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Fresh from BNAT Quint shows some love to KICK-ASS and has a rundown of the Iron Man 2 trailer!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here writing to you post-BNAT after a short 3 hour nap and massive amounts of pasta with a good two dozen dazed, bleary-eyed BNATers including such web superstars as Peter Sciretta of Slashfilm, Devin Faraci of CHUD and the great turncoat Drew McWeeny currently of Hitfix as well as Tim and Karrie League and some of the coolest cats in attendance at the fest this year. I don’t want to do a blow by blow recap of BNAT… you’re going to be getting tons of that over the next couple of days from far better writers than yours truly, but before focusing on a few specific movies from the event I do want to commend Harry on one of the best programming jobs of any BNAT. I should know, having been fortunate enough to attend every single one. You’ve outdone yourself, Big Red. Now I do get asked frequently about Butt-Numb-A-Thon as an experience and how that influences one’s opinion on a film. It’s a valid question. Can opinions out of BNAT be trusted or does the energy and the exclusivity of the event feed into a radically different movie-watching perspective that couldn’t possibly be matched by the typical theatrical showing? I’d be a fool to deny that a great screening can influence one’s opinion of a movie. Look at Harry’s notorious Godzilla review. I was there when he got back from New York, having watched the movie in Madison Square Garden sitting with Muhammad Ali and 10,000 other loudly enthusiastic people. Harry’s enthusiasm for the event and the experience was evident just as much as the crushing look of “Oh shit…” on his face when he rewatched the movie in a regular theater and saw it stripped of all the bells and whistles, leaving a hollow and frankly horrible movie.

It has been widely reported that KICK-ASS’s big premiere at Butt-Numb-A-Thon stole the show from such veteran filmmakers as Peter Jackson, Martin Scorsese and James Cameron in terms of sheer audience enjoyment and that’s 100% true. The audience fucking loved the movie, cheering throughout, laughing at all the in-jokes and comedic moments, clapping in rhythm to the music as Hit Girl painted a bloody masterpiece of gore and violence across the screen and just plain old buzzed about the flick for hours afterwards. Hell, at dinner tonight the conversation was 80% Kick-Ass. In terms of Kick-Ass’s BNAT reception does the experience make the movie or the movie make the experience? That’s the big question. In all honesty I can’t give you a definite answer, but my gut reaction is that the movie made the experience and I’ll tell you why. As raucous as the screening was there was a technical issue that popped up after Hit Girl (the clear audience favorite character) does her first act of carnage about a reel and a half into the film (25-30-ish minutes in). The center speaker literally fizzled out, giving the audio a muted quality not dissimilar to being underwater. The Alamo folks quickly stopped the movie and it took a good 20 minutes to fix. It wasn’t the perfect screening, but the movie survived the pause in its first big action scene. In a lot of ways it added to the excitement of the crowd. You see, Matthew Vaughn had us all hooked by this point, so instead of the crowd losing steam and interest we started buzzing instead, excitedly talking about the beginning of the movie with our friends and neighbors. When the Alamo’s crack squad of managers and techies fixed the problem (seriously, it was like watching an elite bomb squad that just spotted an IED on some Iraqi roadside at work) they restarted the movie we got to see Hit Girl’s real introduction again, this time with the correct sound and the audience “Oohed” and “Awed” at the exact same moments… and I include myself in there. Vaughn’s film is a love letter to super hero comics and movies that manages to stay true to the mythology of those stories while also working as a deconstruction of those archetypes. That’s the dangerous line this movie walks. There are moments of over the top action that would have turned into a Zucker-ish spoof if Vaughn had taken it one step further. And if that had happened it would have ruined the movie. The cut of the movie we saw was rough. There seemed to be a lot of early render gore… spurting blood, sword stabbings, etc… and there was a temp score in place with some incredibly obvious superhero cues from John Williams’ Superman score, Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard’s The Dark Knight score and Danny Elfman’s Batman score. In a strange way using this iconic music only added to the idol worship that is the basis for the main character of the story. Young Aaron Johnson plays the lead character, Dave Lizewski, who is special only in his complete averageness. He’s not a dweeb being constantly beaten up. He’s doesn’t belong to any cliques or clubs or sports teams. He’s like many of us were in high school: invisible. He’s definitely modeled after Peter Parker. I’m sure Mark Millar has admitted to this, but if he hasn’t it’s because it’s so obvious he doesn’t have to. Dave muses about why there aren’t any people out there trying to emulate superheroes from the comics and movies. Like most teenagers that don’t belong to any distinct group he and his friends spend a lot of time in the local comic shop bullshitting about fictional people, places and events. Hell, I still spend most of time talking about fictional scenarios, but now I’m paid to… so I guess there’s a less losery aspect to that now. The point is he’s very relatable and Johnson plays him very real. He’s weak, but has a nervous enthusiasm… just as any geek who would decide to give it a shot at being a real life superhero would be.

Just as in the comic his first attempt at stopping a crime in progress gets him hospitalized for months, but also leaves him with a fucked up nervous system that allows him to take more punishment without feeling it. Not that that really helps him fight better, but he can take more punches without collapsing. Even when Kick-Ass (his chosen superhero name) becomes famous he’s still pretty worthless as a crime fighter. What he does do is inspire others to take up the mantle and that’s where the real fun of the movie comes in. Aaron Johnson deserves a lot of credit for making the movie work, but I’m afraid it’s Chloe Moretz that is going to steal the show. Just like Natalie Portman did before her, Moretz is going to make her career with this role, playing a daddy’s girl of a different sort. Nicolas Cage plays her father and the first scene with them both has him, looking creepily like Stanley Tucci’s Mr. Harvey from Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones, pointing a gun at his 11 year old daughter in pig-tails saying it’s not going to hurt much. The bullet will feel like someone punching her chest. He pulls the trigger and this cute, smiling innocent-looking little girl goes flying back, her puffy pink vest sending out a puff of cotton. Cage runs over to her and we see the bullet-proof vest underneath her girly pink jacket. She’s in training and we later find out Cage and Moretz are a father/daughter vigilante duo. These two are no-holds-barred, vicious foul-mouthed fucking animals when they’re on the job, leaving no evidence behind… and not witnesses either.

