Kick-Ass-2Back in 2010, I remember looking forward to Kick-Ass. I also remember being disappointed in it a little. I had high expectations but it wasn’t as funny as the trailer made it appear and really, a couple of set pieces aside, it wasn’t nearly kick-ass enough. I’ve watched it a few times since then and while it’s still a decent enough movie, it still leaves me wishing it had been just a little bit better.

Three years later and I wasn’t looking forward to the sequel. At all. It seems that every other movie that’s released these days is inspired by one comic book franchise or another so the freshness that was part of that whole expectation package with the original has gone black and moldy and now not even the dog will eat it. On top of that, it’s been taking something of a kicking from the critics and Jim Carrey, the biggest star in the movie, is refusing to promote it due to the levels of violence.

Imagine my surprise, then — just imagine — when I came out of the cinema thinking, ‘Y’know? That was pretty good.’ And yes, even the thought of ‘I probably enjoyed that more than the original’ crossed my mind and found nothing to the contrary to hinder its progress.

It’s not without its problems, but after a fairly ropey start, strewn with one dud line after another — usually delivered by a below-par Christopher Mintz-Plasse — the second half was full of action, funny, and did kick some serious ass.

We pick up the story pretty much where we left off. Thanks to Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and his exploits in taking down a crime syndicate boss, New York is now awash with wannabe superhero vigilantes and one particular super-villiain (Mintz-Plasse) who has cast aside his Red Mist identity and reinvented himself as the — ahem — Money Funster and who is assembling an army of baddies to destroy Kick-Ass to avenge his father’s death (aforementioned syndicate boss) from the first movie. Meanwhile, Hit-Girl (the utterly fantastic Chloe Grace Moretz) finds herself promising her guardian she will no longer take to the streets fighting crime and will try to assimilate herself back into high school and a normal teenaged life, forcing Kick-Ass to find some new partners to help him in his quest.

It very much feels like a movie comprised of separate threads, especially in the first half, and some threads work better than others. The one involving the taming of Hit Girl is probably best, simply because Hit Girl is a far more interesting character than Kick-Ass. Not at all hindering the character in terms of popularity is the fact that Moretz has a wonderful screen presence and there are times — many times — when she carries the weight of the entire movie on her shoulders and even though this thread has been plucked from the Mean Girls rug, it builds to a quite hilarious climax. Jim Carrey, despite his change of heart towards the movie, is also something of a revelation. Barely recognisable, he gives a storming performance as Colonel Stars and Stripes, the leader of the band of heroes ultimately joined by Kick-Ass. Sadly, though, he’s not in it enough. The thread involving — ahem — Melon Farmer probably remained the least interesting for the longest time but even that eventually found its starter button and when the threads combine at the end, the disjointed feel at the start feels just about worth the effort.

I suppose I’d better say something about Kick-Ass himself, considering it’s in the name of the film and stuff. Taylor-Johnson’s acting has certainly improved in the last three years, but for a supposed super-hero, he sure does get beat up an awful lot (and yes, I get the irony) and he spends far too large a chunk of the first hour of the movie whining on the phone to Hit Girl, begging her to return to her crime-fighting ways.

It’s nowhere near a triumph, and director Jeff Wadlow, while handling the action sequences beautifully, seems to struggle with maintaining momentum on the multiple threads in a script that he, along with Kick-Ass creator Mark Millar, was responsible for. It’s very violent, mostly in true overblown comic book fashion, very profane and there are a few scenes that perhaps shouldn’t have escaped a sharp pair of editing scissors. But given the low expectations, bad reviews, and abundance of similar movies that have either been and gone or are coming up this year, it managed to entertain me enough to encourage my thumbs to the “up” position.

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