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Kick-Ass 2!

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Not bad for homemade masks, huh?

I  finally watched Kick-Ass 2!  Considering my degree of unabashed-worship of the first movie, the fact that I could restrain myself long enough to attend with SPAtrick is remarkable itself.  More remarkable still, is that I’ll surprise her with a second review in a week’s time!  Next comes the rain of frogs and plague of locusts!

First and foremost, I will try my damndest to keep spoilers to a minimal.  The movie isn’t quite a week old, after all.  Some of my major discussion points will likely touch upon minor spoilers, but as telegraphed as some are, I’ll avoid major spoilers as best I can.  If you’ve even glanced sidelong at a trailer for Kick-Ass 2, you realize that both sides of the roster have exponentially increased.  A judicious chunk of this review will be discussing the roles performed by the supporting cast and crew, so if you consider knowing the names and status of additional heroes and villains in the sequel to be a spoiler, consider yourself warned!

Okay, I will approach the subject by saying that there seems to be a definitive bias in characterization leaning toward the heroes, so the meat of the discussion will be on the heroes (with one glaring exception, due to how flat-out bad-ass her role was performed).  I wouldn’t fault the film for this; aside from the Motherf*cker (and even that is a stretch), not a single major villain is meant to be even remotely sympathetic.  A case could be made for one of the minor villains, but minimal spoilers, dammit!

We all knew what to expect from Dave, Mindy, and the rest of the returning crew, so I’ll put that on the back burner for the time being.  Rounding out the hero roster, we have comedic actor legend Jim Carrey (Colonel Stars and Stripes), Clark Duke’s enhanced role (Marty),  Donald Faison (Doctor Gravity), Robert Emms (Insect Man),  and Lindy Booth (Night Bitch).  I’ll start out by coming clean; I caught the trailer revealing Jim Carrey’s inclusion a little late.  When I was told he had been cast, I had to scratch my head a little bit, trying to remember his latest cinematic inclusion I could recall.  I’ve been out of the movie loop for a while, fair warning, but in my recollection, he’s been out of the spotlight for the better half of a decade.   Regardless, I’d  say his performance was adequate.  Considering the character he was meant to play, his dialogue was appropriately delivered and sensible, while not exactly a performance for his highlight reel.  In my older (and considerably more jaded) age, I’ve come to reason with A-list actor/actresses performing mundanely when mediocrity is really all the role allows.  That considered, Carrey’s performance was not disappointing; never did I see Stars & Stripes and sigh in discontent.

Clark Duke continued his role from the first movie with a fair bit of added emphasis, and I’ll leave it at that.  He extrapolated his initial role seamlessly, as well as the reasonable, organic character growth expected of the continuation of the story.  The character, Marty, finding himself embroiled in some of the situations he did seemed a bit of a stretch to me, but I believe the actor handled the adjustment admirably.

Donald Faison was a bit of an odd beast, to me.  By the time of his introduction, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect of him, given the tone set by previous scenes.  His initial dialogue led me to resign him to comic relief; however, shortly thereafter he has an act or two of bad-assery.  And such was his lot throughout the length of the movie; I’m still on the fence about which camp he primarily falls within.  When you consider the level of camp-iness set by the movie, however, this is easy to take in stride.  I will throw the role of Robert Emms in this paragraph as well; he was a supporting role at best, and considering the depth and time constraints set by stronger plot characters, I think he performed adequately.  He encompassed the spirit of the heroes’ goals in his introduction alone, and fulfilled his following obligations as combat-filler just as well.

And Lindy Booth.  Aside from having the simultaneously-least-original-but-funniest superhero name (Night Bitch, really?), all I can say spoiler-free, is that she was an archetype before character, really.  When you see her introduction and demeanor, her role throughout the better part of the remainder of the film will be unsurprising,   I will commend the writers on giving her a very real approach to certain situations, as brief as it may be.  Finalizing the hero roster we have a pair of grieving parents, who took up masks in the wake of the loss of their child, and respond to the call-to-arms against villainy as any middle-class couple would; wanting to leave it to the police initially, and then arming themselves with brick-filled pocketbooks.

