I saw Kick-Ass a week ago and was surprised by both how good the movie is and how few people were in the theater watching it.
Since Rotten Tomatoes has a plethora of professional reviews, I will not add yet another to the stack, beyond saying that this is perhaps the best superhero movie I have seen and one of the better movies in general. I will, however, offer some general commentary on the film.
On the positive side, the film take a brutally realistic approach to the title character, Kick-Ass. He has no powers, no special training and no real skill. He does, however, have a strong moral drive and a desire to be a hero that crosses over into irrationality. The film does not pull any punches (or stabs) when it comes to him-in his first serious attempt at being a hero he is beaten, stabbed and run over. This, as Aristotle would say, presents a probable and necessary series of events. Aristotle would also approve of the ethics of the character-he is a good man who wishes to do good.
Also on the positive side, the film is a superhero film and not just a film about people who dress up and get stabbed. Big Daddy shows near comic book combat skills, but does not go beyond the ability of a trained combatant (he wears full body armor and that gives him a major edge). Hit Girl, though, pushes the boundaries of the possible into the realm of comic book heroes. She is an amazing killing machine, bringing a Kill Bill level (and beyond) of artistic violence to the screen.
Continuing with the positive, the actors all nail their roles-each one fits beautifully, from the nerdy friends of Kick-Ass to the main villain. The plot is coherent and makes sense (within the genre), the fighting is truly amazing, and the soundtrack fits quite well. Overall, this is an awesome film.
On the downside, people have been taking issue with the violence and the fact that Hit Girl is an 11 year old girl. While film violence is worth considering (I write about this in my book), it is an old, bloody horse that I do not feel like beating at this moment. As far as Hit Girl goes, I can see why people would be concerned. After all, Hit Girl is raised in a rather odd way by a father who has a vengeance obsession. She uses profanity excessively and also kills lots of people in well choreographed acts of brutal violence. Worst of all, she takes a beating from the main villain, which brings up the idea of child abuse once again. This, one might say, is not appropriate.
That said, the character is ideal for the film and is an integral part of the artistic whole. To be a bit more specific, the film would be worse without Hit Girl being who she is. Of course, it is also possible to get rather philosophical about the matter. Hit Girl and Big Daddy can be seen as a commentary on the vengeance theme in in comic books as well as commentary on the side kick theme as well. I have no doubt that academics are now typing away, sweat dripping from their brows, doing deep psychological analyses of these matters. Feminists should also like Hit Girl-she swears like a man and is clearly empowered. Interestingly, it could be argued that she is a commentary on the bad girl effect-young woman have been increasingly prone to violence and bad behavior (that is, they are more and more acting like bad boys).
Laying aside all the academic bull, the movie does kick ass. If you enjoy a clever plot, humor, amazing fight scenes, excellent acting, and a new approach to the superhero genre, see this film. If you are a sissy who has a sad tummy at the sight of brutal fighting and swearing burns your delicate ears, stay home and cuddle your stuffed unicorn. It loves you. It really does.