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Tag: Kick-Ass (1-5 of 5)

'Kingsman: The Secret Service' trailer: Meet the new breed of knights

Super spies aren’t born — they have to learn some manners first. And undergo heart-stopping, think-on-your-feet training, as we learn in the first trailer for Kingsman: The Secret Service. Based on the graphic novel by Mark Millar and artist Dave Gibbons, it’s the next comic book movie from X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughn, who also adapted Millar’s Kick-Ass for the big screen.

The movie stars Colin Firth as a suave agent who recruits a promising street punk (newcomer Taron Egerton) for Kingsman, an elite independent international intelligence agency. At the same time the kid signs up, a global threat from a nasty tech genius emerges. Michael Caine and Samuel L. Jackson — who speaks with a lisp and complains about everyone’s British accents — also star. Take a look below: READ FULL STORY

Killing time with 'Hanna' star Saoirse Ronan: from child-assassins to 'The Hobbit'

What is it about this starry-eyed young actress that makes directors see a monster? Saoirse Ronan, soon to be 17, stars in the new action-thriller Hanna as a single-minded child assassin targeting the CIA, in particular an ice-cold agent played by Cate Blanchett; and in her next film, Violet & Daisy, she plays the comedic version, as a bubble-gum popping, gun-slinging hit-girl. After making her breakthrough in Atonement, earning an Oscar nomination for playing a unforgiving, heartsick young girl who ruins the lives of two adults, she became the go-to actress for sinister characters with a sweetheart veneer. Even in Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones, as the victim of a child-murderer, the Irish actress was the centerpiece of the darkest of storytelling, narrating the aftermath of her own demise, including the story of the man who slayed her.

Hanna delves deep into another disturbed psyche — of a little girl who has only learned two things: how to survive and how to kill. Directed by Joe Wright, who also guided her in Atonement, it is a surreal and truly grim fairy tale (accompanied by a techno Chemical Brothers score) about a young woman reared in the wilderness who is finally unleashed on Blanchett’s wicked step-mother-figure. Hanna is simultaneously Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, joined into one. READ FULL STORY

'Kick-Ass' is shocking, but it's not what you think

aaron-johnson-kick-assImage Credit: Dan SmithFor the record, I love Hit Girl in Kick-Ass. She’s a resourceful, quick-thinking daughter who loves and respects her Daddy, does her homework, and has an admirable sense of responsibility, self-determination, and family pride. Also, she’s got a way with language. No sane kid will confuse this cartoon character’s fantastic, murderous antics with appropriate real-life behavior. (Insane kids are beyond the help of role models in a comic-book movie.)

What outrages me, though, is what hasn’t warranted a shrug of disapproval, either from Concerned Parents or from Clucking Media. It’s this: When Dave Lizewski, the average teen with super-hero dreams, is seriously injured while first trying out his skills as Kick-Ass, he is self-conscious enough to request that the ambulance workers who rescue him dispose of his home-made costume. And as Dave begins to heal, his father’s biggest manly concern is that, since his son was allegedly discovered naked, the young man might be gay.

Back at school, the rumor spreads quickly: Dave is, oooh, gay! Tee-hee! Even his best friends tease him mercilessly. (In the screenwriter’s hypocritical nod to propriety, Dave’s classmates call him a “lame duck,” rather than anything more offensive.)  Indeed, the pretty girl Dave pines for, a popular cutie who otherwise wouldn’t give him the time of day, adopts him as a close friend because he’s harmessly, tee-hee, gay! The two even share sleepover dates — which is funny because we know Dave is a horny heterosexual!

Well. What if the rumor spread that Dave was Muslim? Or Puerto Rican. Or left-handed. Or deaf. And he had to protest that he wasn’t. Is that funny, too? I wish I could express myself with the freedom of vocabulary granted to Hit Girl when I say that the nonchalance of this unexceptional sexism is appalling. No, worse than that, it’s evil. Because while sane kids aren’t likely to take up firearms inspired by a fictional little girl in a mask and a purple wig, they are absolutely likely to repeat the behavior of Dave’s classmates. Average movie-going teens, after all, think nothing of declaring “that’s so gay” to make another kid shrivel with discomfort.

