Kick-Ass 2 (2013)

Kick-Ass 2Released: August 16, 2013. Directed by: Jeff Wadlow. Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Runtime: 103 min.

“Kick-Ass 2” takes place three years after the first. Mindy McCready (Chloë Grace Moretz) is now 15 years old, and she’s hung up her Hit-Girl costume. Dave (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) has also hung up his Kick-Ass costume, but he is bored without midnighting as Kick-Ass. Mindy begins to help train him and get him in back in shape for crime fighting. Eventually, Mindy can’t take part in the training anymore because she has to honour her promise (of not fighting crime) to Marcus (Morris Chestnut). Kick-Ass finds a team called Justice Forever because he knows he can’t fight crime by himself. Meanwhile, Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) wants Kick-Ass to pay for what he did to his father. He is reborn as The Mother F!*#@r and plans to become the world’s first super villain. His act of revenge will begin to affect everyone Kick-Ass knows.

This isn’t in the same league as the original. “Kick-Ass 2” is a super good sequel, while its predecessor achieves cult classic status. The movie is immensely enjoyable and I’ll probably re-watch it many times, but I thought I’d get that off my chest. I have a few minor complaints about it.

Replacing core cast/crew members never isn’t beneficial. It’s not as if Kick-Ass or Hit-Girl are recast, but two supporting actors get replaced. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to notice. Todd, Dave’s buddy, is recast, because Evan Peters had scheduling conflicts; and the ideal chemistry between the friend group (with Johnson, Clark Duke and Peters) is absent. The replacement that is the most noticeable is Mindy’s guardian, Marcus. Omari Hardwick portrayed him in the first, and now it’s Morris Chestnut. Chestnut is the better-known actor, but I already like the guy – so it would have been nice to see Hardwick reprise the role. If Hardwick was replaced by Idris Elba or Djimon Hounsou, I wouldn’t complain.

Matthew Vaughn’s (credited as producer) absence as director and co-writer hurts the film. Jeff Wadlow directs and adapts this from Mark Millar’s comic book. He isn’t bad, but to paraphrase Hit-Girl about she and Kick-Ass, “Vaughn is in the NFL and Wadlow is in Pee-Wee.” Without Vaughn’s directorial vision, much of the visual style (and charm) of the first is absent. (A true testament to the fact that the right director and cinematographer, Ben Davis gets replaced, will go a long way.) That warehouse scene in “Kick-Ass” where Hit-Girl goes on a solo rescue mission might be enough to give an epileptic a major seizure, but boy is it beautifully done.

The isn’t a train wreck without Vaughn’s direction by any means, but his direction would have helped. The film lacks the same satirical edge of the first. It’s very much a satire, and an amusing one, but it doesn’t have the same awesome edge. (Who else thought the Union J band that Mindy watches a video of was a parody of boy bands? I was surprised to find out that they’re real.) This movie still is enjoyable.

The action is tongue-in-cheek, over-the-top gleeful fun. That’s what we expect. I’m surprised by the movie’s restraint at one point, since the film generally practices excessiveness. A potentially disturbing rape scene is turned into a comedic scene, and I think it’s handled well. The movie has a few brief streaks of meanness and cruelty. However, it’s a minor complaint, because they aren’t arbitary; it advances the story in some way, and it’s easier to excuse.

Now, for the characters. Johnson has a charm about him that gets Kick-Ass the ladies. He loses Katie Deauxma (Lyndsy Fonseca) early on, because of something that’s easy to explain. He must have been planning on breaking up with her soon because he doesn’t chase after her, the break-up doesn’t bother him, and then the movie forgets about her immediately. Kick-Ass finds a superhero group called Justice Forever. His new love interest is the sexy superhero called Night Bitch (Lindy Booth), and I think N.B. is a name better suited for a super villain, not a hero. Kick-Ass is trying desperately to find a group, and I can’t decide if he’s smart or stupid. He’s smart because he knows he’ll get his ass kicked alone; but he must be stupid to trust people so easily after all that went down with making the mistake of trusting Red Mist/Chris D’Amico.

Justice Forever is led by Colonel Stars and Stripes (a scene-stealing Jim Carrey). He rivals Dwayne Johnson’s Paul Doyle of “Pain and Gain” as 2013’s most likable born-again Christian. Carrey is hilarious in a supporting yet critical role, as he feels like a main symbol of justice. A bit of irony: Colonel is always telling people to watch their language, yet he lets a superhero named Night Bitch be on his team. Dr. Gravity (Donald Faison) is one of the best additions to Justice Forever. A main theme of the movie is that, since the film is set in the real world, the real world brings real consequences, which brings about a theme of good doesn’t always conquer evil. Keep in mind, though: Bringing about thought-provoking themes isn’t a main focus.

