Sunday, September 15, 2013

Kick-Ass 2 Review

Much like Sherlock Holmes’ depravity, my love for Kick-Ass knows no bounds.  It’s one of my all-time favorite comic-book movies for good reasons.  It has a main character who isn't a super hero.  He’s a normal kid who can’t really feel pain who decides to don a costume and try to clean up New York.  The real stars were Hit Girl (Chloe Grace-Moretz) and Big Daddy (the always-incredible Nicholas Cage) and their eye-popping action sequences.  The night-vision, “switch to kryptonite” scene leaves my jaw on the floor to this day.  And the hairs on my arms standing at attention.

Unfortunately, this year’s follow up, Kick-Ass 2, doesn't even come close to any of those spine-tingling moments of the original.

Set a bit after the events of the original, Kick-Ass 2 picks up with Mindy (Moretz) trying to lead a “normal” life by hanging up her Hit-Girl costume.  Her story line is essentially (and ironically) a prequel to her character’s fate in the upcoming Carrie remake.  Dave (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) wants to take up the Kick-Ass mantle and begin again but can’t convince Mindy to don the cape and cowl to help him.  Long story short, Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plass) is still pretty upset about Kick-Ass blowing up his dad in the finale of the first film, so he becomes “The Mother-Fucker,” recruits an army of insanely evil people as super-villains, and sets out to murder Kick-Ass in revenge.  Kick-Ass, in an unrelated turn of events, joins a newly-formed team of heroes, led by Colonel Stars and Stripes (the incredible Jim Carrey).

The new additions to the cast, for the most part, work pretty well.  Carrey just chews the scenery as Colonel Stars and Stripes.  I just wish he had a much larger to role to play.  Taylor-Johnson, Grace-Moretz, and Mintz-Plasse re-inhabit the characters that we came to love (or hate).  Plasse’s performance is a bit over-the-top and melodramatic at times, but considering Chris’ father was blown up it’s a little believable that he’d be acting the way he does.  Moretz still plays that foul-mouthed Mindy well, but now that she’s a bit older the vulgarity that spews from her mouth isn't shocking or amusing any more – it’s just obnoxious.

The same goes for almost all of the vulgarity in the film in general.  There’s just no reason for The Mother-Fucker to call his super-villain team “The Ungrateful C**ts.”  No reason beyond shock-value.  I’m not a prude by any means, but there’s just so much strange and almost out-of-place immaturity and foul language that I was squirming in my seat from uncomfortableness.  There’s something about this sequel that makes this crude language and behavior just fall flat with me.

Narrative-wise, Kick-Ass 2 is an inevitable and logical extension of the story-line from the previous film.  TMF wants revenge on Kick-Ass and that’s essentially it.  That said, there were some choices made that I just didn't enjoy whatsoever.  I understand why there were done (for the sake of the plot and to add weight and tension to an already-tense situation), but they just don’t sit well with me.  Some of Dave’s choices and actions (with regards to his father) just didn't ring all that true to me in terms of what the character feels and thinks.  Two characters are killed during the course of the film that made me genuinely angry.  I get that that was the point, but the same effect could’ve been accomplished by other means.

In terms of action, there isn't really anything in this film that can touch the “kryptonite” or kusuri-gama scene from the original.  Two set-pieces come close: one involving Mother Russia (one of TMF’s villains) wreaking havoc on the local police department (a bit disturbing, actually), and a showdown between Mother Russia and Hit-Girl.  The biggest problem with all of this is that much like The Dark Knight Rises and this year’s Iron Man 3, our favorite hero, in this case Hit-Girl, isn’t Hit-Girl for 95% of the movie.  She was the main attraction of the original, and even if her skills are less impressive now that she’s older, watching her fight is still just an utter delight.  I would've rather seen a movie in which she’s seeking revenge against the remainder of the D’Amico crime family for the murder of her father…

If it isn't apparent by this point, I wasn't that big of a fan of Kick-Ass 2.  I was so incredibly excited for it and it just left me a bit cold.  When you’re coming off of something as incredible as the original film, it’s very hard to top it, and it just fell short of the mark in just about every way.  Probably my biggest disappointment of the year so far.

Kick-Ass 2 is offensive just because it can be, and just can’t live up to the high bar set by its predecessor.

The Bearded Bullet.

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