Well. This might be the easiest review I’ve written.
If you liked the first Kick-Ass movie, you’ll like this one. If you would have liked the first film if it didn’t have Nicolas Cage in it, you’ll be even happier.
If you are a fan of the Mark Millar/John Romita Jr. comic book series, you’ll like this movie. It’s a fairly faithful adaptation of Kick-Ass 2 and the Hit-Girl prequel series, hitting most of the points and only making cosmetic changes (no final battle in Times Square, for example.)
If you are a fan of Chloe Grace Moritz, you’ll love this film. Even more fun this time around, yet still growing up. Between this and the upcoming Carrie remake, we have learned one very important lesson: Do. Not. Mess. With. Her.
If you think that the story is a decent examination and a snappy satirical commentary about trying to be a superhero in the real world, you are completely right. If you happen to think that the first film and/or the comic book is overwrought and overviolent and expect the sequel to be the same, you are completely right too.
If you think this is a way for comic book movies to keep things simple and get decent returns on their original investments by controlling costs instead of making R.I.P.D., you’re correct. If you think this is a cynical attempt to cash in on an easily extendable franchise, you’re right as well.
If you’re looking for surprises– well, there we have a problem. There really aren’t any if you’ve seen the first film, and especially if you’ve already read the source material. There are only two real areas for surprise here: will they keep all the levels of violence from the comics in the films, even the hyper-brutal and the completely ludicrous, and is it still going to be fun to watch knowing what’s coming next? The answer to both questions, BTW, is “yes”.
So go. Have fun, if this is the sort of thing you like. You know pretty much exactly what you’re going to get, and it’s going to be well-executed executions. It doesn’t quite live up to its title, it doesn’t quite kick ass too. But it’s not a bad way to spend an evening.
The opening night of the movie Blade, I was sitting in a packed Magic Johnson Theater in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles. Crenshaw is a predominantly black community, so needless to say the crowd for a black superhero movie in a black neighborhood in theaters owned by a black sports superstar was overwhelmingly Jewish. The Jews, they so love to hang in the hood. Black hats, long black coats – they roll big pimpin’ style.
I kid, I joke. The audience was crushingly African American. There was a lot of excitement in the crowd. When the lights went down the audience started to clap and that’s rare in a black movie house. To have a black crowd clap for a movie before they have seen it is extraordinary.
Black people rarely do that. We take our leisure time seriously. We are also very vocal about entertainment and we expect our monies worth. If a black crowd does not like a film – no that’s wrong – if black people don’t like a movie we will not be shy about voicing our opinions immediately.
Yep. I freely admit we can be a bit loud in the movies but for us it’s part of the show. To be fair we only tend to get loud during action and horror movies. You will seldom hear, “Yo! Henry Fonda! Don’t get in that motherfucking row boat!” during a screening of On Golden Pond.
Black people by in large don’t go see a film. We go to the movies. What’s the difference?
My Left Foot, film.
Die Hard, movie.
Still confused? OK, try this. A film is a motion picture that many may consider art. A film will have these elements in it: a story, a point of view, and a message. It will make little or no money but will win lots of awards and always features white people.
A movie will have these elements; some kind of story that won’t be important, shit that blows up, sex, violence, vampires, it will only win special effects awards, it will make tons of money and always features white people.
The one thing you will find in both a movie and film is white people. From time to time you will find black people in movies but you will always find white people in every movie ever made. Most times those white people will include Nicolas Cage.
But, (man, I wonder why Peter David hasn’t pimp slapped me yet) I digress… As I was saying, black people take our movie going outings very seriously. We don’t clap just to clap (that’s why we have sex), we clap to show appreciation for the work. So the reaction by the sold out crowd at the Blade opening was quite the pleasant surprise to me. Clearly some of the applause was because this was something rarely seen in movies, a black superhero.
When the credits began Wesley Snipes got quite an ovation and the crowd continued giving props to some other recognizable names. Then up on the screen came this gem: “Blade created by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan.”
“Oh, yes!” I screamed like 40-year old woman who just had her first orgasm after being married for 20 years. “Oh hell yes!” Much, like I imagine that 40-year old woman would react, I did not notice that everyone else had stopped hollering and were looking at me. A large, as in large like the Hulk, man noticed my outburst had occurred during the “created by” credit.
