Kick-Ass Spoiler Review: It Wasn’t That Great

So, I had the chance to see Kick-Ass over the weekend…and I wasn’t really impressed with it.  Don’t get me wrong: it started off really strong, but it all kind of fell apart half way through the second act.  Before I go any further, I should warn you that I am about to spoil several key plot points of both the movie, and the comic.

Let me start by saying that I really enjoyed the comic.  It’s probably one of the best things Millar has ever written in my opinion, and if you haven’t read it yet, stop reading this right now and go buy it.  I’ll wait for you…

…See?  Awesome, wasn’t it?  And the great thing is, the whole comic reads written like it was meant for the big screen.  Maybe that’s why I’m so confused as to why they changed so much about the story during the second half of the movie.

The comic book Kick-Ass is the story of Dave — an average high school kid with no training, no gadgets, and no muscles who decides that he wants to be a super hero.  He puts on a costume, and promptly gets his ass kicked.  After months in the hospital, he tries it again, and actually saves someone.  This heroic act is caught on camera and posted to YouTube making Dave an overnight sensation.  When Dave ends up at the house of a drug-dealer at the request of a battered girlfriend, he once again finds himself in over his head.  Luckily, a 10 year old death-dealing little girl comes to his rescue.  She introduces herself as Hit-Girl, and her father as Big Daddy.  This duo appears to be the real deal, as Hit-Girl was trained to be a killer by her renegade ex-cop father.  Except, Big Daddy isn’t an ex-cop; he’s just another comic fan who took things too far, just like Dave.  Big Daddy ends up with a bullet in the head for his trouble.

Early in the adventure, the hottest girl at school is led to believe that Dave is gay, and she takes him under her wing as her gay BFF.  Dave doesn’t mind this too much, since he has a crush on her, and would do anything to be close to her.  By the end of the story, Dave ends up telling her that he is not gay, and that he is madly in love with her.  She ends up having her boyfriend beat Dave down in the middle of school.  Then she has her friends send mean and threatening texts to his phone.  Then she sends him a picture of herself in a *compromising situation* with her boyfriend.  Dave really really enjoyed the picture (if you know what I mean), but he hates himself for it.

At the end of the story, Dave and Hit-Girl end up taking down a major crime boss.  Hit-Girl goes to live with her mother, Dave is still kind of a loser, and “super” heroes are popping up everywhere.  It may not seem like it from the above synopsis, but there is actually a whole lot of humor in the story.  There is also quite a bit up heroism and emotion, but the story stays (for the most part) grounded in reality.

My main issue with the movie is that it went Hollywood at the end.  They made it so that Big Daddy really was an ex-cop, they made Dave’s high school crush fall in love with him, and they put Dave on a jetpack with twin mini-guns attached to it.  Which he learned to expertly operate within 30 minutes.  Yeah.

The story was fine as it was without throwing in jetpacks and unlikely romances at the end.  I’m not saying that I didn’t like the movie at all, because that’s not the case.  I’m just saying that I wish I had waited for Netflix.  Then again, maybe I would have liked it just fine if I hadn’t read the comic first.

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  • This review sums up my thoughts exactly. I’ve read far too many “glowing” reviews for this movie and every single one of them fails to mention just how much this movie deviate from the comic. Just as you said, it wasn’t a bad film, but it wasn’t the movie I was hoping it would be. Sin City is still the best movie adaptation and it doesn’t look like it’ll be dethroned any day soon.

  • zane

    I’ve never read the comic, as I assume many people haven’t. Heck I know most people that I went with didn’t even know that a comic existed!

    As a film on it’s own, without the comic, it was truly great. Just one of those films that puts a smile on your face.

    You would have liked it more if you hadn’t read the comic. Films made after the book/comic version (generally) tend to be a let down, just look at Harry Potter and a few other films.

  • Yodathe3rd

    Nice Zane u agree with you in a way about books and comics made into movies aren’t alike and that is usually the case if u go in expecting them to be the same you will be disappointed.

  • filmguy

    I don’t think it totally lived up to the hype but it was still a damn good time at the movies. It also succeeded in twisting the genera on it’s head and delivering something different than every other formulated Hollywood crap that’s released from week to week, and these days that is no easy feat. I praise the film for trying to do something different and for taking risks. Apparently the film, if you look on IMDB and rotten tomatoes and wikipedia, is generally very well received by most critics and audiences so anyone who hasn’t seen it should give it a chance. I personally enjoyed it.

