Let’s get one thing straight: if you’re thinking of taking your girlfriend/kid/grandpa to see Kick-Ass, don’t.  Just DON’T.  That first might seem sexist, but if it is, the magnitude of the sexism is minimal.  See, Kick-Ass earns its R rating and revels in the violence while it does.  We’re talking Clockwork Orange levels, folks.  AND there’s an aspect to the violence (which I won’t mention, because it’s deep in spoiler territory) that many have found upsetting.  So if you aren’t desensitized to violence, male or female, you’re gonna want to skip this.

Still there?  Good, because Kick-Ass is also terrific.  The violence level caught me off guard at first, but then I remembered the pedigree of the movie.  Kick-Ass is based off a graphic novel from the same mind (Mark Millar) as Wanted.  So if you’ve seen the latter, you should know what you’re in for with the former.  And, to be fair, the movie’s concept warranted gritty violence, if not quite in the prodigious quantity delivered.

Actually, comparisons to Wanted reveal a couple more similarities.  Both feature voice over narration and a pretty subversive sense of humor.  Kick-Ass is the more approachable of the two, however; the day-to-day challenges of the protagonist keep the movie more firmly tethered to some semi-approximation of reality.  I liked both, but if Wanted was a bit too off-the-wall for your tastes, you might still enjoy Kick-Ass.  The movie oozes fun and makes viewers feel like they’re watching a top-notch superhero movie despite the lack of…well, superheroes.

Kick-Ass also reflects the casting strategy of Wanted.  Both movies wisely cast a relative unknown as the protagonist and surround them with stars.  In the case of Kick-Ass, Aaron Johnson plays a very likable high-schooler who, like any guy who can lay the slightest claim to nerd-dom, wishes he was a superhero.  Supporting him are Nicholas Cage and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (“McLovin” from Superbad).  As someone who finds 9 out of 10 Nicholas Cage movies to be utter drivel, I was shocked to find Cage in an engaging, transformative role.  I’d say that he steals the show, but newcomer Chloe Moretz makes a pretty strong case for that herself.  Another welcome appearance is Mark Strong, a Stanley Tucci look-alike whose role in Revolver personifies bad-assery (being in grad school give you license to create new words).

If you find yourself down with the level of violence, you’ll find it well filmed.  There’s also some pretty decent choreography for a movie that isn’t really focused on the fights, themselves.  Between the two, Kick-Ass is stylish and moves at a swift clip.  What really sets the movie on fire, however, is the pulse-pounding score, which effectively funnels viewer emotions- especially during the action scenes.

Consensus from those who have read the original graphic novel is that many plot points were changed.  But as someone new to the world of Kick-Ass, I thoroughly enjoyed my viewing.  Consider this escapist paradise big-screen money well-spent and proof that the summer blockbusters are nearly upon us.  8.5/10 Agree? Disagree? Questions?

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