Saturday, April 17, 2010

'Kick-Ass' Stars Defend Flick's 'Cartoonish' Violence

"Kick-Ass" isn't close to being the bloodiest film to hit the big screen in recent months. That violent prize — ignominious or awesome, depending on your cinematic tastes — goes either to Rain's "Ninja Assassin" or Jude Law's "Repo Men." But what neither of those films had was a foulmouthed, bloodthirsty 11-year-old as one of its co-stars.

For that reason alone, "Kick-Ass" — and its pint-size actress Chloe Moretz — has had both the media and some of the film's own cast wondering if this comic adaptation went too far in its depiction of violence.

"I was concerned," co-star Nicolas Cage told us last month about Moretz's character. "I knew it was going to be something that was uncomfortable for me as an actor."

Moretz plays Hit Girl, a preteen trained by her father (Cage) to become a gun-loving, knife-wielding superhero out to avenge the death of her mother and take down a New York mobster in the process. To that end, she slices and she dices. She kicks and she punches. She shoots and she shoots some more — spilling blood at every turn. Yet the film is no more violent or blood-soaked than the features you're likely to catch on any given trip to the theater. What separates "Kick-Ass" from other action flicks is its co-star's youthfulness. Your opinion on whether there should be an age limit when it comes to participation in big-screen violence probably will determine your stance on this movie.

Cage came to view Hit Girl as "a pop icon of feminis[t] strength" and happily took part in fight scene after fight scene. So too did Moretz, and she has no patience for those who for months have complained about the violence. "It's a film, and I really don't care what you say until you go see it," she said.

According to director Matthew Vaughn, what audiences will see when the movie arrives on Friday (April 16) are clashes more cartoonish than anything else. "People go in thinking it's going to be violent and horrible and they come out going, 'God, it just made me laugh,' " he argued. "It's sort of like 'Tom and Jerry' violence [more than] the sort of 'Saw' gratuitous violence."

In the end, the film is simply delivering what its target audience craves, said Aaron Johnson, who plays the titular Kick-Ass, a green-suited amateur hero who spends most of the flick with blood pouring from his face, nose or gut. "We're giving the comic book fans what they want to see," he said. "If we didn't give them as much violence that's in the comic book, it'd just be ridiculous. It'd be stupid."

How young is too young to play a violent superhero? Tell us in the comments!

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