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REVIEW: 'Kick Ass 2': Hit (Girl) or Miss?

REVIEW:  'Kick Ass 2': Hit (Girl) or Miss?

'Kick Ass 2' is worth it for Chloe Moretz's Hit Girl!

prestonmaxallen

I loved Kick Ass the first time around. I mean, I really loved Kick Ass. As in I bought the DVD used from one of the last Blockbusters and even had a fan t-shirt from Hot Topic that I wore constantly. But that’s the thing. My DVD was from Blockbuster. My t-shirt was from Hot Topic. I warred over whether or not to bring it to college with me and I’ve since graduated. In the entertainment world, that movie came out lifetimes ago. So it’s super awesome and rather overdue that three years later the sequel has finally made its way into theaters (I may perhaps exaggerate timelines a smidge). The sequel itself, unfortunately, is a little less awesome. It’s a little busy, a little gratuitous, cluttered, and without that clear driving force that made the first one so special. There is, however, plenty of Chloe Moretz as Hit Girl, so not all is lost.

For those of you who are completely unfamiliar with Kick Ass (which may be many since according to me the first one came out in the Cretaceous period) here’s where we left off: Dave aka Kick Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), a dorky kid who dresses up as a superhero and fights crime on the streets, had teamed up with much more legit vigilante “superheroes” Mindy Macready aka Hit Girl and her father, Big Daddy (Nic Cage) to defeat the big bad of the first film, who happened to be the dad of another, less-successful attempt at a superhero, Chris (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). The good guys won, but Big Daddy got killed in the process and Chris went villainous in his desire for revenge. The thing that makes Kick Ass different from other superhero movies is that no one has powers, they’re just normal people who train to have awesome ninja skills. They’re driven by humanity, and it can actually get pleasantly relatable.

Now, the first mistake Kick Ass 2 makes is that it is not called Hit Girl: The Person You Really Want this Movie to be About. Mindy Macready is by far the most interesting, complex character the film has to offer, especially in this sequel where she’s forced to face the death of her father, the retirement of Hit Girl, and the start of high school. That’s enough for a movie right there, and as far as I’m concerned, there was no reason to bother with any other plotlines. Unluckily for me, Kick Ass 2 feels differently. In fact, it’s divided into three fairly distinct story lines. Story one features Hit Girl’s identity crisis. Story two involves Kick Ass joining up with a team of costumed vigilantes led by Jim Carrey’s Colonel Stars and Stripes and Donald Faison’s Dr. Gravity. Story three features Christopher Mintz-Plasse (whose character name doesn’t matter because it’s unnecessarily vulgar and he’s just playing the same character he always does) amassing a team of racially stereotyped villains to kill Kick Ass in the name of his father and also destroy everything just cause he can. All three of these stories do eventually collide, which is good for the two that didn’t involve Chloe Moretz because now they do and they’re better for it.

Kick Ass himself knows this movie needs more Hit Girl because he spends most of his storyline trying to get her back in the game after she decides to try life as a normal girl. And while watching a 15-year-old girl violently own giant evil men is awesome, seeing her in a high school habitat is actually an interesting turn. However, I could have done without the uncomfortably erotic Union J product placement, both because it was weirdly obvious and because it was used to shut down any suspicion of Hit Girl being a lesbian. That being said, Kick Ass 2 does feature an awesome gay superhero, Insect Man, who doesn’t wear a mask because it feels too much like being in the closet. More of him next time! Also, I wouldn’t complain about having a little more of Night Bitch, one of the members of Kick Ass’ vigilante team who’s also a ballet teacher and much cooler then she got the screen time for.

‘Surely there’s more to this movie then Hit Girl,’ you may be saying (though why, really?) and yes, fine, there is. Taylor-Johnson really is an adorable and sturdy leading man and his Kick Ass is always a likeable hero, which is so very important as Mintz-Plasse’s performance in this film made me deeply uncomfortable, and I needed something I could count on to enjoy. Don’t get me wrong, there was much to enjoy. The constant use of nearly every social media by both the heroes and villains gives an interesting perspective on the dangers access to that information can achieve. Carrey is fun and nearly unrecognizable in his superhero portrayal, and Faison is one of those guys who just makes me smile to see onscreen. If you were a fan of Nikita’s Lyndsy Fonseca, who played Kick Ass’ girlfriend in the last film, don’t buy a ticket to see her. She’s in barely a minute and might win the award for shortest-lived attempt at a relationship in a film. It is a joy to see Game of Thrones’ Iain Glenn in a cameo performance as Mintz-Plasse’s evil uncle, though I can’t see him onscreen without my brain yelling “KHALEESI!!!” repeatedly against my will. If you are a Game of Thrones fan, however, this is a fun way to distract yourself from the misfortune that is that whole storyline.

If you liked Kick Ass the first time around, you probably should go ahead and see the sequel. It does work as a next step in the story, even if it repulsed, annoyed, and unenthused me many a time. For example, is projectile vomiting still considered funny? Am I missing something here? Still, you very well might have a blast and bathroom humor may really be your go-to for a good chuckle. If you didn’t see the first Kick Ass, I’d suggest hitting up Redbox or your local Blockbuster (the one by my old house still exists so they’re not entirely a thing of legend yet!). It’s by far the superior adventure. Then you can make your choice whether or not to check outKick Ass 2. Hit Girl’s still up to her old cursing catch phrase tricks, but they’re better if you heard her say them as a 12-year-old.

The best thing to come out of Kick Ass 2 for me is definitely a newfound enthusiasm for October’s Carrie remake. The 1976 original has a special place in my heart, and I had been apprehensive about the seemingly too-pretty Moretz’s portrayal, but now I think I’m on board. There’s a moment in Kick Ass 2 that seems like it could lead right into Carrie, and I was kind of hoping it would just become that movie instead. Moretz, though young at 16, is definitely leading woman material, and if the future Kick Ass 3 goes where it seems to be heading, maybe Hit Girl will finally get her own story.

Honestly, I didn’t hateKick Ass 2. I like Kick Ass and I like Hit Girl and all their new friends are a jolly good time, but the villains are too one-dimensional, too successfully violent, and they spend a good amount of time not only attacking the heroes but my experience. I love and can appreciate a good villain, so it’s a shame this film doesn’t offer any. One of the best things about the first film is the way it walks the line between comedy and violence, but this one seems to drunkenly stumble a little too aggressively in an awkward direction. I have faith that this series will regain its footing and I’ll still happily wear my ‘I Heart Kick Ass’ shirt in public, but I won’t be ironing a ‘2’ on it any time soon. If anything, supporting this film might help lead to one that’s Hit Girl-helmed, and that alone would make this rocky experience worth it. 

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Preston Max Allen