Friday, April 09, 2010

A Kick-Ass success, or just bad taste?

It would seem that director MATTHEW VAUGHN's latest film Kick-Ass has polarised the community thanks to a foul mouthed, ultra violent (but very cute!) 11-year-old character, Hit Girl (CHLOE GRACE MORTEZ).

Thanks to Universal Pictures, I was able to organise two screenings for the Perth Twitter Community via the Perth Twitter Underground Brigade (@PTUB) and judging from the tweets that came flying back faster than a Hit Girl throwing star, young Chloe was the genuine star of the film.

Indeed, 'when I grow up I wanna be Hit Girl' was a comment I saw time and time again. You can check out the online chatter yourself here.

Last night on ABC TV's At The Movies, David Stratton made all the right noises about Kick-Ass in the first half of his review, but choked on the (throwing?) star rating when it came to the Hit Girl stumbling block:

"The screenplay has some sharp comments to make about the meaning of heroics, and MATTHEW VAUGHN, who started out working with Guy Ritchie and who previously made LAYER CAKE and STARDUST, handles it all with confidence. But you have to keep reminding yourself that it's 'only a movie' every time Hit Girl does her stuff- mega-violent action scenes of multiple killings obviously inspired by the early films of John Woo, starring CHOW YUN FAT (Woo is specifically referenced in the dialogue). These scenes are deliberately over-the-top and incredibly violent and the fact that an 11-year-old is doing the killing - shooting and stabbing bad guys - all of whom die very bloodily - will be understandably concerning for many." (from the At The Movies website)

If you haven't seen it already, check out what it without doubt one of the most entertaining exchanges between David and Margaret in some time. David: 'Can I just say something?' Margaret: 'No'.

Judging from the comments on the At The Movies web page, people are split into two camps - those horrified to see an on-screen depiction of an 11-year-old girl dropping the 'C' bomb and taking off baddies' heads with a machete, and those who see it as one of the most refreshingly stylised superhero films to come out of the US in many years.

Make no mistake, I'm a father of three and I have no desire to see my five-year-old princess grow up to blow the backs out of people's heads with a high calibre glock. But nor am I going to take her out to an urban wasteland to fire rounds into her bullet proof vest protected chest to acclimatise her to what might happen when she's mugged by junkies and pimps, aka NICOLAS CAGE who plays her father and fellow superhero, Big Daddy.

But this is an adaptation of a COMIC BOOK. Complete fantasy. It's a vehicle for delivering an outrageously funny superhero flick using characters and scenarios that challenge - no, DEMAND us - to see things in a different light.

Indeed, while some would say that embracing a blood drenched film that uses an 11-year-old girl as a central character is a sign of how desensitised we are as a community, I'd argue the opposite.

Once you scrape away the gore and think about this film for what it really is - a comic book fantasy - I think Kick-Ass actually asks the question why is one form of violence more acceptable than another? Does it really matter if a Rastafarian drug lord is disemboweled by a cute 11-year-old masked girl, or shot through the temple by a rogue middle aged cop?

Park your conservatism at the candy bar, grease-up the bazooka and strap yourself in for some rollicking Kick-Ass superhero fun. Just leave your little princess at home :)


Jason said...

I just think the whole movie is underdone. It's just a poorly made film that could have ben so much more!

I pointed that out here:

Still, I think I will watch it again on Blu-ray and would give it 3 stars iusing the Movie Show rating system. I couldn't care less if the girl said cunt. I was more upset by heros killing people. Batman never killed anyone!

Unknown said...

I absolutely loved KickAss. I laughed all the way through and I don't even know why!
But there is no way that I would take my (hypothetical) kids to see it. Unless they were 15, then whatever, they can see it if they want...
I'll see it again though!

Tobias Ampersand said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
grum said...

I was surprised that the movie didn't get an R rating in Australia.

I've read the comic series - the movie could have been a lot gorier if the producers let it - believe me they held back.

Why criticise a movie when cheaper, easier to obtain, more violent and sexually explicit comic books are available at your local newsagent?

I'd rant, but I haven't had my coffee yet.

Anonymous said...

I love movies with a female lead, especially when the female lead is kicking arse and asking questions later. I will enjoy a movie if the plot is driven by women, do they make their own decisions or are they at the whim of fates beyonod their control. In a way Hit Girl adds a second element to empowering socially less privileged characters. Have you noticed how often kids are abducted, murdered, tortured in films these days just drive the Man on a Mission, Do Anything For Revenge plot devices (usually in films staring Mel Gibson or Liam Neeson (Taken? Vomit.)

While the chicken littles will squawk about anything, it's refreshing to see a film in which the small girl-child is NOT a victim, either physically or by being deprived of control. Sure, she's foul mouthed and violent. One of the characters described her as "brainwashed". But she made her own decision at the end of the film, she planned and executed the assault and it was brilliant to watch. (Soundtrack was awesome!)

Also, I think I need a bazooka.

Anonymous said...

I've seen Kick Ass twice now, and neither time did I think it to be exploitative, but I would also probably say I'm square in the middle of the film's target audience. It also helped that I had an expectation of what I was going to see. I'd not read the comic, but based on my knowledge of the writer and director, I had a feeling it wouldn't pull any punches, especially in regards to the character of Hit Girl.

The term 'exploitative' is a dangerous one. It suggests that the young actress playing Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz) was being used by the film-makers for... wait, what? What are they suggesting? Chloe is 13 years old, which means not only would she have had to agree to be a willing participant, but so too would her parents. Chloe was also in (500) Days of Summer - pretty sure she said some rude words in there too (no dismembering though, alas) but I don't remember anyone making a fuss about that.

Probably because no one saw (500) Days of Summer, but that's another topic for another day.

The character of Hit Girl reminded me of Mathilda from Luc Besson's 1994 film Leon (or The Professional as it was known here). A young Natalie Portman plays Mathilda, who is trained by Leon (Jean Reno) to be a hit man. Portman was also 13 when staring as Mathilda, and on top of violent nature of Leon there's also a vaguely sexual, almost Lolita-esque, undercurrent through the film. I remember at the time thinking (as a teenager myself) that it was a little 'wrong' seeing a girl so young playing out her character.

Can't say I felt the same thing watching Kick Ass.

Looking back at Leon, the fuss being made about Kick Ass right now, I'd say Leon would have a very hard time being released in today’s climate.