Tuesday, December 17, 2013

REVIEW: Kick-Ass 2 (2013)

Sequels are a tricky business. For example, what can you say to a film which, by all accounts many people outright loathed, which then produces a sequel only amplifying the qualities which everyone hated about the original? I liked Kick-Ass. It was an unsubtle, goofy movie, but it had real drama to it at times, some really funny moments and I enjoyed the characters. It kept things down to Earth enough that the violence was fun and the film had a lot of swagger and style – it was just an enjoyable trip. However, I could never really defend it from the people who called it a pandering, depraved violent piece of hack-work. It kind of was.

However, the sequel sucks shit through a straw and everyone involved should be ashamed.

Director: Jeff Wadlow
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse

I mean this shit is just rock bottom. From a writing standpoint, it’s abysmal; I mean really, really goddamn bad. This is the kind of thing that a middle schooler on a sugar high would think is acceptable, the kind of thing that makes the writers of good movies pour another glass of Scotch. The kind of thing that proves that really, entertainment in America has cancer. And I hate to say it, but it looks to be a terminal case.

Sigh, so I guess I should actually talk about this movie. To sum it up: lines so lame the actors literally look embarrassed to deliver them, if not outright bored as hell, too many random plot lines shoved in with little to no coherence, death scenes that try to go for drama but then shoot themselves in the foot with goofy shit, and some truly ridiculous moments that should probably have their own Ripley’s Believe It Or Not entries.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Horrified yet?

We start off with some rushed scenes with shitty narration over top explaining that main character Dave has gotten bored since he stopped being Kick-Ass at the end of the last film. You know, the motivation of all great film characters! Right up there with ‘wanting to get a snack but being too lazy to get up’! There’s no gun being held to your head and forcing you to write this script, guys ...

Oh ... well, shut up.

Point is, next time if you don’t find yourself giving a shit about anything, don’t bother making a movie at all. I mean, the whole reason Dave even talks to Mindy again amounts to "he feels like it." It’s such a bland, vague reason to have a movie that it mostly just seems like they could have set it at any time. What’s the reason anything in this movie has to happen when it does? It could be the next day after the events of the first movie, two years like the movie says, or ten years, and either way nothing would change.

There’s no gravity to this story. The main character’s motivation is boredom, for Christ’s sake! At least in the first one, he genuinely thought he could make a difference. This time it’s just like “eh, I got nothing better to do; already jerked off, checked up on the Duck Dynasty forums and prepared a speech for my acceptance into the Douchebag Hall of Fame, might as well become a superhero again.”

The first lines of dialogue these guys utter in this movie are about fantasizing about Aunt May from the Spider-Man universe. Kinda sets the tone.

On the other side of the spectrum we get Chris D’Amico/Red Mist, who learns that Kick Ass is back and is so furious that he complains to his mother like a little kid who wants to go back to the toy store. The mother’s acting is about as horrible as can be. She has a ridiculous fake-sounding Boston accent that comes off as like the director never heard a real Boston accent in his life. I mean it makes these look like credible, native-born Bostonian citizens!

As it turns out, Red Mist doesn’t like her accent either:

Yup, he just … spontaneously kills his mother by accident. He proceeds to not mourn her at all and just immediately start going through her shit to throw everything away. Yeah, because accidentally killing your mom is totally something you can just brush off. I mean, why bother having any tension or drama to this shit, right? It’s only SOMEONE’S MOTHER DYING. Unfortunately, though, most of the deaths in this movie are like this – either they’re just flat out ridiculous, like this, or they had potential to be dramatic and wasted it.

Remember the Nicolas Cage death scene in the first movie, how dramatic it was and how everything seemed to stop in place and really focus on the death and what it meant? Yeah, there was more emotion in that five or ten minute sequence than in this whole fucking movie.

O Great Nic Cage, we miss you so. Who ever thought a movie would get less classy without Nicolas Cage?

And the acting is just awful. Christopher Mintz-Plasse delivers probably the worst performance of his life in this. It’s really, really fuckin’ bad – you have no idea until you actually see this. Remember how you liked him in the first movie and his character actually seemed relatable as the pompous rich kid who was lonely with no friends? Well, here he’s about as likable as a cancerous ball-sack on fire. If I were to compare this character now with Danny McBride in 30 Minutes or Less … I’d still say McBride is far worse, but the fact that the comparison could be made speaks volumes.