Mindy’s arc is traditional. Her everyday persona is a bit more prevalent than her badass midnighting hero. But it’s great when Hit-Girl shows up. She puts all other powerless superheroes (in this universe) to shame. Moretz picks great roles, tackling them with a confidence, but her hard work is evident. Back to Mindy’s arc. It’s a traditional arc where she tries to enjoy high school and the things that come with it. She has a run-in with mean girls (led by Claudia Lee), and the spectacular and hysterical way Mindy handles them makes it an ordinary arc, with an extraordinary pay-off. Even if it’s played for gross-out laughs.

The film’s villains are grand. Christopher Mintz-Plasse has what it takes to tackle this role, and he doesn’t disappoint. He’s pretty crazy in 2011’s “Fright Night.” He’s crazy and funny here, too. I like how he goes against type because in his film debut six years ago in “Superbad” he was on the receiving end of a liquour store robbery, but now he’s the one briefly robbing a convenience store. One thing I’ve never understood about the character: I know he could have put two and two together, by how is he 100% certain his father was shot by a bazooka? He was unconscious in the other room, there were no witnesses, and the body couldn’t really be found easily if it’s blown to smithereens.

Despite my complaints, the movie’s a blast. I might not have laughed as much as the audience I saw it with (they were laughing at everything at some points), but I did laugh quite a lot. It’s a memorable action comedy that has some gleefully fun action scenes, a quickly-paced plot and badass powerless superheroes. This is my favourite superhero movie of the year. If you liked the first, odds are, you’ll like this one. And this is even more true: If you hated the first, you’ll despise this one. To me, it’s a super good sequel.

Score77/100

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August 16-18 Box Office Predictions

box office (1)Since four movies are being released this weekend, the holdovers aren’t going to get much of a chance to shine. It’s a dog eat dog box office world this August, folks. Two of the movies are bio pics, one about the late entrepreneur, Steve Jobs, “Jobs”; the other is “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” about a man who was a White House butler during many pivotal times in history. One of the releases is a run-of-the-mill August corporate thriller called “Paranoia,” and the other is “Kick-Ass 2,” my most anticipated movie of August, and one of my most anticipated movies of the year.

“Jobs” is probably the least intriguing release for me. It’s the story of Steve Jobs’ ascension from college dropout into one of the most revered creative entrepreneurs of the 20th century. It seems intriguing, but I haven’t felt the buzz just yet. The non-existent buzz, at that. Similar movies to this open at $8.991 million. I’m not sure how many people are going to want to a movie about Steve Jobs, espeically Ashton Kutcher as Jobs. I mean I’ll see it, and I hope it’ll be good, but my expectations aren’t high. The plot seems interesting. I like a good bio pic. The public demand for this type of feature just doesn’t seem grand. I think it’ll just miss a $10 million opening. My prediction for this is $9.28 million.

“Paranoia” is the second-least intriguing. I think I’ll like it, but it seems like a very run-of-the-mill corporate thriller. I really like the 2011’s political thriller “The Ides of March.” I think the part I like most about “Paranoia” is the cast. Gary Oldman’s outstanding; Harrison Ford is great; and I’m starting to like Liam Hemsworth, as well. I haven’t seen many TV spots for this. But the film hasn’t had a large marketing push at all. I think this will play better than “jOBS” throughout the weekend, because people like their thrillers; and the younger folk might be drawn to Baby Hemsworth. My prediction for this is $10.63 million.

“Lee Daniels’ The Butler” has, admittedly, gotten me a bit excited. I think it could be a great civil rights flick. The cast is superb. It has Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey in her first movie role in fifteen years, Robin Williams (as President Eisenhower), Alan Rickman (as Ronald Reagan), John Cusack (Richard Nixon), Jane Fonda… A lot of people. Movies similar to this open at $7.27 million. High-teens to low-20’s is a definite for this, I’d say. I don’t have a lot more to say about this one other than I’d see this before either “Paranoia” or “jOBS.” This seems like a movie that could muster some real Oscar buzz. The last part civil rights film was “42” which opened to $27.48 million. But that was the bio pic of Jackie Robinson – and not a lot of butlers are nearly as interesting as Robinson. My point is: I wonder if this movie could experience a similar, surprisingly high opening? For this film, a surprisingly high opening would be in the mid-20’s, I’d say… I think my prediction of $20.2 million is good enough.

