Candy coloured carnage – Kick Ass review

Kick Ass – Starring Aaron Johnson, Chloe Moretz and Nicolas Cage. Directed by Matthew Vaughn. Rated MA. By Simon Miraudo.

I make two pledges in this review. The first: I shall not specifically refer to the film’s quality as being “kick-ass”, nor will I directly infer that my own ass was somehow “kicked” by its awesomeness. The second: I shall not succumb to my deepest, darkest impulses, and regress to my teenage fanboy self in a flurry of over-stimulated euphoria. Now that that’s out of the way…

Matthew Vaughn’s Kick Ass is about as exciting as movies get. Not just because it is a (mostly) anarchic splatter-fest that celebrates (nay, encourages) acts of ridiculous violence, but also the fact that it was made completely outside of the studio system, and is now set to become a cultural phenomenon. It’s one thing for filmmakers to spend their own cash bringing their intensely personal vision to the screen. But to find $70 million for a film in which a 10-year-old girl drops the c-bomb before eviscerating a gang of drug-dealers with a double-edged sword? Please join me in a slow-clap.

Aaron Johnson stars as Dave Lizewski, a teenage comic book fan who, bored of his sexless adolescence, decides to become a masked vigilante just like his animated heroes. He christens himself Kick Ass, although his early crime-fighting exploits end with his own admission to the local hospital. He soon gains notoriety (thanks to a couple of viral YouTube videos) and ruffles the wrong feathers – notably mob boss Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong – hilarious and menacing as always) and his son Chris (Christopher Mintz-Plasse).

Dave must also contend with a masked daddy-daughter-duo (a wonderfully hammy Nicolas Cage and a show-stopping Chloe Moretz) also intent on dismantling the mob – limb by limb. Things are starting to get a little too real for Kick Ass, as he deals with larger threats than simple muggers. Fighting crime doesn’t pay it seems. Oh wait, local hottie Katie Deuxma (Lyndsey Fonseca) is suddenly interested in Dave? She just might be worth getting shot over.

Kick Ass is ridiculously fun, proving director Matthew Vaughn to be equally adept at helming dramatic thrillers (Layer Cake) as well as rollercoaster-esque action (well, Kick Ass, obviously). As far as comic adaptations go, it’s right up there. It somehow manages to capture the cartoonish energy of Mark Millar/John Romita Jr’s series, whilst also translating into a wholly satisfying film. Unfortunately, where Millar’s comic deliriously skewered superhero comic conventions (to an almost self-destructive extent), Vaughn’s film is more than willing to conform to some of the genre’s tired tropes. I understand why. If the characters were as uniformly unlikable and motive-less in the film as they were in the comic, the movie would be unwatchable. That being said, it’s hard not to note the irony that many of the elements of the genre that are mocked by Millar are appropriated here.

But save that argument for the comic-book vs. film debate. Kick Ass, the cinematic experience, is hard to top. It’s frenetic, funny, and dementedly ignorant of acceptable social mores. What elevates the film from mere fanboy-porn (although that is a fair designation), is the character of Hit Girl (Moretz’ sword-wielding tween assassin). Funnily, this controversial, family-group angering young lady is perhaps the most morally in-tune character of the entire film. And despite her obsession with gutting local thugs, she might actually be the first great female superhero to grace the silver screen. Sure, she’s no role model. But parents shouldn’t mind if their kids idolise Hit Girl, particularly over certain other female cinematic icons. Hmm, I wonder what foul-mouthed Hit Girl would do if left alone in a room with The Twilight Saga’s Bella.


Check out Simon’s other reviews here.

15 Responses to “Candy coloured carnage – Kick Ass review”

  1. DO NOT TRUST Quickflix. You'll never receive all the free movies. The service is very slow and you'll be signed up without a chance to cancel your sibscription. Quickflix will charge your account with no chance for a refund!WARNING: Stay away. This is not a trustworthy service. Definitely a deal to avoid.

  2. I don't think so, I have been a member for 8 months now and I did get my free movies plus a free movie ticket… The service is prompt if you are prompt to return your movies. I also regularly receive my top choices so I do not have any complaints. I even gave away trail membership that was send to me over the christmas period and also received no complaints from anyone who has received them. I also received a free movie ticket to go see Toy Story 1 & 2 in 3D!!

  3. Hi 'Anonymous' – sorry that you feel that way about us! Instead of posting your comments all over our blog (multiple times) please feel free to get in touch with me directly and I'd be happy to chat to you about your issues. Ben HammondGeneral Manager – MembershipQuickflix LimitedTel: (08) 9347 4947 (direct)

  4. I've been a member only two months, though I did enjoy two free trials that were obligation free and I cancelled ithout fuss after the first free trial, after the 2nd I decided to stay a while as they have a grteat list of films and so far the service is good.

  5. Although I am happy with my membership(and i know this is not the topic of this forum) i will NOT be reading any further movie reviews. I, as a parent of a teen was interested in the controversy surrounding KickAss and the concerned parent groups. I should have realized that any review made would be made void due the author feeling the need to have another boring and annoying dig at the twilight saga, even though I am sure that it is unlikely these movies would have much of audience in common. Like I said-last time I will read a review not that I would borrow a movie that this guy recommends anyway!!!