While Cage is great as Big Daddy, in his Batman-ish outfit (complete with black suit and yellow utility belt and exaggerated Adam West style of speech) it’s Chloe Moretz’s Hit-Girl that got the audience in an uproar. Here’s this innocent little girl slicing and dicing through drug dealers, dropping c-bombs and saying shit that’d make a sailor blush and doing it all within a real performance of a little girl trying to make her father proud. Hit-Girl has the best action of the movie which is made even better by her age. I mean, it’s one thing to see Uma Thurman slice through a dozen Crazy 88s, but to see an 11 year old girl do it? While calling the bad guys cunts no less? Priceless and so damn ballsy that you can’t help respect the crazy hard, hard, hard R rated movie Matthew Vaughn pushed through. Also of note is Christopher Mintz-Plasse as the son of the crime boss (the fantastic Mark Strong who plays Frank D’Amico as an Elias Koteasish family man who just happens to murder people to keep his drug trafficking running smoothly) who is also inspired by Kick-Ass. His Red Mist is flashier and just as useless as a real deal crime fighter as Kick-Ass is, but he’s the son of a rich man, so he has flashier toys. Mintz-Plasse’s biggest challenge post-Superbad was shaking loose the McLovin label and actually have a chance at a career. He’s not there yet, but his role here is the biggest step away from that pigeonhole that he’s taken so far. And if they’re doing what I think they’re doing to his character we might see him take even bigger steps in future films (God willing).

Make no mistake about it Kick-Ass lives up to its name and does so precisely because it was made outside the studio system. Lionsgate picked it up and, much to their credit, have taken on a tough sell without forcing any changes on Vaughn. If the movie’s a success it’s because of their gamble in releasing a movie that is willing to push the envelope on audience expectation. But above all this movie is just fun from start to finish. It’s badass, it’s cool, it’s funny, it’s sad… that’s all good, but the fun is what I took away from the movie, what I assume most of the Butt-Numb-A-Thon audience took away from the movie. If I was trying to get a quote on the poster I’d call it “a great time at the movies.” Shit… I just did that, didn’t i? But it’s true. Despite an unintended intermission and rough effects the movie blew the roof off the Alamo Drafthouse at 8 in the morning when wedged in-between the world premiere of the Iron Man 2 trailer and James Cameron’s first science-fiction war movie since Terminator 2… and the reason for that? Kick-Ass gave us something different, something smart, something extremely well executed, but most of all something hugely entertaining. It’s just a great time at the movies.

Before I leave you I figured I’d give a brief rundown on the Iron Man 2 trailer. That okay? I thought you wouldn’t mind. Most of the first theatrical Iron Man 2 trailer contains footage that screened in the Comic-Con sizzle reel (you can read my description of that trailer here) which was bootlegged a bit if I remember correctly, so there’s a good chance some of you fine folks saw that already. This trailer starts with Tony Stark sitting in front of a Congressional board… press and public behind him and Gary Shandling leading the board in front. They want the Iron Man technology and Stark refuses. From the flashes we see that it’s relative peacetime and Iron Man/Tony Stark spends more time flying to special engagements, awards shows (where he’s backed up by cheerleaders or dancers wearing red and gold bikinis with a glowing orb in the middle) and the like. But while Stark is busy trying to get his Stark Expo up and running we leave him and go to Mickey Rourke’s prison cell, littered with articles on Stark and his tech. There’s a voiceover from Rourke about how much he wants to emulate Stark’s work and then we see him out and whipping up the racetrack where Stark is competing. What wasn’t in the Comic-Con reel was an effects shot of Rourke literally whipping a racecar in two (I assume it’s Stark’s) as it speeds by. In slow motion you see the front end separate in much the manner you’d expect… kinda like a lightsaber strike… but the back end starts flipping up and over the front as Rourke is still finishing his strike. Another new bit has Stark and Pepper standing near the open end of a flying airplane. He asks for a kiss before he leaves and she takes his helmet, kisses it and throws it out of the plane. He smiles and jumps after it, the camera following him down and into some war-ish hell where he’s pursued by missiles, etc. The big money shot is the last scene of the trailer which starts on Don Cheadle’s face as the War Machine mask slides into place and he starts fighting back to back with Iron Man. They showed this segment at Comic-Con, but the difference on the effects is night and day. Now instead of just the two fighting against black they’re in a war-torn, fiery environment… War Machine’s shoulder mini-guns are whirring taking out men with guns as Iron Man’s repulsor rays do their thing. And we also get a glimpse of Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, but not much more than a brief bit of a beat down she employs to some poor schmuck in a hallway somewhere and a quick shot of Sam Jackson as Nick Fury. It’s a lot of frenetic energy and I suppose does its job, especially for a teaser, but you don’t get too much of an idea of the story or a real set up to where Rourke is coming from as a new addition to the universe. But all in good time, right? The flick’s still a half-year away-ish, yeah? There you go. Now I’m going to actually get a real night’s sleep. I’ll be back soon with my thoughts on Avatar (quick: is good), Shutter Island (quick: is good) and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s MicMacs (quick: is fuckin’ good). -Quint Follow Me On Twitter

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