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Kick-Ass 2 (2013) Movie Review By Stephen McLaughlin

Kick Ass 2

Director: Jeff Wadlow
Writers: Jeff Wadlow (screenplay), Mark Millar (comic book)
Stars: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jim Carrey 

The much anticipated sequel to 2010’s KickAss came three years later after original. Director Matthew Vaughn switched his attention to the Kingsmen franchise and at one point was linked with Episode VII of the Star Wars Saga. Whatever the reasons for his step down from this sequel I’m unsure of. Jeff Wadlow would come in and do an okay job on a sequel that had lost its original Director, replaced two of its actors who were ever prominent in the original film and Jim Carrey’s odd disapproval of promoting gun violence in film (I’m sure he said he enjoyed the first film) topped with being 2 years too late we now had 16 year old Chloë Grace Moretz playing Hit Girl. A role as a 12 year old she excelled in and managed to gather a large following for her role in the original film as the violent and potty mouth babyfaced assassin. Sadly the chemistry between her and her on screen Father “Big Daddy” played by Nicholas Cage is missed here. If I had one gripe with the original it was killing his character off. Yes the final scenes in the original with Big Daddy were powerful and emotional but the relationship in the sequel was badly needed and evidently missed. 

So Kick-Ass 2 follows Kick-Ass’ heroics from the first film that other citizens are inspired to become masked crusaders. But Red Mist leads his own group of evil supervillains to get revenge, kill Kick-Ass and destroy everything he stands for and for the largest portion of the movie that is what happens. Aaron Taylor-Johnson slips back into the role easily as the scrawny misfit that is Dave Lizewski by day. It’s one of the positives about the film. The same can be said for Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Chris D’Amico. He is still the whiny spoilt brat with Daddy issues and a immature rage directed at Kick-Ass for his exploits in the first film. Sadly for me Chloë Grace Moretz comes across bored with the character in this sequel. At this point in her career she was beginning to branch out in other projects and saw a future over the Hit Girl Horizon. 

We are introduced to some new and inventive super heroes and villains really upping the ante in cast and characters. Some are hard hitting in Mother Russia some more deliberately funny and pathetic in the duelling couple “Tommy’s Mother and Father” to Clarke Duke’s Marty / Battle Guy who is desperate for a tragic origin story. But none comes more prominent than Jim Carrey’s Colonel Stars and Stripes which is based on two characters from the graphic novels by Mark Millar. Carrey is a fine addition to the cast and albeit possibly harming the films box Office with his anti-violence in films speech really is at the same time the saving grace in this sequel. His character is bold, honourable and stands out amongst the rest of the supporting characters.

The tone of the movie did it’s best to match the tone in the original and to a point managed this. I personally felt that the violence and gore in this movie was missing the point of the first film. It felt forced at times and to me that wasn’t what appealed to me in the first film. It was used when it had to be used. Here it appears in almost every scene. I also didn’t like the handling and disposal of Katie Deauxma (Lyndsy Fonseca) in Kick-Ass 2. She was after all the love of Dave’s life at this point and whether or not there was other reasons it was forced and unrealistic from an audience members point of view. It really served as a plot device for Kick-Ass and Hit Girl to have some romantic connection by the end of the movie, which I found strange and out of character for both of them. Todd and Marty are utilised more in the sequel with Marty’s Battle Guy and Todd’s Ass Kicker now played by Augustus Prew replacing the brilliant Evan Peters. I would say their scenes with Dave had the same magic of the first movie and to be fair their are some funny scenes and dialogue between them.

Overall Kick-Ass 2 is a disappointing follow up to a classic comic book movie that I hold high in my top films of the genre. The storylines was predictable and at times forced. The climatic battle in the warehouse was messy and disorientated at times and felt bloated. Barring the face offs between Dave and Chris and Hit Girl and Mother Russia the rest was forgettable. I will say that some of the fight scenes were as impressive as the first movie but sadly there is a disconnection between 1 and 2 here and seeing this in the cinema back in 2013 disappointed the life out of me. If you haven’t seen the sequel I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s a movie that they really shouldn’t have bothered making. Not terrible, but not good.

Kick-Ass (2010) Movie Retro Review by Stephen McLaughlin

KICKASS

Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writers: Jane Goldman (screenplay),  Matthew Vaughn (screenplay)
Stars: Aaron Taylor-Johnson,  Nicolas Cage,  Chloë Grace Moretz

I can recall when ‘Kick Ass’ was announced to be made into a live action movie. If my memory serves me correctly it was around the same time as ‘Watchmen’ that was released the year previously.

I have never admitted to being a comic book fanatic. I’m more of a regular main stream fan who grew up on Spider-Man, Superman, Batman and The Incredible Hulk. Mostly through the live action television series was as far as it went for me.

Looking at the artwork at both Kick Ass and Watchmen I have to admit I was more drawn to the story of Laurie and Sally Jupiter, Dr. Manhatten, Rorschach, Edward ‘The Comedian’ Blake and Dan Dreilberg and the dark world of Super Heroes that Zack Snyder had created for the cinematic experience based on the Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons graphic novel in comparison to Dave Lizewski’s scrawny teenage superhero Kick Ass.