Before addressing the roles of veteran heroes, I’ll dabble in the newcoming villain’s roster.  “Black Death” is, 100%, mob muscle.  His introduction, which is coincidentally all of his characterization, paints him as such.  His costume design is visually striking, (my personal favorite of the bunch), but that’s literally all there is to him.  Next, we have “The Tumor”.  Like Black Death, his introduction tells you virtually all you need to know of him; he’s violent and angry, and short.  The characterization behind most of the villains was, seriously, no longer than “Let’s try to stereotype them for one-hit jokes, lol.”  A point addressed by the movie!    Considering the tone set by the film, however, this is no surprise.  Furthermore; let’s face it.  These characters were pure fodder.  We were never intended to have an emotional tie with them, why would we fault the script writers for failing to develop that connection?  Similarly generic was the comically-named ‘Genghis Carnage’, although he has the honor of ‘most spoken underling dialogue.’  I think he may have actually had four lines!

Rounding out the villain roster, we have Mother Russia.  The show-stealer.  Without getting into too much kick-ass (ba-dum tshhh) detail, I will say that she was the face of villainy, hands down.  Her performance was absolutely archetypal; the attention spent on fulfilling her niche showed.  I couldn’t stop myself from leaning over and whispering to SPatrick “Jesus Christ, she’s like a female Dolph Lundgren!”  Before any of you rage at me, yes, I know Dolph is Swiss.  It was in reference to Ivan Drago.  Toward the end of the film, I found myself thinking “If they had two of her, it would have been a done deal.”  She carried the villainous team, hands down.

Now, on to the recurring cast.  I’m fairly certain they cast a new actor for Todd; Augustus Prew.  Of all the returning characters, his performance was the most underwhelming.  I can’t imagine stepping into the shoes of a character established by another actor is easy, but it just seemed like he missed the mark.  Too much of the personality was lost in the shift, and the role of Todd just seemed to serve to fill a vacuum.

I have minor grievances about the roles of both Dave and Mindy.  Primarily, both seemed to have lost their teeth, so to speak, in the interim between movies.  Dave has a bit of trouble handling a group of gang-bangers when he had previously been tortured and in life-and-death shootouts with hired mob gunmen.  I understand they were trying to emphasize the trainer/trainee relationship between Dave and Mindy, but it just seemed a little inconsistent.  And Mindy, a.k.a Hit Girl…I wasn’t thrilled with the length of her bout of soul-searching.  As a plot device, I understand the need to show her attempting to ‘fit in’.  However, it dragged on for far too long.  I won’t pretend to be an expert on the matter, but this is the sort of thing that, I believe, could have been halved in duration, not lost its significance, and preserved pacing.  When I go to watch a Kick-Ass movie, do you think I want to watch over an hour of Hit Girl pining over hanging out with the cheerleader uber-bitches?  Not exactly.

And Christopher Mintz-Plasse.  Jesus Christ, you could write a thesis on how messed up this kid is, and it’s a good thing.  As the only villain on the roster with more depth than you can soak your feet in, it’s good to be able to try to rationalize why the crazy creepy kid is doing what he’s doing.  The degree of difference in the direction the character of Chris D’Amico has taken between films really illustrates the toll the events took on him, and did wonders to establish his growth as a character.  From film A to film B, Chris easily takes the cake in character development and response to the impact of the respective films.  To do this while embellishing his role as comic relief (and his dialogue has no shortage of that) speaks volumes to the amount of care that went into his characterization.  I could easily see one person writing him off as a spoiled kid, with write-off one-liners whose sole purpose is to secure chuckles, while the person next to them considers Chris completely severed from reality due to his fathers’ death, with the occasional “oh shit” moments of realization.  You get as much as you’re willing to think into his role, and the fact that the role performs at least adequately at each end of the spectrum is impressive.

Aside from a disagreement pertaining to the length of Hit Girl’s adventures in High School drama-land, the pacing was respectable.  We were treated to witness the actions of heroes and villains in spurts enough to keep curiosity sated and, truth be told, even the high school drudgery was sated with enough entertaining dialogue to make it bearable.  The soundtrack seemed a little more ambitious than the original (which borrowed more-than-heavily from tunes in existing films).  A lot of the underlying music was definitely inspired by music from the first movie, but was remixed enough to breath at least a little life of its own.  All in all, if you were a fan of the original, absolutely check it out.  It serves a very solid continuation of the storyline set by the first film, and a few quirks aside, met the expectations set by the the original.

Steve-O

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