For my next cinematic weekend double-header (the first being Alice In Wonderland versus How To Train Your Dragon), the contenders this time around are Iron Man 2 and Kick-Ass. The winner? Kick-Ass by a country mile.
To its credit, Iron Man 2 does fall prey to some inevitable sequel trappings - and because this ain't a part 2, there's none of that in Kick-Ass. At the same time, the film feels infinitely more fresher than others that have come before it. It's like going on a blind date, and you're relying on the same fall-backs of planned activities and places to go...... but because your companion is so vibrant and personable, those same experiences somehow feel so much more livelier than you remember. Through its intelligent deconstruction of the comic book genre, the film is cleverly funny and consistently self-aware in its cheekiness.
True, the film glorifies in its over-the-top comic book violence. It's raw and bloody and visceral, but also inherently story-driven, and thoroughly compelling as a result. Imagine Spider-Man on a massive vigilante bender; hardcore, over-the-top violence is colored by huge dollops of insanely rad action and dynamic character performances. The entire cast looks like they're having a blast; the underdog determination and grit of Aaron Johnson's titular hero, Chloë Moretz's brazen, ball-busting Hit Girl, Nicolas Cage's misplaced parental guidance as offered up by badass Big Daddy, Christopher Mintz-Plasse's meek but weasel-like Red Mist, and Mark Strong, who turns in another terrific villain role with Italian mob boss Frank D'Amico.
Unlike Iron Man 2, there's no casting missteps and rarely any lulls in the story. It's shot with a surprising amount of confidence, given the film's experimentally edgy concept. Director Matthew Vaughn shows a lot of confidence in his movie, an aspiring result of a studio hands-off production. I once read that Kick-Ass is like the Kill Bill of comic book scripts, and that sounds about right.
Up next: my laundry list of favorite spoiler-filled moments. Of which there are many.