By Mike Huntley
Most of us in our childhood have thought of how cool it would be to be our favorite superheroes in comic books, movies, television, and animation. Imagine having super powers and being able to fly. Imagine having endless amounts of money, a mansion, and your own secret Batcave with your own high tech Batmobile. Imagine having the ability to run faster than anything on this planet. But, when you stop to think about it, what kind of life would you have? You couldn't have a good relationship with the opposite sex in fear that your enemies might hurt or kill them. You would have to constantly lie to your friends and family. At some point, your secret would take a great toll on your body and soul. Still, it doesn't stop us from wanting to dress up like a superhero and pretend we are fighting crime. The key word in there is pretend. Unlike our logics on why being a superhero in our real world is a very bad idea, there are some characters in a popular comic book who actually give it a try and turn our world into the world of the theatrical and heroic. Their names are Kick-Ass, Big Daddy, and Hit-Girl and this is their origin story off the comics page and into the wonderful world of cinema.
Dave Lizewski is a High School outcast who long wishes he was as cool as his favorite comic book superheroes. One day while in a comic book shop with his two buddies Marty and Todd, Dave gets the idea to give it a try. He orders a ridiculous costume and mask online. His first mission? To stop the two thugs who keep robbing him and his friends. Well, things don't go great as he is stabbed and hit by a car. At the hospital, he tells his Dad that two guys robbed him and stole his clothes. This of course starts a rumor around school that he is gay, which Dave uses to his advantage when his crush Katie is all the sudden wanting to hang with him. Even though he should have quit his try out as a masked superhero when he almost got killed, Dave decides to give it another chance, this time saving cats out of trees. Oh and he stops a group of low lifes from killing some guy by pounding on them with two night sticks. This captures the attention of a huge crowd and is filmed by someone and posted online where Dave calls himself "Kick-Ass". Now Kick-Ass is a New York City icon with costumes, comic books, and the like. Meanwhile, a former cop named Damon Macready and his daughter Mindy are killing off bad guys who work for NYC mob boss Frank D'Amico under the personas of Big Daddy and Hit-Girl due to D'Amico framing Damon and causing his wife to commit suicide. The costumed vigilantes take notice of Kick-Ass and want him to join them. Meanwhile, Frank D'Amico's son Chris wants to prove himself worthy of his father's empire so he hatches a plan for Frank to capture Kick-Ass and Big Daddy, which will change their lives forever.
Bottom line is I love Kick-Ass. I loved this movie when I first saw it in the theater a few years ago and I still adore it today. It did something unique with superheroes by just having an average dude with no money or powers be a superhero. A superhero film that feels like it belongs in a comic book yet is set in the real world with real consequences. Now, would people act like these characters in real life? Probably not. But, this is a great satire on the superhero genre. We all love superheroes and Kick-Ass is us, but also shows us why people don't wear masks and capes in real life. Would it be cool to be saved by a masked caped crusader with cool gadgets? Absolutely. But, heroes in real life wear badges or military uniforms. Or they just do the right thing by risking their life for another Human Being. The badge of being a hero is a rewarding feeling. Just knowing that someone is safe and out of harm's way because you had the guts to act, now that I'm sure would be overwhelming.
So, why does Kick-Ass work? While I love Spider-Man/Peter Parker for just being a kid yet doing extraordinary things to make this country's most well known city a better place, Kick-Ass/Dave Lizewski has zero powers. Peter Parker has spidey sense, fast reflexes, and the ability to climb walls. Dave doesn't. He's just us in a costume with two sticks ready to kick someone's ass even if it means getting his own ass kicked or stabbed. The kid's a hero because he has overcome the one obstacle that differs a casual person from a masked crusader: the fear of death. If we didn't fear death, then there would be nothing holding us back from being a superhero. Death is one of the most primal fears us Human Beings have. Take that away and we become more superhuman. That's what I admire about Kick-Ass. This kid is not afraid. He just goes out and sticks up for the underdogs. In fact, Dave is a lot like Peter Parker but minus the science fiction elements. He lives with his Dad and the two aren't close since his mother died.
And then there is Damon and Mindy aka Big Daddy and Hit-Girl. Mindy is an 11 year old girl who hasn't had a childhood due to her father training her to fight the criminal underworld. This is the coolest little girl you'll ever meet. She swears a lot, kills bad guys, and will basically kick your fucking ass. Damon used to be a cop till he was framed and imprisoned for years vowing to destroy Frank D'Amico. Gotta love the almost Batman and Robin reflection of Big Daddy and Hit-Girl. That classic Dynamic Duo type of partnership.