“What you yelling for?” He asked. “I know Marv Wolfman, one of the guys who created Blade.” I said, hoping this guy wasn’t a Crip because I had on a red sweater.
He asked, “Is he a brother?”
What? Is he a brother? Marv Wolfman? I mean come on! Before I could answer I noticed that there were others listening and realized that I could dampen the mood of the crowd. But I’m not a lair so I told him the truth.
“He’s my brother.”
“Right on!” Someone shouted!
That was a great moment in what would turn out to be a great night.
The move was wonderful. The crowd loved every minute of it and me? I was in cloud nine.
Blade was a great movie. It featured a black superhero but it was not a “black” film. Nope. It was a superhero movie, period. Not long afterwards I ran into Marv Wolfman at Comic Con in San Diego. I recounted to him my interaction with the Bulk (black Hulk, get it?) and he was pleased as can be. Up until I told him he did not know that he had gotten an entire card in the credits. A “card” is what the credits are called in the industry it’s a big deal when your name is the only name on a card or is shared with just one other name. Big Deal. Marv created Blade at a time when black superheroes were few and I mean very few. Here’s the kicker: Blade does not have to be black.
Blade could be just another white guy who kills v. The character works just as well as a black character as it does a white character. Marv created a good character and that’s why it works.
I’m of the opinion the color of the character really does not matter as long as the character is a good character. That said I’m a comic book fan first and I get a little pissed when a character I’m familiar with in the comics has a race change in the movies. You would think that as a black man and a black comic book creator I’d be happy that Nick Fury was turned into a black man.
I liked Nick Fury as a badass white super spy.
That’s because of the Steranko comics. Jim Steranko’s Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. was one of the greatest comics ever! When Fury was changed in The Ultimates it pissed me off. When I saw Samuel L. Jackson as Fury in Iron Man it pissed me off even more.
I know Sam Jackson, Sam Jackson attends my annual Comic Con parties, Sam Jackson is a huge comic book fan, Sam Jackson is a great actor, alas Sam Jackson is not Nick Fury.
I want my comic book heroes to be like the comic book. I can hear some black people now “Man we need more black superheroes… and you’re stupid, Davis!”
I know we need more black superheroes, but Nick Fury will always be the cool ass super spy white guy in the Steranko comics to me.
The fact is I care that Nick Fury is not white in the movie because he’s white in the comic book. Did it stop me from seeing The Avengers?
Here comes that 40-year old first time orgasm woman again, Oh Hell No!
Did I like Sam Jackson as Fury? Damnit, yes, yes I did. Did anyone seem to care in the two sold out showings of the movies I sat through that Nick Fury was black?
Did Blade not make a zillion dollars and spawn two sequels?
And speaking of Spawn (damn I’m clever) did Spawn, another black superhero, not make a grip in movies, television and toys?
Was Static Shock (still seen in reruns to this day) not one of the highest rated animated shows on television?
I’m told often, black doesn’t sell. Clearly that’s bullshit. Just ask Will Smith, the biggest star in the world. He has played a few superheroes and all made serious bank.
With these examples and many more why does Hollywood still think that “black means death” when it comes to black superheroes?
This has been a week to experience anguish, not least of it over the upcoming movie based on Marvel’s Ghost Rider character. As you know if you read this site (for example, here and here), Marvel (or its corporate overlords) is behaving dickishly towards Gary Friedrich, one of the character’s creators.
Now, I’m not a fan of Ghost Rider. To the best of my memory, I’ve never read the comic. I haven’t seen the first movie, not even when I’m just mindlessly staring at the television. I’m not a big Nicolas Cage fan (although, when I’m mindlessly staring at the television, I’ll always watch Con Air, which is amazing if only for the sympathetic psychopath child molester played by Steve Buscemi).
They even took the terrible script that was Jonah Hex and made it boogie along. It helped that they had Will Arnett. I think all comic book movies should have Will Arnett, especially the ones that don’t have Samuel L. Jackson.
Should I deny myself the potential joy of a Neveldine/Taylor film for Gary Friedrich? I don’t think I know him. Who is he to me, or I to him? Why should I care what happens?
Well, it turns out, I should care, and you should, too. My life is greatly enhanced by the existence of creative people. Even creative people who sign crappy work-for-hire contracts because they are so short-sighted, they consider that feeding their families and keeping a roof over their heads was more important than their artistic integrity.