Hey, Kick-Assers, what if Dave Lizewski is gay: So what? Hey, Hollywood, the sexist crap stops only when movies pitched as cool-for-the-kids don’t perpetrate this bigotry. Don’t make me go all Hit Girl on your buttocks.

Is 'Kick-Ass' too violent? And in whose eyes is a box-office 'disappointment'... disappointing?

hit-girl-kickassI think that I first heard the phrase “box office disappointment” early in the 1980s, at the Stone Age dawn of the Entertainment Tonight era. Even back then, I wondered: Who, exactly, is being disappointed? Theoretically, it should be the chief of the studio that put out the movie, or maybe the marketing department, or even the people who actually made the movie (oh, them!) — the director, screenwriter, producers, tech wizards, and actors. Yet the implication, whenever that slightly scolding phrase would come rolling off of Mary Hart’s tongue (“a box office disappointment“), was somehow that we, the audience, were supposed to be disappointed. In the post–Star Wars era, movies had become like high school cliques that you joined, the more popular the better. And if a film’s opening-weekend grosses were “disappointing,” it meant that all the people who’d gone to see it had joined the wrong club.

Movie grosses, however, can be a bit like Internet dates: They often hinge on an expectation factor. Take, for instance, Kick-Ass. In a sense, it’s a Hollywood comic-book superhero movie, like Spider-Man or Batman or Iron Man, but in a very real sense it’s also an anti–comic-book superhero movie. It cost $28 million to make, it premiered at the hipster-clogged SXSW film festival (can you imagine that happening to a true megabucks franchise?), and when the buzz began to build, most prognosticators agreed that Kick-Ass was a highly original movie that, in its superbad ordinary-teen flukiness, had more going for it than not.

But that’s when the demon karma of Hollywood box office expectations set in. Kick-Ass kicked off such a steady, growing chatter of pre-release buzz that the movie, precisely because it was so eagerly anticipated, was suddenly saddled with raised expectations. The enthusiasm built, over the last week or so, to a kind of publicity-engine Ritalin rush. Measured against those expectations, Kick-Ass was left wanting. It was almost destined to be punished — to be seen, when the box office smoke cleared, as a merely mortal movie, instead of the magically endowed superhit that was being chattered about in the industry and the press. READ FULL STORY

'Kick-Ass': How groundbreaking it is that it's called...'Kick-Ass'

aaron-johnsonImage Credit: Dan SmithA movie called Kick-Ass opens across the country today, and perhaps it’s remarkable that the only folks who seem to be raising even half an eyebrow over that fact are local television news producers. Trust me, I know: I taped two separate reviews of the film for TV stations, one in New York, one for affiliates across the country, and in each case, the use of that title had to be vetted, fretted over, and solemnly approved. (For the affiliate version, geared to markets in the heartland, I was told that the title wasn’t a problem…as long as I said it only a very small number of times.) Kick-Ass, as I wrote in my review, is an engagingly revved-up and original comic-book superhero movie about a high school geek who puts on a green jumpsuit and becomes a phantom crime-fighter, even though he doesn’t actually have any super powers. The movie may be controversial in several respects. It’s very violent (stabbings, over-the-top ballistic blowouts, limb-mangling Mob torture), and the character of Hit-Girl, for some parents, could prove to be a rather challenging role model to present to their impressionable daughters. I’ll discuss those issues in a future post, after you’ve all had a chance to see the movie. For right now, though, I’d like to point out that it’s almost funny, when you think about it, how a title that only a few years ago might have seemed a bit…extreme for a popcorn movie aimed squarely at the teenage market now registers, in jaded, we’ve-seen-it-all-on-the- Internet America, as just one more blasé imitation-rebel whatever.

I mean, if this was 1999, and Kick-Ass was some fluky indie comedy out of Sundance, you just know that when it opened, a lot of local newspapers would have decided to blot out the second half of that title. That’s essentially what happened back in 2003 with Badasssss!, Mario Van Peebles’ terrific drama about the making of his father’s own underground (and dangerously titled) classic, Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss Song. Jackass: The Movie, which actually came out the year before, in 2002, didn’t really have any such problems, but then, context is everything. In this case, the context being whether the word “ass” is used to mean “idiot” or, you know, your butt. READ FULL STORY

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