Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

No kicking ass here

More 'superhereos' nothing but a cover for unoriginality

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The most effective tool in the utility belt of the 2010 movie Kick-Ass was the shock of the new.

A fascinating oddball in the ever-expanding superhero movie genre, Matthew Vaughn's entry set the story more or less in the real world, where no one possesses extraordinary mutant/extraterrestrial/supernatural powers and a gun usually trumps good intentions.

In a crime-ridden city, Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) rose up to take the challenge of becoming the titular costumed vigilante and promptly found himself outclassed by the bizarre father-daughter team of Nicolas Cage's Big Daddy and Chlo´ Grace Moretz's foul-mouthed tween, Mindy/Hit Girl.

Spoiler alert ahead with regards to the first movie...

When the dust settled, Big Daddy was dead, Dave and Mindy were in the same high school and spoiled mob scion Chris D'Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) was vowing revenge for his vanquished crime kingpin dad.

Compensating for a sense of familiarity that has settled on this property, director Jeff Wadlow fills the screen with more costumed characters. After receiving martial-arts instruction from Mindy, Dave drifts into a loose super-friends association with a gang of would-be vigilantes calling themselves Justice Forever and led by a former mob enforcer born again into a self-styled hero who calls himself Col. Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey).

All this heroism offends the unhinged D'Amico, who changes his own costumed persona from "Red Mist" to "The Motherf er."

He assembles his own league of costumed bad guys, including a formidable muscle-bound assassinatrix dubbed Mother Russia (Olga Kurkulina).

Unfortunately for Dave and his crew, the equally lethal Hit Girl has taken herself out of the action, choosing to honour a vow she made to her dead dad to hang up Hit Girl's arsenal. As it is, she starts to feel like she's got her hands full dealing with the snooty mean girls at her high school, young tartlets with the superpowers of bending the wills of boys and wannabes.

The sequel contains its share of violent shocks, but Wadlow seems to be constantly whittling down the strangeness of the original property. Dave and Mindy seem to endlessly debate the question of whether Mindy/Dave or Kick-Ass/Hit Girl are their true identities. Carrey and Mintz-Plasse take turns chewing scenery. And every minute, another costumed kook seems to appear on the screen.

Amidst all that activity, the "real-world" premise of the first film slowly disappears from view to be replaced by a fog of the familiar: teen angst, violent excess and yadda-yadda-yadda.

The Motherf er notwithstanding, Kick-Ass's greatest enemy has emerged: Kick-Ass 2.

randall.king@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 16, 2013 G3

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