  6. Oh, this old chestnut again. I read the reviews on the Quickflix blog (as i am a very satisfied Quickflix member), and i have to say your comment is not actually saying anything. I seem to be finding a correlation between Twilight fans and their staunch opposition to any other film. There are other genres out there! How disappointing when a reviewer is chastised for giving a film you happen to disagree with a good review. Maybe your comments on the blog will not be missed?

  7. Ugh..everyone's a critic it seems. I was driven by fury to comment about the comment left by 'Anonymous'. You mention the review makes another "boring and annoying dig" about the Twilight movies, yet the review only mentions Twilight in the last sentence: It hardly frames the article. Frankly, i find this to be crazy talk. I acknowledge that everyone is entitled to their opinion, so do not dismiss the review. However, for you i think and exception should be made… if you feel so strongly about Kick Ass (a movie you couldn't have even seen yet), please protest in silence and stop ruining it for the rest of us!

  8. Well, this forum has gone in a couple of interesting (and somewhat unexpected) directions!I'll stay away from the membership stuff and address the second 'Anonymous' – the one who didn't like my review.1) If you are a parent concerned about whether or not your teenager should see Kick Ass, I'm sorry this review did not illuminate the matter further. Frankly, I have already said all that I want to say about the "controversy" here:'s all just a bunch of hype-mongering, and I sincerely believe that parents shouldn't be THAT concerned about Kick Ass corrupting their children. We're not talking Antichrist here! It's just an action film – and a damn good one.2) I make no apologies for my dig at Twilight – a film series I find morally reprehensible (hey, kind of like the way people are describing Kick Ass!) I bring it up as contrast to the controversy surrounding Kick Ass, in which the character of Hit Girl is being painted as a negative role model. Fair enough – but I maintain that she's more admirable than Bella. If you disagree, that's fine of course. Let us know why – but let's not poo-poo one another's opinions just because we disagree.3) This is a film review, not a viewing advisory board. I'm not hear to tell you whether or not to see or NOT see a film. It's about having a conversation about a film's quality; discussing it's ideas, evaluating whether or not it belongs in the pantheon or the garbage bin. Let's have a conversation.

  9. clap for Simon.I have to say I tend to disagree with your opinions of movies generally but I do like the way you present your view and also enjoy seeing a very different point of view to mine about a film.also on the off chance i may end up seeing a movie i haven't considered after reading a review.for parents or even others who are after a more of an advisory board for films do you have any recommendations? (and this i mean seriously). Personally I'm not great with horror/ 'scary' movies and end up missing some great films as I find it hard to predict from a trailer just how 'scary' they might be.

  10. Hey Simon thanks for your reviews. I don't always agree with you either but they are always entertaining. My teenage daughter loves the Twilight series, but i have some concerns. I don't like the messing around with the original vampire myths. I don't like the weak female being saved all the time. And the whole idea of your first love being your only love that they portray. But as i watch them with my daughter i can see some beauty in the way they are shot and some entertainment in them. So parents if you are not sure about a films merit go and watch it with your kids and shock horror talk to them about it. It may open the door to some real life issues without making it too personal for the child. I don't think I would take anyone under 15 to see Kick ass just from the reviews. You rock Quickflix keep it up! Kimbo.

  11. Thanks guys; glad you enjoy the reviews. Remember – you are never EVER required to agree with ANYONE about a movie. Whether it's Roger Ebert or a stranger on Twitter. That's the fun of writing/reading about film.

  12. I saw Kick Ass a few weeks ago and it was great. I gave it a 4/5 myself. I will be going to see it again most definitely. Yes there is swearing and violence in it – Just like in most movies these days. It's rating is fair. It is not at violent as Kill Bill part 1 which got an R rating and as you said it is no where near as bad as the Saw Films which were only MA. I agree with the twilight comments… that stuff shouldn't even be allowed to be released it's a waste of space.

  13. Saw this a couple of days ago and LOVED it. Obviously the MA15 rating was appropriate- an R18 rating would have been complete overkill. This film blew me away and as a mother to 1 I pride myself in having enough personal responsibility and brain cells to decide whether it is appropriate for my child to watch. It's called parenting and it's YOUR responsibility!

  14. Good review. One additional point …. and actually the main reason that the movie can come out ahead of the comic (in this instance): audio, and specifically (mostly) the music soundtrack. It si just fantastic. My favourite is the use of Ennio Morricone’s spaghetti western loop from the Dollars/Man with No Name Trilogy (Clint Eastwood’s) when she approaches the foyer of the bad guys’ penthouse building. Brilliant!!

  15. Hi, Just watched Kick ass….. i have strangeley mixed feelings, on one hand an extremeley clever iconic, cult orientated film aimed at giving the birdie to societys codes and rules…..

    In a different time, maybe 15 years ago I would view it and say ” this was a film that needed to be made” but now……..??? Kids of today dont need anymore encouragement to be rebellios, to waste their lives or to get involved in violence and crime……i think the “xxck you!” thing has been done to death but atleast this film does show the rest of the wannebe pack how it should be done and Vaughn has never done a bad film.

    The film also shows the power of film music when used cleverly, not to say though that this film isnt good without the music, the script when you hear any , is razor sharpe and deliberately controversial but for example the scene of the hit girl rescue would have been “just more of the same” without the use of Murphys tune from sunshine…. but kudos for the director for seeing that and yurning it into one of the most memorable scenese in recent film history.
    Overall a refreshing if controversial and sometimes disturbing break from the modern thoughtless tripe that comes out of hollywood.

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