I mean, take a look at his new name "The Motherfucker." Seriously? Not to mention the costume looks like he wouldn't be out of place hanging out with The Gimp from Pulp Fiction:

Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Chloe Moretz are no better, both of them constantly looking bored or embarrassed, depending on what’s going on. I really doubt either one of these two thought this script was any good. Like really, there’s one scene where Dave is talking to Mindy about their whole superhero gig and she says “it’s over,” and then Dave’s girlfriend magically hears that and automatically assumes he was cheating on her.

"I REALLY DON'T WANT TO BE IN THIS MOVIE! GIVE ME LIKE TWO SECONDS OF SCREEN TIME!" Seriously, blink and you'll miss this character ... didn't they spend the whole first movie setting her up with him? I guess that doesn't matter anymore!

Yup, no point in giving him a chance to explain, right? Even though you’ve apparently been dating for two years now? Nothing? That’s … just about the laziest excuse for writing off a character I’ve maybe ever seen.

We also get John Leguizamo, playing one of Chris’s bodyguards. This character is sort of the ‘angel on Chris’s shoulder,’ and mostly just exists to spout politically correct garbage whenever Chris is trying to make his supervillain team, constantly complaining that the names he chooses are racially insensitive. That’s … really about all he does; I’m not even kidding. And yes, the idea of John Leguizamo as some kind of conscience for anyone is hilarious to me, too.

"I'm a credible actor, really!"

And then we come to the debacle that is Hit-Girl’s storyline in this. Apparently Marcus, who now serves as a sort of surrogate father figure, wants her to quit being a superhero and just be a regular girl. She wrestles with that, feeling that she should be allowed to do whatever she wants. Marcus gives her a talking-to and tells her that she “doesn’t know what she wants” – I’m eerily reminded of exactly how the producers got Moretz to come back for this role again even though all they had was a script less dignified than the underside of a kids table at McDonalds.

So she and Dave/Kick Ass team up and make some attempt to stop drug dealers or something, with their plan being to dress Dave up like a “pimp.” Though that coat is less pimp than Cruella DeVille.

What was the idea here anyway? Dress him up like a pimp so he can … go fight a bunch of drug dealers? Why not just have him go in normal clothes, or even dressed up as Kick Ass? What difference does the disguise make at all? Either way, he still gets the shit beat out of him just like in the first one! In fact, it’s almost like the progress he made in the first one is shot to shit in this! Like many bad sequels, instead of expanding on the story and showing the progress the characters have made, this movie just says “fuck it, we’re regressing backwards and just showing you how annoying and underwhelming we can make their storylines!” Just awful.

Hit-Girl has to pull a Ferris Bueller and run home and pretend to be sick before Marcus finds out. So she does, although he finds out two seconds later that she was lying anyway. As punishment, she’s made to go to some slumber party with a bunch of living Bratz dolls:

Welcome to Mean Girls 5!

And I’m not gonna lie – these scenes are really hard to watch. Unless you really get off on a bunch of "high school girls" led by an anorexic Barbie watching a bad One Direction rip-off, this whole thing will probably make you want to turn the movie off. I’d say the actresses portraying the other girls are completely shit, but really they’re not – they had absolutely nothing to work with with the lines they were given. So it was kind of a doomed prophecy from the beginning, like a train heading for unfinished tracks, leading right off a cliff.

And it’s just so strange because it feels NOTHING like a Kick Ass movie during these scenes. I get what they were going for – a sort of coming-of-age story with Mindy – but it’s horrifically done, one of the worst attempts at that genre I’ve ever seen. Chloe Grace-Moretz just seems like she wants to run off set and leave the movie with every line she delivers. I mean, what was the hook to keep us watching? The Carrie rip-off scene where they humiliate her in the woods?

Or the payback she gives them? First she starts off very well, taking the mature route and telling them off like an adult, showing she’s a better person than them. But then she pulls out some kind of device that makes people lose control of their bowels, which she uses to make all of them vomit and shit diarrhea all over the place:

Yeah, you just saw that. Hey kids, next time a bully is mean to you, just invent an incredibly nuanced and complex device to make them shit and vomit all over the place in public. Truly that is the only solution to your problems. Movie, why haven’t you been asphyxiated with a barbed wire rope yet? Will someone hurry the fuck up and do that already?

