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Exalted Movie Mondays – Kick-Ass

August 16, 2010

Lest it be said that I only ever give good reviews, today I have a movie that, in spite of some very interesting parallels to Exalted, was not so good. Kick-Ass is a more recent film adaptation of a graphic novel, wherein a young man, obsessed with comic books, decides to become a hero himself, inspiring those around him and embroiling himself in a world he doesn’t fully understand.

The movie itself is… mediocre at best. While the cinematography never really hurt me (The Bourne Supremacy, I’m looking meaningfully in your direction), it never really did much for me, either. Granted, the film was intended to showcase someone without superpowers, so you’re not going to see flashy special effects. I knew that going in… but it didn’t make it any less disappointing when I went looking for an interesting comic book flick and got your basic action movie, visually speaking.

None of the characters managed to grab my attention. The lead character, our titular hero, was mostly annoying when he wasn’t trying to be charmingly inept, and failing to charm. Nicholas Cage is good at being a dork, but his character couldn’t seem to decide if he wanted to be Batman or if he just wanted to want to be Batman. Hit Girl, probably the most enthusiastic of the protagonists, was graphically sociopathic, and the most enjoyment her character brought was imagining her in twenty years, unshackled by moral restraint. In fact, the best character in the whole movie was Marty, Kick-Ass’s nerdy friend, played by the fantastic Clark Duke.

The plot, however, was the part that made me sit up and take notice, because it was the part that was most Exalted. The main character does what he does because no one takes responsibility, no one does what’s right in the face of all odds. He chooses to. That is the choice that makes a mortal into a heroic mortal, in Exalted. It’s not about superpowers, it’s about facing the odds and doing the right thing no matter what. It’s about being heroic, not superheroic. That would make an excellent heroic mortal game, following the adventures of a man who strikes out to solve the problems of the world, with or without an Exaltation.

Now, let it be known that I’ve never read the graphic novel. I came into the movie with no foreknowledge and few expectations. I can’t say I recommend it to people, and my friends who have read the source material have even less flattering things to say. Still, if you’re looking for inspiration for your next heroic mortal, or even for your next Exalt, pre-Exaltation, you could do worse than Kick-Ass.

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