Kick-Ass (2010)

Rated: R for strong brutal violence throughout, pervasive language, sexual content, nudity and some drug use - some involving children.
Length: 117 minutes
Grade: AFCA=A-
Budget: $30 million
Box Office: $107 million (48 U.S., 48 Intl., 11 DVD)

Written by: Jane Goldman (Stardust) & Matthew Vaughn (Stardust, Layer Cake, Snatch, Mean Machine, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrells), based on the comic by Mark Millar (Wanted, Ultimate Avengers)
Directed by: Matthew Vaughn (Stardust, Layer Cake)
Starring: Aaron Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloe Moretz, Mark Strong, and Nicholas Cage.

A wimpy avid comic reader decides to become a superhero, but discovers the reality of it to be far less than glorious. At the same time, a former cop and his daughter with real killing skills have already begun to take down a massive criminal organization while posing as superheroes.

Entertainment Value: A
This was far more entertaining than I expected, mostly because I anticipated it being just a farcical movie about ordinary people trying to be super-heroes somewhat in the vein of Mystery Men. Well, it wasn’t that. This is an amazingly well-crafted “imagine if people actually tried to be superheroes” story that really embraces its own premise and delivers a satisfying action, comedy, comic experience. You know how a band’s first album is almost always their best one because they pack so much pent up originality into it that it’s hard to duplicate the concentrated coolness of it again? Well, that’s the sort of sense I had here, although it was nobody’s first movie. Bluntly speaking, this is the one of the best action movies I’ve seen this year. Also, the Adam Westing of Nicholas Cage was hilarious.

Superficial Content: F
Drugs/Alcohol D, Sex/Nudity D, Violence F, Language F
Absolutely no kids! Although this is based on a comic, it’s an adult comic for sure. The violence is extreme, including blood, cars running a man over, people being beat up, stabbed, shot, blown up, etc. Granted, it’s all comicesque, but it’s still super-violent. The language is atrocious, over 100 F-words alone. There is some drug content with criminals using cocaine, for instance. There’s only a tiny bit of actual nudity, but there are a several scenes with sexual content, including implied self-pleasuring. The only reason I tell you all this is to be absolutely clear: no kids, no kids, no kids! In the very beginning, I thought this could have been made PG if they had wanted to, but it quickly became apparent that I was wrong. Cleaning this up would have made it a completely different movie.

Significant Content: C
There is evil in the world, and someone has to fight it. That someone might as well be me. Vigilante justice is the only kind that makes sense with criminals who refuse to play by any rules. Bystanders are just as responsible for evil happening as the criminals themselves.

Artistic/Thought Value: A
It’s not so much that this is going to leave you asking a lot of deep questions as that it is such an amazing blend of genres and concepts that it has to be called excellent as art. This is especially true given the numerous examples of comic-based movies that fail to be interesting and often aren’t even worth watching. It’s a comic, a thriller, a dark comedy, a film noir, and an action vigilante movie all rolled into one.

Discussion Questions:
~Are people who observe a crime in progress and do nothing to stop it just as guilty as the criminals? What would “love your neighbor as yourself” mean in such a situation?
~Consider some of the major characters and ask yourself how their lives or choices would have been different if they had been Christians?
~Why is vigilantism so appealing? Why is it so wrong? What is the basic theological error behind vigilantism?
~Do you think reading comic books fills kids’ heads with the wrong sort of heroes? Why are comic books so appealing to so many people?
~Is a culture which loves Batman and Spiderman more or less healthy than one which loves Paris Hilton and Kanye West?
~Why do you think more people don’t try to become superheroes themselves?
~Consider Red Mist and comment on why he does the things he does.
~What implications does this movie have for social networking, media sites such as YouTube, and even news media? ~Is it trying to make a statement about tragedy as entertainment or about how we secretly want there to be awful things we can watch?
~What motivates Big Daddy? Is it more justice or revenge? What do you think he would say about how everything in this movie turned out?

Poignant or memorable scenes:
~The opening scene. What is this scene trying to tell us about this movie and the realities of actual vigilantism?
~The very first confrontation with the two thugs and then the follow-up.
~At the drug-dealer’s lair.
~In the basement during the live broadcast.
~The final confrontation.
Overall Grade: A-
Extremely entertaining. Extremely R rated. If you enjoy movies like Kill Bill, Sin City, and Dark Knight, you’ll love this. If not, don’t watch it. Here’s a simple tip, if the title bothers you in any way, that’s your cue to rent another movie. In other words, go ahead and judge this movie by it’s cover box.

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