Three years ago came this incredible edgy celebration of the term known as ‘Superhero’ with Matthew Vaughn’s ‘’Kick-Ass’’. It was one of my favourite films of that year, and was unique with the idea that the film had been wrote (by Vaughn and Jane Goldman) alongside the comic book by Mark Miller. The thing is what was created was the unique partnership between comic book and film. Anyone who read Miller’s comic will know that the comic book was wrote as a celebration to Superhero comic books, while the film was a celebration of Superhero cinema. With Vaughn moving on and Mark Miller continuing writing his comic books (there is currently three ‘Kick-Ass’ comics and a ‘Hit Girl’ one as well), it is only natural a film sequel came (since the first one found an audience on DVD), with ‘KICK-ASS 2’. In this Matthew Vaughn has just produced this film (the MARV production logo at the beginning probably will not work if your colour blind) and has let Jeff Wadlow, director of ‘Never Back Down’ and ‘Cry Wolf’, as both writer and director. Another big change is the fact this film has been financed by Universal Studios, unlike the original which was funded by independent production companies (some British) including Brad Pitt’s Plan B Studios.
Inessence what has been created here is something far more commercialised. Gone has all the British humour of the first, and gone has the sense of what I personally coin as ‘’Anarchy in the UK’’, with its contextualised violence and strange creativity. Instead we get something more ‘’dumbed down’’, which is more catered for American audiences. To me there doesn’t seem to be much of a deconstruction of American culture of Superheroes, it becomes something which the first film deconstructed, making it feel like it’s gone back on itself, as what is left is something which wants to be and compete with other Superhero franchises in Hollywood, with its USP being that it more violent and features more bad language than the other Superhero franchises out there. I believe the fundamental issue here is the approach.
This issue on approach can also be down to the fact that it has been wrote as an adaptation of in the ‘Kick-Ass 2’ comic, then wrote as a sequel to the ‘Kick-Ass’ film. This can be seen with the Chris D’Amico/Red Mist character with how he’s been wrote and how it feels really forced with how the character has developed into The Motherfucker (which he also rapes someone). The thing is the character introduced of Chris D’Amico in the comic is introduced rather differently in the first ‘Kick-Ass’ comic then in his film incarnation. So when we reintroduced to him in this film there is no shred of anything which makes you think he’s the same character when we leave him at the end of ‘Kick-Ass’. Perhaps it’s the fact that the film and comic hasn’t been wrote side-by-side this time, meaning it doesn’t compensate one and other as well.
Another issue is Jeff Wadlow, everything feels forced. It’s like as if what he’s taken from the first ‘Kick-Ass’ is the fact that it’s just about violence and strong language, which it isn’t – again this falling into the approach issue. It’s like as if the characters feel forced to swear, which just at times makes it more a chore to watch. There is also this really weird sense of just sticking in American pop culture by mentioning ‘The Book of Mormon’ and a bizarre bit with pop band Union J, which just falls flat. That and there nearly a gag at the end of every scene, which is fine but when the next scene feels ‘bolted on’ with its edit it gives you no breathing space to laugh at the gag, or to even process it. The main issue though is Wadlow’s direction. The thing which Vaughn did in the original was his use of wide shots and space which helped in creating some memorable set pieces (rocket launcher fired Mark Strong anyone?). Instead there is nothing here; everything has been shot for speed and efficiency despite noticeable flourishes with a van.
Now if you’ve continued this far, you might be thinking that I’ve just slatted this film. While the approach is all wrong, I do feel that the intensions from the approach means well. The violence in the first is still intact and there is some good ideas in there also with how Kick-Ass and Justice Forever team he joins help the community by help feeding the homeless and such. And while perhaps you don’t give much care about Kick-Ass’s individual narrative strand, instead you do care more with the Hit-Girl, ‘Mean Girls’ type story (even if Chloe Moretz has grown up very quickly. I think this is down to the fact that Hit-Girl’s (almost a modern ‘Nikita’) feels more vulnerable both mentally and physically then that of Kick-Ass who feels less ‘shit’ as before as he’s more bulked up (something which doesn’t actually happen in the ‘Kick-Ass 2’ comic fact fans). But Jim Carrey (who disassociated himself with the film on Twitter for its violence) does more than just his extended cameo tag might have entailed, even if he isn’t given much to do, and there is some interesting villains of Mother-Russia, Black Death (Daniel Kaluuya who next year I predict big things) and Iain Glen in one scene. And I do like the idea of comic book speech bubbles acting as the subtitles, also the fact that there is a good continuity with the set and most of the casting (omitting Evan Peters) which includes a two second appearance from Lyndsy Fonseca as Kick-Ass’s girlfriend and an amazing picture of Nicolas Cage. And is it me or Henry Jackman’s score contains some of the stuff from his ‘X-Men: First Class’ score.
Generally this is a disappointment. This has become everything it ridiculed, celebrated and deconstructed in the first film. A lot of this is down to its approach. It will be interesting to see what some of you American readers thought of this – please leave a comment!