But then there is the father/son relationship between Frank and Chris D'Amico. Frank is basically the Lex Luthor or Norman Osborn of New York City and Chris wants to join that big empire that his Dad has set up. So, Chris disguises himself as a fellow superhero named Red Mist to lure Kick-Ass into Frank's trap because Frank wants to kill Big Daddy as well as teach NYC that being a superhero will get you killed.
Like all superhero stories, there's the love interest. In this case, Kick-Ass's Gwen Stacy or Mary Jane Watson is Katie Deauxma. Although I find it kinda messed up that she doesn't start talking and flirting with Dave until she thinks he is gay. But then the two become really close once she finds out that he is Kick-Ass. That is til the sequel.
Kick-Ass is NOT a family superhero movie! This film is violent and bloody as Hell. Bad guys get dismembered and not to mention by a little girl. The gruesome comic book violence is part of Kick-Ass's charm. Because let's face it, superheroes in real life wouldn't be PG or PG-13, they would be a hard R and this film is a pretty hard R!
The direction by Matthew Vaughn, who went on to direct X-Men: First Class, is top notch. Vaughn is a director that I'm quickly becoming a fan of and he shows his love for superheroes in his work. Hoping he steps back into the superhero world someday.
The acting is top notch. Aaron Johnson is great in the lead role as Kick-Ass. Nicholas Cage looks like he's having a blast playing Big Daddy, who's obviously a Batman knockoff. Mark Strong was great as villain Frank D'Amico. I really hope this dude gets Lex Luthor in Batman vs. Superman, especially after he got screwed as Sinestro with Green Lantern. McLovin was decent as Chris D'Amico/Red Mist, who will be the villain in Kick-Ass 2. Lyndsy Fonseca did okay as the love interest Katie. Unfortunately, her character sucks in the sequel. Clark Duke and Evan Peters were hilarious as Dave's friends Marty and Todd. And then we have Chloe Grace Moretz, who gives the excellent stand out performance as Hit-Girl. Moretz has become a much bigger star thanks to this film, and I think this girl has a bright career ahead of her!
Overall, Kick-Ass kicks a lot of ass! In fact, it was in my top movies of 2010. I love this film so much and am super excited that it got a sequel.
After the somewhat success of 2010's superhero movie Kick-Ass, plans for a sequel quickly came up. Now, I'm not sure what all happened, but Lionsgate who distributed the first film dropped the sequel, so Universal picked it up. Then, Matthew Vaughn couldn't come back to direct due to scheduling conflicts, so he just stayed on as producer. Co-creator of Kick-Ass, Mark Millar, decided on Jeff Wadlow to write and direct Kick-Ass 2. It was obvious due to the ending of the first film that McLovin's character Chris D'Amico would be the villain in the sequel. Excitement really kicked in when Jim Carrey was announced. It's been a long time since Carrey has been in an awesome movie, and plus he has been in over the top superhero movies before with The Mask and Batman Forever, so he seemed like the perfect person for a film like this. Unfortunately, Carrey didn't like the violence in the film and publicly tweeted on Twitter that he didn't feel right in promoting the sequel. Critic and audience reviews have been all over the place. But, this is a comic book world that is not for everyone. Kick-Ass is only for those who can handle over the top cartoonish violence and dark humor. If that ain't your cup of tea then you have no business watching either film. So, is Kick-Ass 2 the sequel that we have been waiting for? In my humble opinion, Hell Fucking Yes!
Dave Lizewski has been wanting to become Kick-Ass again after spending some time just being a normal teenager. So, Mindy trains him to become a tougher crime fighter. Unfortunately for Dave, Mindy decides to hang up being Hit-Girl due to her guardian Marcus wanting her to have the life she should have had all along. Mindy tries to hang with the mean girls and the Heathers of her new High School, but quickly finds that being a normal teenage girl is almost as hard as being Hit-Girl. Dave on the other hand is dumped by his girlfriend Katie when Katie thinks that he is cheating on her with Mindy. So, Dave puts on the costume again and joins up with fellow superheroes like Dr. Gravity, Colonel Stars and Stripes, Night Bitch, and his buddy Marty who's now Battle Guy and they form their own JLA known as Justice Forever. Meanwhile, Chris D'Amico wants revenge on Kick-Ass for killing his Dad so he decides to become a supervillain known as The Motherfucker and starts his own Legion of Doom. Now it's an all out war in New York between Justice Forever and The Motherfucker's army of supervillains.
