Tag Chloë Moretz

I Can Be Your Hero, Baby

Originally posted: http://moviecitynews.com/2010/11/i-can-be-your-hero-baby/
By Kim Voynar
I was checking up on the weather forecast and school closings this morning, and this story about real-life superheros in Seattle caught my eye. Apparently the Seattle group, which calls itself the Rain City Movement, is part of the larger national group “Real Life Superheroes.”
With films like Kick-Ass and Super, which depict average people deciding to become superheroes, and the popularity of the superhero genre generally, I guess it’s not really surprising that normal folks would decide to become crime-fighter/vigilantes, though I’m not sure how smart an idea it is for your average person with a flashlight and mace to be going up against criminals armed with guns and knives.
One of the things I liked about Kick-Ass is its fairly realistic portrayal of what can happen in a situation like that. Kick-Ass gets his ass kicked. Even the seemingly invincible Big Daddy and Hit Girl find they’ve bitten off more than they can chew. Reality meets fantasy and smacks it around, hard.
On the other hand, I can understand the desire of people to feel like they’re doing something to take back their streets and neighborhoods from criminals. The police aren’t always effective, and I suppose it can feel empowering to be a vigilante fighting crime and making the streets safer … until you get shot or stabbed. Myself, I think I’ll keep my own costume-wearing tendencies safely confined to cons. But what about you? Would you ever consider being a Real Life Superhero? And what would your superhero be?

Kick-Ass: A Response to the Bystander Effect

Originally posted: http://cchronicle.com/2010/04/kick-ass-a-response-to-the-bystander-effect/
By Cilien Hanna
Kick-Ass, a movie currently in theaters directed by Matthew Vaughn, speaks of teenager David Lizewski, played by Aaron Johnson, who becomes weary of the passive response to the crimes he sees around him.  His reaction is to order a green, skin-tight leotard, complete with mask, and become a crime-fighting superhero.  In the ensuing adventures, which are clearly over his head, he makes some friends, saves some people, and even develops an arch enemy, played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse.  David wonders in the film why, with all the comic books out there, no one has tried this before? But he’s wrong, there is actually a multitude of people, sans super powers, who have donned masks and capes, and stood guard over their respective cities.  In fact, there is even a superhero registry, if you can believe it.  There are some that work solo, and some that are part of larger guilds or societies, like the Black Monday Society who patrol the streets of Salt Lake City, Utah in groups, as reported by the Real Life Superhero Project.  But they are not just crime fighters.  There are some, like Terrifica, whose purpose is to watch over bars and clubs in New York City to ensure that women walking home under the influence are not taken advantage of.  According to the New York Post, some, as an added bonus to their crime fighting, even clean up graffiti, pick up trash, and hand out food to the homeless. Though all of these superheroes have costumes, not all include masks to hide their faces, and some proclaim their real names unconcernedly.  Except for a couple, most, unlike their comic book counterparts, do not have any stated arch enemies.
The film is not all adolescent fantasy angst, and does have a more grisly story line, provided mostly by the father daughter team of Damon and Mindy Macready, played by Nicolas Cage and Chloe Moretz.  This duo go on a gruesome vengeful killing spree that uses some more technologically advanced gadgets; more in line with what Batman would use.  This does contribute a more interesting twist to what would be, otherwise, a trite story line; but it isn’t enough to elevate the film above okay status.  Overall, it’s moderately entertaining, and deals with the superhero idea in a facetious manner that is more intelligent than most other movies.
It becomes clear in the film that there are a profusion of people who need help, more than one teenager can handle, especially if he has any sort of life.  But really, is this necessary?  Do we need masked strangers jumping from the shadows to taser hooligans and bullies?  It seems necessary because there is a rabid passiveness that has developed, especially in urban areas, that has allowed people to simply walk by as crimes are committed and conclude that it is none of their business; not even bothering to call 911.  This is usually referred to as the bystander effect, and there are several notorious examples of the phenomenon, like the rape of a high school girl last year which was marked by several onlookers who not only did not do anything, but actually filmed, some laughed, and others even participated, according to an article by ABC News.  In a crowded subway in Philadelphia one rider attacked a sleeping passenger with a hammer another.  Even when there is no immediate danger, people do not feel compelled to act.  An Associated Press article expounds how a homeless man was stabbed as he tried to help a woman being assaulted, and ended up dying on the sidewalk as people walked by and even took pictures.
The bystander theory states that the amount of help expect from a bystander is inversely proportional to the number of people there.  Meaning, the more onlookers there are, the less likely any of them will help.  There can be two reasons for this, as explained in a paper by Peter Prevos.  One is called diffusion of responsibility, and basically proposes that the more bystanders there are, the less responsible any one of them feels to help.  Bystanders believe that someone else will take care of it.  The other theory is explained by social norms.  When there is a group of people, their behavior is guided by the behavior of those around them.  So, in a crowd, everyone looks to everyone else as to what is the acceptable behavior standard . . . if no one else is helping, they’re not going to help.  The fact that good Samaritans can be sued after performing a good deed, as happened in California, doesn’t help excite the feelings of compassion in passersby.  Still, the responsibility of protecting neighborhoods shouldn’t rest solely on the shoulders of a few masked crusaders.  There should be an intrinsic level of responsibility to, at least, report crimes in progress, if they are afraid to act.  Some websites claim that just knowing about the bystander effect will make you less helpless to its effects.  Others, like Imagine Today, proclaim that, to break a crowds passiveness, you should shout out specific tasks to specific members.  People are more apt to respond to directions given directly to them.  You have now been armed with knowledge that should help you make your city safer.  And if that doesn’t work, you could always look-up your local superhero for assistance.