“Kick-Ass 2” looks freaking awesome. I loved “Kick-Ass” because it’s a lot of fun and satirical, and I love satires. With the help of Jim Carrey, “Kick-Ass 2” could be even better than the first. “K-A1” opened to $19.8 million, and went on to gross $48 million domestically. It has a great fanbase, so I think this will gross a bit more.Three years is a bit long to wait between sequels, but I’m glad it’s here. “Red,” another R-rated comic book adaptation, opened to $21.6 million (check on that), and its sequel, also three years after the first, only made $18 million. Because of that, I don’t feel as if I can go bold with my number, here. I’m going to predict this one right around its predecessor at $21.8 million.

As for the holdovers, with no new comedies coming out this weekend (if you don’t count “Kick-Ass 2”), “We’re the Millers” will have a decent holdover. Maybe it will be play out like “Horrible Bosses.” There are no new sci-fi films coming out either, but “Elysium” wasn’t a massive hit with audiences. “Planes” will do okay, but I think “Percy Jackson 2” might be in trouble. If it was only able to attract a $14.4 million sized audience in its three-day frame ($23.3 million in five-day), how many people still want to see it? It seems as if “2 Guns” is in trouble, as well – especially considering it plummeted 58.4 per cent in its second weekend (Ouch!) and because fellow R-rated action-comedy “Kick-Ass 2” is coming out.

Here’s how I see the Top 10:
1. Kick-Ass 2: $21.8 million
2. Lee Daniels’ The Butler: $20.2 million
3. We’re the Millers: $15.296 million
4. Elysium: $14.75 million
5. Planes: $13.27 m
6. Paranoia: $10.63 million
7. jOBS: $9.28 million
8. Percy Jackson 2: $7.69m
9. 2 Guns: $6.28m
10. The Smurfs 2: $5.149m
Predicted Top 10 gross: $124.345m

Recap of July, Most Anticipated of August

Overall, at least based on the movies I saw, July was mostly an okay month for movies. But then again, I only saw five (out of 15 of the) major theatrical releases. And out of those five I saw, I only enjoyed two. “Despicable Me 2” was the strongest of the ones I saw. “Pacific Rim” was the second best. “R.I.P.D.” was right in the middle with a score of 50. “The Lone Ranger” didn’t get a passing score because it was dull; and “Grown Ups 2” was torture. The average score for the five movies was 54.8, but take away “GU2,” the adjusted score is 65.5.

Most anticipated of August

Fifth most-anticipated movie of August: "The Spectacular Now"

There are a few releases coming out this month that I highly doubt I’ll be seeing. One of them is “Planes,” because “Cars” was a hard enough sell on me, and that’s Pixar. This is just a lame spin-off. I won’t be seeing “This is Us” because I’m not fond of One Direction. I don’t think I’ll be seeing “The Smurfs 2” because I really didn’t like the first one. I liked the first “Percy Jackson” enough to give it a pass (I’ll post my review early this week), but I don’t think I’ll be itching to watch the sequel that comes out this Wednesday. But, if I’ve seen everything and it’s at my cheap theatre, I might watch it.

Fourth most-anticipated: "You're Next"

“You’re Next”

I’ll be watching “jOBS,” but I’m not extremely excited for it. I like a good bio pic, but my expectations aren’t high. Hopefully Ashton Kutcher impresses. The horror movie called “Random” could be okay, but Ashley Greene hasn’t impressed regarding the horror genre so far.

Paranoia” looks decent because of the cast, mostly, and I’d like to see more corporate thrillers. “Closed Circuit” looks like a good thriller, as well. “We’re the Millers” could be very funny. I missed “2 Guns” this weekend, and since it looks like fun, I’ll check it out next weekend. “Getaway” looks like a good thriller, like “Closed Circuit.” “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” looks as if it could be a good movie, and I enjoyed the book. (Though, I always envisioned Alex Pettyfer as Jace while reading, not Jamie Campbell Bower.)

Third most-anticipated: "Elysium"

The Butler” looks like a great bio pic, and civil rights movies can be interesting. “Prince Avalanche” looks like my kind-of oddball humour. I’m mostly excited for “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” because of its cast.

