I was asked if I'd review the DVD release of Kick-Ass 2... And everyone likes to have their opinion heard, right?
First, I should explain where I stood on the movie version of the first Kick-Ass... It's a great movie, capturing the black humour of the original comic, with some really stonking action/stunt sequences. I recommended the film to many of my non-comic reading friends (yes, I do have some) as I knew it would appeal to a very wide audience. However... It could have been better.
Pretty much every major change made by the film-makers to the plot lessened it's impact. For example, in the comic we find out at the same time Kick-Ass does who Red-Mist is... But in the movie this twist is squandered. Also, by changing Big-Daddy's origin (into a typical Punisher-style vengeance-thang) it took away another plot twist and missed the point that Mark Millar was making in the original mini-series (that only died-in-the-wool comics fans would ever think of becoming a superheroes!)
But that brings me to the sequel. This isn't as close an adaptation as the first film was, but it does still retain the comics original black-humour and rough plot. Some of the changes are caused by the changes they made to the first movie... (for example Hit-Girl's mother is nowhere to be seen as she had been killed off in Big-Daddy's new origin... and Kick-Ass has no actual girlfriend in the comics.) But as far as change for choice goes, this film has better judgement.
If you've read the comic, you'll know about the most controversial moment in the plot. The rape. It's referenced in the film, but they find a clever and very in-keeping, humorous way out of this situation. This is a change that I completely approve of. Mark Millar has a way of throwing rape into story-lines in very distasteful ways (see also Wanted.) Of course, story-tellers should be allowed to use rape in their plots... this is only fiction after-all. And I can completely understand why Millar wanted it in Kick-Ass 2 the comic... He wanted us to hate the villains so that when they got their comeuppance we would all cheer all the more. In short, he wanted the villains to be really villainous. But Kick-Ass has a very particular style... It's humorous. Even if it is black humour. And to throw a rape in to a story without any point to make seems... cheap. Well done to the film-makers for realising this and cutting it.
Let's address the other big elephant in the room here... Jim Carrey's withdraw of support of the movie in the aftermath of last years school massacre in America. Having now seen the film, I now feel able to assess his stand-point properly. It's bonkers.
Jim Carrey's character – Colonel Stars and Stripes – is shown to disapprove of the use of guns for example (it's a major plot point that he threatens people with a gun... but it's not even loaded!) And strangely (for such a violent movie) it keeps guns to a minimum. Even the villains don't use guns to kill their victims as often as real world villains do (somewhat unrealistically!) Oh, sure... there are shootings (Mother Russia kills some cops with guns – but most of them she kills in more inventive ways... and Hit-Girl kills some villains with guns.) Kick-Ass himself (surely the audience identification figure) never uses a gun and the other members of Justice Forever also disapprove of gun-violence.
It's as if Jim Carrey is blaming the media in general and the Kick-Ass films in particular for causing spree killings. Down the years everything has been blamed for the violence of society... In the 1950s it was horror comics... TV has come in for the same criticism... In the 1980s it was Video Nasties... In recent years it's been computer games and even social media! This idea goes back at least as far as nineteenth century penny dreadfuls (blamed for youth crime in the 1890s.) But you know what? Violence existed before all those things. Let's blame the perpetrators themselves for violent crime and stop looking for excuses for them. I've seen plenty of violent films and have never felt the urge to wipe out a school.
But... Back to the movie! If you enjoyed the movie adaptation of the first Kick-Ass series, I think you'll enjoy this one. It's done with great humour and gusto and spoofs superhero comics and their fans without disrespecting them. It's left in a slightly different place to the comic series in case, perhaps, it doesn't get a sequel... But let's hope it does.
John A. Short