‘Kick Ass 2’ barely kicking

William Price

When the first film installment of Mark Millar’s comic book “Kick-Ass” was released expectations were low, but were exceeded to a great degree. Unfortunately, the second chapter, “Kick-Ass 2,” simply doesn’t live up to its predecessor.

“Kick-Ass 2” resumes the story of Kick-Ass, the troubled, self-made high school superhero David Lizewski, and now orphaned Hit-Girl, the infinitely badass and playfully brutal Mindy Macready.

The film revolves around the two leading lives going in opposite directions. Where Kick-Ass is trying to get back in to crime fighting by joining a team of other local superheroes and Hit-Girl is being pressured to hang up the cape by her new parental guardian and act more her age.

I’m not sure if it’s the shine of the first film’s playfully vicious portrayal of violence wearing off but the second film just doesn’t draw you in like its forerunner. In the first film it feels like the good guys are fighting for something, not just rampaging around random alleyways and crime rings beating, slashing and tearing criminals to a pulp.

The drop in quality could be explained by a change in directors, with the relatively unproven Jeff Wadlow (“Never Back Down”) replacing Matthew Vaughn (“X-Men: First Class,” “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”).

Wadlow’s “Kick-Ass” differed from Vaughn’s not because of a lack of good fight scenes or witty ways to kill someone, but more the shortage of good humor to go along with it. It’s not very fun to watch someone have his or her fingers cut off when there isn’t a cheesy one-liner following it.

Fortunately the movie is not void of bright spots. The two stars, Kick-Ass, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Hit-Girl, played by Chloe Grace Moretz, nail their respective roles as awkward high school senior who wears spandex and justice-obsessed 14-year-old orphan with a knife fetish.

Maybe the brightest point in the whole movie is the short-lived performance of Jim Carrey (‘The Truman Show,” “Ace Ventura”) as the soulful, old school Colonel Stars and Stripes. Among the pile of bodies the movie leaves behind, his is the only one I found myself caring about. It’s unfortunate the source material dictated we didn’t get to see more of the Colonel but Carrey certainly brings it.

Overall the movie will be reasonably entertaining based purely on the well done fight scenes and solid special effects, but it’s doubtful you’ll think about the movie much after you leave the theatre.

Perhaps the novelty of incessant and over-the-top violence wore off or the dark humor dimmed too much, but “Kick-Ass 2” kicks a lot less ass than its precursor.