Been there. Done that. And if, by some miracle, my work gets optioned, I would much prefer sharing in the glory (and, maybe, the profits) to getting sued.
So, in the interest of karma, I will do my best to create the world I want to live in. Maybe I’ll go to the movie this weekend, maybe not. But I’ve already tried to do right by writers and artists everywhere by showing some appreciation here. If you’ve enjoyed my work, or Gary’s work, or anyone’s fiction, stop by and give what you can afford.
Karalyn Johnson has started the following petition:
Dear Nicolas Cage,
I have read that you are very dedicated to making Ghost Rider II a success, so much so that you have taken a hefty pay cut in order to get this film made. Unfortunately Marvel Enterprises has won a settlement of $17,000 from artist Gary Friedrich (I am sure you know Mr. Friedrich is one of the creators of the Ghost Rider character).
Marvel winning a lawsuit against a financially destitute and unemployed senior citizen who helped create the iconic character that is the subject of the movie you care so deeply about has created a distinct antipathy toward your project. The negative effect Marvel’s lawsuit has caused is perhaps far greater than you know. Facebook and Twitter are aflame with negative comments, petitions and people urging others not to see your film solely because of Marvel’s treatment of Mr. Friedrich. You stand to lose millions because of the public relations disaster Marvel has caused.
Mr. Cage, I know how you can personally overcome this PR nightmare, save your movie and make yourself a true hero in the eyes of the comics and movie-going public. Do you want that and more positive publicity than you have ever had? All it would take for you to be a true hero to millions of people is $17,000. That’s less than the price of a car. Give $17,000 to Mr. Friedrich so that he can pay Marvel. Save your movie by saving Mr. Friedrich.
My best regards to you, Mr. Cage. I hope to see you at the movies.
Sincerely, Karalyn Johnson
ComicMix supports this wholeheartedly. As Marvel would put it themselves, ‘Nuff Said. (And now Marvel can sue us too.)
The $2 million barrier has been broken, with Nicolas Cage’s CGC 9.0 copy of Action Comics #1 now holding the all time auction record.
A rare and pristine copy of the first issue of Action Comics, famed for the first appearance of Superman, has set a record Wednesday for the most money paid for a single comic book: $2.16 million.
“When we broke the record in 2010 by selling the Action Comics No. 1, graded at 8.5, for $1.5 million, I truly believed that this was a record that would stand for many years to come,” said Stephen Fishler, CEO of ComicConnect.com and Metropolis Collectibles.
The previous record set in March 2010 was followed by the sale of another copy for $1 million. But neither of those issues was in as good a condition as the issue that sold Wednesday, though it’s pedigree of setting records was already documented. Twice before it set the record for the most expensive book ever, selling for $86,000 in 1992 and $150,000 in 1997.
But in 2000, it was stolen and thought lost until it was recovered in a storage shed in California in April this year.
In a bizarre turn of events, Henry Cavill has been pushed out of Zack Snyder’s upcoming “Superman: Man of Steel.” Mr. Cavill’s name had first come up as a likely candidate for Superman when McG was slated to direct in 2002, however as fans remember, McG cancelled out to direct Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, and Bryan Singer was locked to replace him in 2004 to direct Superman Returns with Brandon Routh wearing the eminently recognizable red cape and blue tights.
When Henry Cavill was locked as Superman, he was seen as very appropriate and incredibly humble in casting as reported by MTV.com. Between his casting, Christopher Nolan producing and Zack Snyder directing, the “Superman: Man of Steel” movie was going to be what Batman Begins was for the Dark Knight. Further casting details like actors Diane Lane and Kevin Costner as Martha and Jonathan Kent shaped this revitalized Superman movie into a projected fan favorite, but all of that changed this ominous morning. Dallas Smith, Henry Cavill’s agent at United Agents, was unavailable for comment. Repeated calls and emails to producers Chris Nolan’s and Charles Roven’s offices have not been returned, however an anonymous source directly involved at Chris Nolan’s production company Syncopy said that a formal statement would be forthcoming about Mr. Cavill’s abrupt departure as well as something more odd– a new producer and who would be returning to wear the cape.
Some movies offer us incredible performances or great stories and then there are those that combine the elements with the right cast telling the right story for the right audience at the right time. That’s movie magic at its purest and can describe the enduring appeal of [[[Moonstruck]]], The 1987 film is finally out on a bare-bones Blu-ray disc courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.
