August 18, 2013

Kick-Ass 2 (2013)

"The costumed high-school hero Kick-Ass joins with a group of normal citizens who have been inspired to fight crime in costume. Meanwhile, the Red Mist plots an act of revenge that will affect everyone Kick-Ass knows."

I'm writing this while still buzzing from the post-movie adrenaline rush—and a can of green apple Rockstar Supersours—so this is not going to be a review as much as gushing fanboy-ish praise for a much darker and more adult sequel than I ever imagined "Kick-Ass 2" could be.

Having barely registered the first "Kick-Ass" (2010) as anything more than a quasi-hipsterish hack job meant for teenagers, the change of director and screenwriter has allowed levels of ultra-violence to rival something which Tarantino would be proud of. "Kick-Ass 2" has lots of bloodshed, multiple murders, and even an attempted rape! It's nearly as ridiculous as an exploitation movie, and I love it!

The cinematography is very good with only a few fight scenes where quick cuts make it hard to tell what's happening. It's not as bad as "The Dark Knight Rises" or "Iron Man 3", so be grateful. The effects are decent throughout, and some of the kills are extremely brutal. Although even more blood and gore would have made me ecstatic, there's enough for an R-rated movie, and it's guaranteed to upset some people. Jim Carrey refused to promote "Kick-Ass 2" because of the violence, but that's his problem. It's doubtful, but I hope there will eventually be an "Unrated Version" which will add more meanspiritedness.

Of course, "Kick-Ass 2" is aimed primarily at the now three-years-older teenage crowd who enjoyed the first movie more than I did, so there are some kiddified comedy bits which are mostly based around Hit-Girl's attempts at fitting into high school. As a fully grown adult of another gender and country, I can't relate to any of that, but I can acknowledge that the "gross-out" puking and defecating scenes are amusingly over-the-top. One thing is for certain, "Kick-Ass 2" is definitely not aimed at little kids, prudes, or comicbook-reading manchildren. Apparently, the latter really hate this movie, as do the mainstream "critics", but that's because they have no taste anyway. Anybody over the age of 12 years old who reads "Spider-Man" and "Batman" comics regularly obviously suffers from some kind of mental retardation, so I couldn't care less what those people have to say about anything.

Unlike the comicbook fantards, I can't find anything wrong with "Kick-Ass 2". As an action movie, it all works, but I suppose you do need to have seen the original for everything to make sense. There are minor attempts to bring a new audience up to speed with who is who, but "Kick-Ass 2" is a faster-paced sequel rather than a standalone story. Given the time that's passed, it's probably better if you don't watch the two movies back-to-back because of the change in tone.

Yes, that is Jim Carrey on the left!

Acting-wise, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Christopher Mintz-Plasse are much the same as before, but "McLovin" is maybe more comedic than strictly necessary as a supervillain. Jim Carrey is completely unrecognisable in a role which proves that he can genuinely act when/if he wants to, and Chloƫ Grace Moretz steals the show yet again. She overuses her cute, wide-eyed expressions, but she's absolutely fantastic for a 16-year-old. I'm almost looking forward to seeing her in the "Carrie" remake now.

John Leguizamo has an important supporting role and continues to talk out of the side of his mouth like a champ, Iain Glen has a nice cameo as a mafia boss, Olga Kurkulina is fearsome as Mother Russia, and Morris Chestnut (aka Luke from the first "American Horror Story") replaces Omari Hardwick as Detective Marcus Williams. In another cast change, Todd is now played by Augustus Prew instead of Evan Peters. I can't say that I noticed the difference. I was too busy ogling Lindy Booth as Night Bitch, Lyndsy Fonseca as Katie Deauxma, and Claudia Lee as Brooke the bitchy popular girl. Oh yes, there's a lot of lovely eyecandy here!

While "Kick-Ass" is a semi-parody of more famous superheroes, "Kick-Ass 2" continues that idea although only pays lip-service to a few of them. "Batman" gets a couple of explicit mentions, not because Big Daddy's oft-shown empty costume looks just like Batman's but due to a minor character using his backstory. The nerdy Marvel homages and in-jokes are mostly part of the plot itself rather than shout-outs, yet it's easy to spot them all. If you're inclined to see the whole thing as a rip-off or a clone, it won't disappoint you in its lack of originality. You could also criticise "Mystery Men" (1999) for the same reasons and the things which both films share. Superhero movies are all the same anyway.

Despite the dangers of vigilantism being more of a contrivance and a satirical afterthought than in "Mystery Men" or "Kick-Ass", there's a bigger message here about being what you are meant to be and doing the right thing no matter what the rest of society thinks. Thankfully, that message doesn't extend to encouraging the lameness which cosplayers indulge in though, and their childish "dressing-up for Hallowe'en everyday" bullshit continues to be ridiculed throughout.

As a massive snark about cosplayers, geeks, nerds, teenagers, pop-culture, and American society in general, "Kick-Ass 2" surpasses all expectations. No wonder they had to film it in Toronto instead of New York! Since infantilisation, pussification, entitlement, selfishness, lies and injustice have now become the American way, "Kick-Ass 2" has a counter-culture message which will be hated by its lampooned targets and is subversive enough for me to wholeheartedly support.

I'm not going to deconstruct or spoil anything else for you because you need to see this movie for yourself. I don't often recommend non-horror movies, so just watch it, okay?

Kick-Ass 2 kicks the original Kick-Ass' ass!

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