Saturday, 28 December 2013

Film Club - Kick Ass 2

Sequels rarely top the original, although in some cases they take a new route and work almost just as well. On very few occasions they improve. In the case of Kick Ass 2 they, sadly, did not. That's not to say it was a bad movie, in fact it was a fairly enjoyable experience with a few jokes. But it also fell short of expectation. 

So for the plot then... Kick Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), aka Dave the teenager who started the regular-people-don-superhero-costumes trend, appears to have found a fellow and trainer in Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Mortez), Mindy, who we saw last in the first movie after they defeated Red Mists father while suffering some losses themselves. However, Hit Girl's promise to her new guardian, Marcus, and in honour of her late Big Daddy, to hang up her hero costume leaves Kick Ass to find a hero-team of his own. So he stumbles upon Justice Forever, led by a a disguised Jim Carey working under the alter-ego Colonel Stars and Stripes. With a few screws loose but a decent heart he steers the group of good hearted costumed heroes to take on the bad guys in their own ways. 

At the same time Chris (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) , last seen as Red Mist, has taken a turn and decided his fate was never as a hero but as a super villain and starts assembling a super league of evils (Mother Russia to name one) to take on Kick Ass himself. 

While Kick Ass the first was a hilarious comedy with just the right mix of growing pains jokes, super-hero references and fresh faces, the sequel seems to try a bit too hard to grow up while and retain the laughs while balancing some serious story lines and gory fight-scenes. 

It lost some of it's charm from trying just a little bit too hard to be just a few too many things it didn't have to be. Sometimes it's a comedy that hits all the right spots. Sometimes it mixes Mean Girl with a fresh heroine. At times we go full Marvel with the villain league slashing and cutting, fairly epic and hilarious costumage. The story delves into deeper issues too, confronting grief, bullying, self-confidence, loyalty, right and wrongs, violence and much more. These are all important and work on their own. The moment stars and stripes explains his gun-wielding ways for example. 

But again, all this is where the film struggles for balance. It started out as a comedy, with a sprinkle of seriousness and a lot of heart. That worked well. The elements don't flow as smoothly in the sequel even though the heart is in all the right places. It just seems to take on too much, and to follow through on each front as well. It almost works too, but...  

The characters are funny, and there's something quite interesting and amusing about Hit-Girl facing the stereotypes and high-school horrors of the Queen Bitch & Co and expectations of gal's her age. The greater discussion of good and bad, right and wrong, and the ordinary Joe standing up for the little guy, are mixed up with a nice dose of humour. But something feels out of place. A little like having mixed in Superbad, Spiderman and some horror while retaining the Kick Ass element. The overall storyline of Red Mist turning bad guy, while Kick Ass and Hit Girl try to find their identities (teen or superhero, and what lies in between), work nicely. But there are a lot of scenes, a lot of elements, and a lot of strings that get lost. It tries too hard to do too many things at once, with quality in most bits but leaving the audience a bit lost and at risk of loosing focus at times. 

All in all it's a three out of five cute kittens. Lots of fun jokes, but not quite going all the way. And despite the holes, I have to agree with much of the Twitter-verse... A third in the series would definitely go down well in the fan base, and I would look forward to seeing what they could come up with. At the same time, it does feel like a good wrap. Then a lot of sequels do, until the third one is written up. 

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