Kick-Ass 2 (2013)Tuesday, 27. August 2013
Director: Jeff Wadlow
Writer: Jeff Wadlow
Based on: Mark Millar’s and John Romita Jr.’s comic
Sequel to: Kick-Ass
Cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Lyndsy Fonseca, Morris Chestnut, Claudia Lee, Donald Faison, John Leguizamo, Jim Carrey, Iain Glen
After the events in the last film, Hit-Girl aka Mindy (Chloe Moretz) now lives with her father’s best friend Marcus (Morris Chestnut) and pretends to be a normal high school girl. But instead, she’s fighting crime and training Dave aka Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). But Dave is dreaming of a superhero-team-up. And when Chris, formerly know as Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), decides to become the world’s first supervillain The Motherfucker, a team-up seems to become absolutely necessary.
I was really looking forward to this film. But I spent most of it in horror at the way they twisted the characters and the story and left the movie quite disappointed. It’s not that bad per se, but it rubbed me the wrong way in so many things.
My major issue with the movie was Hit-Girl’s storyline. It starts with her being magically 4 years older than the last time, even though Kick-Ass only aged two years. And the way it plays out it seems that this is only done so that the film can let out embarrassing clichés about the sexuality of girls (Mindy is turned on for the first time in her life when she watches a boyband video. At 15. Which is just ridiculous) [the dude in the seat behind me yelled out "Fuck You!" at this point, for which I will be eternally grateful]. It ends with her kissing Dave. Which turns one of the most unusual and great relationships between a boy and a girl entirely on its head. And it’s also ew since for me they always had more of a sibling relationship. I dreaded this kiss the entire film, ever since they had Mindy pretending he was her boyfriend to Marcus. [At the same time they don't manage to take on the female gaze for just one second. If you want to tell the story of a young girl discovering her sexuality, the least you could do, is show her perspective.*]
Oh and the entire storyline with Brooke (Claudia Lee) – Debbie in the comics – was just… first I thought, “interesting, they take the bitchy cheerleader trope and turn it on its head by having Brooke being actually nice and inclusive and trying to help Mindy.” And then it all goes wrong. First they highly sexualize this entire gaggle of teen girls, especially Brooke with her varsity dance** – and the movie lingers disproportionately on that dance. Then Brooke becomes jealous of Mindy and suddenly we’re back at the stereotype they had subverted thus far. And then they forced vomiting and diarrhea into the story and this is just unnecessary. It also didn’t feel like a particular Hit-Girl-worthy take-down. And it would have been nice to have one female character to be actually girly and still be cool. Because what we get instead is girls and women taking on stereotypically male traits as the only kind of strength. And those who are girly are evil bitches. That’s not what I’d call girl power, even if Mother Russia and Hit-Girl are strong characters, Hit-Girl even in a not only physical way.***
Apart from my feminist qualms, there was also the fact that this film ends on a way too positive not. Instead of taking the dark direction the comic took and that felt to me like finally the story was going in the right, severe direction that I was missing so far, they let both Hit-Girl and Kick-Ass off the hook and it’s almost as if they’ve forgotten that Dave is now a fucking orphan. Instead they have this creepy kiss and it’s almost like the ending to a fucking RomCom.
I also felt like the story was hampered by the bazooka-ending of the first film. When Dave seeks revenge for his father and Chris screams at him that he killed his father with damn bazooka, so what does he want, you can’t help but kinda agree. I also missed Mindy’s mom, which is also the fault of the first film.**** And the ending with the shark just had none of the charm of the comic.***** I also missed the real evil of the bad guys.
But even though there was this much wrong with the film for me and even though it certainly doesn’t reach the quality of the first film, it was mostly pretty entertaining. There wasn’t a minute I was bored (though I would have gladly exchanged some of my uncomfortableness for boredom). The direction and pacing was mostly excellent, with just a few missed beats (especially when Dave hears of his father’s death – they should have taken more time with his reaction).
The cast was excellent, too, not surprisingly. Chloe Moretz does great things with Hit-Girl. Christopher Mintz-Plasse is perfectly annoying and very funny as The Motherfucker. I didn’t know Iain Glen was in this [and the dude behind me - who left in a hurry unfortunately because I really wanted to tell him that he made the film much better for me] apparently didn’t either as he cried out “NO! Khaleesi!” when he first appeared] and he was creepy as fuck. [Too bad it was only a short scene.] I would have also liked to get more of John Leguizamo. They did get the amount of Jim Carrey just right, and it was great. Aaron Taylor-Johnson should be in every movie anyway.
But despite that I left the theater with a frown on my face. (Actually this was what I felt like.)
Summarizing: it is entirely possible that I’m overreacting (though I don’t think so). And the film is entertaining. So see it and then let me know what you think.
*And I’m not saying that because I would have enjoyed a more lingering look at Aaron Taylor-Johnson shirtless, though I certainly would have, but because that scene was bad film-making. He takes off his shirt, she looks at him and we don’t really get to see what she sees. That just doesn’t fit.
**Though they certainly aren’t the only ones to be even further sexualized. Night Bitch in her skimpy costume had said skimpy costume in the comic already. Not exactly a grand feminist moment. But the comic does this thing that while you see her boobs and while her costume is barely there, she owns her outfit. Nobody comments on it, nobody takes it as a sign that she can’t be violent and nobody takes it as an invitation to sleep with her. In the film she ends up being yet another lay for Kick-Ass which, you know, is not bad in itself, but it makes her even more sexual than the outfit already does and it made me kinda uncomfortable.
****I didn’t miss her so much because she is a great character – we barely know anything about her. But at least she’s there, thus softening the whole male mentor/young girl dynamic between Marcus and Mindy.
*****[TRIGGER WARNING: rape] They also changed the rape scene from the comic. Which on the one hand I applaud because that scene was extremely fucked up and had no place in the comic at all. But on the other hand the rape doesn’t happen only because The Motherfucker can’t get it up. There is still the intent. The control is still firmly in the men’s hands. Which makes this less of a subversion of the “rape the girlfriend” trope and more of a rape joke.