Ink Blotting - Kick-Ass

Posted on Wednesday, May 12, 2010 at 12:00 AM


Oh what a movie. Oh the critical reviews, and regular reviews, I've had to endure to bring you this one. But I think I can summarize pretty clearly for you, and am surprisingly thankful that we now have Kick-Ass to perform a task that has grown cumbersome over time.

First some detail work that doesn't relate to the movie. There are classically two types of "reviewers" of movies. Critical reviewers (defined by the term "critic" at least until the 80s) have a definable viewpoint and a more holistic understanding of their realm. They usually hold degrees in their field or have been associated with it for a great many years. They are qualified to tell general moviegoers whether a movie is cinematically good (read – shot well, or uniquely, or using strong technique) or badly acted (lacking in character depth or adequate timing in delivery). These individuals have opinions that were forged and tempered through first hand training and experience. In the 1980s, and especially the 90s, their work was called into question by the general public because during this time a great many "critically acclaimed" movies were not generally enjoyed by the public. This happened so often that many nowadays equate "critically acclaimed" as a 'snoozefest' or boring and uninteresting piece of work.

Thus reviewers arose. These people like what they like because they like it. They will tell you the things they did like in the film, and the things they didn't like in the film and then give the film a rating. For the majority of them, the only classical training they have in putting a critical eye to film is by seeing a lot of them. While that's a pretty good indicator in a lot of cases (after all your non-critical reviewer has likely seen a lot of films and therefore knows what they like or don't like in general) it's not a great indicator as to why something is good or it isn't. Most moviegoers don't care "why" something is good. They only want to know "if" it is good. Generally the moviegoer will simply rely on the court of common appreciation, aka RottenTomatoes to determine whether they will like a particular movie. Heck, if most other people have rated it favorably, odds are you will too.

But Kick-Ass occupies that great niche that separates reviewers from critics. Here we have a movie that both Armond White and Roger Ebert agree on. That's pretty rare even on the best of days, but from a critical eye many elements of Kick-Ass fail. Yet from a non-critical viewer however, it's easy to enjoy this film. Which means great things to the world of movie synopses! You can use Kick-Ass as a benchmark to tell you if the reviewer you're currently reading is just a reviewer, or if they are in fact a genuine critic. If they're a reviewer, they likely enjoyed Kick-Ass. It is after all, a lot of fun.

Kick-Ass professes to be nothing more than its title offers you. Were there to not be a lot of asses kicked in the movie I would imagine there would be lines to get their money refunded. Kick-Ass does not let you down. Asses are indeed kicked every which way but Sunday, as it were. Heroes asses are kicked, villains asses are kicked, and a great many are shot for good measure. Sit back, relax and watch the action. That's what your average reviewer has to say about Kick-Ass.

Your critical reviewers though, well they look at the movie through several different lenses. For some the fact that the movie is rated 18A says that the movie's target audience (teenage boys) are cut from the opportunity to see the film in the theatre legally – and it is so full of certain vulgarities to rate that 18A rating – that a disservice is done to them by subjecting them to things they've likely already seen worse of on the internet. Why make it 18A if the target audience can't legally see the movie? It certainly doesn't aim to appeal to the older than 18A audience. Fair point.

Does this movie add anything to the genre of Comic Book movies? Does it have a critical message that would ensure that it will stand the test of time in the annals of moviedom, or even comic book moviedom? Other Critical reviewers, like Armond White (above) believe that this movie purports to be about that (purports means to go about acting as such, claims or assert ((don't blame me – it's his word)) very ideal. A "what if your hero was never bitten by a radioactive spider, but was driven to fight crime for the good of humanity" scenario. Unfortunately the skill, precision and ability of the charater Hit Girl removes that ideal, given that according to Armond White Hit Girl is more than human in her crime fighting abilities. Another fair point. But is it enjoyable to watch Hit Girl rain devastation upon the movie's bad guys? The overall response to that question is yes.

Should you go see Kick-Ass? The answer is an overall yes. Will it change your life, your way of thinking, or your concepts of what makes a comic book or hero movie? No. Should it have? I don't think that any movie should be required to elevate a moviegoer's mindset, but it sure is nice when it does. Kick-Ass probably could have, but just misses the mark for what amounts to be a lot of different reasons.

4 asses kicked out of 5.

Kyle Gould is a University of Calgary Graduate in English devoutly trying to make the 25,000 dollar piece of parchment not just a glorified ink blot. Currently it would serve better as a Rorschach test. Feel free to throw some ink his way at


NOTE: The showtimes listed on come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to