Kick-Ass Tests the Limits of “Exploitainment”

Originally Posted: http://www.daggerpress.com/2010/04/16/kick-ass-tests-the-limits-of-exploitainment/print
Posted By Adam Mehring On April 16, 2010 @ 3:37 am In Featured, Movies, Pop & Culture | 35 Comments
A touch more than 70 years ago, Gone with the Wind kicked up controversy for its use of what was considered profane language. The line in question, of course, is now a ubiquitous cinematic staple, frequently repeated without hesitation. Frankly, no one really gives a damn about it anymore.
Kick-Ass makes its way into theaters this weekend, bearing a title that would have sparked considerable outrage on its own back in the days of Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, and the Motion Picture Production Code’s stringent censorship regulations.
The title would have boiled blood. The film itself would have caused massive coronaries.
Kick-Ass proudly and quite audaciously features absurdly graphic violence and crude language guised by a sunny demeanor, vivid colors, and the appeal of superhero mythology.
At the peak of its depravity is “Hit Girl,” a pint-sized killing machine with the proficiency of some terribly powerful ninja master, donning a purple wig and cape or a schoolgirl outfit and pigtails—and just eleven years old. She smiles wryly, even sweetly, before driving her blade through the heart of an offender, or converting an opponent’s body into a bullet-riddled corpse.
Any sense of childlike abandonment she may yet possess is swiftly dispelled when she opens her mouth, unleashing obscenities as if they were mere yawns. Hit Girl even has the distinction of speaking the obligatory single “c-word” of the hard R-rated film, just as she verbally likens her cohorts to a specific feminine hygiene product (a “d-word” this time).
Hit Girl’s unexpected coarseness is effectively—very effectively—shocking. Whether the initial shock is followed by enjoyment, disgust, or some combination of the two is the point at issue.
As a character, her existence is a mightily depressing one: led by her father and fellow crime-buster “Big Daddy” (Nicholas Cage) through a life entirely devoted to deadly maneuvers and vigilante justice. When Big Daddy purposefully fires a round into his daughter’s torso to let her experience its physical impact, Hit Girl’s bullet-proof vest cannot protect her innocence from shattering into a million pieces.
The film does acknowledge the tragedy that Hit Girl has been robbed of her childhood but only with the passing deference of any issue brought up in a comic book caper. She is certainly no worse off because of her circumstances, nor does she seem to miss the freedoms of being a normal little girl.
On the same token, Hit Girl’s precocious antics are humorous in a disbelieving sort of way, and watching her massacre bad guys through increasingly improbable, ridiculous, and gloriously bloody methods proves quite exciting.
But the wasted innocence of a fictional character is not really what is at stake here. Hit Girl is played by Chloë Grace Moretz, a promising young performer on a serious spunky streak after 500 Days of Summer last year and, recently, Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
Hit Girl is lifted from a comic book, but Moretz, believe it or not, is a real human being who, at the age of twelve, had to really say the “c-word” and really participate in the graphic, albeit staged, sequences of violence. It is Moretz’s innocence that is potentially sacrificed by Kick-Ass, and no part of that is the slightest bit entertaining.
Of course, this is not the first time that filmmaking has exposed child actors to unduly explicit environments. In 1978, Director Louis Malle drew heat for his film Pretty Baby, in which a twelve year-old Brooke Shields played a child prostitute and appeared completely nude. Luc Besson caused a quieter commotion with 1994’s The Professional, placing a young Natalie Portman at the center of a murdering spree and sexual objectification.
Anna Paquin won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar at the age of eleven for her performance in Jane Campion’s The Piano, a film that featured nudity and graphic sex. However, Paquin was not involved in any of these scenes, and her father reportedly did not allow her to see the film in its entirety.
Distributor Lionsgate attempts to rationalize Moretz’s involvement with Kick-Ass by passing the film off as harmless fantasy. Her mother is described reminding the cast and crew, “It’s Hit Girl saying it, not my daughter,” in reference to that certain “c-word.” Meanwhile, director Matthew Vaughn has apparently crafted something “otherworldly,” a “comic book universe” with “hyper-real” violence that is “a signature of the revenge-fantasy genre in which the film is solidly steeped.”
Here’s the problem with that assertion: the principle conceit of Kick-Ass is that it takes place in our world—that a normal person without any special abilities decides to strap on a scuba suit and fight injustice in a society—our society—accustomed to looking the other way.
