There's something rather beautiful about a piece of visual art that can so effortlessly and invisibly walk the line between being a thorough parody of a genre and taking it far too seriously for it's own good. It's often done through deconstruction of an idea, which basically places that common factor into a realistic scenario and demonstrates (sometimes with annotations) why that idea ceases to work. The Kick-Ass franchise, both in the Graphic Novels by Mark Millar and in the the two cinematic films, the latter of which has only recently been released in the UK, are devoted to taking the Superhero Genre that has been flooding our popular culture for the past several decades and not just deconstructing it, not just parodying it, but coming out the other side as a justifiable piece of work in its own right.
Kick-Ass 2 manages to be a more straight-up Superhero film than its predecessor, adapting the second volume of the Graphic Novel which features comic-book geek Dave (Aaron Johnson), who decides to emulate Batman and become a vigilante, with the help of trained-since-childhood-uberwarrior Mindy (Chloe Grace Moretz) - codenamed Hit Girl - whom he teamed up with in the first film after his low-level meddling accidentally led to the death of his father. The popularity of Dave's persona, Kick-Ass, leads to a city-wide phenomenon of inexperienced vigilantes, opposed by Chris D'Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) who is driven by pettiness and bitterness at the events of the previous film to become an outrageous supervillain by the name of The Motherfucker. The film follows the clashes between the rising Superhero movement, the Supervillain army and the authorities, as well as both Dave and Mindy's attempts to concile their vigilante urges with the suburban life expected of them.
The franchise as a whole has been lambasted by the popular media for its heavy use of violence, inappopriate language and lewd sexual humour, but unlike less tasteful flicks such as anything that falls off of the desk of Seltzer and Friedberg, this is done sparingly and with enough caution as to make it count when it does happen. I personally see nothing wrong with swearing, sex and violence, although excessive toilet humour can be somewhat lazy. This film is more intelligent than that. Unlike its predecessor, which was transliterated straight from the Graphic Novel's view, there is a sense that Kick-Ass 2 has been sufficiently toned down. Hit-Girl is now 15 years old as opposed to 12, there are certain absurdly violent acts cut out. One of those adjusted scenes is still causing controversy - a rape scene in the graphic novel was transfered onto another character in the film and is played for a joke at the expense of the rapist. While I'd rather have just taken that scene out entirely, because it raises all sorts of dark and really out-of-tone issues, I'm glad that it was sufficiently pushed back in the direction of the perpetrator.
|Jim Carrey is actually pretty awesome in this film.|