Thursday, August 15, 2013

Kick Ass 2

Regular readers may remember that Kick Ass was my second favorite movie of 2010, next to Scott Pilgrim. The movie was an over-the-top comic book action film which pretended to inhabit the real world. It made token nods in the direction of how stupidly dangerous following in the hero's footsteps would be, and then made him win with a large helping of main character syndrome anyway. The movie had style, much of the credit for which goes to Nick Cage as Big Daddy, but the most compelling character by far was Hit Girl, the stone cold killer in a cute little girl's body.

Kick Ass 2 picks up a couple years after the first movie, in a world where other people have followed in the footsteps of Kick Ass and started patrolling the streets of New York in costume. Now, we actually know what happens when people try this in real life. I'll get back to that in a bit.

Even though the movie is called Kick Ass, the main character through the whole first part of the movie is undoubtedly Hit Girl. There's a strong case for her being the main character period. But that's fine, because as I said, she's the most interesting character anyway.

The main action plot, though, is focused on Kick Ass, or rather the guy formerly known as Red Mist and his quest for vengeance against Kick Ass. In the first movie, the heroes were proactive - Big Daddy wanted revenge. In this movie, it's the villain who has the initiative, and the heroes are reactive. This isn't necessarily a problem, but it does mean the movie is slightly unfocused, especially because of the other two plots. One of these involves Kick Ass looking for company on his heroic journey, and really only serves to introduce the wacky cast of supporting characters. The other is a Mean Girls-style high school drama starring Hit Girl. They don't mesh seamlessly, but the whole thing still works.

As an action movie, Kick Ass 2 delivers, with a couple caveats. There are action scenes, and they are good, satisfying, exciting action sequences, except for the parts I couldn't see because of shakycam. Why are we still doing this? Also, as fun and inventive as some of the set pieces were, none of them matched Hit Girl's hallway sequence in the climax of the first film.

As a satire, Kick Ass 2 delivers pretty well. There is snark, and I love it. There's some pretty good dialogue delivered quite nicely.

As a high-school-outsider-trying-to-fit-in movie, Kick Ass 2 is very disturbing. Speaking of disturbing, this movie is rated R for a reason. Aside from the massive amounts of violence and cussing, there are also a number of rather nasty scatological bits.

So, this is a movie I liked, and enjoyed, though I did cringe through several scenes. It is not as good as the original, though. For one, it's obviously less original. For two, the fight scenes weren't quite as good. For three, the plot was a little scattered. For four, Jim Carrey wasn't as good a crazy vigilante as Nick Cage was. Also - whereas in the first movie the bad guys pulled out the big guns for the finale, in this movie the bad guys all apparently forgot what guns are just before the climactic fight sequence.

Finally, getting back to paragraph two, the moral message of this film is as problematic as the first. Taking a stand against bullying is good. Advocating vigilante justice isn't. As Phoenix Jones and his pals in Seattle have discovered, patrolling the streets in costume doesn't accomplish very much, and you can't actually keep your identity secret, and the cops don't like it very much.

On the plus side, Chloe Grace Moretz is amazing. She has been wonderful in everything I have seen her in. She manages to bring subtlety and nuance to a film that has very little of either. She has style and attitude as Hit Girl, and vulnerability and naivete as Mindy, and makes all of it work as one character.

1. Much Ado About Nothing
2. Now You See Me
3. Despicable Me 2
4. Star Trek: Into Darkness
5. Oblivion
6. Iron Man 3
7. Man of Steel
8. Pacific Rim
9. Kick Ass 2
10. Jack the Giant Slayer
11. Beautiful Creatures
12. RIPD
13. Oz the Great and Powerful
14. Epic
15. G.I. Joe: Retaliation
16. The Wolverine
17. Monsters University
18. Hansel and Gretel, Witch Hunters
19. The Great Gatsby
20. The Lone Ranger
21. This is the End

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