Kick-Ass 2 Blu-ray Review
The Blu-ray kicks ass, but Vaughn is still missed on this production
Kick-Ass 2 is certainly fun. It's unabashedly non-PC, frequently violent, and darkly witty around the edges.Indeed I can see that those who loved the first chapter will find this a fluid follow-on, which almost matches up in terms of style and tone. All the key players return, and they're still the same as last time around. The comic-book style - and even scene-separating writing, and comic-drawn character title-cards - is evident throughout, and the key set-pieces are painfully enjoyable. It's just more of the same. Unfortunately there's simply no soul this time around, and the darkly controversial edge has been smoothed off, leaving a generic follow-up which rides high only on the strengths of Chloe Moretz’s ever-watchable Hit-Girl, and a scene-stealing contribution from an almost unrecognisable Jim Carrey. By integrating the Hit-Girl and Kick-Ass 2 comic stories into one, you also get a whole load of self-doubt, confusion and hesitation thrown into the mix.
It becomes tiring watching the characters retire, return to action, retire again, and then wait - painfully - for them to change their minds again. Certainly the best way to look on and enjoy this feature is as an extension of the first chapter, rather than a fresh sequel. It doesn't have the weight or originality to stand on its own, and feels instead like a series of enjoyable fight sequences strung together on a pretty lightweight, predictable plot that has little substance to it. It's not like the first movie was Shakespeare, but it had some weight to its character arcs (Big Daddy and Hit Girl in particular) plus an - at the time - interesting spin on vigilantes. Unfortunately, without Director Matthew Vaughn still behind the helm, it’s all a little unmemorable.
If you can look past the limited vision and instead revel in the simple more-of-the-same approach, then Kick-Ass 2 will prove an entertaining distraction.
The Comic Book ColoursKick-Ass 2 hits Region Free UK Blu-ray complete with a largely stunning 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen. Detail is excellent, with skin and facial observation superb, and clothing weaves and background textures also very impressive indeed. Unlike the first movie, even the tweaks to the contrast, pushing it a little bit, don’t damage the detail unacceptably, and certainly don’t result in that prevalent crush as before; instead, here, the night sequences boast strong black levels and rich shadow detail with no signs of crush. The colour scheme is still rich and broad, with a comic-book vibrancy to it, and it helps bring the piece to life, even drawing in some 3D pop with its vivid tones. It's only a smidge of softness - as a result of those aforementioned tweaks - that remains, with edge enhancement, excess DNR and other digital defects largely absent.
Kick-Ass 2 is resoundingly good on Blu-ray, and nudges into demo territory in terms of video.
The Kick-Ass SoundThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is a thoroughly engaging in-your-face mix which, thankfully, blends precision with power, even if it tends to fall down more on the bombastic side of things. It’s immersive and impressive, balancing dialogue presentation across the fronts and centre channel, which remains clear and coherent throughout, with dynamic surround effects coverage, and – easily getting the most prominence on the track – stomping score delivery. Engines roar across the soundscape, whilst bullets spray in an arc; explosions rumble with LFE input, and body blows come with a welcome impact too. But, above this all, the score overwhelms and engulfs – not so much to overwhelm the dialogue, but enough to make the film considerably more enjoyable.
The score is also, without a doubt, demo territory.
Plentiful ExtrasThe Feature Commentary with Writer/Director Jeff Wadlow and his main cast members Chloe Grace Moretz, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Christopher Mintzz-Plasse, is great for fans of the film, although it’s occasionally painful hearing how Wadlow changed the original source comic – for the worse – but clearly promotes it as being for the better. This spills over into the Making-Of Documentary, which runs at almost an hour in length and is split into Upping the Game, An Ass Kicking Cast, Going Ballistic: Weapons and Stunts, Creating a Badass World, and Street Rules: Showdown at the Evil Lair. These cover the plans to make a sequel, putting together an all-star cast, the bigger scale of the proceedings, and the grand finale (although, again, it’s nowhere near the grand finale of the book).
In terms of extras we get a solid selection which provides plenty of decent material.
Hit Girl Attacks: Creating the Van Sequence is a 5-minute companion Featurette which looks behind one of the coolest sequences from the film, although even those who have seen the trailer will be familiar with this bit; and Big Daddy Returns: The Unshot Scene was probably a wisely unfilmed and purely storyboarded scene, unnecessarily bringing back Big Daddy for a dream sequence which, to be honest, could have been far more meaningful and memorable. A selected of Extended Scenes – mostly with unfinished stunt work – don’t really add anything to the proceedings, but the Alternate Opening was actually quite an interesting touch.
PunchlineIf you can look past that and revel in the simple more-of-the-same approach, then Kick-Ass 2 will surely score much higher for you. Personally I think they'd have been better off either just adapting the Hit-Girl short story so that the focus wasn't so confused, or sticking to the harsher controversy of the book to maintain at least a hint of shock value and freshen things up. All we can hope now is that Vaughn returns for the third chapter - if there is one. In the meantime enjoy Moretz, Carrey and some entertainingly violent fun. Nobody is going to argue with the fact that there are far worse ways to spend your time.
And, undoubtedly, the UK Region Free Blu-ray release of Kick-Ass 2, um, kicks ass. The video is excellent, and the audio even more impressive, and with a whole host of extras, this is likely a must-have purchase for fans of both this, and the first, film. In that respect it comes recommended.
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