Cinema Review: Kick Ass 2

images

 

DIR/WRI: Jeff Wadlow • PRO: Adam Bohling, Tarquin Pack, Brad Pitt, David Reid • ED: Tim Maurice-Jones DOP: Eddie Hamilton DES: Russell De Rozario • CAST: Chloe Grace Moretz, Jim Carrey, Donald Faison, Clark Duke

Watch enough films and it’s hard not to predict the patterns in their plot, characters and just the general execution. In fact at time they are so goddamn unimaginative, you’ll swear you have already seen them (yeah, I’m looking at you, Identity Theft). But once every so often a movie will come out that provides that fantastically fresh twist on something familar and reminds you why you keep going to the cinema.

 

Kiss Ass was one of those films. It graced the big screen, just as those cheesetastic comic franchises were expelling the last of their death rattles, leaving the zombies and vampires to battle it out for box-office draws. Thoughtful and hilarious, Kick Ass effortlessly tackled all those tired formulas with razor-sharp wit and some of the best anti-heroes seen in a while; Red Mist, Nick Cage & Hit Girl. I’m not saying K.A. reinvented the wheel, but at the very least it pimped out the genre with some uniquely creative hubcaps.

 

Kick Ass 2 is nothing, I repeat NOTHING, like it’s predecessor. The dialogue is clunky, the exposition is lazy, little of importance is learned about these eccentric characters (except perhaps that Hit Girl is becoming a Hit Woman). The jokes are flat and mainly rely on exceptionally low-hanging fruit and the plot seems to be a made up of lazy clichés lifted from arguably better films (notably Watchmen and Spiderman). But what’s worse than everything listed above is that none of K.A.’s trademark irony or witty self-references made it into this sequel, which instead is doused in awkward earnestness.

 

What really gets my goat is that this film appears to take place in a parallel dimension to the original. In 2, Kick Ass himself has his proverbial socks knocked off when he’s invited to chill in his super-buddy’s fairly average basement, bearing in mind this is after he had previously hung out in Big Daddy’s epic war-lair. Also pretty early on in this movie he gets six shades of sh*te knocked out of him by a few thugs – when the last time we saw him, he was going badass on a mafia boss.

 

Look, the list of gripes I have with this film’s script would put the Simpsons‘ Comic-Book guy to shame; and presently I’m only one-third through it; the list, not the film. However even with sharper writing, it was unlikely that Kick Ass 2 was ever going to escape the shadow of its predecessor. In reality, especially when considering tone and theme, K.A.2 is a completely different film – that just so happens to feature the same actors.

 

It’s not all bad though; there’s no way of saying this without horrifying my mum, but the violence is outstanding. Just fantastic. Watching a young girl brutally murder baddies in increasingly inventive ways never gets old. Mother Russia, with her Hulk-like super strength, is one hell of a supervillian, with an honorable mention going to Jim Carrey for his interesting transformation as Colonel Stars and Stripes.

 

Although Kick Ass 2 frequently saunters into silly territory, overall it’s frantic, fun and fast-paced, and I’m not too big to admit to chortling a number of times. Low hanging fruit can still be funny.

Gemma Creagh

Rated 16 (see IFCO website for details) 

102 mins
Kick Ass 2 is released on 16th August 2013

Kick Ass 2 –  Official Website

Share

Hot Tub Time Machine

Hot Tub Time Machine

DIR: Steve Pink • WRI: Josh Heald, Sean Anders, John Morris • PRO: John Cusack, Grace Loh, Matt Moore, John Morris • DOP: Jack N. Green • ED: George Folsey Jr., James Thomas • DES: Bob Ziembicki • CAST: John Cusack, Clark Duke, Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry

As far as proverbs go, ‘never judge a book by its cover’, is a goodie. It’s a proverb rich with open-mindedness and a good mantra for day-to-day life. However, another goodie is ‘never say never’, and in line with this, Hot Tub Time Machine is exactly what its title suggests.

The film begins in the present and introduces us to three middle-aged friends who have grown apart and are each unhappy with their lives due to a divorce, failed music career and suicidal tendencies. They decide to return to the ski resort where they had their ’80’s heyday for some good old-fashioned male bonding and to show the nephew of Adam (John Cusack) how cool they used to be. The resort isn’t what they remember but thanks to a (spoiler alert, but not really) hot tub time machine they’re transported back to 1986 and are in for one crazy weekend!

As far as premises go for this genre, it’s quite a strong one. Hot Tub… looked promising as a successor to last year’s The Hangover and it’s distributor, MGM, would have been praying for a hit of that magnitude to help them with their current dire straits. Sadly, you can’t get money for nothing (pun always intended) and Hot Tub… is a few guitar solos short of a fully-fledged 80’s power ballad.

Hot Tub… isn’t without laughs. At its best it is brilliantly funny but these instances are too few. The film becomes burdened with explaining ‘the butterfly effect’; a central component of time travel in films. A quick visit to dictionary.com explains it as such: ‘a chaotic effect caused by something seemingly insignificant, the phenomenon whereby a small change in a complex system can have a large effect somewhere else’. Hot Tub… stubbornly feels the need to explain this repeatedly and at great lengths when they should have been concentrating on more important things within this genre, i.e. dick jokes. Don’t get me wrong, there are quite a few dick jokes; there’s just a lot more chaos theory.

Hot Tub… is simply not equal to the sum of its parts. There is a very strong cast headed by the three friends Adam, Nick (Craig Robinson) and Lou (Rob Corddry) along with Adam’s nephew Jacob (Clark Duke). They all work well together and there is an excellent supporting role for Crispin Glover as the accident-prone bellboy; no stranger to time-travel himself thanks to his part in Back to the Future. The comic possibilities of a return to the ’80s is frustratingly underused in the narrative, as typified by the too-brief cameo of Chevy Chase. Hot Tub… should have paid closer attention to the extensive research on display in The Wedding Singer.

Hot Tub Time Machine is ultimately a disappointment. It is an adequate comedy but the untapped potential of the concept left me with a rebel yell; crying out for more, more, more… more, more, more.

Peter White
(See biog here)

Rated 16 (see IFCO website for details)
Hot Tub Time Machine is released on 7 May 2010

Hot Tub Time Machine – Official Website

Share