I did my top 20 horror and SF films last year, and found doing the lists to be more fun than expected, so in a massive bit of logic here’s my top 20 films adapted or inspired from comics. I need to point out I mean comics, not ‘superhero comics’ which is a lazy, and incorrect way to describe a wonderfully varied medium and it’d also cut out some bloody good films!
I now get to the adaption of Mark Millar and John Romita Jnr’s Kick Ass.
Kick Ass was very much a signature comic from Mark Millar. This means lots of violence, including a lot of sexual violence, swearing, more violence, empty nihilism, and post-modern irony. I find a lot of Millar’s work to be trying too hard so when I approached Kick Ass the film, I was apprehensive at least but thankfully director Matthew Vaughan and screenwriter Jane Goldman managed to pull apart the worst excesses of Millar’s original story to provide us with a film which still retains a cynical heart, but is more aimed at a mass audience who don’t especially want to see Millar’s often depressingly brutal comics.
That isn’t to say the film is totally toned down. The character of Hit Girl is pretty much lifted directly from the comic, and bizarrely became the most popular character in the film, which is amazing for a pre-teen girl who swears and murders people, albeit these are criminals she’s murdering.
Kick Ass is a nice little subversion of the superhero film which posits what would happen should people dress up as superheroes and fight crime, which most of the time would involve them running away from violent crime and calling the police, so Kick Ass plays with it’s idea until it hits it’s last act when it becomes an action/revenge film with superhero overtones, while at the same time being slightly ridiculous, which of course the entire film is: slightly ridiculous. A utterly insane Nicholas Cage helps add to the tone in a performance which doesn’t just pay off the tax bill, but reminds you he can act, well, at least act better than he did in the appalling remake of The Wicker Man.
I enjoy Kick Ass. It’s daft, camp and silly while being oddly British about something so American. That I think is it’s charm, while probably providing a reason for it’s weak box office takings in the US, but then again this is a country who pay to see Adam Sandler films…
One quick word about the sequel. Last year gave us Kick Ass 2, a film generally disliked by many, but as routine as it is in places, I find it a fun film which again tones down the horrendous excesses of Millar’s original comic. It’s not as sparky as the original but it’s worth a look.
Next up, more radioactive arachnid fun….