Costumed vigilantes are a dime a dozen at the cinema these days, and it's getting hard for any particular superhero movie to stand out. Does "Kick-Ass" rise above the crowd?
The story is standard origin-type stuff: Dave is a stunningly average teenager who gets a crazy idea in his head; aside from his lack of superpowers or special training, there's really nothing stopping him from dressing up like a superhero and fighting crime. His first few outings don't go quite as planned, yet his fame spreads far and wide via the power of the Web.
And that's when the real trouble starts...
"Kick-Ass" is helmed by Matthew Vaughn ("Stardust," "Layer Cake"), and as a whole, it's a pretty fun spin on the superhero tale. Unlike "Watchmen," which deconstructed the whole enterprise and drenched it in disillusionment, "Kick-Ass" is an optimistic romp that reinforces all the cardinal lessons of comics: the good guys win, the bad guys lose, and you can indeed stand up for what you believe in.
Though Dave is the protagonist, the movie is anchored by the scene-stealing duo of Nicolas Cage and Chloë Grace Moretz, who play the father-and-daughter superhero team of "Big Daddy" and "Hit Girl." Cage is used to the role of off-kilter father by now (think "Matchstick Men"), but he's positively hysterical when he lapses into an overcooked superhero voice a la Adam West's Batman. Moretz's "Hit Girl" is awesome on a visceral level (nothing like seeing a little girl slice people up), but she brings an unexpected emotional depth to her character's relationship with "Big Daddy."