So while that’s going on, Kick-Ass is meeting up with a bunch of other superheroes, led by Jim Carrey playing Colonel Stars and Stripes, an ex mafia man who is now a born again Christian. The funny thing is that he’s really the best thing in this movie and puts in a performance as good as the ones in the first film. Despite this, he has since denounced the film due to the violence contained in it in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy. As stupid as it is to pretend a movie like Kick Ass 2 has any bearing on real life, I’m just amazed that this movie is so pathetic that its only saving grace is a man who now hates the film. How worthless can you get?

I also love the parts where he tells the characters not to take the Lord’s name in vain or curse too much. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t in the script; it was just Carrey’s knee-jerk reaction to the swearing.

So they go around and do some stuff, have a dog bite off a child sex trafficking guy’s dick (okay), and then Kick Ass has bathroom sex with another superhero named Night Bitch. The next day he tells Mindy about Night Bitch and she reacts with disgust – despite the fact that she’s never MET Night Bitch, she hates her for pretty much no reason. Awesome. And if you think it’s hard to care about a character named Night Bitch, well, it’s okay – they don’t really even try to give her a storyline or any personality anyway.

"Hi, I'm Generic Movie Girl #5467. The writers tried to lazily make me more interesting by having me be a superhero, but really I just exist to have big tits and flirt with men. Isn't that wonderful?"

That goes for the rest of these characters, too, as that’s one of the film’s biggest problems – too many characters! God, I feel like I’m at an Avengers family reunion with this shit! How are we supposed to be invested in any of them? It’s just a shame because these are legitimately good characters, potentially anyway. Maybe if the movie hadn’t spent a third of its runtime on the awful Hit-Girl storyline, we could have gotten some actual worth out of these actors and characters. But I guess that would have deprived the world of cinema of the incredibly important diarrhea and vomiting scenes:

I’m sorry, I’m still not over that!

But anyway, so yeah, one of the other big themes in this is the fact that it’s supposedly realistic. The first one was always supposed to be like that, with the concept of “what would a normal kid becoming a superhero be like?” It was done fairly well within the confines of the movie’s style. This one just blows it out of proportion and shoves the theme in your face every chance it gets, like a child molester that won’t stop flashing your kids on the way home from school. Jesus Christ this is obnoxious – every other fucking line is jabbering on about how “this is the REAL WORLD,” and things don’t happen like in comic books!

Really now? Really, this is what you’re trying to pass off as a ‘message’ in this movie? Real life, yeah, where people dressed like this can walk down the street in a populated area and not get the shit beat out of them immediately by every thug in a two-mile radius:

The realism in this is just suffocating. I mean it literally feels like this could happen today, in real life!

But hey, the movie has an explanation for that plot hole: these people are all super-powered and strong as hell. So this is a "reality" where these same people can somehow slaughter a whole bunch of cops without even getting hurt at all, much less a bullet in the head like what would happen in real life.

I wouldn't harp so much on this if the movie didn't hammer the line in your face every few scenes. I'm serious; it just gets ridiculous. Every fucking other line is about how "real" this all is! I guess the movie is just trying to convince itself.

Yeah, they’re super-realistic! So gritty and un-Hollywoodized! I especially love “Mother Russia,” who is probably the most gender-confused movie character of the year, if not the decade. I mean even transvestites would be like “man, you’re really hard to figure out!”

Truly up there with Boys Don’t Cry and The Crying Game for heart-warming stories about a minority group of people.

If you didn’t think there were enough plot lines in this mess of a movie yet, don’t worry. There’s another one right around the corner. Dave comes home and finds his dad in his room, scrounging around for drugs and instead finding the Kick Ass costume. While this had potential to be a key scene in the film, Kick Ass 2 says fuck that, and makes it a two and a half minute scene, rushed and underdeveloped, in which Dave suddenly out-of-nowhere calls his dad a loser and then leaves the house. There was really no build up to this, as Dave’s dad has been pretty much an ancillary character from the beginning, and the drama will be totally shot in the next five minutes, so … good job, guys. Good fuckin’ job.

Yeah, and after that we see that the police are arresting all costumed heroes because of what The Motherfucker and his crew of leather-clad KISS rejects did in the previous scenes. They even arrest Dave’s dad, who pretends to be Kick Ass to protect his son. How did that work again? Did nobody ever take a good look at Kick Ass? Well, I guess the resemblance is close enough:

Aside from the fact that he's clearly not physically old enough to be Dave's father, did anyone in charge of this arrest ever hear Kick-Ass's voice? Did they think Dave's dad just used a voice box machine to make his voice sound 30 years younger?

