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Your Highness: Crude but Funny Medieval Comedy
Your Highness is basically a bunch of crude jokes and slapstick with a sprinkling of magic and sword fights, the cherry on top being a rather randy Minotaur. You could call it rather immature but luckily its immaturity is of the endearing kind. What really makes this film work is that everybody involved was fully aware of just how ridiculous a film they were making, so they don’t take it seriously. This isn’t one of those films that leave you cringing in your seat, feeling sorry for everybody on screen. Instead, the humour lets you lose yourself in the story a bit and laugh with the actors instead of at them.
The actors play their parts dead-pan and watching those serious faces cursing at each other and arguing in over-the-top English accents while clad in medieval costumes somehow doesn’t lose its novelty. You get the feeling that Your Highness was an experiment in seeing just how much the filmmaker could get away with.
In addition to this, McBride’s character Thadeous is a hopeless sexist but his ignorance is presented in such a way that keeps the film light and funny as opposed to hideously offensive.
Acting-wise, some of the best parts of the film take place between Franco and McBride. While the main cast do a good job, the two brothers were given the most to work with seeing as how the film, at its core, is about their fractious relationship. The interaction between Franco’s over achieving, perfect, heroic Fabious and McBride’s immature, lazy, weed-smoking Thadeous provides the film’s heart.
However, Theroux’s villainous warlock Leezar steals the show. From his Blade Runner-inspired hairstyle to his eyeliner and awful teeth, he oozes this combination of smarminess, cockiness, self-entitlement and delusions of grandeur, making for a magnetic and highly entertaining villain.
This is an enjoyable film, but this reviewer found the memories of it upon finishing rather hazy, which is quite a feat considering the amount of weird stuff that takes place and considering just how beautifully shot the film is. The costumes are gorgeous, the stunts and sword fights are really well done and the special effects are rather impressive. Individually, there are a lot of things to like about the film but in the end, they just don’t all add up.
Harrelson has a starry supporting cast backing him up made up of the likes of Sigourney Weaver, Steve Buscemi, Ice Cube, Ben Foster and Robin Wright Penn. Brie Larson plays Dave’s daughter Helen, and after him, she’s the best thing about the film. The relationship between the two runs on hate and scorn mixed with a twisted kind of love. It brings to mind the saying about how blood is thicker than water. How you can hate a family member so much and see them for the worthless scum that they are, yet still allow their opinions and words to affect you. It’s a toxic relationship, one of many in the film, yet it packs a punch that the others don’t.
The story is occasionally difficult to keep track of as it jumps abruptly from one topic to another, but Dave’s internal conflict is more compelling than anything the story throws at you. Dave and Helen’s scenes together are far more powerful and infinitely more interesting than any of the scenes in which he brandishes a gun or kicks a guy to a bloody pulp. The film has some fine camera work; it forgoes flashiness just for the sake of it and instead focuses on bringing the viewer in closer to the actors. It works with the actors to set the scenes’ mood instead of just framing them.
A blender of heroes, comics and fighting vice, Kick Ass is both a classically assembled superhero film and a breath of fresh air. The film tackles the question that has long daunted comic book nerds: what if an ordinary person actually put on a costume and become a street-fighting vigilante? The film’s answer is: it’s going to hurt them. And while Kick Ass takes the same old route to reach that conclusion, it makes the most exhilarating stops along the way.
Dave Lizewski (Johnson) is a school kid fighting demons like any incubating superhero: inferiority complexes, demeaning encounters with the school bullies, and the holy grail of superhero angst; the unattainable girl. Lizewski has no superpowers, and rest assured; he’s not going to fall into a pot of toxic chemical and gain supernatural abilities. What Lizewski opts for is a scenario of less life-threatening theatrics; so he orders a spandex suit online and starts his intensive training. He calls himself Kick Ass.
As the film moves ahead, the story outgrows the realistic setting and enters the realm of cartoonish fantasy. Kick Ass soon finds a villain (Strong), and he joins forces with the amazing father and daughter team of Big Daddy (Cage) and Hit Girl (Moretz), who end up stealing the show and doing most of the ass-kicking.
Kick Ass boasts some of the most creatively choreographed fight scenes ever, combining tight showmanship with undeniable fun. The spastic music and the glistening images all amplify the roaring punch of the set pieces, making the film’s two-hour running time fly by until the obligatory showdown, where Kick Ass starts to show faint signs of fatigue.
Fans of Nicolas Cage will appreciate his turn as Big Daddy; his finest and loudest performance in ages. However, the biggest standout in Kick Ass is Chloë Moretz’s portrayal of Hit Girl; a foul-mouthed, pig-tailed death machine that will leave you in complete awe. This little girl not only slices and dices every man on screen, she annihilates any language boundaries that Tarantino may have left behind.