Great when great, awkward when bad
It's hard to explain how I feel about the Kickassia saga, because when the series WORKS, it works very well. When it doesn't, it's somewhat awkward to watch. I will say this review is somewhat skewed towards the times it DIDN'T work, because they are more numerous. Plus, I'm limited to 400 words, which is painful for me. The first anniversary special had a cast generally consisting of the more popular reviewers. In contrast, Kickassia feels populated with the lesser-known reviewers or characters. I have no proof of this, but I suspect that when many of the popular reviewers were unable to attend for this one, they had to 'make up the balance' with some of the more less-known reviewers. I would argue that this was a mistake; spending precious time on scenes with less-known reviewers rather than allocating that time to reviewers the audience knows and enjoys. It should come to little surprise that these lesser-known reviewers are more character-based, and wacky-character based at that. Remember when I said that Kickassia can become awkward? Seeing someone with a marker-drawn six pack running in the desert really isn't funny. It's awkward to watch, because someone did that. Seeing a man with a camo-mask and a supersoaker pistol running around? Awkward to watch, not funny. Paradoxically, the Cinema Snob (a newer contributer to the site) nearly single-handedly carries Kickassia. He doesn't play a wacky character with props or gimmicks. He's a normal man, played generally straight, without a major gimmick or blatant joke. There's also the issue with setting. Even if the idea of invading a micro-nation is funny, the setting itself lends itself to locations where the cast and crew don't have a lot of control over the environment. As such, lighting is spotty, the outside environment was unpredictable and physically dangerous, and scenes obviously had to be acted in such a way that prevented violation of the available space. I'm running short on words, so I can't talk a lot about what DID work (Spoony's transformation into Insano is truely one of the best things I've seen, bar none), but know this: ultimately, Kickassia does many things well, but tried to do so much in one sitting that it wound up diluting those good moments in much-more-common Moments Of Lesser Quality. Keep things simple. The Brawl proved that, in spades.
Kickassia kicked ass- except for plot
This is the very first time I have reviewed something, and I don't have a whole lot of knowledge about how a "Good" movie is made, so I'll just keep it in retrospect. First of all, I am a fan of the Nostalgia Critic, Linkara, Spoony, Cinema Snob, Pheolus, Nostalgia Chick and some other reviewers (once in a while). But the ONLY reason why is because when they do their reviews of bad media, they always touch on something with me and they somehow encourage me to stand up for the dignity for good storytelling and character development as well as technics for a media. They serve as an inspiration to us all not only to keep to our own opinions but to remeber the logic, beauty, and integrety of the good media that is under threat of being abused by the evils of bad media. In Kickassia THAT CONCEPT IS COMPLETELY IGNORED AND THEY JUST GO FOR SOME COMEDIC CRASH COURSE RESULTING IN A CLASH OF SILLIENESS THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH REVIEWING! But with that aside, Kickassia is just a load of fun for the fans and admirers of these guys. It is not a film in my honsest opinion, but it's an internet special that was made for laughs and to show that these guys really care. (Perhaps releasing it on DVD wasn't a smart move, but that's a whole nother discussion.) From a fan's point of view, fun, silly, and over the top, but this troper would really appreciate it if they made a special focusing on what it takes to define the goods and evils of media.
And I don't mean that title as a slight against the typical Channel Awesome fare, but Kickassia is astonishingly high-quality. For a bunch of bored snarky people in the location of a micronation in Nevada, I'm surprised this turned out so well. It feels like the faux-epic they were going for, and I commend them for pulling it off so well. First of all, the acting. It is wonderful. The comedy is near-perfectly timed, the Narm Charm hamminess IS! NARM! CHARM! HAMMY!!, and everyone is delightfully insane. The script of the thing is good too. Being the type of metafiction it is, I felt the references were well played, and not just there, and the treatment of the tropes was done with care, as they were played straight, lampshaded, inverted, subverted, averted et. al. in a way I feel can't be done in any other type of fiction besides comedic metafiction. The sound effects were just okay, really, but the orchestration is well done, and ties the piece together with its faux-epic swells and motions. However, I feel the best part of Kickassia was the directing work. Rob Walker, you are an *awesome* director. With such an admittedly boring location, and the large cast of characters, Rob did a teriffic job with it. The Dutch Angles, Hitler Cam, Gilligan Cuts, DescriptionCuts, lighting, and everything was well done. The special effects were highly functionable, and looked good considering the shoestring budget compared to hollywood movies. I was impressed personally by how well the explosions and gunshots worked added in, and the quasi-force lightning in natural lighting was especially good looking. I loved Kickassia, and I feel it is the best Channel Awesome production I've consumed thus far. Indeed, I believe it exemplifies the comedic metafiction genre, with the fictitiousness of the authority of micronations contributing greatly to the piece. This work is definitely worth 90+ minutes of your time.
