Monthly Archives: March 2010

A Kick-Ass Review

Now that we’ve hit the ceiling of superhero-film-awesomeness that was The Dark Knight, we can welcome a subsequent crop of self-conscious superhero flicks, starting with Kick-Ass.

Directed by Matthew Vaughn, Kick-Ass is the adaptation of Mark Millar’s comic book of the same name (Millar also wrote the Wanted comic).  The film follows high school nerd, Dave Lizewski, who reveals through heavy narrative exposition that he’s just a normal kid who always wanted to be a superhero. So after being mugged one too many times, he buys a green gimp suit, calls himself Kick-Ass, and begins fighting crime.

He quickly finds out it’s hard to kick any ass without fighting skills. Enter Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and his 11-year-old daughter, Hit-Girl, who are the real superheroes: Big Daddy’s the burly Batman wannabe, and Hit Girl is just someone you don’t want to fuck with, gymnastically taking out goons with knives, bullets, and sheer WTF-ness. Big Daddy and Hit-Girl’s war on crime boss Frank D’Amico makes Kick-Ass a target, bringing the disparate heroes together for some blood-letting.

Right off the bat, this is a fanboy movie, with Batman and Spider-Man references right and left.  Comic book film franchises have built an awareness of the most famous superheroes, and Kick-Ass plays into this audience awareness (keep your eyes peeled for “The Spirit 3”).  Further, the film includes a comic book sequence and a shootout from a first-person POV that videogame players will recognize.  This film is truly for the nerd in your life.


Even though the film wades in the waters of comedic self-awareness, the arrival of Hit-Girl as she brutally slaughters a room of drug dealers is a serious shock. Up until this point, Kick-Ass has been beating up guys in the middle of a crime (with little success), but no one has been killed.  Hit-Girl’s merciless slicing and dicing of those who aren’t even an immediate threat is unsettling (both for Kick-Ass and the audience).  This and a couple of other scenes make for some serious tone shifts during the film’s two-hour run.

Other than the aforementioned massacre, the rest of the battles are full of just as much humor as gore.  And as someone who is tired of children being off-limits in cinema (when was the last time you saw a child die on screen?), for me it’s nice to see the best, most vicious, badass superhero, be a small girl.  That’s female empowerment I can get behind.

Kick-Ass is definitely overshadowed by Hit-Girl and Big Daddy, who are the most entertaining aspect of the film, with Cage doing his best Adam West/William Shatner impersonation when masked.  The whole film should be focused on these two, not the silly teenager we’re supposed to identify with.

You’ll also have flashes of deja vu during the film’s musical interludes, as they’ve sampled “In the House-In a Heartbeat” (used in 28 Days Later‘s intense denouement), “Kanada’s Death, Pt. 2 (Adagio In D Minor)” (originally from Sunshine, although you might remember it from the Wolverine trailer), and the opening theme to For a Few Dollars More.

Tarantino said of using music in his films that he aims to use it better than the original film.  For some reason, the theme from For a Few Dollars More fit for a scene in Kick-Ass (for me anyway), but the samplings of 28 Days Later and Sunshine either didn’t fit the scene in which they were used, or just didn’t have the same power as their original placement.  Shame on you Matthew Vaughn; no more sampling for you.

But don’t let my film score hang-ups make you avoid this film.  This is not a bad movie.  Yes, in addition to the aforementioned grievances, you also have to deal with the usual melodrama clichés and romantic sub-plot drivel.  But overall the film is fun and it has balls, which I can’t say of a lot of mainstream films.

So go in knowing that it will be ridiculous and have a good time with it.

Director of Shaun of the Dead has new film

Director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) has a new film coming out this year called, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.  Michael Cera (Arrested Development, Juno) stars as a guy who falls in love with a girl, but has to defeat  her 7 ex-partners via Mortal Kombat style confrontations:

The whole cast for the film is a hodge-podge of actors from the quirky ends of the film universe:

-Mae Whitman is in the trailer, the actress who played Ann Veal in Arrested Development (playing Michael Cera’s character’s girlfriend)

-Anna Kendrick, who is now famous for Up In the Air, but will always remain to me for her part in Rocket Science

-Jason Schwartzman (every Wes Anderson film)

With the sound effects and whatnot it immediately made me think of Super Smash Bros.  Hopefully this will be just as fun.