The film’s central character, “Kick-Ass” himself (Aaron Johnson), gains notoriety after a video of him facing off with a group of muggers goes viral on YouTube. He then uses a MySpace account to communicate with citizens in need of a superhero’s assistance. When “Red Mist,” another makeshift costumed avenger of sorts, docks his iPod onto the dashboard of his modified Ford Mustang, the supposed “otherworldly” setting of Kick-Ass seems particularly our-worldly, or at least embedded with a suspicious amount of familiar technology.
Eventually, the film does concede more of its connection to reality in favor of stylized violence and fanciful plot constructs—Hit Girl’s destructive rampages included—but it does so against its director’s own intentions, and while defying its previously established logic.
Vaughn wants to have it both ways: to ground his film in reality and partake in decadent fantasy. And so, ultimately, Kick-Ass transpires on the untilled fields of a fanboy’s paramount dreamscape.
Even as Lionsgate assures us of this notion—that no reality they endorse would include a gun-slinging middle-schooler spewing four-letter words—the studio has fostered the realism angle in its promotional push for the film. Real Life Superheroes.org [2], a website devoted to inspiring and chronicling masked crusaders in the real world, has become little more than a multi-tiered advertising platform for Kick-Ass.
Lionsgate does not claim ownership to the site—only to a coordinated campaign. However, the domain was not registered until January, 2009, three months after Kick-Ass began principal production, and otherwise lacks an internet footprint. A case of coincidental, simultaneous, and identical inspiration on the part of the Kick-Ass creative team and a group of genuinely concerned citizens, or thinly-veiled astroturfing at its most nauseating?
Either way, Real Life Superheroes.org claims not to endorse vigilantism but then provides links to several sex offender registries, local crime databases, and listings from America’s Most Wanted, along with more links to individual state laws on carrying weapons and making citizen’s arrests—all under the suggestive heading of “FIGHT crime.” Surely, this is not a practical or helpful way to shape up society (just to boost awareness for an upcoming movie about “real life superheroes”), but Lionsgate offers its stamp of approval just the same.
The publicized advertising blitz for Kick-Ass portrays masked heroes on brightly colored posters, images that are sure to appeal to younger crowds drawn to classic superhero iconography. Following the screening I attended, a boy no older than Hit-Girl wearing a “Kick-Ass” novelty tee-shirt trudged out of the theater with a sullen look on his face and his father, also vested in “Kick-Ass” branded swag, looking astonished right behind him. One or both of them had clearly just been duped, but seeing that confused, wandering ghost of a boy—he, too, robbed of his innocence, I imagined—was a little bit devastating.
Posters hung in cinema lobbies create a dilemma for certain theatergoers: so long as Kick-Ass is around, you can’t take a child to a G-rated movie without exposing them to content—to a word—that would automatically earn any film a PG rating. The same word, the film’s very title, is repeated on billboards, television commercials, merchandise, and, yes, tee-shirts for anyone to see.
On the other hand, far more inappropriate content can be just as readily found on magazine covers in the check-out lanes of grocery stores (the latest issue of Cosmopolitan boasts in bold face “The 7 Best Orgasm Tricks in the World!”), during beer commercials, and in Miley Cyrus music videos.
Moral implications and dubious marketing strategies aside, as an exercise in entertainment and filmmaking efficiency, Kick-Ass, for me, just barely squeaks by as something that can qualify as artistic expression—a crude, violent, absurd, and vulgar artistic expression. The film manages to maintain enough levity in its narrative and luster in its presentation to pass as escapist entertainment—crude, violent, absurd, and vulgar escapist entertainment.
Ironically, Vaughn’s failure to convince us that Kick-Ass takes place in our reality or any relatable setting is what salvages the film. Had Hit-Girl seemed slightly more human, her indiscretions would have been unequivocally reprehensible. Instead, she is, as is most of Kick-Ass, an outrageous cartoon brought to life.
For this reason, the film is no more offensive, even less offensive, than last year’s eight-times Oscar-nominated film Inglourious Basterds (sporting another lamentable title), in which director Quentin Tarantino wagered his crude, bloodthirsty revenge fantasy on a sensitive historical issue for stronger dramatic impact. By my estimation, that embraces the very definition of exploitation. As does the WE “reality” show Little Miss Perfect, parading three and four-year-olds around in their disturbingly skimpy “wow-wear.” Kick-Ass is certainly no more destructive than that.
To be honest, I can’t recall the last time I felt such strong and varied emotions while watching a movie as I did during Kick-Ass. Providing moments of shock, horror, disgust, excitement, intensity, hilarity, and general absurdity, Kick-Ass is a rollercoaster ride—a swift kick in the pants, ahem, in the ass, perhaps.
As a film—as an artistic expression and means of entertainment (for those of the proper age and condition)—I have to give Kick-Ass…
As a greater reflection of morality and decency in our culture, Kick-Ass gives me reason to worry.

