21 August 2013

Kick-Ass 2 Review

Since it was first announced, Kick-Ass 2 has been one of my most anticipated films, with the only film I was looking forward more to than Kick-Ass 2 at the start of the year being The World's End. The first Kick-Ass was one of my favourite films from 2010 and the ending of the film left me heavily anticipating this film. So how was the film: not as good as the first film but still a great film.
The main plot of the film follows on from the set-up of Red Mist becoming a villain at the end of the first film, re-naming himself The Motherfucker and vowing to take revenge on Kick-Ass. At the same time, Kick-Ass is being trained by Hit Girl to become a better hero but, after Hit Girl is caught doing her actions by her guardian, she decides to retire and try to become a normal girl, which leads to her getting involved with a group of high school mean girls. Kick-Ass meanwhile, joins a superhero team and becomes a better hero, but has to deal with the rise of The Motherfucker. This feels like a very natural follow-up to the first film. Granted, some elements are incredibly rushed such as the ending of Dave's (Kick-Ass) relationship with his girlfriend but the other elements really work. It makes sense that there are a lot more heroes out there because of Kick-Ass and them all teaming up is a brilliant decision made to expand the world of the film. I also love putting Hit Girl into a high school setting, it feels like the polar opposite setting that you'd expect Hit Girl to be in but it really works, especially through the other girls being more cruel than some of the villains.

The plot of the film is also aided by an excellent cast. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is excellent as Kick-Ass, he really brings across the struggle he feels over living a normal life and being Kick-Ass and his chemistry with the members of Justice Forever is brilliant. Christopher Mintz-Plasse is also great as The Motherfucker. He brings across the pain and anger he feels over his Dad being killed but he never lets you forget just how pathetic and ridiculous a villain The Motherfucker is, making it clear that, if he didn't have all his money, he would be defeated in seconds. Also great in villain roles are John Leguizamo, who is a brilliant straight-man to Mintz-Plasse and Olga Kurkulina as Mother Russia, a really imposing presence and the real threat of the film with her action scenes being the highlights of the film. As the heroes, Donald Faison, Clark Duke, Lindy Booth, Robert Emms, Steven Mackintosh and Monica Dolan and especially Jim Carrey make a great impression, with Carrey being the best as Colonel Stars and Stripes, putting so much pleasure into what his character is doing and being almost unrecognizable under the prosthetics for the character but these characters could do with some more development outside of the reasons why they became heroes. This lack of development also goes to some of the villains, although it's more understandable for the villains since they are just violent thugs put into villain costumes. I also thought that some of the cast were wasted, whilst I enjoyed their performances, I really wish there were more scenes with Benedict Wong, Morris Chestnut, Daniel Kaluuya and Iain Glen (who seems to be in everything at the moment) and there is the big hole in the film created through the absence of Nicolas Cage which no actor in the film is able to fill. The standout of the film though, by far, is Chloe Grace Moretz as Hit Girl. She is excellent in this film, really bringing across the conflicted nature of the character in terms of fitting in, along with going through all the traditional teenage girl stuff, letting you know how the character has changed in the 5 years from when the first Kick-Ass was made. The high school subplot with her, whilst being really awkward at times, is made brilliant through how excellent Moretz is, especially later on when she gets torn apart by the mean girls and the ending of this plot, whilst being a bit out-of-place with the tone of the rest of the film, feels a lot like how someone like Hit Girl would resolve this issue, bringing across a great sense of pain and heartbreak and the way that her character arc developed over the course of the film was brilliantly handled by Moretz. Plus, she really nails the action scenes, especially later on in the film.

On a technical side, this film is weaker than the first one. Jeff Wadlow cannot top Matthew Vaughn's brilliant direction from the first film in terms of managing the tonal shifts and it is clear that Wadlow was constricted by the budget in what he could do. This film has a much bigger cast and has to do a lot more big action scenes, but it has the same budget as the first film. This means that a lot of the big action scenes in the comic have had to be stripped down (e.g. the final battle in the comic took place in Times Square) and the effects budget has had to be reduced, making for scenes with really obvious green-screens and CGI blood. However, the music choices are excellent (minus the completely random music video for Union J, although it does help advance Hit Girl's character development), especially the choices during the action scenes. During the first big set-piece action scene for Mother Russia, there's a music choice that I didn't expect but really works for the character (I don't want to give it away as that music was one of the big laughs I had in the film) and I also love how the theme to remind the audience of Big Daddy is the reworking of In The House, In A Heartbeat from 28 Days Later from the first film. The action scenes are brilliantly directed as well, especially the scenes with Mother Russia, showing off just how powerful a character she is and the fight scene between her and Hit Girl at the end of the film is the best scene in the film, especially for how the fight is choreographed to reflect the height difference between Kurkulina and Moretz (who is about a foot and a half shorter than Kurkulina).

The last thing I want to talk about is that scene. If you've seen the film or read the comic you know exactly what scene I'm talking about. I'm going to place a spoiler warning for this next paragraph, as this scene is a very important point near the end of the film so if you don't want the film spoiled, skip to the conclusion. Okay, so there's a scene near the end when The Motherfucker finds out the real identity of Night Bitch (Lindy Booth's character), goes to her house and attempts to rape her, only to find that he can't get an erection so he decides to have his thugs beat her up instead. After doing some research though, I found out that in the comic Night Bitch does get raped in a scene put in just for shock value. I am so thankful that Wadlow decided not to include the rape scene, and instead kind of subvert the mindset of someone who would put a rape scene in a comic or film just for shock value and if the film had gone as far as the comic and included the rape scene, I would have walked out.

Overall, Kick-Ass 2 is a great film. Is it as good as the first film: no but I doubt that anything could have lived up to the surprise of the first Kick-Ass. The elements from the comics that would have made me walk out of the film were removed and subverted, the action scenes are brilliantly directed, the plot follows on really naturally from the first film and, despite some wasted members, the cast is uniformly excellent, with special praise having to go to Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Chloe Grace Moretz. This is probably the easiest film I can recommend to people all year, if you liked Kick-Ass then you'll probably like Kick-Ass 2.

My Rating: 4/5

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