Sunday, August 18, 2013

Kick-Ass 2 (2013)

I made the mistake of missing the first Kick-Ass in theaters, but it wasn't a mistake I was going to make twice.

In general, I don't get excited for superhero movies - and there have been a lot coming out lately. I was not oblivious to the comic book culture around me growing up, but I was never a diehard fan. Batman was one exception that I've always liked, possibly because it's more of a darker, gothic take on the superhero story (and, technically, Batman's not a superhero, just a clever, gutsy billionaire). That was reflected well in Tim Burton's film adaptations, and the more recent trilogy by Christopher Nolan emphasizes the realism of the story. Another exception was Watchmen, which I really liked (both the film and graphic novel), because it is a more serious and mature take on superheroes, and also approaches the theme from a realistic perspective.

The immediate appeal of Kick-Ass for me was that it was also a realistic take on the question: what would it be like if people started dressing up like superheroes to fight crime in the real world? Of course, Kick-Ass embraces humor and a cartoonish level of violence, so it's not entirely serious or grounded in reality, but in this case, I think that adds to its outlandish appeal. I mean, one of the highlights of the first Kick-Ass movie was the character of Hit-Girl, an 11 year old deadly assassin played brilliantly by the precocious Chloe Grace Moretz (one of my favorite young starlets, who has also played a vampire in Let Me In, among many other roles).

Much to my satisfaction, Chloe shines in Kick-Ass 2, and maintains a central role in the story. And better yet (at least in my opinion), the balance between Hit-Girl and Mindy Macready is, compared to the first Kick Ass, tipped more towards the girl behind the mask. Obviously, it's her masked persona that makes her unusual and memorable, but Chloe is such a fantastic actress, that it is a pleasure to get to see more of her, and the humanization of her character just makes her portrayal of Hit-Girl that much more poignant when she dons the costume.

Kick-Ass himself returns as the titular hero, as does the last movie's villain, Red Mist, who reinvents himself (in his characteristically comical fashion) this time as the world's first supervillain. Several new heroes join the fray (including an unrecognizable Jim Carrey), as the costumed vigilante trend grows in popularity, in an organic plot development that recalls to me the same thing that occurred in Watchmen's history. Mindy, meanwhile, is trying real hard to leave the crime-fighting business, and meets her match instead in the popular girls at school, in a subplot that almost seems to foreshadow her upcoming role in the Carrie remake, but proves to be more entertaining than its cliche setup might suggest.

I honestly don't know how I would compare the first Kick-Ass to its sequel - I like them both a lot. I think that the first Kick-Ass has the edge on badass action and the superior climax, but the sequel has much of what you loved from the first one - in both the violence, humor, and dramatic departments. Plus you get to see a whole lot more of Mindy behind the action in part 2, which is a big plus for me. I think the bottom line is that if you liked Kick-Ass, you probably won't be disappointed with the sequel. I, for one, would definitely see it again.


  1. Good write-up. I just got back from seeing this. Loved the hell out of it, definitely a worthy successor to the original. Although I did have a bit of a fanwank moment during the lengthy middle segment of the film where the supervillains were pretty much just wrecking shit for the good guys non-stop.

    It made me start thinking of The Empire Strikes Back and I was really hoping they would go that route: let the bad guys win this one, setting up for a great trilogy. Maybe even kill off Kick-Ass at the end of this one, then you could name the final film "Kick-Ass Legacy" or something and have Mindy be the star, as she gets revenge on the supervillains. Hell, how cool would it have been if Mindy continued to refuse to get involved in the super hero/villain showdown, and then Kick-Ass gets killed. Pretty powerful motivation for her to don the mask once more. She realizes it's her fault Kick-Ass died like it was her fault her dad died (or was that in the comic? I think it was Kick-Ass's fault in the movie).

    But I digress, I digress! Jim Carrey was amazing in this film.

  2. I remember that scene well. Kick-Ass tells Hit-Girl that if it wasn't for her, he'd be dead, and she retorts, "yeah, well if it wasn't for you, my dad wouldn't." Sting.

    I also appreciated the comment Hit-Girl made in this one to that one thug, "you know, all that homophobic shit makes you sound really gay," because I've thought myself about how those super-masculine guys who like to try to police gender come off as being far more homoerotic than the effeminate men they criticize for their perceived "gayness" (completely missing the fact that gender and sexual orientation are two separate things).

    Jim Carrey was pretty good, considering that I hardly even recognized him. Although one thing I didn't appreciate about this movie was the subplot stereotyping "sex trafficking". Yeah, it's an obvious choice for a criminal shakedown, and this movie isn't exactly hyper-realistic, but it didn't poke fun at the phenomenon, it only encouraged its sensationalism.

    Still, really fun movie.