Starring Cher at the height of her film popularity, it also featured Nicholas Cage as her lover and we’re reminded once more that this is a man of strong talent, who has chosen a career path that negates stretching himself as a performer. Bulking up for Con Air may have been the worst choice he ever made.
Directed by Norman Jewison, the story is a romantic comedy when the formula still worked. Cher, who won an Oscar as bookkeeper Loretta Castrorini, and her budding relationship with Cage’s younger and winning Ronny Cammareri forms the core of the story. John Patrick Shanley’s screenplay is a valentine to life in Manhattan and Jewison brings it to life with a strong supporting cast including Olympia Dukakis (who also won a Supporting Actress Oscar), Vincent Gardenia, and Danny Aiello. Shot in Brooklyn and around Little Italy, it is as lush to watch as it is fun to listen to. Scenes set at the Metropolitan Opera House give the city is glitz and grandeur.
The bookkeeper has been unlucky at love – and marriage – but wants to try again with Aiello’s unassuming Johnny Cammareri, until she realizes she can’t take her eyes off the younger brother. Her parents disapprove of their daughter’s choices, thinking she was better on her own. As they plan their wedding, things go awry and the estranged brother comes more into focus and his winning ways melts Loretta’s damaged heart. Cher is at first hard to believe as a nerdy accountant unlucky at love but she makes the character feel real and you can believe Gardenia and Dukakis as her Greek Chorus parents.
The acting is strong, led by Cher but also shows how good Cage can be when he wants to. The transfer was well handled so it looks great and sounds good. Extras include the original commentary from Jewison, Shanley, and Cher. Also carried over from the original DVD release is Moonstruck: At the Heart of an Italian Family, a look at the roots of the culture that led to the film.
There’s also the six-part[[[Pastas to Pastries: The Art of Fine Italian Food]]], which offer us looks at restaurants in Little Italy, including Grotta Azzurra (18:47); Italian Food Center (2:31); Ferrara Pastries (2:28); Piemonte Ravioli Co. (2:07); a gelato stand (1:02) and Florio’s Restaurant (1:24). New and fun to have are recipe cards for spadini Romana, bucatini all’Amatriciana and lamb de Elvino. “[[[The Music of Moonstruck]]]” (6:00) minute featurette that covers how important the score was and how a disastrous screening led to the original music being scrapped.
Nicholas Cage is an incredibly gifted actor who continues to display his passion for genre works by appearing countless adventure films. This past summer he was the mentor in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and is next seen in January’s Season of the Witch. In this interview, courtesy of Walt Disney Home Entertainment, Cage talks about last summer’s film, coming out on DVD Tuesday.
Question: How did you get involved with The Sorcerer’s Apprentice?
Nicholas Cage: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice began with my desire to play a magician in a movie. I played a magician of sorts in a movie called Next, which is when I became fascinated with ancient mythologies and philosophies from England. I loved the subject, so I had a conversation with Todd Garner – the producer of Next – and I said to him, “Boy, I’d really like to play a sorcerer from the times of King Arthur.” The very next day he said to me, “Nic, I’ve got it. Why don’t we create a movie around the sorcerer’s apprentice from the Fantasia movie?” It was perfect.
Question: How important was it to transform your look for your role in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice?
Nicholas Cage: Actors often change their looks for roles and I’m certainly part of that school of thought. In fact, I want to transform myself every time I get a new role. I’ll wear wigs, I’ll wear nosepieces, I’ll wear green contact lenses… I’ll do whatever I need to do to create a character. That’s what acting’s all about. That’s the fun of it.
No, not what’s Next, that’s opening up this weekend. It’s based on a Philip K. Dick story and starring Nicholas Cage, Jessica Biel, and Julianne Moore. To paraphrase Lawrence Peter Berra, it’s Deja Vu all over again.
No, I’m talking about what’s coming down the pike. First, from USA Today, here’s a new pic of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark:
Second, from Cinematical, we see that the ever busy David Goyer (Blade, Dark Knight, Jumper, Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD) has been tapped to direct the new Magneto prequel movie. While my immediate scary thought was Hannibal Rising with mutant powers, Patrick Walsh comes up with something even scarier: "Ashton Kutcher in a purple helmet and Seann William Scott in a bald cap. "