If I could go back 7 years ago, I would kick myself for my ignorance and into the realisation that this movie like it’s comic book creator Mark Millar was a force to be reckoned with.

The first movie I saw of director Matthew Vaughn was the 2004 hard hitting movie Layer Cake starring Bond to be Daniel Craig and although an enjoyable movie at the time, it never really stuck with me the name “Matthew Vaughn” but having experienced his movies post “Kick Ass” it is clear to see why his movies are very memorable and have a certain style. When you mix that with the graphic novel of Mark Millar you have a recipe for something unique, very special and unexpected.

My first viewing of Kick Ass back in 2010 has stayed with me since that day as going into the movie unassuming and not expecting too much from it, I can recall being blown away by the story, the acting, the characters and the visuals.

“Kick Ass” is the story of Dave Lizewski, an unnoticed high school student and comic book fan who one day decides to become a superhero, even though he has no powers, training or meaningful reason to do so other than fed up being bullied and being a nobody.

Dave’s story up to the point of becoming a superhero is very similar to Spider-Man’s Peter Parker in every sense that like Peter, Dave wants a life of meaning, struggling with teen angst and up to this point, doesn’t really know what he wants from life. This is obviously where Dave Lizewski and Peter Parker’s lives stop and one lives in the real world and the other in comic book world.

Dave even questions to his two close friends Todd and Marty “why doesn’t someone become a superhero in real life” to which Marty explains because they wouldn’t last 10 minutes in the real world”

This is what I enjoy about the world of Kick Ass. Although in our real world Kick Ass is a comic Book hero, in Kick Ass the world is every bit as real.

With Dave hell bent on making a difference to the world. Things don’t go according to plan on his first outing as the green suited hero. In fact after confronting two thieves trying to jack a car. Kick Ass ends up being stabbed and if that’s not enough is then run over. It is at this point you realise how graphic this movie is going to be in its tone and more important it’s mature theme for a comic book hero. The scene also signifies the style of movie Vaughn is making here and it’s at this point I was hooked. It’s not that often you actually see the “Superhero” of the movie vulnerable, struggling with courage, scared and unsure of his decisions once committed to the confrontation.

Thankfully Dave survives (only just) and spends months recuperating from multiple operations in which metal plates are installed into his body and he has also lost a lot of feelings due to irreparable nerve endings, which sounds to me like the making of a superhero??? even Todd and Marty test Dave’s disabled nerve endings out and declare “You’re practically a superhero!”

With Dave now back to full health he sets up a website for victims to contact him to help them with an “any job, not to small” approach isn’t very successful until he helps a victim who is chased by five other guys and manages to fend them off, whilst all captured on mobile phones by the onlookers and downloaded on to YouTube where Kick Ass becomes an overnight internet sensation.

Up to this point I have to admit although I enjoyed the storyline but felt it may have peaked too soon. That is until Big Daddy (Nicholas Cage) and Hitgirl (Chloë Grace Moretz) enter the scene and notice this internet sensation and want to check him out to see if he is the real deal or not. In fact one of the most enjoyable lines comes from Cage who says after watching the YouTube video. “Maybe he should think about calling himself “Ass Kicked” Cage delivers this line in classic Adam West as Bruce Wayne fashion with an added snigger as to be pleased with his funny one liner.

Cage and Grace Moretz are perfect together as father and daughter fighting crime and I have to admit being shocked and amazed at Grace Moretz’s portrayal of the pint sized crime fighter. Her lines are delivered perfectly and up against the veteran actor there is natural chemistry between both of them and she really matches her on screen Dad in every scene they appear in. It’s a strange thing to say, considering the relationship but you would swear that Nick Cage is her real Dad, if that makes sense.

Also taking notice of the Kick Ass video is Dave’s classmate Chris D’Amico portrayed by the brilliant Christopher (McLovin) Mintz-Plasse. Chris is the son of big time gangster Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong) and points out to his father the menace in his city who sets out to end Kick Ass’s rise to fame before he does any significant damage to the D’Amico Empire.

Both Mintz-Plasse and Strong appear to have a great relationship as far as acting goes although the characters appear to have little in common as Chris appears to be a disappointment to Frank in he seems to take after his mother rather than his father and Chris is aware of this and is desperate for his father’s approval convinces him to invest in a superhero costume and persona into luring Kick Ass into a trap. This sets up a brilliant climatic battle between our superheroes and the gangsters of the city and ends in once of my favourite onscreen moments involving a jet pack and An American Trilogy by Elvis Presley being played over this scene. It really is a great moment in the movie that will make the hairs on your arm stand up.

Overall Kick Ass is a stunning piece of work from all elements within the movie. The pacing is just right throughout the duration, the visuals are stunning and in particular the fighting sequences, the acting and casting is basically lightening in a bottle and with a great storyline and fantastic catchy soundtrack I found myself watching this movie over and over again. If you haven’t watched Kick Ass yet, where have you been? Highly recommend.