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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Kick-Ass 2

Here we are once again, Fishing in the Discount Bin.  My obsession with superhero franchises continues as I watch the most-pirated film of 2013, Kick-Ass 2.  Don't worry, I'm watching the film on my legally-purchased Blu-Ray.  This shows up in my notes on January 11, 2014.

Well, we're into January, which means it's time to spend some gift cards.  And, I tend to always spend them on new Blu-Rays.  So we may as well grab the latest installment in that "superheroes in the real world" saga, Kick-Ass 2.

The first Kick-Ass sought to answer that question, "What would superheroes in the real world really be like?"  The sequel kind of takes a cue from Batman Begins when Detective Gordon ponders that Batman on the streets might mean escalation from the criminal element...meaning the rise of supervillains.  We've had real-world superheroes, but now it's time for real world supervillains.

And our real-world supervillain comes in the form of Chris D'Mico, the son of a crime boss who posed as the superhero Red Mist in order to get to the superheroes.  Well, he's all kinds of pissed that Kick-Ass killed his father with a bazooka, and he's thoroughly obssessed with revenge.  Taking the comic book fantasy to the next step, he dedicates his life to super villainy to achieve his goal.  When his mother dies in a tanning bed accident, he discovers his mother's chest of bondage gear and sex toys.  Fashioning his mother's *ahem* items into his supervillain costumer, he brands himself the Mother Fucker, and sets out to burn the city.  With his mob ties, he soon starts recruiting all manner of enforcers and muscle, makes them wear outlandish costumes, and turns them into his evil army of henchmen.  The Mother Fucker becomes so obsessed with revenge that he starts to lose his grip on reality. 

Going back to the discovery of the box of sex toys, that's one thing I should point out that this film has over the original.  The comedy is a lot raunchier than the first one.

And what of our hero, Kick-Ass?  As you may remember, the last film ended with him hanging up his mask and going back to his regular life as a teenager.  But, seeing more real world superheroes on the 6 o'clock news -- people who always cite Kick-Ass as an inspiration -- this soon gets him to don his suit again and head back out on patrol.  Knowing safety in numbers, he soon joins up with a burgeoning superhero group called Justice Forever, led by Colonel Stars and Stripes; a former mob enforcer who found God and became a superhero.  Since Nicholas Cage's character died in the first film, for this sequel we get another actor who was once known for greatness but is now known for loopiness, Jim Carrey.  I'm a little bit stunned.  Despite his prominent placing in all the TV commercials, he's actually not in it all that much.  But his amazing in the film.  He's barely recognizable under the Colonel Stars and Strips mask and how he alters his voice. 

But the heart and soul of this film is Hit Girl.  At the end of the last film, she, too, hung up her cape and mask and tried to lead a normal life.  But as the grown up and bitter Robin said in Batman Beyond, "All that training and stuff...it never goes away."  Turns out young Mindy has been ditching classes and going to her secret superhero lair to continue her training, and occasionally beat up muggers.  When she's found out by her adopted father, he makes her swear to give up that life.  And so, the attempt to be a typical teenage girl begins.  At first, it looks like the popular girls accept her, and decide to make her over and accept her.  But, of course, it turns out to be an elaborate prank, and young Mindy isn't accustomed to being the victim.  So, of course, the ol' superhero training kicks in, and the comeuppance she gives to the mean girls is disgustingly hilarious.  A device that causes projectile vomiting and uncontrollable diarrhea is involved.  Still, though, watching her finally accept who she really is is what makes the film worthwhile.

Kick-Ass 2 does strive to be a little more grounded and realistic than the first film.  You'll find no jet packs in the finale this time out.  The finale in this one is just a good ol' fashioned street brawl.  It does reach some superhero ridiculousness, though, as one of the Mother Fucker's henchman is a former KGB assassin-turned-mercenary called Mother Russia, who seems to have almost superhuman strength at times.  Needless to say, she and Hit Girl have quite the duel during the final brawl. 

As enjoyable as this film is, it's raunchier humour and more grounded approach just make it feel different from the first film.  It's lacking a certain mysterious quality that the first one had.  But all in all, not a bad successor to the first film. 

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