OK, I'll bite: Kick-Ass, the high-octane adventure following four costumed vigilantes in present-day New York City, does, in fact, do some serious kicking.
It kicks up the violence and the color, the hilarity, the wit and the fun, but with all this kicking going on, does this original romp through the superhero underbelly actually kick any derriere?
Two words: Oh yeah.
The film chronicles the adventures of everyday schmo, Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson). An ordinary high school nobody with a love for comic books, Lizewski creates a cultural phenomenon when he asks himself one day: "How come nobody's ever tried to be a superhero?" With no powers, and not even possessing the gadgetry of Gotham's Dark Knight or the psychotic ruthlessness of Watchmen's Rorschach to make up the difference, Lizewski dons a costume and becomes Kick-Ass, the friendly neighborhood defender of justice.
It's a steep learning curve, though, and after one supremely failed first attempt at hero's work, a more successful second try ends with a YouTube clip that gains Kick-Ass Internet fame and glory. With fame, however, comes infamy, and soon Kick-Ass finds himself caught up in a world of vigilante violence, thanks to the disturbingly destructive masked duo, Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and 11-year-old Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz), gang drama and drug cartels - a world in which Lizewski never wanted to play a part.
Half an over-the-top call to arms, complete with blood splattering, profanity and one beautiful bazooka, Kick-Ass doesn't forget the other half of superhero business: The pain and the grit. As the movie maneuvers through its three main plotlines (Lizewski's, Big Daddy's and Hit Girl's) and the story of the D'Amico family cocaine empire, director Matthew Vaughn weaves together the brutal with the banal, the inspiring and sensational with a sense of emotional realism, to create a fully fleshed out cast of characters.
Best of all, Vaughn does all this with style. With an aesthetic that comes across like the love child of Zombieland (minus the undead) and Kill Bill Vol. 1, Kick-Ass is a slick and satisfying cinematic, superhero experience. Any battle featuring the cleanly choreographed cuts and punches of either Hit Girl or Big Daddy, especially during that final confrontation between the heroes and the cartel, is a battle worth fighting. But underneath the broken bones and exploding men, there is a script that is both smartly written and perfectly delivered, and that's what really makes Kick-Ass stand out.
In a movie market saturated with comic book behemoths, Kick-Ass, the film, is a lot like its character: A comparatively low-budget contender paired with not much more than good intentions and a lot of flair. Kick-Ass still manages to land its kick most of the time. It may not be a movie for everyone, but no one can say that it pulls any punches.