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Kick-Ass, the comic, despises its protagonist. Kick-Ass, the comic, thinks Dave Lizewski is a creepy (possibly sick in the head) loser, and while he’s certainly relate-able, Dave Lizewski is kind of a creepy loser. Kick-Ass, the movie, on the other hand, takes pity on this poor sad sack of teenage angst and allows his wish fulfillment fantasies to go ahead and work out, a notion the comic has utterly rejected, at least so far.

While the movie and the comic are essentially about the same idea – what happens when some asshole decides to play superhero?  – the comic remains realistic to the end. Hardcore fans of the comic’s unforgiving treatment of Dave’s addiction to vigilantism might find the movie’s much happier ending a bit hard to swallow, but they’ll be lying if they tell you Hit-Girl’s merciless slaughter of 50-some-odd gangsters isn’t something to cheer out loud for.

Yeah, that’s right. I said cheer. Plenty of mainstream critics have criticized Kick-Ass‘ violence in general, and most of them have focused on Hit-Girl, a prepubescent vigilante who could match or maybe even take down Beatrix Kiddo in a sword fight. They’re a little freaked out that an eleven year old actress uttered the word “cunt” and then racked up a ridiculously high body count. Putting aside the fact that Kick-Ass is (by the way) a work of fiction, based on a work of comic book fiction,  actress Chloe Grace Moretz didn’t actually slice and dice anyone.  (It’s not real ketchup, Bobby!) She did some stunts with a green screen and a blue sword and the gore was, for the most part, added in later.  Anyone who thinks a girl with four big brothers has never heard the word cunt before is kidding herself, and let’s not forget that Moretz’s parents must have approved her working on the movie in the first place. Parents concerned about Hit-Girl’s negative influence on their own children probably shouldn’t be taking their young girls to rated R movies in the first place. Ultimately, one wonders if a silver screen version of Damien Wayne would invite the same sort of criticism, but I doubt it.  He’s a boy. Much of the criticism seems to say “Look what they made that little girl do!” without actually considering the movie based on its merits, one of which is the fact that Moretz’s pint-sized ass-kicker saves the day, big time.

Hit-Girl and Big Daddy are the real stars of this movie, even though they’re not the main characters, which isn’t surprising. Mark Millar actually conceived Hit-Girl and Big Daddy before he came up with Dave Lizewski, who was added later as a sympathetic character through whom we’d meet the disturbing Father/Daughter team.  While Kick-Ass (the loser) pisses his pants, Hit-Girl and Big Daddy are an arsenal closer to the real deal. Comic Hit-Girl is the only masked hero who’s not a complete wanker, and the only character with any semblance of a happy ending, the years she should be spending in therapy notwithstanding. Kick-Ass, the movie, lets Dave have a happy ending too. This makes for far more enjoyable cinema, but takes quite a bit away from the comic’s message that “Doing this will get your ass kicked in the real world, asshole!”

In the end, the comic’s version of the story is more accurate and realistic, remaining faithful to the idea that vigilantism in the real world will just get your ass kicked, but the movie’s version of events is way more fun to watch.  Fans of the comic will be a bit taken aback by some of the changes in the plot, but the tweaks don’t make the movie any less enjoyable, though regular audiences who migrate to the comic after seeing the movie may be a little disappointed.

Kick-Ass gets 3.9 out of 5 stars from me, because any movie that can make me yell “You get ’em girl!” at the screen with sheer delight is a movie worth catching in theaters. (Sorry to anyone who was in the theater with me. I was just really excited.) Bonus points for Nic Cage’s Adam West impression and all the John Romita Jr. artwork featured in the film.

