I’m going to break this review into two parts: how Kick-Ass 2 holds up against the first film, and how much (or little) it’s based off the Kick-Ass 2 comic book run. This way I can address everything fairly…
When Kick Ass came out back in 2010, a lot of people gleefully strolled into their local theater expecting to watch Superbad in a cape and cowl. What they got, however, was one of the most violent and brutal comic book movies to date. It was still very funny, but it wasn’t the silly-teenagers-trying-to-have-sex-while-hyjinks-ensue-and-someone-ends-up-with-groin-trauma kind of funny that has saturated modern film. Kick-Ass was raw, inappropriate, and completely aware of how absurd it could be.
WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD
With this weekend’s release of Kick-Ass 2, we’re once again brought back to the world of the superhero wannabe’s and how they balance being regular people who happen to dress up in masks to fight evil, and defend the defenseless (or at least, attempt to). We find Dave “Kick-Ass” Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) has pretty much given up being a superhero, for the most part, and Mindy “Hit-Girl” MacCready (Chloë Grace Moretz)is trying to live a normal life and do her best to navigate the unremitting nuisance that is high school drama. Dave finally decides that he wants to get back in the superhero business and asks Mindy to help him train. He also connects with a group of other do-gooders and they form the superhero team “Justice Forever”. This ragtag group is where we get to meet Colonel Stars & Stripes, portrayed enigmatically by Jim Carrey. I mean, he really disappears into this role in a way that he hasn’t since Man On The Moon. You just don’t see Jim Carrey after awhile; he just BECOMES the Colonel. Meanwhile, we discover Chris “Red Mist” D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) has been sitting and stewing in his bitterness over Kick-Ass blowing his dad up with a bazooka, and after the (inadvertent?) death of his mother he decides to suit up in an all-leather-and-zippers S&M costume in order to become the world’s first supervillain. He chooses a name that he feels best represents the type of chaos he intends to unleash on Kick-Ass… The MotherF***er.
Anyway, The MFer builds himself a gang of other supervillains and takes to annihilating all that Kick-Ass loves and cares about. The most notable of these villains is, by a long shot, Mother Russia, who single-handedly obliterates a dozen NYPD officers AND their respective vehicles. Not that you necessarily root for her but the scene is executed beautifully on film and you really can’t help but be impressed. All of this culminates with a massive good guy/bad guy brawl that’s just really satisfying. Most of the time in a “superhero” movie that final clash of good and bad just isn’t as rewarding as you’d hope. Such is NOT the case here.
Kick-Ass 2 is a great continuation of Kick-Ass. It’s not better, it’s not worse. It is, however, decidedly more violent. There’s a lot more blood, even though some of it’s CGI. This movie is just as self-disparaging as the first and isn’t afraid to be extremely, and ridiculously crass for the sake of a laugh. The crudeness is still carried out somewhat cleverly, and with how self-aware the film is, makes perfect sense. There’s nothing that’s meaninglessly out-of-place in the film, except maybe some of the dynamics between Hit-Girl’s and Kick-Ass’ relationship, and an after credits scene that honestly I felt I could take or leave. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. The films moves along nicely and all the performances flawlessly capture that of the characters as they exist in the comic books. This brings me to… How does Kick-Ass 2 compare to the comic?
I’ll start by saying that, Kick-Ass was damn-near a shot-for-shot remake of the comics. It’s as if they walked in on the first day of filming and gave out copies of the books and said, “Here’s the script”. This sequel is different in that it borrows (obviously) from Kick-Ass 2, but also the Hit-Girl miniseries, which takes place between Kick-Ass and Kick-Ass 2. Hit-Girl is all about how Mindy deals with having to be a regular girl in a world that is completely foreign to her because of how she was raised by her vigilante father, Big Daddy (who, as we all know, was murdered in Kick-Ass). Much of that is depicted here in Kick-Ass 2 with some minor adjustments that, honestly, are necessary because the actors age and grow unlike in the characters do in the book. The adjustments, while more absurd than what is in the comics, strangely seem to just work better than if they’d actually used the source material. The same can be said for the way that the story, from the Kick-Ass 2 comics, is handled here in the film sequel. They use a lot of the source material and all the same characters with some slight adjustments. Two VERY BRUTAL scenes in particular are missing from the film (when those of you who’ve read the books see it, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about), but it’s handled well and I didn’t feel cheated the way I did when they reduced Galactus to a cloud in Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer.
Bottom line: Fans of the comic shouldn’t be disappointed, and if you liked Kick-Ass the movie, you’re probably gonna like Kick-Ass 2. It amps up the intensity a bit. To quote my wife: “When I saw Kick-Ass, I went into it not knowing what to expect. And it was brutal. I came into this one, knowing exactly what to expect, and it was still more brutal than I was prepared for.”
So what do you guys think? Did you like Kick-Ass? Let us know if you plan to see Kick-Ass 2 and why.
And if you’re a fan of the comics like me, do you feel the movies have done them justice?