I Am Now an Award Winning Filmmaker

My latest short film, Dawn of the Living, just earned two awards at the Golden Video Awards here in Edinburgh:

Best Actor: Andy Edwards, Dawn of the Living

Best Film: Dawn of the Living

In case you missed it, here’s a trailer for the short, Dawn of the Living

I’ve made three short films (4 if you include a small youtube video) and this is the first time I’ve won an award for my filmmaking, so it was quite an honor to receive this award.

Next filmmaking item is to finish editing my documentary for a class (it’s so nice to get a grade for making a film).  Despite the fact that this is my first foray into documentary filmmaking, it should be pretty good.

Why Aren’t We Killing the Poor? Social class in horror films

I’m doing a lot of reading for my dissertation on horror films and Wes Craven’s Scream (1996) recently came up.  It’s been a while since I first saw it, and re-watching it prompted some thoughts about it and other films by Wes Craven. Continue reading

Predators Trailer Released!

First Look at New Predators

Predators poster

io9 is reporting from the South by Southwest Film Festival (SXSW) where producer Robert Rodriguez and director Nimrod Antal have shown footage of their film, Predators.  You can see the footage at this io9 piece or at the official website.

For the uninitiated, Predators is a direct sequel to the original 1987 Predator.  In the film Predators have brought the best warriors of Earth to duke it out on the Predator homeworld and stars Adrien Brody, Laurence Fishburne, Topher Grace, and a possible cameo from Schwarzenegger.

io9 has also reported that Brody gained 25 pounds of muscle and refused to sleep in a hotel, staying out in the Hawaiian jungle to get into the part.  This would make sense since Brody had eating issues after losing so much weight for The Pianist.

Director Antal also tried to assuage fears that Predators will not be like recent renditions of the franchise where building suspense and fear are sacrificed in favor of showing off the monsters.  “Trying to keep the monster in the shadows, more than throwing him in your face off the bat.”  The film is supposed to be practical effects heavy and Fox, who financed the film, told Rodriguez to protect the film from the studio’s own interference.

On the one hand, all of this sounds great and the behind the scenes footage jives with the talk, but could this be the filmmakers telling hardcore film fans what they want to hear (practical effects, low studio involvement, investment from cast)?

If it weren’t for Rodriguez’s filmography, I would be more skeptical.  He’s been able to bring us blood and awesomeness for the last two decades (although maybe not enough in the 2000’s), so I think they got the perfect guy to shepherd a new Predator film. With Rodriguez releasing Machete in April and Predators in July, we’ll have a lot to look forward to.

Christopher Nolan Talks Batman 3 and Superman

The L.A. Times recently interviewed Christopher Nolan (director of Memento, The Dark Knight) about his third, and last, Batman film and his involvement with the next Superman film.

District 9: Not the same white guilt/Not racist against Nigerians

Back in December I published a review of/essay on Avatar which received attention as viewers discussed the racial and power dynamic subtexts to the film.  One article from io9, entitled “When Will White People Stop Making Movies Like Avatar,” took a slightly different direction than my reading. The article’s discussion of films and white guilt mentions several films, including District 9.  But they missed an important piece of the film. Continue reading

Dawn of the Living Trailer

Here’s a trailer for my latest film, Dawn of the Living.  You can buy it for $5 and you’ll also get a DVD with Neighborhood Watch (zombie patrol units find themselves in bad situations) and Hank vs Ninjas, Nazis, and a Chupacabra, which is self-explanatory.

London Burke and Hare Photos

Blog reader Stefanos sent these:

Stefanos says he did not see these cranes being used. Possibly unrelated construction.

Hearse and Horse (butt)

The scene being shot.

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