Kick Ass 2 Review

I wasn’t a huge fan of the first Kick Ass, but Jim Carrey’s much-talked-about performance, and the fact this film was getting a mixed reception, convinced me to trade in my coins for my second London cinema experience. I sat in the Vue theatre on Leicester Square on a rainy Sunday afternoon, with the room pretty much to myself. I’ve not had a screen this much to myself since ‘Reign Of Fire’, and that wasn’t great (though I liked it more than my mum did). So we got bad signs from the start. But they quickly disappeared.

ImageThe story generally follows every superhero story sequel myth-arc: Kick Ass and Hit Girl are now trying to hang up their costumes and live normal lives, but are finding it difficult. However, the antics of the first film have inspired people all over America to copy them, and now a plethora of costumed ‘average-Joes’ walk the streets. Enter Colonel Stars And Stripes (played by Carrey), who unites all the vigilantes under the guise ‘Justice Forever’.

Whilst all this is going on, Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s character Chris D’Amico is still smarting from the events of the first film (which, if you’ve seen any of the promotion material for Kick Ass 2, has probably been spoilt for you). Angered that Kick Ass has joined the first team of superheroes, D’Amico turns himself into the world’s first super-villain, aptly titled ‘The Motherf*cker’, and starts a super-villain group of his own.

To say the story is relatively cliche-city, this is probably the best I’ve ever seen it done. Opening with ten minutes of awkward exposition, you may be convinced the script is going to be bad throughout. But once we actually get on with telling the story of ‘Kick Ass 2’, the pace never lets up.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson keeps his lead character in check, narrating the events and generally just trying to keep alive amidst the action all around him. He basically does what he did in the first film.

Chloe Grace Moretz reprises her role as Mindy, but her alter-ego takes a back seat for much of the two-hour running time. Actually, Moretz’s character spends most of the film trying to fit in at high school, which although sounds mawkish, actually gives her character room to develop, and for Moretz to show her acting talents on a much greater scale than the first film. She responds accordingly, and carries half the weight of the film easily.

Carrey steals every scene he’s in, and although Mintz-Plasse basically reprises his ‘Mclovin’ persona (he’ll never live that name down), it fits perfectly with the script and comedy of the charade. D’Amico gets all the best laughs, and scenes such as his attempt at raping a woman are laugh-out-loud.

I was also surprised to see several cameos from some of my favourite actors of the moment, which added some extra gravitas to proceedings.

The special effects are better handled than the first, although that’s probably to do with it being less of an independent production this time around. I’m pleased to say, however, with the absence of Hit Girl, a greater sense of realism is achieved, with much more emphasis on the ‘normal guys trying to be Batman’, and less on the jet packs and bullet-dodging.

For me, this was the key to the film’s success – it keeps itself well within the boundaries of reality, with people running away from fights, and generally acting like complete wussies when confronted with any real danger. When Hit Girl does make her inevitable return, the laws of physics are pushed, but this film gets away with it more than the first, as she is saved in the background as the ‘only real superhero’, only revealing herself to take on Mother Russia – D’Amico’s only real super villain. Because of this, you accept the Matrix-style fight scenes much more easily when the film reaches it’s climax.

Some critics say this film has no ‘memorable scenes’, but for me that’s nonsense – Mother Russia taking on five police cars full of officers on a suburban street, and the final battle (which was everything the finale of X-Men 3 wished it was) were awesome to watch.

I think your enjoyment of this film is down to how much violence you can take – Carrey has already spoken out against it. For me, there was no problem, as it bears a 15 certificate (thus, it fares better than ‘The Dark Knight’ in my books). My generation are generally de-sensitized. I don’t speak for everyone. But if cops getting hacked up with lawnmowers, or a villain attempting to rape someone sounds like it could be a laugh, then this is a great film. It’s tongue-in-cheek, and if you get offended, you’ve simply taken the film too seriously (a hard thing to do, considering it’s a comedy for the most part).Image

Overall, this is probably one of the best superhero movies I’ve ever seen. I went in with a list of boxes, and it ticked every single one. It didn’t try to go the extra mile, and it didn’t need to. It is what it is – a comedy summer blockbuster, with a lot of gore and violence. It didn’t attempt to change the formula, but rather got a tighter grasp of what it tried to do the first time around, and improved itself.

I also noted, this has all the best parts of everything that’s gone before; the philosophy of Spider Man, the grittiness of Batman, the violence of Watchmen – and where those films all had flaws, this film seems to have learned from their mistakes, and compensated by filling in with good parts of other franchises. So it has talking and character-development alongside violent action scenes at a perfect ratio, and with great pacing.

So yes, to me this is the best superhero flick since Batman Begins. The Dark Knight is the film to counter the argument, but I never really recognised that as a superhero film anyway. I came out of Kick Ass 2 sated, happy, and with closure. And I couldn’t ask for more than that.

10/10

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