  • Chris

    I read the comic. I haven’t seen the movie, but I’ve read all the spoilers.

    I’m glad they made the changes. I understand “gritty realism” and I’d be better off without the jetpack. The way Kick Ass saved Hit Girl in the book was good enough. They had to give Dave some balls, even if fried, though.

    Nobody makes it through this kind of situation without having some mental toughness. To be able to make it through torture, then let a high school thug beat you up and fantasize about the girl who told him to do it… that’s not a character I’m interested in reading about. A superhero has to at least do as well as I would. Pathos is not interesting to me. So I’m happy to hear about the changes, because otherwise Dave would just be pathetic and there’s no place for a pathetic hero.

  • Phillip Nolan

    The movie was okay, but if you’re expecting a remake of Mystery Men, you’ll be dissappointed.


    As you get older and start to read other books besides comic books, you’ll see that movies made from books are NEVER as good as the book was.

    For this reason you can never base a movie review on how it compared to the original book.

    The movie itself deserves high praise for its action, and shocking originality. Which as stated in a previous post, coming up with something truly original is hard to do these days.

    • D Demitrius Smith (DDSmitty)

      @TJATL: Haha, thanks for the comment. I’m in my 30s, and I live in a library…but still, thanks 🙂

      I feel that when you base a movie off of some previously published source material, I feel that you have a responsibility to stay true to at least the spirit of that material. Especially when we’re talking about something as short as an 8 issue series. The fact is, movies like this have a built-in audience, and those people have expectations, no matter what. These are, after all, the people that had a hand in making the source material popular enough to make a movie in the first place.

      Fight Club and the first two Harry Potter movies are excellent examples of staying true to the source. Even the Dune mini series that aired on SciFi a while back did a decent job. On the flipside, a movie like Dreamcatcher (supposedly based on the Stephen King novel) is a brilliant example of what not to do. Just one man’s opinion.

  • I… honestly had no idea that Fight Club was originally a book. Well, I learned something today.

  • The first rule of seeing a movie should be don’t read the comic or book, because it will always ruining the movie for you! Trust me I know because Aragon was the same for me. I read the book and for the whole movie I sat there pickung out what was wrong. Any movie will change the story, Aragon, the lighting theif, watchman. So if you are going to see it take it with a grain of salt, besides they did it because they wanted people to walk out the movie saying wow, not why the hell did sthey do that!

  • I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. I haven’t read the book, but one thing you mentioned made me wonder. If Big Daddy was just a regular guy like Kick Ass, instead of an ex-cop, what was his motivation for taking down the crime boss? It doesn’t sound like something that would propel the movie like the dead wife/mother ex-cop angle.

    I can totally understand being upset that a comic book adaptation doesn’t live up to the source material. I’ve seen way too many comic book movies that totally miss the point or stray too far from what makes the characters great to know that Hollywood hasn’t always gotten it. That being said, the fact that we got such a brutal, funny, and over the top movie like Kick Ass out of them makes me happy to no end. There’s hope for the little guys and the lesser known characters to get their due.

  • MartinBlank

    I read the comic (loved it) and couldn’t agree with you more. The film started to fall apart for me durring the beautifully animated sequence showing Big Daddy’s backstory and, rather than it being false like in the comic, was what was real. I think the whole theater may have heard my “what the F…?!”

    The fact that Big Daddy was just another comic fan taking things too far, as you put it, just like Kick-Ass was supportive of, what I thought, was the creative concept of the story: that anyone can be a hero just by putting on a mask and trying to help people. (think of what the Boondock Saints say about ‘evil men’) I felt tha changing this part of the story pushed it too far towards ‘just another Hollywoodized vigilante cop film’.

    Let alone the f’ing jetpack….

  • Don

    i didn’t read the comic and i still thought the movie kind of fell apart around the middle. and unlike the author i did want my money back. oh well better luck with ironman.

  • We saw this last night, and it was a blast. The comic story was already told, so they changed a few things for a wider audience, while at the same time, giving fans something to see.

    If you want a word for word/scene for scene translation of the written word, then I think you may be missing the point of going to the movies.

    They didn’t turn Kick-Ass into a bow tie wearing Fred Astaire character, who tap danced on thugs faces. The heart is still there and it was a love letter to the ridiculous.

    If you don’t mind a 12 year old saying the C-word, and tons of violence and crazy situations, I would say give it a try. Its a hell of a lot of fun.