Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Kick-Ass 2

Get out your masks and baseball bats, we're reviewing Kick-Ass 2!
Dave (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) was through being the superhero Kick-Ass, but he gets back into the game out of boredom. Mindy (Chloë Grace Moretz) loves being Hit-Girl, but her new adoptive father, Marcus (Morris Chestnut) wants her to have a normal life. With Chris D'Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) resurfacing as the world's first supervillain, can Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl get enough hero friends to bring him down?

It's nice to have a bit o’ the ol' ultraviolence now and then.

Kick-Ass 2 is all about what would happen if regular people tried to be superheroes. It's the kind of movie that's made to deconstruct the superhero genre. Like its predecessor, I think it does an interesting job of that, while still letting itself have enough fun to embrace some of the sillier and outrageous trends the superhero genre uses. I feel like we're getting past the "realistic superhero" trend that The Dark Knight started and going back to embracing straight-up superhero silliness, but this is a movie I feel has enough fun with itself that it can fit in both categories.

I'm most surprised about how much I enjoy the story in Kick-Ass 2. It kept giving me characters to care about and then ripped my guts out when bad things happened to them. I was not expecting to care so much about these crazy people who dress up in silly costumes and break each other's bones with blunt instruments, but they become really endearing. I won't spoil who gets what, but there are definitely a couple of tear-inducing moments similar to Big Daddy's fall in the first movie.

And hey, there wasn't a rape! I mean, a lot of movies don't have rapes, and we don't throw them a no-rape party, so why should this one get any special treatment? The problem is that there IS a rape in the comic (multiple rapes? I haven't read the comic, but I knew about this one) the film is adapted from, so I'm super glad they took the relatively high road and found an ambiguous and funny way around it. So, no rape. Progress?

Speaking of progress, I feel I could make an argument that Mindy is the main hero of this movie and Dave is her inept sidekick/damsel whom she has to rescue occasionally. And that's pretty great! Both she and Kick-Ass go through arcs, but I feel like she gets more growth – literally, since she's going through her formative years and figuring out who she is. Mindy is a pretty kick-ass (pun SUPER intended) character, and I love how she's got all the fighting figured out, but gets cold sweats thinking about high school. As well she should!
I think Damian Wayne and Mindy would get along swimmingly.
So hey, can we talk about Hit-Girl and her sexuality? Because it's weird. See, in the first movie, it seemed as though she was over-sexualizing herself and everyone around her went, "Oh no, that's gross." Big Daddy tells her to knock it off when she poses sexy, and later she pops up in what looks like a child's version of an adult version of a schoolgirl outfit. And that, in my opinion, is all done to point out the pretty creepy and sadly true trend of young female superheroes being over-sexualized in the comic book world. Because that's a weird thing in comics which is really happening, and it should be pointed out and taken to task. But in this one, I still felt her character was sexualized at times, but not in the "over-sexualized to point out how ridiculous it is" way. It's one of those things where the camera lingers on her big pink lips 2 minutes too long. But perhaps this is just her coming into being a young woman? It felt uncomfortable.

This is barely a spoiler as it happens within the first twenty minutes, but I find it pretty weird that Dave's girlfriend breaks up with him, never to be heard from again. And then he spends exactly zero energy trying to get her back, even though he was completely "in love" with her in the first movie. I'm sure this is because, in the graphic novel, he didn't get the girl, and now, in the movie, a good way of getting her out of the picture had to be contrived before the events of the second movie could make sense. Still, it turned into a missed opportunity for tension, and was sloppy to boot.

I guess I should mention the violence. Isn’t that what you came here for, YOU FILTHY ANIMALS?! Of course you did. Okay then. The violence is really over-the-top bloody and amazing. There are tons of great fight scenes jamming out to hot tunes, most of which are with either Hit-Girl or Mother Russia (Olga Kurkulina). Limbs are broken, heads get cut off, car doors are thrown, and even the very clever use of a lawn mower! All super violent, all super fun, and some of the best fight scenes of the summer. It's a good time had by all if you're into that sort of thing!

Kick-Ass 2 has a surprisingly big cast of named stars in side rolls. There is, of course, Jim Carrey perfectly matched to Colonel Stars and Stripes, John Leguizamo as Javier (Chris's bodyguard and assistant), and Donald Faison in a pretty funny take on Dr. Gravity. It is fun spotting them and they all seem to enjoy themselves in their roles. The movie is really funny, too, from Dave's inept ability to do anything, to Chris calling himself the Motherfucker and recruiting a bunch of killers and assassins and renaming them ridiculous and slightly racist things, to Hit-Girl swearing like a sailor while trying to do normal kid stuff. Small children should swear more often! Also, lots of comedy barfing. That's always fun.

The pacing is good, the action is choreographed well, and they have a trend of doing comic-book-style dialogue boxes (like "meanwhile" and "later"). I wish they had pushed it further, adding more comic book style throughout the action, ala Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, but still, it’s very fun. The soundtrack is as full of fast and frantic tunes as the first movie, and the score is good, too, when they're not straight ripping-off the 28 Days Later score.

Kick-Ass 2
is pretty fun and violent. If you don't like super violent stuff, this is probably not for you. But if you enjoy a bit of the ol' ultraviolence and liked the first Kick-Ass, then you'll enjoy this one.

THE GOOD: Fun violent fights, funny, Chloë Grace Moretz is awesome, great cast, good soundtrack, no rape, story makes you feel for the characters.

THE BAD: Lots of violence and swearing, weird sexualization of Hit-Girl.

THE VERDICT: $$$$$ It's super fun and violent as all get out. Go see it!

MOVIES LIKE IT: Kick-Ass, Super, Defendor, Dark Knight, Chronicle

ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: Mindy tries to join the spirit team. After her "friend" gives a highly sexualized performance, Mindy does the only thing she knows how to do, and pictures herself as Hit-Girl fighting a bunch of Ninjas. I feel sorry for those poor imaginary Ninjas.

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