“Kick-Ass 2” balances hyper-violence with comic book drama

Kick-Ass and Hit GirlMovies are just that, movies. Moving pictures to create a fictional world inside of our brains. They teach us truth by telling us lies. And that’s fine, that’s the magic of it all. Yes, Kick-Ass 2 is very violent and its setting is supposed to be the real world. The original film was both fun, comical, violent and shocking. Its sequel promised to be as well. Its promise was fulfilled but in a disappointing sort of way.

Kick-Ass 2 picks up right where its predecessor left off. Kick-Ass’ (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) example runs rampant in the streets. Ordinary people are putting on costumes and masks to put some good back into the world through their self-given power. Chris D’Mico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), but don’t call him that, is left with his dad’s death fresh on his mind as well as the person responsible for it: Kick-Ass/Dave Lizewski. He swears revenge, organizes a super villain team and follows the breadcrumbs back to Kick-Ass. Meanwhile, Hit Girl/ Mindy Macready (Chloe Grace Moretz) attempts to find her place in a normal life for her new guardian and friend Marcus Williams (Morris Chestnut). Kick-Ass along with Justice Forever must band together to fight the threat of The M’Fers forces. That is basically what you need to know going into the movie.

Let’s get this straight right from the start: it isn’t as good as the first and that’s for one reason: the screen-writing. I just went back to my comics, flipped through them and noticed plot point after plot point being hit. See, Kick-Ass 2’s comic and the side-story of Hit Girl were written separately and didn’t really mesh together like the movie tried to do. While Hit Girl is attempting to live a life outside of her vigilantism, her feelings and motives are too on the nose. They do a lot of telling us how the characters feel and not enough showing us. This is screenwriting 101 stuff that writer and director Jeff Wadlow should know. A few distractions seemed to be inserted just for the shock factor and to really earn that R rating. They were both unnecessary, lazy and stupid.

Despite this, it really did deliver on drama, shock and comedy. It was laughing when I was supposed to, gasping at the right moments and cringing at each limb dismemberment.  The action seemed to be on the jittery and unfocused side which only tells me that they weren’t too confident in their action to begin with. But from what I gathered, the actors and stunt doubles did their stunts extremely well. Better direction and less editing would have helped a lot with the comprehension of their work.

What I did really like about this unconventional installment in the comic book vein was the balance with consequence and hyper violence. Mark Millar pointed out that his story is blood filled but because the people in them face the consequences of their actions. This was a theme running throughout and not capitalized on fully. Also, Hit Girl was the center of most of drama having to deal with fitting into a world that she wasn’t a part of. This story arc could have been the focal but wasn’t handled in much of an interesting or subtle way for us to attach to.

All in all, I didn’t have any strong feelings either way. There was some good and there was some bad that all calculated up to a bag of mixed feelings. I know I was entertained but not profoundly moved by the narrative. To use a sports analogy, it wasn’t a home run but maybe a double play.

Verdict: See it in theaters with the right people who can appreciate over-the-top violence for what it is.

Summer’s Best of List

1) Star Trek: Into Darkness

2) Pacific Rim

3) The Way Way Back

4) Iron Man 3

5) Kick-Ass 2

6) Elysium

7) Man of Steel

8) Monsters University

9) The Wolverine

10) Now You See Me

11) After Earth

12) This Is The End

13) Only God Forgives

14) The Great Gatsby

15) World War Z

16) The Lone Ranger

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