The Watchers

The Watchers

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Review: Kick-Ass 2 (UK Cert 15)

Everyone’s done this: a new film comes out, your friends see it first, and when you tell them you've not watched it they stare at you like you've stepped out of a giant CGI spaceship. “ You've not seen (insert film here)? What’s wrong with you?! It’s AMAZING!!” So, you traipse along to the cinema and, yes, the film was alright, you've seen worse, but it wasn't the life-changing experience your friends promised you. That film for me was Kick Ass.

Now, before you start firing a World War Three-scale barrage of abuse, just hold fire while I talk about Kick Ass 2, as many of the problems I had with the first film crop up in its newly released sequel.

I’ll play the superhero for now and talk about what’s great about Kick Ass 2. While there aren’t many howl with laughter moments (although a scene involving UK boy band Union J is a highlight), it is more-or-less consistently funny, with Chloë Moretz’s foul-mouthed one-liners sounding like something Shakespeare secretly wrote. There are some great performances: Aaron Taylor-Johnson is a cheer-worthy hero as Kick Ass, Chloë Moretz is one of the best things about the films, Jim Carrey more than makes up for a lack of Nicolas Cage, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse is his usual effortlessly funny self as well as getting to turn up the diabolically evil all the way to eleven in this sequel (his costume looks like an S&M version of Jacko’s outfit in the Bad video). The action, while, oddly for a sequel, not as big-scale as the original, is fast paced, well edited, with plenty of wince inducing injuries. Jim Carrey disowned the film because of its violence, which seems strange as, while both films use household objects in plenty of inspired ways, I've still seen far worse in more highbrow, critically swooned over films.

And now I’m going to wear my evil grin as I become the villain and discuss what’s not-so-great about Kick Ass 2. For me, it’s the same problem that dogged the first film: it doesn't know what it wants to be. I get that the Kick Ass films are a homage to super heroes, with plenty of nudge-nudge, wink-wink jokes aimed at comic book readers, but are they also trying to be stand-alone super hero films in their own right? I ask this is because both films don’t succeed at doing either, and it’s the scripts that have to take the flack here. The humour in the Kick Ass films isn't quite as knowing and well-observed as it needs to be, but to make matters worse is the truck driver gear changes in tone. With the Kick Ass films you can go from foul mouthed one-liners and tongue-in-cheek violence, to bleak-as-hell preaching about the consequences of one-man vigilante missions, then back to another of Hit Girl’s one-liners, all in the space of five minutes. If anything – and this might be because Matthew Vaughn, co-writer and director of the original, gets a producer credit with this one – the sequel feels even preachier than the first.

For me, this is what stopped me getting caught up in the hype of the first film. With Kick Ass 2, the same applies, but even more so. That said, the sequel is enjoyable, funny and has the same glossy editing as the original.

Kick Ass 2 is worth a look, and there are far worse ways of killing nearly two hours of your life, you just find yourself wishing there had been a Hit Girl spin-off instead.

3 out of 5


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