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Greg Rucka’s Antarctican whodunnit, Whiteout, hit theaters this weekend after nearly 10 years in development. It’s been a year or so since I last read the books and I considered re-reading them before seeing the flick, but I opted not to. When I see a movie based on a comic (or even a normal book) I like, I try to put some distance between seeing the film and reading the book to avoid getting jolted out of the movie adaptation every ten minutes because “it SO didn’t happen that way in the book!” Besides, I’ve got both volumes of Whiteout loaned out to a friend right now, so I couldn’t have re-read them if I’d wanted to.
That said, I’m reviewing this movie without my books for reference, and I haven’t read the book in a while. While I may not remember exact plot points anymore, I remember Carrie Stetko – and, besides, I’d rather judge the film on its own merits rather than posting up a side by side comparison.
Whiteout was pretty good, but I’m going to kick this off with what I didn’t like. First, gratuitous shower scene in the beginning. Didn’t like it. In the book (whoops, here I go) – the showers were limited to something like 2 minutes, so taking one was kind of a big deal. In the movie, there’s no sign of a timer. The whole scene is just an excuse for us to watch Kate Beckinsale bend over in her skivvies. Sigh. I guess you gotta get people in the door, right?
Maybe Dominic Sena thinks I’m stupid. Maybe he thought your average, not-a-comics-fan moviegoer wouldn’t get the intricacies of the mystery US Marshal Carrie Steko finds herself unravelling. He repeatedly takes plot points and beats you over the head with them, zooming in, you know, in case you didn’t know Marshal Carrie was GETTIN’ HER GUN OH EM GEE.
They swapped out a female supporting character for a male one and the result was pretty much nil, plot-wise. In fact, they might have done well to have left the gender well enough alone – we all know Greg Rucka knows damn well what he’s doing when it comes to engaging female characters.
But, like I said, Whiteout was pretty good. This isn’t so much an action move with big jackets as it is a Western with ice instead of cacti. I was weary of the waifish Kate Beckinsale in the role of tough-ass Marshal Carrie Stetko.  She’s way, way too tiny, but by the last scene Kate’s done a pretty decent job of getting into Carrie’s head. The movie is at its best when it’s showing you just how dangerous it is to be on Antarctica, much less on (yes, on, not in) Antarctica with a killer loose. Carrie was more at odds with the ice than she was with the killer anyway.
This is a great matinee flick. Go in there expecting to see what happens to human bodies when they die in Antarctica. Go in there to see a fight scene in the middle of an Antarctican snow storm. Go in there to see a good little whodunnit caper that’s much more interesting than most thanks to its unique setting. Have some popcorn, have some fun – but please don’t expect this movie to be more than what it is.
And then go home and re-read Whiteout. The book (as always) is waaay better than the movie.

kateGreg Rucka’s Antarctican whodunnit, Whiteout, hit theaters this weekend after nearly 10 years in development.  I considered re-reading the books again before seeing the flick, but I opted not to. When I see a movie based on a comic (or even a normal book) I like, I try to put some distance between seeing the film and reading the book to avoid getting jolted out of the movie adaptation every ten minutes because “it SO didn’t happen that way in the book!”

I’m reviewing this movie without my books for reference, and I haven’t read the book in a while. And while I may not remember exact plot points anymore, I remember Carrie Stetko (I love Carrie Stetko!). Besides, I’d rather judge the film on its own merits rather than posting up a side by side comparison of the book and movie.

Whiteout was a B-/C+ movie with occasional A+ moments, but let’s start with my complaints. Gratuitous shower scene in the beginning? Didn’t like it. In the book (whoops, here I go) – the showers were limited to something like 2 minutes, so taking one was kind of a big deal. In the movie, there’s no sign of a timer. The whole scene is just an excuse for us to watch Kate Beckinsale bend over in her skivvies. Sigh. I guess you gotta get people in the door, right?

Maybe director Dominic Sena thinks I’m stupid. Maybe he thought your average, not-a-comics-fan moviegoer wouldn’t get the intricacies of the mystery US Marshal Carrie Steko finds herself unravelling. He repeatedly takes plot points and beats you over the head with them, zooming in, you know, in case you didn’t know Marshal Carrie was GETTIN’ HER GUN OH EM GEE. He calms down for most of the second half of the the film, but his direction for the first half was just plain annoying.

They swapped out a female supporting character for a male one and the result was pretty much nil, plot-wise. In fact, they might have done well to have left the gender well enough alone – we all know Greg Rucka knows damn well what he’s doing when it comes to creating engaging female characters.

