Sunday, April 18, 2010

KICKED ASS!


Just saw Kick Ass and loved it. Huge spoiler below - stop reading here if you haven't seen it or read on if you don't care!
The film starts out brutally crashing superhero fantasy against our cold, cynical reality. I laughed and cringed as the nerd-like-me, socially invisible Dave Lizewski (played by Aaron Johnson) tries to be a hero by getting his ass handed to him by thugs in a humiliating costume, ending up dramatically worse off than where he started. But as the plot unfolds organically (props to writers Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn, who also directed,) Kick-Ass raises the stakes. While reality mops the floor with Dave's ass, it slowly veers left into mob vs vigilante world. Dave/Kick-Ass becomes a pawn in the war, and befriends Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz), the eleven-year-old vigilante caught up in her father's vendetta (Big-Daddy, well cast and portrayed by Nicolas Cage.)
With great dramatic build-up, the film easily led me by the nose through spectacular set pieces and believable character development towards an awesome heroic finish. By the time I realized I was duped, I was delighted. As a true popcorn muncher average audience, I gobbled up the hero saving the girl, flying through a city with a swelling score and landing on a skyscraper rooftop against a gorgeous sunrise. Being brutal, funny and dramatic without insulting my intelligence is tough. This film reinforces to me that a passionate telling of a good story beats 80% of the attempts to predict its success by categorizing it in genre or audience appeal. I didn't read the comic by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr, but my friend and fellow animation director Joe Ksander told me about it after we saw the film. I'm going to see it again. Thanks to Lionsgate and the filmmakers for this bold enjoyable film.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Loved the dragon!


Congratulations to Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders, and the entire crew on a fantastic job making How to Train Your Dragon. What a beautiful and moving film! Story, design, layout and animation were terrific. It is another refreshing departure by DreamWorks from the Shrek series.
While the voice acting was good, Hiccup's voice (by Jay Baruchel) tended to sound older than he looked and behaved. Occasionally, the dialogue sounded too hip for a viking teen (perhaps in an effort to be relatable) and felt like it lacked the confidence it deserved for holding the audience with pure drama. I also think the film title was misleading, making the film sound primarily like a comedy rather than an adventure. The dragon flight scenes were gorgeous and should have served more in marketing the film.
Two thumbs up!