My fifth most anticipated movie of August is “The Spectacular Now” because I love the look of it and Shailene Woodley. My fourth most anticipated is “You’re Next” because I like a good home invasion flick, and I’m hoping for a great home invasion flick to make me forget about “The Purge.”

The World's EndMy third most anticipated is “Elysium“. I haven’t seen “District 9” yet (I might check it out if I like this one a lot), but the story of this one seems really cool. Jodie Foster’s awesome. “The World’s End” is my second most anticipated because I love “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz,” and it seems like a great finish to the trilogy. The team of Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost is comedy magic. “Kick-Ass 2” is my most anticipated movie of August (and one of my most anticipated of the year) because I LOVE the first one, and this one looks like a lot of fun. I can’t wait to see Jim Carrey be downright hilarious again. (“Hahaha, yeah, there’s a dog on your balls!”)

What are you excited for this month? Let me know in the comments!

Kick-Ass 2

Box Office Results July 26-28. (I can’t think of a clever title.)

The Wolverine“The Wolverine” did good business this weekend, but not nearly as great as everyone thought it would be. While it was tracking for a $70 million opening, it was only able to nab a $53.114 million opening. This opening should be attributed to the fact that the disappointing “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” disappointed many, so it kept some people away, and audiences are probably just fatigued of this superhero craze and all the explosions. (That makes me question how well “Kick-Ass 2” might do?) Since “Wolverine” did receive an ‘A-‘ Cinemascore, that should say it’ll have good legs. More good news: It’s already earned back its $120-million budget with its $139.2M worldwide tally.

As for the holdovers, “The Conjuring” continues to scare everyone as it had a drop of -46.9% to $22.2 million. That is a great hold for a horror film, where they traditionally face drops over 50%. (“The Purge” faced a drop of 76%!) “Turbo” also held well, dropping 35.5% to $13.74 million. Its box office performance will be thrown off pace when “The Smurfs 2” gets released on Wednesday, and it will be killed by the competition of “Planes”, come August 9th. It’s a very competitive market for animated movies, as “Despicable Me 2” is still going strong with a weekend gross of $16.4 million. “Grown Ups 2” was also in the Top 5 this weekend with $11.6 million, and it’s the 14th Adam Sandler movie to gross over $100 million. That isn’t exactly music to my ears, since I have such a low opinion of “GU2.”

“Fruitvale Station” found its way into the Top 10 with $4.59 million this weekend. “The Way, Way Back” earned $3.44 million and Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” made $612, 064 at just six theatres, marking a career best Per Theatre Average for Woody Allen, and the best PTA of the year so far. Finally, “The To-Do List” grossed a miniature $1.58 million at 591 theatres, which is surprising considering I’ve basically seen the trailer before every comedy I’ve seen for the past month.

What did you all see this weekend? I didn’t get out to the theatre (well, I did last Thursday to see “White House Down”) this weekend, but I’m planning to see “The Way, Way Back” and “Much Ado About Nothing” this week. Maybe “2 Guns” on the weekend. I won’t be seeing “The Smurfs 2.” I just couldn’t take it. I’ll see what happens. I’m thinking of going through a comedian’s full filmography throughout the first half of August and posting the reviews throughout the second half. I’ll make an announcement post soon, but in the meantime, you’ll have to wonder who the comedian is. (Note: Half of their filmography is torture, and half of it I like. So I’m watching half of the comedian’s filmography for your entertainment, and half of it for mine.) Anyway, here’s how much I was off by for each movie in the Top 10:

Title: Result/Prediction/Difference

1. The Wolverine: $53.114M/$69.825M/$16.711M over
2. The Conjuring: $22.208M/$24.258M/$2.05M over
3. Despicable Me 2: $16.424M/$16.2M/$224, 000 under
4. Turbo: $13.74M/$13.5M/$240, 000 under
5. Grown Ups 2: $11.6M/$10M/$1.6M under
6. Red 2: $9.337M/$12.5M/$3.163M over
7. Pacific Rim: $7.703M/$7.8M/$97, 000 over
8. The Heat: $6.915M/$5.6M/$1.315M under
9. R.I.P.D.: $6.071M/5.5M/$571, 000 under
10. Fruitvale Station: $4.59M/$5.2M/$610, 000 over

For the one new release, I was off by $16.711 million.
For the nine holdovers, I was off by $9.87 million.

Remember to get your predictions in at Box Office Ace! You can get your prediction in for 2 Guns here, and your prediction for The Smurfs 2 here.

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