Phil Hubbs (phubbs1)UK
Phil's Recent Reviews
The world of the visually violent comicbook movie probably first kicked off with 'Blade' way back in 1998 (honourable mention to the 1989 Punisher), although this film wasn't really ultra violent and filled with profanity. After that along came 'Watchmen' which offered a very realistic take on the superhero genre and was pretty gritty. Since then there hasn't really been that much until this graphic novel adaptation popped up with huge amounts of real violence and bucket loads of naughty words. It was like 'Robocop' for the comicbook genre.
The actual plot isn't any different from your average superhero flick. Its basically an origins tale showing how a young 'Peter Parker-like' teen gets to grips with his life and sets out to become a superhero after making his own suit. There is no emotional death of guardians to push our hero along here admittedly, this guy just wants to fight crime but ends up getting in way too deep.
The angle for this creation is the fact its set within the real world where people do get hurt and superheroes don't actually have super powers. Its a concept that may feel totally milked these days but back in 2010 it wasn't...that much. The character of 'Kick-Ass' is just a young male teen in a scuba suit with modifications and a couple batons, when he starts out he gets stabbed and beaten almost getting himself killed. The characters he meets up with later in the form of 'Big Daddy' and 'Hit-Girl' are also merely regular people but with good fighting and weapon skills. The bad guys they fight are normal everyday thugs, pimps, drug dealers, robbers and mobsters, its simply the real world.
This is why the film is such a breathe of fresh air (for the time) and so intense. When we see fights going down we know its all for real and the heroes can't rely on any super powers or super weapons, anything could happen technically. Sequences such as...Hit-Girl kills a whole bunch of black drug dealer dudes with many amputations, Kick-Asses initial bloody brawls, when Big Daddy and Kick-Ass get captured and are beaten with bats and of course the excellent adrenaline rush when Big Daddy takes down mob boss 'Frank D'Amico's' warehouse of goons, are all brilliantly directed and visually slick but red raw with bone cracking realism.
There are of course your typical superhero-esque visuals at times, some over the top martial arts and the odd moment that will challenge your suspension of disbelief. I guess that is bound to happen in most flicks of this nature just to add that tiny bit of fun fantasy, but in general this film is down to earth, seedy and gritty as hell. Despite the fact most of the characters are just kids, the film certainly isn't for kids with limbs and bullets flying, blood spurting everywhere, Hit-Girl swearing like there is no tomorrow and some nut crunching beat downs. The scene where Big Daddy is killed is especially dark and quite harrowing really, its shocking at first.
Most of the characters aren't anything too special really. The stand outs obviously being Johnson as Kick-Ass who crosses between the obligatory comicbook character geek and a reasonably tough superhero (at times) really well. Moretz grabs your attention merely down to her age truth be told where as her character feels more like a lethal Christmas elf. But its clearly Cage as Big Daddy who wins the day for me, that brilliant Adam West sounding voice and 'Batman-esque' outfit, quite amusing. I would like to see a film centred around his character.
I must also quickly mention that this entire idea may well have been pinched from the 1999 goofy superhero comedy spoof 'Mystery Men'. That film is all about a team of superhero wannabes that don't actually have any super powers but must somehow defeat a supervillain who also has no real super powers. The film is set within a realistic universe that visually copies and slightly mocks Gotham City but no one in that world actually has any super powers. So 'Kick-Ass' follows suit but goes down the violent route with dark comedy.
Its a controversial movie for sure, what with the very young Moretz playing the loose lipped Hit-Girl and dressing in that slightly disturbing school girl outfit near the end. Oh and the fact she goes around slicing and dicing bad guys willy-nilly accompanied by a weird light-hearted music track at one point. Add to that a film that portrays all these youngsters getting involved in such brutal violence yet the film almost makes it look like fun n games in silly outfits. It did raise eyebrows when it came out and honesty I can see why, but personally I think these are the things that make the film stand out giving it some epic originality.
I loved how they stuck to the source material (relatively), I loved seeing Kick-Ass starting out and getting his head kicked in, seeing him slowly get somewhere even though he isn't actually any good then being stupid enough to create his own Myspace. The film really does the origins thing well and makes you invested in the hero, you find yourself really wanting him to succeed and at the same time seeing how risky this field of work would be in reality (in case you ever thought about being a hero). The only thing that let it down for me was the very ending where things got a bit too superhero-ish and comicbook-like losing the dark realism. Easily one of the best graphic novel/comicbook adaptations and it wasn't watered down, they kept it as it should be.
The film formerly known as 'Hercules: The Legend Begins' which scarily makes you think there might be sequels in a possible beefcake franchise. Aaaaaand also even more scarily known at one time as 'Hercules 3D' which not only makes me shudder at the thought of how ridiculous a gimmick that would be, but the fact they would probably make 3D sequels too, brrrrrr! me blood runs cold at the thought of it.
