Friday, April 09, 2010

1st April 2010 - Kick Ass

Critics are knocking each other over to flout how much they like this film, probably in order to show how cool and in touch with modern culture they are by not being offended at a little girl who swears and kills people. Not like anyone stuffy enough to dislike the film. They’re losers. We’re not. Love us.

Trouble is, the build-up of media Lick-Ass can only end up triggering an “it’s not that good” backlash sooner or later. Which will be a shame as this is a fun film, with the smart premise of a superhero story set in the real world. Average teenage comic-fan Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) buys a crap suit and some sticks, and sets out to be Kick Ass. His only skill is a plucky determination. He gets beaten up quite a lot.

Stealing the show is the kid making all the critics quiver, little Hit Girl (an outstanding Chloe Mortez), the 12 year-old brought up by her bonkers daddy to be a lean, teeny killing machine. Said daddy became the highlight, played by Nicolas Cage channeling Adam West in a crap Batman suit. He is absurdity and hilarity rolled into one, with some gigantic teeth and a silly hair do. There are many componenets here that could create utter dirge along the lines of Daredevil or Batman & Robin, but Kick Ass has the right mix of tongue-in-cheek and seriousness to pull it off.

Nerd comedy (ala Superbad) mixes with uber violence (ala Kill Bill – well, all the films Kill Bill riffs off), with big nods to Raimi’s Spider-man and comic book name-checks sprinkled throughout. Superhero conventions are played to, then deliberately broken, leaving you with a fresh feeling of not really knowing what’s going to happen next. A slice of real darkness adds jeaopardy to the proceedings, and Mark Strong brings a fun villain in the form of a mob boss, with a wimpy son played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse (no doubt now type-cast as McLovin’ for the rest of his career).

But Kick Ass sometimes has a whiff of familiarity, be it through the soundtrack (an odd choice to reuse a 28 Days Later track for a blistering fight scene, making it feel more wannabe than fresh newcomer), the uber violent school girl (Gogo Yubari wearing the same tartan skirt in Kill Bill) or the general nods to the superhero franchises that have already dominated our screens, some pretty damn successfully. Whether they’re deliberate or not, these feelings of de ja vu hamper the film’s efforts to find a unique voice. It’s a shame the spirit of originality doesn’t cover all bases.

Still, Kick Ass is a lively, surprising, funny and enjoyable film - a welcome breath of fun after the seriousness of Watchmen and Dark Knight. Whether the freshness will last for a sequel (no doubt in the works) is another story. Nic Cage makes this film worth the watch, Chloe Mortez a close second for dazzling confidence. Kick Ass scores a CF2, kicking 2010 ass with the highest score so far.

The 2010 catch up

Ok, Ok. My head is hung in shame at the actions so far of 2010. Mainly because there have been no actions. We’re on week 14 and I’ve only seen 7 films. That’s 50% effort, and what’s worse I haven’t even posted reviews. Just think of the dozens of people out there with no Cinemafool guidance, stumbling into films with no idea of their CF rating. The pressure of such responsbility is almost too much to bear. But give me some slack, Cinemafool has existed for 4 years now. I needed a break.

Break over.

Ok, 5 of those 7 pesky films shall be summed up for your perusal in a series of minifools, mainly because I saw them so long ago my aged brain can't remember enough detail to fill a review. Here they are:

Sherlock Holmes

As I’ve already said: RDJ is predictably enjoyable playing himself with an English accent, the direction is predictably Ritchie with a lot more money. Film is fun, got a bit sleepy in the middle, and not quite the excitement the trailers promised. Ok, though. Just Ok.

Can’t say much more than that, really. CF0.

The Road

A heart-warming family drama....

Putting the “eak” in “bleak”, this takes Cormac McCarthy’s post apocalyptic tale of grim survival and transfers it to screen in all its distressing glory. Viggo Mortenson is obviously brilliant, and the only side-steps from the book are almost gratefully received, as to stick too closely to the details would no doubt elicit mass suicide. Not exactly a breeze to watch, but gripping, moving and everything it means to be. CF1, and no higher only because it loses the rewatch factor due to being crushingly horrible to absorb.

Solomon Kane

What could have been a snowy swordy epic is more of a damp rag as James Purefoy mooches around behind floppy hair, rarely takes off his clothes and signs up to a no-violence lifestyle after the devil tries to claim his soul. When the gloves do come off (“I will not fight you, I... oh Ok, hi-ya!”) the heads come off too and there are some fun slice and dice moments. But clunky editing and taking itself too seriously hamper any chance of overcoming the sizeable problems of trying to do sword fights and mystic monster stuff when numerous films have already done it much much better. A disappointing CF-1.

Alice in Wonderland

Like Blackpool illuminations, the magic of what appears to be a visual feast is quickly quashed once you peer past the distracting lights and see it for what it really is. Burton delivers another spectacle that deserves praise for style and technique, but flops at the important stuff like depth or heart. Depp’s flamboyance is fun, but expected. Despite all the giant heads and talking mice, Burton manages to do nothing surprising with the material. And the addition of 3D adds another headache in what is becoming quite an irritating new trend. Points for visuals only, this sits at a CF0.

Green Zone

Greengrass and Damon put Bourne into Iraq, marching around after those illustrious WMDs and generally causing trouble. Except, it’s not really Bourne of course, just a looky-likey and figurehead for a statement film. Damon is solid but a bit inconsequential, the action is fast and furious and the plot is worryingly plausible. Some exciting chases aside, the fact I can’t remember much more about the film suggests its impact is somewhat insubstantial. As such, Green Zone gets CF0.