Friday, August 16, 2013

Jim's Movie Reviews: Kick-Ass 2

Kick-Ass 2, as many of you know, is the sequel to 2010's Kick-Ass, a film adapted from the Mark Millar/John Romita Jr. comic of the same name.  Both Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass) and Chloe Moretz (Hit Girl) reprise their good-guy/gal lead roles, along with alum Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Red Mist/The Motherfucker) returning as this film's nemesis.

I'm going to keep this one short:  Kick-Ass 2 tries really, really hard to be as subversive and entertaining as the original, but frankly, it's a concept that's played out.  It's a shame, because screenwriter/Director Jeff Wadlow is under the scrutiny of comics fans everywhere for this effort, as well as for being on tap to produce a screenplay for, and possibly direct, a feature X-force film with a tentative 2016 release. Although the shtick of it (a "normal" kid simply decides one day to be a super hero, but he has no powers, no partners, and no comic-book back story/origin to compel him) was perfect for a 2-hour introduction in 2010, it's simply a re-tread on display here, and a bad one at that.

Chief among the film's failures is saying nothing new.  To be honest, I haven't read the second entry in the comic series, so I don't know how much of the blame to lay at Wadlow's feet for it.  There's what passes for a super-villain origin story (although as a character he's re-heated from the last film), and the cast of heroes is slightly expanded (but none of the new are fleshed out), but nothing of note along the lines of change.

Looking back to 2010, the allure of the first film wasn't in the quality of the narrative, to be sure:  It was the fact you'd never really seen anything like it.  It was at once an homage to the genre and a deconstruction of it. These characters live in a mundane world, and with the simple act of stepping into costume and facing the world as super-heroes, you begin to see a sort of magical twist to the rules of reality.  It was as if what they were doing was so extreme, the universe had to back off a bit. Things had to get comic-book-y.  Situations became more and more twisted, personalities became focused and amplified, lines were drawn, costumes were sewn, chaos ensued. The fun of it wasn't limited to watching the characters grow into some sort of archetype, as in most conventional stories of its ilk: It was in watching the world around them change to fit their weirdness.

In 2, however, with the magic spell cast in the original entering its third year, we must look elsewhere for original concepts. Sadly, Wadlow (and perhaps Millar before him?) wallows in the feel and conceits of the original.  The only marked difference is the frequency of toilet humor, really.

I wouldn't have known where to go with the story, either, but then, I'm not asking for a portion of your ticket price. Yeah, I do think Wadlow gets the spirit of it, which does come through on occasion, and I think he does a competent job pulling performances from the actors, and maybe it's just that they're staying true to the original print material. There are a few competent chase and action sequences (as with the first, anything involving Hit-Girl in an action sequence is well done). But for the most part, what was once shiny and new is now...I'll call it boring. Colorful and somewhat random, but boring overall.  Pointless would be another word to use.

At least wait for the rental.  It's a 4 out of 10 stars for being mildly entertaining on occasion.  

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