Sometimes movies that are questionably profitable get sequels, and "Kick-Ass" is one of those movies.
A skewering of the superhero genre, "Kick-Ass 2" is pretty much a direct sequel to the original film. Once again, we're again dealing with a "real world" version of New York City that is infested with makeshift superheroes led by Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz), along with new superheroes like Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey).
Of course, it seemed like most people were only sort of interested in "Kick-Ass" the first time around (maybe it sold a lot of Blu-rays?) so it remains to be seen if anyone will actually show up for "Kick-Ass 2." Either way, read on to find out if you should make the trek to the theater or if this is one you can skip out on.
1. It's Very Much a Sequel to "Kick-Ass"
"Kick-Ass 2" keeps the irreverent spirit of the first movie alive, with jokes about prostitutes and anal beads and leather fetishes. There's even a rape gag that has thankfully been toned down from what was in the comics (not that that's an excuse). Of course there's a ton of meta-textual analysis of real life vs. comic books jokes that only lifetime comic book nerds will understand, let alone laugh at. But there is more Hit Girl, which is always nice.
2. It's Not as Good as "Kick-Ass"
All that being said, this movie isn't nearly as good as "Kick-Ass." Matt Vaughn, who directed the first film, had a certain sense of style and built nice moments with sequences that contained an appropriate amount of tension and pay-off. Also, the actors in the first film were better (people like Mark Strong and Nic Cage) and the visuals more finessed. But "Kick-Ass 2" feels like the direct-to-video sequel to "Kick-Ass" that just so happens to have some of the original actors back again. It's not as funny or exciting or bold -- and that's not just because the novelty from the first movie has worn off. "Kick-Ass 2" is a slog, not a kick.
3. It Is Cheap Looking
The costumes, sets, even the way the camera moves, all look bargain basement. If you've wondered how you could do a sequel to a hyper-stylized movie with virtually no style, well, look to "Kick-Ass 2."
4. If You're Easily Offended, Sit This One Out
There are a number of things that will offend people in this movie: its truly absurd level of violence, its questionable moral compass, how salty the language is, and the fact that a small girl ruthlessly murders people (in her introductory scene she cuts off somebody's hand). But then there's that aforementioned almost-rape scene that is beyond detestable. It's a moment that signifies the beginning of the end of "Kick-Ass 2." The sequence is even followed by racial slurs, homophobic remarks, and a shark that eats a guy. If you want to get your feathers ruffled, you could at least do it with a better movie.
5. Jim Carrey Was Right to Distance Himself From the Film
Earlier this spring Jim Carrey made headlines when he said that he wouldn't be doing publicity for the movie, despite a commitment to the project. Carrey said that after the Sandy Hook shooting and his own adamant anti-gun sentiment that he couldn't, in good conscious, promote a movie with this level of shocking violence. Well, he's good for distancing himself from the film, not only for its content but for its lack of heart. Plus, he's only in it for maybe 20 minutes, so it would probably be a waste of time for him anyway.
6. You Won't Be Waiting for a "Kick-Ass 3"
There's so much stuff in "Kick-Ass 2" that you won't find anyone hankering for a "Kick-Ass 3" (despite a "Kick-Ass 3" currently on the comic book stands). Although it concludes in a purposefully open-ended way, unless this film turns into an unexpected hit, there's no way that anyone will want a third one.
7. That Said, Chloe Grace Moretz Is Pretty Great
If there's a silver lining to "Kick-Ass 2" then it's Chloe Grace Moretz. It's just as much her movie as it is Kick-Ass's (maybe more-so), with Moretz getting to engage in an elaborate, "Mean Girls"-esque subplot that eventually intertwines with the main story (about a Justice League-style group called Justice Forever). Moretz is one of the most exciting young actresses on the planet, and here she commits herself, physically and psychologically to the character with alarming clarity. The way she toggles between the personas of Hit Girl and her mild mannered alter-ego Mindy is seamless. She is totally wonderful and every time she appears on screen the movie attempts to gain a pulse.
8. You'll Miss Nic Cage
"Kick-Ass 2" could have used an unhinged supporting performance like Cage's. His presence in the first film made the movie wobbly and unpredictable. Unfortunately, there's nothing like that in "Kick-Ass 2." It's so standard that you can have the movie diagramed in full by the time the first act is over.
9. It Was Clearly Not Filmed in New York
The first "Kick-Ass" was set in New York but was very clearly shot in Toronto, which made for something of a disconnect for a movie that strove to be set in the "real world" (and to strongly suggest a difference between that "real world" and the more fantastical "comic book world"). The same can be said for "Kick-Ass 2." It's the Toronto-iest movie set in New York since "Short Circuit 2," and it's horribly distracting.
10. The Action Is Majorly Disappointing
Even if everything else about "Kick-Ass 2" failed, then most audiences would at least want something out of the action set pieces, which were undoubtedly highlights of the first film, particularly to mainstream crowds. Sadly, the action in "Kick-Ass 2" doesn't even deliver, save for about half an action sequence wherein Hit Girl (in her civilian attire) is on top of a delivery van stocked with goons. Still, compared to the outstanding action sequences of this summer (things like the train chase in "Lone Ranger" and the Battle for Hong Kong in "Pacific Rim"), it's really disappointing.