Whiteout isn’t so much an action move with big jackets as it is a Western with ice instead of cacti. I was weary of the waifish Kate Beckinsale in the role of tough-ass Marshal Carrie Stetko.  She’s way, way too tiny, but by the last scene Kate’s done a pretty decent job of getting into Carrie’s head. Really though, the movie is at its best when it remembers the ice is bigger than any of these people, and shows you just how dangerous it is to be on Antarctica (yes, on, not in) when life is business as usual, much less on Antarctica with a killer loose. Carrie was more at odds with the ice than she was with the Bad Guys anyway.

carrie

This is a great matinee flick. Go in expecting to see what happens to human bodies when they die in Antarctica. Go to see a fight scene in the middle of an Antarctican snow storm. Go to see a good little whodunnit caper that’s much more interesting than most thanks to its unique setting. Have some popcorn, have some fun – but please don’t expect this movie to be more than what it is.

And then go home and re-read Whiteout. Or read it for the first time. The book is (as always) waaay better than the movie.

Haln Wars: A New Fail

Hal Wars: A New Fail

Hey, have you seen the original “Star Wars” trilogy?

Yeah, of course you fucking have.

That is why you don’t need to see “Green Lantern: First Flight.”

First and foremost, this post is going to be full of spoilers for both “Star Wars” and “GL: FF.” If you haven’t seen “GL: FF,” but intend to, you should stop reading. On that note, if you haven’t seen “Star Wars,” but intend to, hurry the fuck up and get a clue.

OK, so, the movie starts with a crazy-brief “Emerald Dawn” origin scene (Abin Sur‘s death was already covered in New Frontier, so this is all right with me). Hal gets his ring and is immediately met by Kilowog (voiced by Michael Madsen, who they just recorded saying “poozer” and looped indefinitely), Boodikka [voiced by the 6th Cylon herself, that matters later! -M], and a surprisingly beefcake-y Sinestro. They take Hal to the Guardians who spend forever talking about how fucking lame humans are and after Yoda-ing for half an hour, they decide to Padawan Hal’s ass over to Qui G- I mean, Sinestro.

Hal & Sinestro’s first mission is to hit up the Mos Eisley cantina and track down the guy who killed Abin Sur. Oh, shit, is Legion in this movie? No, that’d be awesome. Instead it’s some no name electric squid guy under the employ of Kurtwood Smith (who somehow comes across more like Red Foreman in That 70’s Show than he does badass Clarence “Bitches, Leave” Boddicker from RoboCop). They find the killer by ring-forcing some space whore to trip out on a glow-y purple crack rock (I mean “moon ball,” kids, it’s a “moon ball”). She points, and Sinestro chases Squidly through the streets while Hal is hit with a rocket launcher, knocking him down into the trash compactor on the detention level. Squidly just happens to run into the sewer and Hal Jordan takes him out with a fucking folding chair (which, you know, says a lot about Abin Sur’s ‘abilities’).

Back on Oa, Boodikka and Hal have lunch. Boodikka tells Hal about the “yellow element,” a plot device resistant to the Green Lanterns’ power. After being tortured, Squidly tells Sinestro where to find Red Foreman, so the Lanterns leave Oa to hit up a spaceport. It’s revealed that Sinestro has totally Lando’ed the Corps because Red knows where the yellow element is, and apparently Sinestro needs the yellow element to make a weapon to spread fascism throughout the universe. Hal attacks Red, Red takes off in a spaceship, Hal gets in the spaceship, Hal kills a guy a la the Newborn in Alien: Resurrection, Hal gets his ass handed to him by Red’s magic wand. Fortunately, Sinestro shows up and TOTALLY DOESN’T shoot a construct bullet through Red Foreman’s chest because the rule about the ring not allowing a Lantern to use lethal force is well known HAHA FUCK THAT IT HAPPENS. Back on Oa, Sinestro frames Hal for the murder.

