On DVD and Blu-ray–Moretz and Taylor-Johnson kicking it again in Kick-Ass 2

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If you like edgy superhero flicks and missed Kick-Ass 2 in theaters, it’s now available on Blu-ray and DVD.  If you liked the original, you’ll love the sequel.  Kick-Ass 2 pretty much requires you’ve seen the original Kick-Ass, a truly novel, unique, and interesting piece of filmmaking.  It’s a good film that takes an idea from a Mark Millar comic book series and propels it into a big-time action movie.  But Kick-Ass 2 does something rare–its success is being better than both the original film and Millar’s source material.  It’s a great superhero flick and a fun, awesome, over-the-top action movie, with villains you’ll want to see crushed and downtrodden heroes you’ll want to see persevere.

The caveat for the Kick-Ass franchise is you can’t be offended by a teen or pre-teen with a thorough and eloquent knowledge and use of George Carlin’s seven dirty words.  You’ll hear all of them.  Many times.  And if you can’t tolerate a big dose of over-the-top violence, pick another film to watch.  This probably rules out a big segment of the adult audience.  In another director’s hands, this would be a gimmick, even an annoyance, but Jeff Wadlow knows his characters and audience and deftly moves beyond the Whedon-Buffyverseworthy dialogue to a superhero film that can be both gritty and tongue-in-cheek, and manages to be on par with Stan Lee’s original Spider-man, only juxtaposing innocence against the worst of society to an in-your-face extreme.

Kick-Ass 2 movie poster

The only missing piece in Kick-Ass 2 is Nicolas Cage, who played Damon Macready, alias Batman-esque Big Daddy, in the original film.  Father to Chloë Grace Moretz’s Mindy, aka Hit Girl, events in the original explain his absence in this sequel.  But Kick-Ass 2 makes up for his absence with some other great performances from new additions.  One is Jim Carrey’s almost unrecognizable performance as an ex-mob enforcer turned superhero called Captain Stars and Stripes.  Carrey completely embraces the role of the leader of a league of good guys trying to take back their streets, and the result is one of his best performances–up there with his shape-shifting Ace Ventura, and zany Stanley Ipkiss aka The Mask.  The always superb John Leguizamo turns in a similarly good performance as a majordomo for the show’s villain, the returning Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad) as Chris D’Amico.  Mintz-Plasse plays the evil villain bit for all it’s worth–he’ll make you cringe while you cheer for his imminent demise.

The honorable teen Dave Lizewski, aka Kick-Ass, played again by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, almost takes a backseat to Moretz’s Mindy/Hit Girl this time around.  But it’s their friendship, chemistry and common past that ties all the other story threads together.  Moretz is stunningly good–turning in a performance that should go up there with the most butt-kicking female characters of all time.  Her motivations make sense.  She tries to walk out from the shadow of her father, but circumstances keep pulling her back in.  The most memorable moment features Mindy bursting back into superhero mode after holding back for the first half of the film, taking on more than her share of criminals atop, beside, behind, and on the hood of a moving van in a freeway scene inspired by the famous truck ride in Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Hit Girl belongs in the league of tough-as-nails characters with Sarah Connor and Ellen Ripley.

Film Title: Kick-Ass 2

Even the more minor characters rise to the occasion.  Olga Kurkalina’s Rocky IV/Brigitte Nielsen-inspired “Mother Russia” gets to show her villainy by crushing any good guy who crosses her path.  She’s mean, she’s tough, and oh, so wrong in every way.  Her showdown with Hit Girl is spot-on.

Woven into the film is a coming of age film similar to the original Kick-Ass.  Mindy is both likeable and sympathetic.  Dave needs to save the world in the face of obstacles that would knock down any typical teenager.  And all their friends are real people trying to look out for the little guy.  It’s what superhero films are supposed to be about (even if you wouldn’t want your kids emulating Mindy’s vernacular).

Check out Kick-Ass 2 on DVD and Blu-ray, available on Netflix, and here at Amazon.com.

C.J. Bunce

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