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Film Reviews

Super Zeros: Kick Ass 2 Reviewed
Mat Colegate , August 14th, 2013 05:02

Mat Colegate Hulks out on 'real-world' superhero sequel Kick Ass 2

I wasn't expecting to like Kick Ass 2, and I didn't, but not because I was offended by its taboo busting, politically incorrect attitude or freaked out by its freedoms, as I sense it desperately would have liked me to be. No, I didn't like Kick Ass 2 because it's rubbish. As in badly put together, poorly scripted, I-can't-believe-someone-actually-agreed-to-have-their-name-put-next-to-this drek.

The odds were stacked against it from the start. The first film, while enjoyable, was very much the kind of silly curio that's best left to stand alone. The whole nature of its plot (basically, what if superheroes existed in the real world), which went from grounded and relatively realistic to utterly preposterous with the audience hardly noticing the shift, mitigated against a sequel and demanded that, if it were to happen, a solid creative team would be needed. Sadly director Matthew Vaughn and scriptwriter Jane Goldman were not on hand leaving both duties to the relatively inexperienced Jeff Wadlow, who, on this evidence, is handy with a fight scene but comes straight from the splash-some-water-on-his-face-to-make-it-look-like-he's-been-crying school of emotional resolution. The end result is a mess, with characters it's impossible to care for brawling endlessly for reasons it's impossible to fathom in a setting where it's difficult to work out what the stakes are and even harder to care.

The film picks up pretty quickly after the first Kick Ass finished. Kick Ass – alias Dave Lizewski - (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) have had their super heroic antics reported world wide and have inspired a host of imitators to take to the streets in home made costumes to right wrongs and avenge the innocent. However others in the cape and mask brigade have less noble motives, enter Chris D'amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), formerly the Red Mist, now re-branded as The Motherfucker, the world's first all out evil Supervillain, who is putting a team together to avenge the death of his gangster father in the first film.

It should be pointed out that none of Kick Ass 2's failure is down to the actors. Moretz and Taylor are clearly both doing their best and Mintz-Plasse has a very tough time portraying a character who has to be Charles Hawtrey one moment and Darth Vader the next. The movie even made me feel sorry for Jim Carrey, an actor who I've previously considered to be a cinematic ebola, but who gamely wades in and gives his all. No, the problem is the script. Adapted from Mark Millar's awful comic book (no excuse, so was the first one) Kick Ass 2 has all the signs of a film slung together to satisfy a non-existent, skateboard riding demographic. Remember that episode of The Simpsons where Homer ends up doing the voice for an animated, baseball cap wearing dog called Poochy? Kick Ass 2 was made for that animated dog. It replaces the first movie's refreshingly irreverent attitude with cynical, branded efforts at shock so that when the director decides to raise the stakes by killing off a main character's family (it could have been worse, in the original comic books it's a gang rape. Seriously.) the result is an audience wide shrug.

There is nothing to care about in this film. Any attempt at seriousness is undercut by the stupid costumes and any attempts to create a decent superhero flick are hopelessly confounded by... well, the stupid costumes. The end result is like watching a LARPing convention violently spill out into a car park. The gags and well-placed nods of the first instalment are replaced with lame poo and vomit jokes and the whole thing capsizes into a paddling pool of it's own creation. The message is hopelessly muddled: one minute it's telling us that we become heroes when we put on our masks, then it's telling us that we become heroes when we take them off, then it tells us we become heroes when we keep the masks on but work in a soup kitchen, then it becomes apparent that to really be a hero we need to savage a cliched Asian gangster's testicles with a dog. Kick Ass 2! I'm looking for the hero inside! How shall I find him? “Listen for the insanely loud orchestral score” comes the reply “we've put it over every fucking scene so you shouldn't have any trouble.”

Positives? Errr, there's nearly an interesting parallel made between superheroics and being queen bee in high school about halfway through, though it's quickly abandoned in the rush for more not-actually-that-gross gross-out humour, and some of the fight scenes are enjoyably whizzy, with Carrey aquiting himself surprisingly well considering his decision not to promote the film following the Sandy Hook massacre, but in the end there is no love in this movie. It's a cynical, craven grab for a comics literate, action loving audience that it totally underestimates (as, to be fair, is its source material) and who can generally see through bullshit like this from a hundred miles away.

If you want a better depiction of what happens when adult fantasy goes off the rails then watch Alexandre Franchi's The wild Hunt (2009), if you want a better superhero film then watch...pretty much any superhero film. But Kick Ass 2 is best off left in the road. When something is this desperate for attention then it is usually best to withhold it. It's the only way anyone involved is going to learn.

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