Cooper, and Skurge).  Equal to that is a layered performance by Jessica Jones’ Erin Moriarty.  The series is really about her.  She plays Annie January aka Starlight, a young, naive woman who sincerely wants to use her powers to help others.  She makes it into an elite, corporate controlled group of “supes” called The Seven.  But she quickly learns The Seven are more bad than good for America and the planet: one supe forces her to have sex, another invisible supe hangs out in the restroom leering at her.  Along the way Starlight picks up a friend in The Hunger Games’ Jack Quaid as Hughie Campbell, a guy whose girlfriend is killed by a speedster supe in The Seven–but was it an accident?  Hughie is enlisted to help Butcher try to take down Vought–the corporation behind The Seven.  Vought might as well be Detroit’s Omni Consumer Products from RoboCop or Veidt Enterprises from Watchmen, but even more vile.  The shock and in-your-face violence is every bit a match to these films from that infamous era of no-holds-barred 1980s violence.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Her name is Mindy McCready and she is one of superhero comics’ most kickass of action heroines.  You know her as the partner/sidekick from the pages of Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr.’s Kick-Ass comic book series, Mindy’s own ongoing series beginning in 2012, and two movies, Kick-Ass in 2010 and Kick-Ass 2 in 2013.  She’s eleven years old, and they call her Hit-Girl.  Hit-Girl is back in a new solo title beginning this month from Image Comics.

The first issue of the four-issue, limited series Hit-Girl in Colombia is full of the same irreverence the very unusual superheroine is known for.  Always slightly off in her methods, but true to her own superhero code, she’s ready to start blowing up bad guys.  But how far off can a girl be who is a fan of Hello Kitty and Clint Eastwood and John Woo movies?

  

Millar (who also wrote Kingsman: The Secret Service, Civil War, and Old Man Logan) returns as writer of this new story, and Ricardo Lopez Ortiz will be the series artist, with color work by Sunny Gho.  Hit-Girl goes off to the drug cartels of Colombia after she finds out the new guy she’s tagged as a replacement for the newly retired Dave Lizewski (aka Kick-Ass) is just not cutting it.  So she’s taken on a client who becomes her very own “guy in the chair” (actually a woman), and acquires a most unlikely sidekick to complete her mission.

Continue reading

Kick-Ass 2 banner

If you like edgy superhero flicks and missed Kick-Ass 2 in theaters, it’s now available on Blu-ray and DVD.  If you liked the original, you’ll love the sequel.  Kick-Ass 2 pretty much requires you’ve seen the original Kick-Ass, a truly novel, unique, and interesting piece of filmmaking.  It’s a good film that takes an idea from a Mark Millar comic book series and propels it into a big-time action movie.  But Kick-Ass 2 does something rare–its success is being better than both the original film and Millar’s source material.  It’s a great superhero flick and a fun, awesome, over-the-top action movie, with villains you’ll want to see crushed and downtrodden heroes you’ll want to see persevere.

The caveat for the Kick-Ass franchise is you can’t be offended by a teen or pre-teen with a thorough and eloquent knowledge and use of George Carlin’s seven dirty words.  You’ll hear all of them.  Many times.  And if you can’t tolerate a big dose of over-the-top violence, pick another film to watch.  This probably rules out a big segment of the adult audience.  In another director’s hands, this would be a gimmick, even an annoyance, but Jeff Wadlow knows his characters and audience and deftly moves beyond the Whedon-Buffyverseworthy dialogue to a superhero film that can be both gritty and tongue-in-cheek, and manages to be on par with Stan Lee’s original Spider-man, only juxtaposing innocence against the worst of society to an in-your-face extreme.

Kick-Ass 2 movie poster

The only missing piece in Kick-Ass 2 is Nicolas Cage, who played Damon Macready, alias Batman-esque Big Daddy, in the original film.  Father to Chloë Grace Moretz’s Mindy, aka Hit Girl, events in the original explain his absence in this sequel.  But Kick-Ass 2 makes up for his absence with some other great performances from new additions.  One is Jim Carrey’s almost unrecognizable performance as an ex-mob enforcer turned superhero called Captain Stars and Stripes.  Carrey completely embraces the role of the leader of a league of good guys trying to take back their streets, and the result is one of his best performances–up there with his shape-shifting Ace Ventura, and zany Stanley Ipkiss aka The Mask.  The always superb John Leguizamo turns in a similarly good performance as a majordomo for the show’s villain, the returning Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad) as Chris D’Amico.  Mintz-Plasse plays the evil villain bit for all it’s worth–he’ll make you cringe while you cheer for his imminent demise.

Continue reading

Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl

In 2010 Kick-Ass seemed to come out of nowhere as a rare Rated R superhero flick (for “strong brutal violence throughout, pervasive language, sexual content, nudity and some drug use – some involving children”).  Starring Aaron Johnson, Chloë Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Mark Strong, and Nicolas Cage, Kick-Ass defied all expectations.  Those taking their kids for a standard superhero film were met with over-the-top violence and a foul-mouthed little girl who killed people with her dad.  But those who realized the film wasn’t for kids were met with a crazy and fun action movie with solid performances by Nicolas Cage, Mark Strong, and Superbad’s Chris Mintz-Plasse.  But it was the break-out performance for the 13-year-old Chloë Moretz that Kick-Ass will be known for years from now.

Based on the creator-owned comic book series by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr., Layer Cake, Stardust, and X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughn gave fans of the series what they wanted–a no-frills look at superheroes who didn’t fit the classic superhero mold.

Hit-Girl

Continue reading