A Feature-Length TV special, for Good and for Bad
Thinking over this special, I decided to look on IMDB to see the reception it got. It got 5/10, but that didn't really suprise me because calling this a film really stretches the definition. It's a feature-length crossover between the TGWTG people done in 3 days. Not that that excuses them from criticism; it's more that it explains why it turned out the way it did. Usually for a film, the plot is the main element, with the characters being formed to complement the plot. But here, it's the plot that serves the characters. Which can work. I'm not saying that it doesn't here, for the most part. But the problem is that even if the main focus is on your characters, the plot still needs to stand on it's own. Taking the plot out of contention for a moment, everything else falls into place if you're a fan of TGWTG.com. If you're not a fan of it, then it obviously won't. Admittedly some characters change, but then there's not really a canon to most of it anywhere (Unless you're Spoony or Linkara). But then we have to bring the story back into the mix, and this is where I admit that this is what lets the whole shaboodle down. The style of comedy that the people of TGWTG do doesn't really translate into epic crossover plots. I'd point out here that I said CROSSOVER plots. I like Linkara's plots, and Spoony's plots. It's not to everyones tastes, in fact the haters hate it with a passion, but I don't see how adding things to grip and intruigue the audience is a bad thing. But when you have a plot tailored to giving everyone (except Handsome Tom, who's sent to flagpole duty) a moment in the sun and then trying weave the remainder into something it gets... warped. Mostly it just feels... rushed. There needed to be more time spent crafting the story so it flows better. Here, it meanders. And a meandering river can be interesting, but when people are expecting the rapids they're gonna be dissapointed. It could've been 1 hour long, and we'd have missed little. Acting-wise it's solid all round; Cinema Snob is the standout, Bhargo and James Rolfe get their funny Cameos and Phelous and Film Brain break through their previous bad reps. Overall, I enjoyed it but as a film it just doesn't work. As a feature length special, it mostly does, but it also shows that a rushed schedule and a surplus of characters just doesn't mix very well. (6/10)
Flawed yet enjoyable
Spoiler alert. Kickassia, the 2 year anniversary special of TGWTG has yet to be released as one video. In a Lord Of The Rings fashion, it has been released in several parts. What the TGWTG-crew has delivered is impressive: their first full-length movie, filmed on few enough days to count on one hand, with virtually no budget. They had spend a lot of time running in the desert, under very harsh conditions and a number of injuries have been reported. Many of the TGWTG-contributors were able to aid during the invasion of the micronation of Molossia (those who weren't still have appearances). The president of this proud state is apparently a great fan of the site and allowed them to basically take over his home for several days. The result if a fun ride, full of great jokes, a good number of which you might not fully comprehend unless you've seen an awful lot of the videos on TGWTG, since many of them are references. All of the characters have their moments (no small task, given that there are about 20 or so), some more than others. The Nostalgia Chick has it worst, since she's limited to doing a stupid Sarah Palin impression most of the time. The Cinema Snob, one of the more recent additions to TGWTG, has it better. He features rather prominently in the first episodes and shows impressive acting talent. But his performance is not the only one to remember. Many characters show their usual behavior (my personal favorite would be Phelous), some have more nuanced performances, which shows the impact a great director can have. The camera work by Rob Walker is also outstanding considering the conditions they had to work with. Also, the score is truly epic. That being said, the part where Kickassia disappoints is the writing in the last two parts. For over an hour, Dr. Insano gets a ton of build-up and achieves exactly nothing while the episode-title suggests otherwise. One also wishes that the subplot for the Nostalgia Chick would get a resolution (and what happened to Ma-Ti?). The ending feels rushed. In only 12 minutes, Linkara as Patton manages to take down N. Bison, the others don't get their own time to rule Kickassia since the whole thing has the exact same resolution as last year's special. It doesn't help that the response to the criticism consists mostly of embarassing non-sequitors, which drags the whole experience down a little.
Like a rollercoaster ride, some thrilling high points, some utter pits.
Here there are spoilers.
Me.Before the off let me say that this is a very impressive and very interesting project, effectively a 70 minute comedy shot by ammeters in very little time and with a (relatively) small budget. It is far more interesting and better written than several major Hollywood films of the past few years and for this alone deserves praise. On with the criticism! The basic story is good enough, if staple. Nation is conquered, new ruler becomes insane with power, subjects turn against him, it is all so so. They have fun with it, but lets be honest, this is not a new or an inventive story. Not that that is a real problem, just making it clear. There are some very interesting and clever high points, such as the parody of the alternate personalities used by many of the reviewers with The Minister for Keeping Things Orderly, he arrival of Insanso and the utterly hilarious parody of the tooling up scene. Some of the jokes fall flat. VERY flat. Santa Christ makes a comeback twice much to my own personal annoyance but I do admit that the parody of the Tinkerbell scene is amusing, mostly because of the reactions of one or two of the cameo chanters. For all the build-up and the totally awesome transformation scene Insano fails to DO anything really interesting or indeed deploy much in the way of SCIENCE!!! against the critic. Where is the infeasible and demented death machine? Where is the manic tool of destruction? Hand lightning is old and you are better than this my good doctor. Also, why is there a SARAH PALIN parody in this? Last I checked it hasn't been 2008 for at least a year. The characterisation shifts are rather abrupt too, but that I can forgive due to time restraints. Overall I think the show suffers from one major problem. Cameo-itis. The narrative is injured in several places by the need to stick one of the crew's special bit in, rather than letting them just be in the scene. I know you are all very awesome video makers, but it hurts pacing and logic. Where was the gun used by Angry Joe in the final fight in earlier fights for example? This is a symptom of the Mega-Crossover. It was there in the Brawl too, but that format had more room for set pieces. In conclusion, good, not great, fun for fans, will not make converts.