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Kick Ass 2: DVD Review

Rating: R18
Released by Universal Home Entertainment

So, here it is then, the film which star Jim Carrey refused to promote due to the violent content and a change of heart in light of the Sandy Hook massacre. It's been three years since the first Kick Ass film swiped its way into the pantheon of comic book R-rated movies - and this latest sees Kick Ass' antics from the first flick inspiring a new wave of costumed, but ordinary, superheroes.

However, for Kick Ass aka Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) himself, life's got rather quiet and humdrum. He's hung up the green and yellow unitard and is concentrating on life as a high school student. Likewise with Chloe Grace Moretz's Hit Girl. She's trying to be part of school and put aside the costumed vigilante, adrenalin filled lifestyle.

But the reality is the pair of them are bored silly with a normal life and crave the ultra violence of the vigilante world.

Hit Girl's determined to stick with the quieter life and deal with Mean Girls style bullies at school, but when Kick Ass meets up with the sadistic ex-Mafia enforcer Colonel Stars and Stripes (an electric Jim Carrey), he becomes part of a team called Justice Forever. Just round the corner though isChristopher Mintz-Plasse's bondage wearing super-villain, The Mother F***er, who's determined to avenge his father's death at the hands of Kick Ass, putting them on a collision course.

Kick Ass 2 is frankly, a disappointment.

After the first skirted extreme violence with satire and added a new element to the comic book genre, this latest does nothing to build on that initial promise and revels in its smackdowns.

Sure, the violence is quite full on and occasionally brutal (though it's no different from the first) but it's not as shocking as it first was and feels rather mundane as it's thrown into the narrative for violence's sake. Likewise, the vicarious thrill of seeing a young girl drop the C-bomb was something quite unheard of until Kick Ass - now, wisely, they don't choose to repeat the same trick but it means that a lot of the swearing feels a bit old hat this time around.

Most of the vigilante gang that Dave joins up with are simply dull - whether that's a comment on everyone wanting to be a superhero, I'm not sure, but they're simply faceless mannequins in spandex and masks. Only an understated Carrey brings something a little different to the dynamic with his pugilist scarred face and buzz cut - though once he chooses to indulge in his violent tendencies, any kind of character development / empathy for this born again Christian crusader goes out of the window. Equally Mintz-Plasse's turn as the fetish-wearing and lisping supervillain falls short of a truly diabolical nemesis and proffers up, quite frankly, a whiny little b*tch bad guy who's throwing tantrums rather than throwing barbs at the good guys.

More interesting is Hit Girl / Mindy McCready's coming of age quest to try and fit in with the perils of high school as she tussles internally with whether to deny her destiny (a key trope of most comic books); but sadly, the pay-off for this is a gag that involves vomit and diarrhea. To her credit, Grace Moretz emerges with credibility in tact here, bringing a turn which soars way above the material.

Most of the film sees the Mother F***er sidelined from taking on his nemesis and simply recruiting misfits to his evil gang - until it all culminates in a final showdown which resembles an over-exuberant and violent cosplay outing at the likes of Comic-Con or Armageddon. As the fight progresses, there are sparks of the darker, slightly nastier edge to the violence and it's close to leaving a sour taste in the mouth.

And that's where Kick Ass 2 becomes a disappointment - it lacks some of the smarts that helped keep the first film on the right side of guilty pleasure and clever subversion of the genre. With a fractured narrative, and with the fact the energy and sense of urgency are all missing from the fight sequences as the gangs take on each other in a particularly costumed showdown a la West Side Story, this sequel fails to match up to - or exceed - the first.

All in all, a group of lads and comic fans will enjoy Kick Ass 2 due to some puerile one liners and moments of vulgarity - but the hedonistic highs of the first are MIA in the sequel.

Rating: 5/10