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Notes from the back row

Kick-Ass kicks ass

You've been waiting for this Friday even if you didn't know it. Kick-Ass opens at the good old Village 8. The old superhero adage, "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility," can also be figured to mean that with no power comes no responsibility, which is why regular people never seem willing to help each other out. This bothers the hell out of comic book geek Dave Lizeski (Aaron Johnson) so he buys a fancy green outfit online and takes to the streets to fight crime as Kick-Ass.

And he gets his ass kicked. But he sticks with it and when a YouTube video goes viral he's suddenly caught up with a real father-daughter superhero team hell-bent on destroying a local crime syndicate. And then shit gets ultra violent.

Kick Ass is based on the comic by Scotland's Mark Millar (he wrote the Wanted comic) and the idea is slightly autobiographical. "As a child, I wanted to be a superhero," Millar recently told CBC radio. "My brother was a scientist and I used to follow him to work and put my fingers in the cages of test animals hoping to get bit." Millar never did get radioactive superpowers and instead turned his dreams into a hit comic that Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake) snatched up, funding the production himself.  "I thought the screenplay was brilliant," Millar explains, "but no big studio would touch it."

A self-admitted fan of taboo, shocking people, and the language and violence of Quentin Tarantino, Millar's comic has been very faithfully adapted into an R-rated body-count picture where most of the death and carnage comes at the hands of Hit-Girl, an 11-year-old with the vocab of a pissed-off dyke truck driver. Chloe Moretz (500 Days of Summer) plays the little girl who will do anything, even kill, to please her deranged father, a Batman-looking nutcase played awesomely by Nic Cage. McLovin also stars as the Red Mist, another hero with no powers but lots of ulterior motives.

The violence and language is drawing a lot of criticism (nothing like a little kid spitting out the C-word) but if you can get past that Millar and Vaughn have delivered a hilarious, action-packed film set in a cool comic book world. At two hours it may be a tad long (romantic subplots almost always drag) but even so Kick-Ass is a satire and celebration of comics, movies and violence with valid points to make about instant celebrity culture and humanity's overall apathy towards each other. If you can stomach it, Kick-Ass does indeed kick ass.

Also opening this Friday is Neil LaBute's Death at a Funeral. It's a remake of an English flick with the same name that came out three years ago and was pretty good. So why remake it? Hollywood is utterly out of ideas is why, and they're afraid to take risks. Without comics and remakes they'd have nothing.

LaBute (In the Company of Men) Americanizes Death at a Funeral with some of the funniest black actors of the past ten years - Chris Rock, Tracey Morgan, Martin Lawrence, Danny Glover and Zoe Saldana all star. It looks okay.

For fresh ideas, the big movie ticket of the week is the World Ski and Snowboard Festival's 72-Hour Filmmaker showdown that goes down on Tuesday, April 20. It's the biggest night of the year for local DIY filmmakers, and the prize is up over $10 Grand now. This year there will be a $1,000 Audience Choice award. Yeehaw! Tickets have been sold out for weeks but there are usually scalpers at the front door. See ya there.