Film Review: Kick-Ass

dgatkaThe movie Kick-Ass was quite possibly the greatest comic book, turned movie that I have ever seen. It sets the bar for the new age superhero films. This movie was a refreshing break away from the conventional superhero story. It gives the audience everything that they want in a movie ; action, comedy, suspense, sadness, and so on. Kick-Ass manages to awaken all types of emotion throughout the film. This movie will have people cheering, wincing, laughing, and maybe even tearing up at times.
The story is a fantastic adaptation of the comic created by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. They tell the story of Dave Lizewski, a regular kid who rises above the norm and becomes a superhero in real life. As someone who puts on a costume, and who has gone out to fight crime and help people; I have to say Dave Lizewski’s/Kick-Ass character was fantastic. His character had a lot of parallels to what it is like to be a superhero in real life.
The cast they chose gave a very strong performance; including big film actor Nicholas Cage to the new up and coming Aaron Johnson. Chloe Moretz gave a memorable performance as Hit Girl. While I did find this movie to be entertaining, it is not a film to take younger children, that is why it is rated R. The movie at times was quite violent, mostly in the scenes with Big Daddy and Hit Girl. If you are looking for an action packed film this is it. Personally, what I loved most about this movie, was the idea of becoming a real life superhero; the idea that one person would be willing to stand up to help and protect others even at the risk of their own life. The Kick-Ass character really brought this idea to light in the movie.
There was one scene that I felt was extremely powerful; however I don’t want to tell too much, but it honestly sums up and demonstrates why many real life superheroes do what we do.
This movie is fantastic. I loved it. I can’t wait to see it again.

The Real Kick Ass

geist-16Meet Geist, bond fide costumed crime-fighter
Originally published in March 2010 edition of Empire Magazine

By Own Williams
“Being a Superhero is a crazy, unorthodox idea, but it’s a fun way to something good,” says Geist, one of several hundred costumed vigilantes currently active in the USA. On his nightly patrols he’s defused domestic violence, broken up bar brawlers and reclaimed gang territory, not to mention uncovering a fake cop given to pulling over teenage girls an asking them to do “creepy things” and helping out during the 2007 Minnesota floods.
Reactions to his arrival are mixed. The first state trooper he encountered at the floods “put his hand on his Taser and locked me up and down” before sending him in the right direction. But he says his local cops are content that he’s fighting for good- “Although they’d prefer I stick to charity work.”
He describes his look as that of an “urban detective cowboy”, while the name translates simply as “ghost” or “spirit”. Geist is “someone who appears out of nowhere, does what’s necessary” than vanishes.
“I try not to hang around,” he says. “I become a lot less interesting when I do.”