…kick it up a notch
In a world full of sequels—the good, the bad, and the unwatchable—it seems an appropriate end to the third annual 2WC Summer of Blockbusters. So without further ado, I present my review of “Kick-Ass 2.”
“Kick-Ass 2″ picks up a few years off of where Kick-Ass left off, and for those unacquainted I present this brief explanation:
High school boy Dave Lizewski (Aaron Tyler-Johnson) wonders why there are no real-world super heroes. With no training, no tragic motivation, and no idea what he’s doing, he invents his superhero alter ego: Kick-Ass
The best way I can describe Kick-Ass (without regurgitating the plot) is as a bizarre mix of the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man movies, every Tarantino film, and “The Big Bang Theory”. My apologies to those who didn’t follow. It’s an acquired taste.
I think I nailed that brief summary, but if you need a bit more, here’s a trailer to help you out:
After his near death experience in the first movie, Dave has decided to retire Kick-Ass and get on with high school. This lasts about 5 minutes before, inspired by the leagues of masked vigilantes he’s inspired by his every-man heroism, he decides to return to his life of crime fighting.
That’s all good and well, and no offense to Kick-Ass, but I think we all know that Hit-Girl is the real star of this series.
So, meanwhile, Hit-Girl (aka Mindy and played by the insanely talented Chloë Grace Moretz), fueled by her desire to carry on the work of her father continues to be bad ass while deceiving her guardian Marcus (originated by Omari Hardwick, revived by Morris Chestnut…I’ll discuss this technicality later). It’s a complicated emotional situation.
When the emotions hit the fan, Hit-Girl is forced (by those complicated emotions and a promise to her dead father) to hang up her cape and try to be a normal teenage girl.
Unfortunately for humanity, this is right around the time, the world’s first super-villain is born. After witnessing the slaughter of his evil father by Kick-Ass in the first film (spoiler alert, lots of dads die in these movies), Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) casts aside his superhero identity of Red Mist to become The Motherf#@$*r.
With only the help of his money and manservant Javier (John Leguizamo), who despite being an incredibly bizarre character ends up being likable, The Motherf#@$*r sets out to exact his revenge on Kick-Ass.
The dry, witty, casually profane humor of the first movie returns for this go-round and it’s welcome amid a mildly muddled plot. Like I said, Hit-Girl is the star of this series and they seem to have realized that for about half of the film.
Still, all hope is not lost. The sequel manages to avoid clinging to its predecessor too strongly, and the recycled bits are kept at a minimum. And the league of vigilantes, headed by the ex-mafia Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey), is quite fantastic.
To be honest, my one big complaint about this movie is petty. I’ll admit that upfront. So here it is: I hate it when characters are recast between part 1 and 2 and it’s not addressed. I’ve already mentioned one (Hit-Girl’s guardian Marcus) and there’s another—Dave’s friend Todd.
To be fair, the shape-shifting, two-faced Todd (originated by Evan Peters, reprised by Augustus Prew) is abandoned by his 2 best friends and is not in the majority of the movie, probably because he’s changed so much, they don’t even recognize him.
There’s no shame in pulling a Greek tragedy maneuver and mentioning that horrible fire in which Todd and Marcus perished, or had their faces burnt off…thank goodness for the face donors. May they rest in peace.
I understand that things come up, conflicts happen and parts must be recast. I don’t understand why, especially in a comedic setting such as the universe of Kick-Ass you can’t have a little fun with it. We noticed, it’s a little weird, why not break the tension?
I know what you’re thinking. What about the great Katie Holmes/Maggie Gyllenhaal “The Dark Knight” scandal of 2008? I think we can all agree to blame that on Tom Cruise.
So to summarize, if you’re going to make a blatant casting change between movies, I’d appreciate a tongue in cheek comment. And in conclusion: “Thor: The Dark World” I know what you did.
What I love most about the Kick-Ass story is that it primarily operates under Murphy’s Law—if something can go wrong it probably will. That sounds dark, and it is, but there’s an underlying optimism in these stories. It is after all ultimately a story about the everyday hero and how far we’ll go to do what’s right. It’s not always pretty, in fact at moments it’s downright gory, but at its heart it’s surprisingly pure.