Thursday, August 29, 2013

It Came From The Cineplex: Kick-Ass 2

Kick-Ass 2 is of course a sequel to 2010's Kick-Ass. It was written and directed by Jeff Wadlow and produced by Matthew Vaughn, who wrote the first film.

Based more or less on the Hit-Girl and Kick-Ass 2 comic books. Believe it or not, as violent as the film is, much of it was toned down from the source material (especially regarding The Motherf•cker's graphic rape of Kick-Ass' girlfriend Katie).

Many critics have denounced the film's ultra-violent tone and misogyny. Umm… you guys do realize you went to see a film called Kick-Ass 2, right? It's about vigilantes taking the law into their own hands and the consequences of said actions? Did you think you were going to see a movie about blue elves in white hats?

Similarly, Jim Carrey caused a controversy in July when he piped up and announced that due to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings he was withdrawing his support from the film. He stated, "I'm not ashamed of it but recent events have caused a change in my heart."

He's certainly entitled to his own opinion, but why did he feel the need to publicly and loudly distance himself from it? Couldn't he have just privately declined to endorse the film? If I was just a little more cynical I'd say I smell a publicity stunt.

During the film Chris D'Amico becomes an inept super villain who tastefully christens himself "The Motherf•cker." I can't wait to see what they do about that when the movie eventually shows up on regular TV. No doubt he'll be called "The Melon Farmer."

The film has underperformed at the box office, grossing just $22 million against a $28 million budget. I think the poor performance may be due to audience fatigue. It's the end of summer and people are just worn out by all these big blockbusters batting them about the head every weekend.

At my showing the entire audience (except me of course) bolted like sprinters from the theater the second the end credits began. Well guess what, goobers? You missed an after-credits scene depicting the fate of a major character! Why do people do this? Why does everyone always flee from the building like it's about to explode as soon as the credits begin? Tiny bladders? Because they've been off their phones for two hours and can't bear it a second more?

ASS-KICKING SPOILERS AHEAD!

The Plot:
Dave Lizewski, the costumed crime fighter known as Kick-Ass, asks his friend and ally Hit-Girl to train him. She initially agrees, but quits when her guardian Marcus forces her to give up crime-fighting. 

Kick-Ass then teams up with a team of likeminded crime fighters called Justice Forever. Meanwhile, Chris D'Amico (formerly the Red Mist) vows revenge on Kick-Ass for killing his father. He becomes the super villain known as The Motherf•cker.

The Motherf•cker begins destroying everything in Kick-Ass' life, including his father. This event draws Hit-Girl out of retirement and she and Kick-Ass, along with hundreds of other costumed crime fighters, take on The Motherf•cker and his army.

Pros:
• Chloe Grace Moretz as Hit Girl continues to impress. Christopher Mintz-Plasse also does a decent job as the super villain The Motherf•cker. In fact most of the large cast does a bang-up job (see what I did there?) with the exception for Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Jesus, does anyone in this movie have just two names?). His Kick-Ass character is surprisingly bland. 

As often happens in superhero movies, the main character is about as interesting and colorful as spent dish water.

• The film opens with Hit-Girl training Kick-Ass by shooting him in the chest while he's wearing a bulletproof vest. This scene is virtually identical to one in the first film in which Hit-Girl's father Big Daddy shoots her in the chest as a training exercise.

• I never in a million years thought I'd ever say this, but I missed the presence of Nicholas Cage in this movie. His portrayal of Big Daddy was one of the highlights of the original film.

• I really liked the Mother Russia character; she was absolutely terrifying and practically stole the show. I wonder if it was intentional that she looked very much like Dolph Lundgren in Rocky IV? Her hairstyle is almost identical to that of Ivan Drago.

Now that I think about it, the Russian Jaeger pilots in Pacific Rim both had Drago-like hair as well. Did Rocky IV make Hollywood think everyone in Russia is a platinum blonde?

• Sick of the evil high school bitches tormenting her, Hit Girl gets revenge by poking them with a "sick stick" that makes them projectile vomit and poop at the same time. Please tell me a sick stick is a real thing and where can I buy one?

Cons:
• Kick-Ass joins a team of like-minded vigilantes called Justice Forever. One of the members is code-named Battle Guy. It's patently obvious to everyone in the audience that Battle Guy is really Kick-Ass' best friend Marty. Yet despite the fact that he's sitting next to him, Kick-Ass remains blissfully unaware of this fact. Only when Battle Guy speaks does Kick-Ass recognize him as Marty. 

I'm assuming this was done as a dig at the age old comic convention of wearing a small mask or glasses to hide your identity? Because if not, then Kick-Ass has had one too many blows to the head. 

• The leader of Justice Forever is Colonel Stars And Stripes (just Colonel Stars in the comic), a reformed gangster and born-again Christian. After Kick-Ass joins the team, the Colonel takes them out on their first mission-- shutting down a human-trafficking ring.

The Colonel's tactics deserve some scrutiny here. He takes a group of what are basically cosplayers (with little or no training) into a deadly search and destroy mission against criminals with real weapons. Cheezus! 

Apparently it never occurred to him to train his team in strategy and procedure before throwing them head first into the fray. Fortunately his team survives without any casualties.

• Where the hell are the police in this city? The various heroes and villains alike commit numerous misdemeanors and felonies at will with absolutely no consequences. 

Late in the film the police finally start rounding up anyone in a mask, but most of them immediately bail out and the cops promptly disappear again, starting the whole cycle anew.

• Midway through the film we see Kick-Ass at home with his father. His dad is doing some simple exercises while he watches TV. 

Later the police come to Kick-Ass' house to arrest him. Not wanting his son to go to jail, Dad tells the police that he's really the superhero.

There's no way in hell that anyone with at least one eye could possibly think that the doughy Dad character could possibly be the much shorter and much more fit Kick-Ass. I'm assuming they added the dad's little exercise scene in order to try and explain this, but it failed miserably. 

• The Motherf•cker's Uncle Ralph, his sole remaining relative, summons him to prison for a chat. Uncle Ralph is played by Iain Glenn (Ser Jorah Mormant of Game Of Thrones), because it only makes sense to hire a Scots actor to play a Jersey mob boss.

• Telegraphing Scenes 101: At the end of the film there's an epic battle between Kick-Ass and The Motherf•cker. Did anyone NOT think The Motherf•cker was going to end up falling into the shark tank?

A decent (if overly violent) sequel that adequately juggles a much larger cast and escalates the storyline. I give it a B-.

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