Oh, wait, no it isn’t. Did everyone just have a momentary blindness or something? How could you ever confuse the two?

Then to make things even more contrived, he gets brutally murdered in the fucking county jail – where were the guards? Did they get paid off somehow by the same masked freaks they’re supposed to be against? But hey, it’s supposed to be realistic, so it’s OK now. I love the reaction to the dad’s death where they actually half-assedly try to inject some real drama. News flash, dingbats: two-second crying scenes in the middle of a grimy hallway don’t count as real emotional drama.

Pfft, that's not grief over his dead father. That's his face upon seeing the box office numbers for Kick-Ass 2's opening weekend debut.

At his funeral, we almost get a dramatic moment, which is quickly shat on when a bunch of goons in gas masks come and wreck the party.

I love how Dave even makes the point to narrate over the top of this scene that the cops were guarding the funeral, and then we see the same cops promptly doing absolutely nothing to stop the gas-mask guys. Like literally you see them just standing there, doing nothing, in the fucking background!

How is it possible for writing to be so bad? It would be one thing if the cops were corrupt, or paid off or something. But nope, the movie never establishes that they are, so the whole thing is just insane. I mean, what is it? Do the gas mask guys just have super-stealthy inaudible footsteps? Do the cops just not see anything until it's directly in their field of vision? Is this just a common occurrence in this city? Do thugs in gas masks carrying assault rifles just come to every funeral as some kind of commemorative ritual? WHAT IS IT?!?

I guess the action scenes are good enough; I mean they’re over the top and all, but they’re not bad. They’re pretty much the same as the first movie’s. But is it really worth sitting through the horrible things about the rest of the film just to see the action? I don’t think so.

The final battle scene is pretty good, but again, is it worth the rest of the film? No … no it is not.

I'll even ignore the incredibly cliche, sexist crap where the only two chicks have to fight one another; that's how cool this whole thing is.

Well ...

Okay, okay, it's really fucking cool actually. This admittedly really awesome fight scene almost redeems the stupid shit in the rest of the movie. Some of it, anyway.

I do have to bring up one thing though; when Kick-Ass is about to drop The Motherfucker and tries to save him. Kick-Ass, attempting to persuade The Motherfucker to let him rescue him, says it's real life, it's not a comic book, there's no sequel. Really now. There's no sequel. Well, good; I must have just been imagining the whole movie up to now then! And the fact that they're already talking about making a third movie in the series!

But his point is simple: if The Motherfucker falls, he's dead for real; there's no coming back. So I won't harp too much on it, but honestly, even THAT falls flat if you happen to stay after the credits and see that The Motherfucker actually doesn't die at all ...

So really that whole monologue was kinda pointless, huh? I guess they were banking on the fact that everyone would have walked out of the theater a while ago, way before the credits even started rolling.

We then end with a totally bizarre, out of nowhere kiss scene between Hit Girl and Kick Ass that plays something like a fanfiction would do … there really isn’t a lot of build up to it, and the two have acted more like brother and sister than love interests in this whole thing. So mostly it just comes off as incredibly awkward and illogical, like the rest of this godforsaken film.

This whole thing is just a mess. Everything about it is just done so poorly, so sloppily, that it’s hard to get any sincerity out of it. The acting is half-assed, the writing is just terrible, the characters don’t make sense … it’s not a good movie. I’ll give the movie that it had some funny moments, but unlike the first one, I don’t think all of them were intentional, and for the most part they're all way more immature than the first movie's funny moments. This whole thing can be entertaining, but only in spite of itself. And only if you don’t think about anything in it. And isn't that the best endorsement for a movie you can get?

Oh well. I can at least give this movie the fact that it did pretty much accomplish what it was going for. As terrible as almost everything about this movie is, I doubt they were really trying to do much else - they pretty much accomplished every goal they had. So if that's what you're looking for in a film, you may not hate it. If anyone tries to tell you otherwise, just hit them with that machine Hit Girl had.

After all, they won't be able to argue if they're too busy vomiting and shitting all over the place!

Images copyright of their original owners, I own none of them.