The Guardians take Hal’s ring away and toss him into the Lantern brig. Sinestro forces his ring-energy into Red’s corpse’s ear a la Wrath of Khan to get Red to tell him that the yellow element-weapon is on the planet Qward. But Sinestro gets caught when Hal, Kilowog, and Boodikka burst into the morgue during an inexplicable detour before discharging Hal back to Earth. Kilowog gets knocked out by Boodikka (re-Lando’ed!) [she’s a traitor! big shock there, #6! – M], Sinestro runs off to Qward, and Hal Jordan manages to channel his inner Flying Grayson to pull Red Foreman’s magic wand out of the ceiling, tossing it to the ground. He tricks Boodikka into shooting the wand, which explodes (oh yeah, there are nukes or some shit in it), and Number 6 ends up impaled on some strategically placed “Mortal Kombat” ceiling spikes that are in the Oa morgue for whatever fucking reason. I wanted to make a joke about Hal killing her “single-handedly” (because, you know, she only has one hand) but in a very un-“Star Wars” move, she actually never loses it.

[Well, Hal did cut off her hand, but that was later, when he was Parallax, right? But this movie doesn’t give a shit about continuity anyway; they should have gone with the Star Wars motif and lopped her hand the fuck off. Preferably with a green construct ring-beam a la Spaceballs -M]

Sinestro arrives on Qward (what antimatter universe?) and some giant spiders hand over the weapon, a yellow Central Battery! Sinestro puts on a yellow ring (with the Green Lantern symbol on it?) and becomes the founding and only member of the Sinestro Corps. Oh, no, wait, the power battery can float… And it shoot lasers… And it looks remarkably like the Death Star… Huh.

Back to Oa! The Guardians are talking to Kilowog about giving Hal back the ring (“You poozers poozered the ring from the wrong poozer, poozers!”) when Sinestro shows up and starts being all fascist-y. They try to Force push him but he Force pushes back and nobody really gets Force pushed anywhere. Then, the Death Star blows up the little room or whatever. Ganthet uses the Force again and moves a bunch of rocks until he finds Hal’s ring. Then the Death Star blows up the Green Lantern Central Battery, suffocating all the Green Lanterns who are floating in space and making it rain rings (I’m honestly shocked that Ganthet didn’t channel his inner Obi-Wan here). Hal gets pissed, punches the dead green element in the Central Battery, somehow turns into an anime character, and smashes the yellow Central Battery between two moons (how fucking R.A. Salvatore of you).

Now, the second that the Green Lantern’s Central Battery was destroyed, every single ring immediately lost its charge, killing thousands. Yeah, for whatever completely unexplained reason, that doesn’t happen with Sinestro and HIS ring so he and Hal duke it out in space. With one final “DragonBall”-style move, Hal air humps a giant laser out of his dick and knocks Sinestro to Oa. Kilowog steps on Sinestro’s hand, shattering the ring (because the fucking things are made out of candy glass or something).

The whole thing ends with a big award ceremony on Yavin 4. Hal Jordan leads the entire Corps in the oath which he “only learned this morning” (which is really weird considering that he was in prison in the morning and spent the whole rest of the day in a big fight). The oath ends very anti-climactically and he flies off to Earth to fuck Cowgirl or Carol or whatever. The end…

Yeah, my first post is a summary. Whatever… Look, this movie was clearly made purely for entertainment value, in stark contrast to the other DC Animated movies I’ve seen; which seem to stick fairly close to the canon of whatever they’re based on. Plus, the fucking thing was also so full of plot holes and bad dialogue (case in point, every fucking time Ch’p opened his mouth) that watching it a second time was unbearable. To be fair, I did watch it right after Reality Bites and that movie rules, so maybe I’m subconsciously comparing THOSE two movies.

As a matter of fact, look out for my next post, where I compare Sinestro to Troy Dyer.

“In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight…”

“What are you, retarded?”

“No, I’m rhyming.”

Final Score: Watch it. But only once. While drinking heavily. In fact, it could be a game – anything that fucks with or blatantly ignores basic established Green Lantern mythology? DRINK! Or better yet, just watch Star Wars. Or Training Day.


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