August 19, 2013 -- I am a fan of the first “Kick-Ass” movie, with its odd, but winning mixture of fantasy, reality, humor and violence. Like many sequels, “Kick-Ass 2” falls short of the original. It fails to achieve that delicate balance, achieved so well in the original film, of comedy and violence. This film leans more toward drama, tragedy and violence, and less on comedy. It is not a winning formula in this case.
This story picks up a couple of years after the last one left off, with Kick-Ass (Aaron Johnson reprising his role of Dave Lizewski from the first film) still in high school and still not getting any respect. His girlfriend from the first film dumps him. He gets the urge to get back into the superhero business and asks Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz reprising her role of Mindy McCready from the first film) to join him. She refuses when her stepfather convinces her that she should drop the superhero bit and get serious about school.
Kick-Ass finally finds a group of people with similar interests he can hang with, a group of superhero wannabes that he inspired. This motley group is headed up by a former crook who calls himself Colonel Stars and Stripes (played by an almost unrecognizable Jim Carrey). Kick-Ass discovers one of his best friends, Marty (Clark Duke, reprising his role from the first film) who is in the same group, calling himself “Battle Guy.” Once they discover their secret identities, Marty and Dave (Kick-Ass) become closer friends than ever, but this causes their mutual high school friend, Todd (Augustus Prew, also reprising his role from the first film) to feel left out.
After the death of his father, Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse, reprising his role of Chris D'Amico from the first film) decides to become a supervillain. Dressing in a kinky S&M costume, he renames himself “The Motherfucker.” He builds an army of villains with the aim of killing Kick-Ass because Kick-Ass killed his crime boss father in the first film.
Eventually, this leads to a battle between the super heroes and the super villains, but not until there have been some gruesome murders. This is way too serious. In the first film, there was a lot of violence, but it was comic book violence leavened with humor. In this film, the tone is more serious and the violence is more graphic. A good man is executed by evil people.
It is one thing to kill an evil murderer in self-defense. It is quite another thing to murder someone who is innocent just to provoke a response. It isn't funny. There are a lot of good actors in this film, including John Leguizamo, who plays Javier, D'Amico's assistant, but they can't overcome the shortcomings of the script.
This is a story about people trying to find their true identities as super heroes. It is also a story about how violent crime can only be stopped by vigilantes working outside the law. These are serious subjects, which require a distortion of reality to be believable, unless you happen to live in a failed state, like Syria. It is difficult to balance these serious subjects with comedy. This film fails to achieve an entertaining balance of those the elements of tragedy, violence and comedy. This film rates a C.
I saw a review of this film recently that compared it, unfavorably, to “Watchmen.” That is a big stretch. “Watchmen” is a movie about super heroes with unnatural abilities, one of whom has god-like powers. It is epic and interplanetary in scale. It involves a grandiose plan to save mankind from itself and it takes place in an alternate reality and time line. “Kick-Ass” and “Kick-Ass 2” have none of those things in common with “Watchmen.” Other than that, there is still very little else in common between these movies. This is a bad comparison.
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