I'll say it now, Kick-Ass 2 rocked hard! I loved it. Now, was it better than the first film? Yes and no. Where the first film shined better was by having a much better villain. While Frank was a great foe, Chris/Motherfucker is not but his army sure as Hell is. Mother Russia was probably the best villain of the movie. That was one tough woman! She's basically the Kick-Ass world's version of Bane. That fight between her and Hit-Girl was insane. But, The Motherfucker with his S & M bondage costume was lame, yet the kinda lame where I can laugh at for being so stupid.
I thought Kick-Ass (2010) had much better character development than Kick-Ass 2, but loved the escalated development of Mindy/Hit-Girl in this. It kinda reminded me of Spider-Man 2 where Peter Parker decided to quit being Spider-Man because it became too much and tried a normal life. I know some complained that this section of the story went into a Mean Girls/Heathers direction, but you know what? I was okay with that. I liked how these popular bitches were almost just as villainous as the dudes that Hit-Girl would fight and kill on the streets. And Mindy's way of getting revenge on them was both gross and hilariously genius. If I could pick one thing about this sequel that I hated though, it would be the portrayal of Kick-Ass' girlfriend Katie. She just came off as a fucking bitch in this movie. Now, I can understand how she could maybe get the idea of Dave cheating on her with Mindy, but she could have at least up front asked him about it instead of slapping him and calling him a rapist. And then she is out of the movie! What the fuck? They don't even resolve this conflict? But yeah aside from a lame main villain, this was the big issue I had. I do kinda think they had too many characters to focus on, but at least they were interesting and didn't annoy me.
I do like that Kick-Ass and his Dad had a better father/son relationship in this film unlike the first movie. Mr. Lizewski is very concerned about his son and doesn't want him to be Kick-Ass anymore. And then there's Justice Forever. These people are probably my favorite part of this sequel. Basically Kick-Ass has his own Justice League. It was just really cool seeing all of these people in costumes that looked goofy yet fun to wear. It's like when you're a kid and want to dress up as Batman or Superman. Colonel Stars and Stripes was awesome. I loved him telling the other members to watch their language and to not take the Lord's name in vain. And how about the swear jar where Mindy had to put money in every time she cussed, and then you see the jar at the end of the film and it has over flowed with cash?
The film was definitely a little darker than the first film in the violence department. This is the perfect example of escalation besides The Dark Knight. By dressing up in a costume, it inspired others to do so and when Kick-Ass killed Frank D'Amico, it inspired Chris to become a villain.
I love the final battle at Motherfucker's lair especially the fight between Hit-Girl and Mother Russia.
The direction by Jeff Wadlow was not bad I thought. Although, I would have preferred Matthew Vaughn. But, Wadlow makes the experience fun.
The acting was fine. Aaron Johnson still kicks ass as Kick-Ass. Chloe Grace Moretz is still great as Hit-Girl/Mindy. Due to the way this film ended, I hope the next film will be a Hit-Girl movie. Fingers crossed. I sincerely think that Moretz could carry a film with this character. Clark Duke was fun as Marty/Battle Guy. McLovin was a lame villain as The Motherfucker/Chris D'Amico. I'll take Mother Russia over this douche. Lindy Booth was hot as Hell as Night Bitch. I haven't seen Booth in a film since like 2005 so it was great to see her again. Jim Carrey was awesome as Colonel Stars and Stripes. Definitely one of Carrey's best performances. It's a shame that he thinks so negatively of the film. John Leguizamo was good in his small role as Chris' bodyguard Javier. Donald Faison, who I haven't seen in awhile, was great as The Atom wannabe Dr. Gravity. August Prew who played Todd, and replaced Evan Peters, was just forgettable. Bring back Peters! Lyndsy Fonseca was wasted and turned into a bitch no less as Katie. What happened to that sweet girl from the first film? And Morris Chestnut was okay as Marcus.
Overall, Kick-Ass 2 was a very awesome sequel yet just lacked a few small things that made the first movie great. It's a definite must watch if you loved the first film. If this is your type of superhero saga then welcome to Justice Forever and if not then, "HAHA! There's a dog on you're balls!"