Speaking of a wholehearted dive into flesh-ripping and bone-breaking…
This film was forgotten quickly by the movie-going public, for reasons not quite clear to me. At the time of its release, it was controversial enough – having a 12-year-old girl spew that much profanity is bound to raise eyebrows, and that’s without even considering the film’s excessive violence. But it seems to have already disappeared from the public mindset, and showed up on almost no “Best Of” lists, even among critics who gravitate towards this sort of movie.
I’ll admit, it’s faded a little in my mind, too. I remember enjoying the movie quite a bit, but I can’t recollect the film nearly as clearly as I can other films I saw around the same time (Alice In Wonderland, Iron Man 2) despite enjoying it much more. I’m not sure why it’s so forgettable. The movie’s a little light, perhaps, and maybe its message is a little convoluted. But in the midst of a glut of comic book movies, where heroes plow endlessly into buildings and lamp posts and iron girders and get up without a scratch, I remember being thrilled to watch the whole idea turned on its head. What would happen if someone really did try to become a superhero? Especially if that person didn’t have any idea what they were doing?
The film is carried by excellent performances by Moretz, Aaron Johnson, and surprisingly, Nicholas Cage, and plays out in a way that’s somehow a light mockery of superhero plots and yet perfectly natural at the same time. All of the absurdity of it – rocket-packs and spandex suits and a little girl killing dozens of henchmen – all seems totally believable.
But despite keeping its foot loosely planted in the real world, and its willingness to explore the dark side of what being a real-world superhero would really entail, it never loses that one thing that superhero movies can’t seem to keep a hold of anymore: its sense of fun. The film is packed with elegantly choreographed action sequences and the plot clips along at a thrilling pace. If all superhero movies were willing to play things this fast-and-loose, summer movies would be a lot more fun.