Tuesday, April 27, 2010

An Accurate Look at: Hollywood's "Kick-Ass" Adaptation

When I first saw an issue of the Kick-Ass comic on the wall of my favourite comic shop (Carsley's Comics, Montreal's best-kept secret!), I couldn't help but smile. The title, art, and tagline grabbed my interest, and when I finally bought the first issue and read it, I couldn't wait for more. I read them all and really got attached to them. I guess, as a horny bespectacled geek with incredible powers of opposite sex repulsion, the comic really spoke to me. And let's be honest, you've wanted to, at one point or another, be able to do superheroics. I know I have. There, I said it.

I love the book. When I heard about the movie, I was excited. (Well, rather, read about the movie in the back of an issue.) The TV spots and trailers got me pumped. I wasn't crazy about the costume redesigns, but hey, I was sort of expecting that. As long as they didn't mess up the coming-of-age superhero story, I'd be happy.

So I get to the movie theatre and a brace myself for the ride. I mean, the comic is a straight-forward 8-issue miniseries which I read in 2 hours. How could they possibly mess up a film adaptation?

Surprise, kiddies. They messed up the film adaptation. I had no issues with the casting, and the generic superhero-ish music was good. It starts out accurately enough, but then it all falls apart. It's like the writers read the comic, picked-and-chose points they liked, threw out meaningful, important elements that should have stayed, and tossed in needless excessive action-flick content instead of the characters and story that made the book so great.

If you've read my other movie-related articles, you know I don't write spoilers. [And if you haven't read them, just browse the site for posts that begin with the tongue-in-cheek phrase of "An Accurate Look at:"] With that in mind, there really isn't anything much I can mention without spoiling the story, other than some of the most important elements of the book were omitted, making many of the characters seem either excessively flat or just too over-the-top. By reducing the comic's story to an action-packed teen comedy, the mood of the book is completely killed. It was like listening to someone try to tell someone else about something they'd heard but don't know about. Some of the details are there, but the information is just plain wrong.

While the room howled with laughter and applause, I literally exclaimed "What the f#%@?" while looking around. You know that clich├ęd supervillain hand gesture? Where the fingers are spread out, gripping something that isn't there? It might be easier to visualize if I use a picture:

I'm not even joking when I tell you that my hands hurt afterwards from them both being in that position due to rage. By now, I should be no stranger to Hollywood butchering my favourite comics, but that doesn't make me less annoyed each time it happens. I'm used to facepalming in movie theatres, but this is the first time I've hurt myself due to anger. Yes, something is most definitely wrong with me.

Once again, Hollywood misses the point of the source material. The book is about a young man who tries something ridiculous, and through his actions and interactions with others, learns about the world and grows as a character. It's a coming of age story about missing youths, illusions, expectations, and violence. The movie conveniently pushes all that character junk aside and focuses on the ridiculous. Sure, it's funny, and I laughed at times, but there is more to the Kick-Ass of the comic's world than just comedy. As the book shows us (graphically at times), the joke ends, and that's when reality begins.

The Kick-Ass movie entirely misses the point, mood, message, and spirit of the comic and does not do it justice. It feels like the whole flick would be one of Dave's daydreams in biology class, wearing his Kick-Ass costume under his school clothes. It's that excessive. Yes, I'm attached to the comic, but I'm able to recognize its flaws and shortcomings. Unfortunately, the unplausible elements of the comic were only made worse in the movie. Compared to the movie, the book is non-fiction. Honestly, spend the money on the trade rather than the movie ticket.