Saturday, August 17, 2013

Kick-Ass 2 review; a fun, yet unfulfilling ride

I was a big fan of the 2010 film, Kick-Ass.  Based on a graphic novel by Mark Millar, and directed by Matthew Vaughn, it was a fun superhero movie with it's own style and tone.  It wasn't dark and serious, and it wasn't campy and ridiculous either.  It was based in reality and featured a ton of laughs and a LOT of blood.  Aaron Taylor-Johnson was the newcomer asked to bring the comic book hero to life.  Chloë Grace Moretz played Hit-Girl, a child assassin with the mouth of a sailor.  Christopher Mintz-Plasse played a rival superhero, turned villain in the film.  The three main actors are back for more fun.  This time, the film is directed by Jeff Wadlow who has been announced as the director of the upcoming X-Force film.  Here's more about Kick-Ass 2... let's go!

What I liked about the film:
The Cast
The movie has a lot of characters featured in it.  Almost to a fault.  But Johnson does a nice job in this film, as the titular character, Kick-Ass / Dave Lizewski.  His performance is well grounded, and he does a decent enough job of convincing us that his character has two sides to him... the mild mannered High School student, and the vigilante, justice seeking superhero.  But overall he has less to work with in this film than the first.  I'll get to that in a moment.

Moretz is the star of the show!  We get to see a conflicted young girl, who could kill at the flip of a switch, struggle to find herself.  She has been forced, in a way, to become domesticated.  She lives with her new guardian, and is a freshman in High School.  But she doesn't know this world; a world the rest of us would consider normal.  What is prom?  What is a curfew or rules?  Moretz has the best character development in the film, and luckily she is a gifted actress who can sell us all on her character's internal conflicts.  She is terrific in the film.

The supporting casts are great, interesting characters.  Jim Carrey may be a headlining actor in the film; but unfortunately, he's barely in the film.  And it's too bad too.  His character, the actor's delivery, make-up, his demeanour, are all top notch.  I wish Carrey got more screen time in this thing!  Donald Faison, Morris Chestnut, John Leguizamo and Clark Duke round out a very talented supporting cast that made the Kick-Ass universe seem much bigger than just one person.

The Score
Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson's score in this film is awesome.  The movie had me tapping my feet and stopping myself from throwing false alarm punches at the screen.  It was just a lot of energy when the scenes called for it.  And the material with Moretz dealing with High School were perfect.  Nicely done.

What I didn't like about the film:
The Story/The Script
It's a stupid, nonsensical revenge story.  I could theoretically stop there and you understand what I'm saying; but I'll briefly elaborate.  You may have noticed I didn't mention Christopher Mintz-Plasse in my list of likes?  Because he's absolutely terrible in this film!  He overacts every scene he's in!  And instead of making us somewhat like him, like he does in the first film; I couldn't wait to see the character get blown to bits.  Don't worry I didn't spoil anything, he's not blown to bits in the film.  As I mentioned above, Johnson has very little to work with on this script, versus that of the first film.  And the motivations for Kick-Ass to put the mask back on is just downright stupid.  This leads me right into my next dislike.

The Pacing
As far as pacing, the movie is all over the place.  The movie starts and within five minutes, Kick-Ass is a part of a superhero group.  There is no character build up, no room to breathe and get settled back into the world of the character, nothing.  Don't get me wrong, I hate when 'part 2' movies take forever to get going; but the narrative is rushed and left me rolling my eyes more than it did get me excited for what I was about to see.

The Tone has Been Lost
The tone of the first film is what made it such a unique, standout superhero film.  It wasn't a Batman film, it wasn't a Spider-Man film, it was a film with it's own unique style and tone.  And it has been completely squandered in this film.  The action was pretty absurd in the first film; but there was a part of us that said, 'yeah, I buy that that could happen'.  In this film, it's all out, crazy, nonsense action.  It may be what some people wanted to see in a sequel, but not me.  It has to be a continuation of the tone set in the first film, and director Jeff Wadlow did not do that.

The Director
Speaking of Wadlow, I didn't like what he did to my beloved Kick-Ass franchise.  It's just not the same without Matthew Vaughn at the helm.  And again, some people are going to love the craziness that Kick-Ass 2 has to offer, I'm not one of them.  Just because we saw a character in the graphic novel, doesn't mean he or she will translate into a good film character.  There are villains from the graphic novel that are nothing more than a henchman in the film.  I'm only assuming here, but I think Wadlow thought it was fan service to include certain villains that are barely in the film.  Disappointed and now even more concerned with what Wadlow will do to X-Force, now that he's officially signed on to directed.

The Character Development
Last but not least, the movie sucks at character development.  Outside of the the Mindy/Hit-Girl character, there's little to no character development.  Moretz does an amazing job with her scenes, as I mentioned earlier; but the movie has more than just her story to tell.  Or tries to I should say.  This was another great aspect of the first film; showing us how this teenage kid became a super hero, and why.  The first film dove into how the character was juggling being a masked vigilante and a high school student.  By the second film in a potential franchise, I should know a lot more about the main character than I did leaving this film.

The Verdict:
It's a ton of fun, but ultimately it's an unfulfilling sequel 
The humor and the violence were what we expected, but we could have never guessed this would turn out so hollow.  It's a shame too.  Matthew Vaughn fought tooth and nail to give us the first film.  He was so worried the studios would mess it up that he and his producing partners went out and got their own financing on the film; to ensure they could make the movie the way they wanted to.  The tone, the style, the writing of the first film has all changed.  It was more about a character mash-up piece than anything else.  I want to learn more about the young boy and girl dressing up as superheroes to do good for their city.  Now that's a sequel I want to see!  Too bad it wasn't this one.

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