Category Archives: mark millar
Much like The Losers, this flick is based on a comic that I have never read. Neither of the creators, Mark Millar and John Romita Jr., impress me much with their comics work (another reason I never read the comic), so I didn’t have high hopes for the movie. After seeing it, I think I’ll be avoiding the comic.
The story follows the concept of a ‘real world’ teenager who decides to become a superhero. No powers, no weird secret origin, just a mask, a wet suit and a couple sticks. He promptly hits the streets and gets his ass kicked, is stabbed, and is then run over by a car. From this point, all ‘real world’ aspects are out the window as the self-named Kick-Ass now has a bunch of metal braces in his bones and a serious lack of nerve endings. Scratch that no weird secret origin bit, I suppose.
Other super heroes manifest, or at least that’s how it appears. As the movie continues (and it does continue, and continue, and continue, for a solid almost intolerable two hours) a division arises between who we think the good guys and the bad guys are and who they really are. Black and white morality is not a hallmark of Kick-Ass.
Among the pseudo heroes is Nicholas Cage’s Big Daddy and his eleven year-old daughter Hit-Girl, played actually quite well by thirteen year-old Chloe Grace Moretz. She’s a veteran actress even at her young age, and Nicholas Cage, well, Nicholas Cage walks around and collects a paycheck. His only real watchable moment is his bad Adam West impression while in costume. The rest is just terrible. I’m not as much a Cage-hater as some folks I know, but he really ruined every scene he was in in Kick-Ass.
Having never read the comic, there were plot elements that seemed out of place. The Red Mist seemed like a character that should have been a surprise rather than someone whom we knew about all along. It just seems like common sense from a writing point of view. But what do I know? Mark Millar is the guy who cloned Thor, apparently he can do no wrong in some comics fans’ eyes.
Speaking of comics, director Matthew Vaughn has just been tapped to direct the new X-Men movie, X-Men: First Class. How he got that gig after this one other than they are both comics movies is beyond me as I can’t see his style here lending itself at all to the X-Men franchise. After all, Astro Boy and A History of Violence are both comics movies – no thematic similarities there.
When the flick first came out, much was made of the violence and the swearing of the character Hit-Girl. This is very violent, and mercilessly so, with close-ups and slow-mos more traditional to horror gore rather than violent action flicks. I didn’t mind Hit-Girl’s swearing, or her killing almost everyone she sees – what bothered me was when at the end the older man, the big bad, gets the better of her toward the end of the movie. No matter how you slice it, it’s disturbing seeing a grown man beating a young girl.
The previews for Kick-Ass depict a comedy, and those comedic moments are still there, just you’ve already seen them in the previews. The voiceover narration by Kick-Ass is inspired when it appears but it doesn’t appear nearly enough to save this flick. This is just a bad movie, and made worse by Nicholas Cage’s phoned-in performance. He says he was paying homage to Adam West but it comes off more as mocking and bad acting. Give Kick-Ass a wide berth, and wait for it to come to free TV if you insist on seeing it.
Wanted ~ Wanted, the comic book mini-series by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones, is about super-villains, superheroes, global conquest, brainwashing, parallel universes and secret conspiracies. Wanted, the movie, is about a fraternity of assassins and secret conspiracies. Hmmm, just like the Superboy comics and the “Smallville” TV series. The names are the same and the characters seem familiar, but in reality they are two completely different animals. This is very loosely based on the comic book, so much so I think it should have said just that in the credits. The stories are sort of close, close in that same way that The Godfather and Mafia! are both about organized crime. But while the comic was one of the best on the shelves in the last few years, the movie after the first hour becomes just another over-the-top action movie. And not a very good one either. Ride yes, movie no.
James McAvoy plays mild-mannered, apathetic, panic attacked loser Wesley Gibson whose life is turned upside down when he’s informed his father is one of the world’s greatest assassins and he has to take his place in a secret fraternity of assassins. In several twisted Rocky/Batman training sequences he makes the grade and begins the hunt for his father’s killer. McAvoy is a lot of fun, and he’s very good. He’s got quite a bit of range in his past roles and I always look forward to seeing his work. That said, I liked his human Wesley more than his super-assassin Wesley.
Co-star Angelina Jolie looked suitably sexy and dangerous as the Fox, one of the few names kept from the comics. Other than eye candy however, she’s not much else. Morgan Freeman is, well, Morgan Freeman. It was refreshing to hear him swear once in the flick. It reminded me of his Oscar-caliber role in the much-overlooked Street Smart all those years ago. Ya know, with a nudge and some effort I think Morgan Freeman could easily be Samuel L. Jackson again. Common doesn’t have a lot to say, but damn, he still looks fierce. Marc Warren, who I loved when he appeared in “Doctor Who” and “Life on Mars,” is terrific as the Repairman. He’s a face to watch.
There are some truly spectacular stunts here but the quick cut shaky cam tricks do this flick a solid disservice. Why create terrific stunts if you’re not going to let the audience see them? Equally, the curving bullet effects are cool, but after a while they became just that, another overused effect. It reminded me of the visuals in The Matrix and Jumper – it just ain’t that special if it’s used too much. And the Danny Elfman soundtrack is superior, especially “The Little Things,” perhaps his first real rock vocal since Oingo Boingo.
The biggest loss, in my opinion, of this non-adaptation of the source material is that the outstanding villain of the piece is not the frightening Joker-template, Mister Rictus as in the comic, but instead Wesley’s overweight harpy of a boss, Janice. Great comic and good summer fodder for a movie ride. Worth the ticket price, but still Wanted left me… wanting. All in all I think I’ll read the comic series more times in my lifetime than I’ll watch this again.