So round one, lets see if this Hercules film can...oh it can't. So in ancient Greece Yuri Boyka...aka Scott Adkins, the man who makes pure straight to DVD films for a career, is the baddie King Amphitryon. This guy is apparently running things badly and no one likes him, the film shows none of this but we are made to believe it because he shouts and growls a lot. He's gonna marry off Hebe the Princess to his slimy son Iphicles, problem is Hebe is in love with mighty Hercules played by...Kellan Lurch? Putz? Yutz?, this makes them both rather upset. So in typical Romeo and Juliet style they try to escape together, get caught, and Hercules is banished to fight in Egypt. Naturally this is all a ruse by the naughty King to try and kill off Hercules because he has also been foreseen to bring down his kingdom.
Now I don't really know the full ins and outs of ancient Greece as its extremely complicated, but I'm pretty sure this film is not historically accurate. I take a wild swing with this statement as King Galenus at the start of the film who is killed by Amphitryon was actually a Greek physician and philosopher, unless they just used the name. Also Hebe was the daughter of Zeus and Hera which I don't believe is used here, but anyway you wouldn't use this film for a history lesson.
If this were a TV movie then I'd be a bit more positive here, the fact its a big budget flick directed by Renny Harlin is a bit embarrassing really. By the chariots of Zeus! the visuals are drab, really drab!, its unbelievably poor looking in every aspect. The costumes are bland and lifeless, but I guess the excuse there could be its a more realistic take. Lots of bad greenscreen, the few real locations used are unexciting whilst most other landscapes we see are CGI and the sets are so darkly lit my guess is that its to hide the fact they look like foam and rubber. Most of the film uses CGI to make up the backgrounds foregrounds...everything! and its obvious, hell the CGI looks like it was done ten years ago.
The first bit of action that really nailed home how poor this all was was the sequence where Hercules fights the lion. Holy Mufasa! this sequence looks terrible, the lion must be a joke right? isn't it? how big was this budget?. The acting in this film is laughable it really is, putting the constant growling and gnashing teeth of Adkins aside, it feels like you're watching a sci-fi B-movie from the 50's. No disrespect to those classics but in this day and age you come to expect a bit more for a major release...don't you?!!.
There is very little action in the film which doesn't really help its case, especially when the acting realism and visuals are so bad. What action we do get is done in the most horrendously pointless needless and shameless rip off from the '300' franchise ever to grace the cinema screen thus far methinks. It wouldn't be so bad if it actually looked half as good, or if it was even necessary, but it just feels so futile, so totally meaningless and clearly done just to try and make everything appear more thrilling because otherwise it would be lame. Blatant leeching off another films concept.
The other thing is I don't know what this film wants to be, a serious historical epic? a bloody sword n sandals action flick? a drama? a fantasy? what?!. There are hints of a blood soaked action flick but it never materialises, it just cuts away at every crucial moment, there is no blood or gore at all really...so maybe its for the family?. The gladiatorial battles are laughable bad with cliched corny choreography and characters, the six undefeated warriors were pathetic and frankly I'm unsure how they became undefeated. One of the warriors was even a woman! women weren't really seen in the arenas, especially with the male gladiators, it didn't happen, but naturally Hercules doesn't kill her pfft! wuss.
Love the short sequence just before the battle with the six warriors. Chiron and Hercules mate Sotiris reach the arena and look down on it from this massive cliff. They must be a gazillion feet above this arena in one shot...but by the pecs of Lutz! in the next shot they're in the arena just in time to watch Hercules do his thing!. They don't even look tired or sweaty!, that's some ancient Greek magic right there. Oh did I forget to mention that these arena battles are set up by a character who is clearly a rip off from Oliver Reed's character in 'Gladiator', the guy even looks the same with his facial hair and costume, is there a lawyer in the house?.
This film is such a mess it really is, most of the time it comes across as a lifeless dull drama with little bits of tame bloodless '300' wannabe style action. But out of the blue we get a couple outrageous sequences of fantasy involving Hercules using two massive boulders on chains like nunchakus in true Marvel style. And then a sequence where he summons the power of Greyskull and proceeds to kill hundreds of warriors using a lighting empowered sword...wut?!. After all that its back to being a dull plot hole ridden drama/historical epic/'300'/'Spartacus'/'Gladiator' wannabe cash cow franchise (well that ain't happening anymore).
Phil's Favorite Movies
The predator is the greatest alien created, Stan Winston is a genius, the best 80's, adrenaline, testosterone, muscle filled action man flick ever with one of the best character actor line ups since 'Con Air' plus the effects still look better than most modern films today! The Austrian Oaks best flick for me by far and possibly my all time favourite film. 'I ain't got time to bleed'.
Another Stan Winston creation with Cameron direction, genius. State of the badass art! this film rocks on every level, the only downer for me is the fact that you never really saw hords of aliens, some would say its more powerful that way but I think it would have been more tense and savage. Its still the perfect film with the perfect ensemble cast, amazing tension, fantastic hands on effects, realistic working sci-fi, dark, gritty...hell I don't even really need to go on about it, awesometastic sequel!