I went to see Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters last week. During the previews, I noticed that more than half of them advertised sequels. Sadly, it’s no surprise. Sequels are hit and miss, but they are a growing inevitability. The best audiences can hope for is a sequel that is a strong continuation of that film’s universe, but can be an independent film in its own right. With that said, Kick Ass 2 makes for a decent sequel. The film follows Kick Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) as they attempt to live normal lives following the events of the last film. Hit Girl adjusts to life as a high school freshman as Kick Ass joins a superhero team led by Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey). Meanwhile, Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) assembles a team of super villains to take down Kick Ass. Revisiting the themes that made the first film popular, Kick Ass 2 will bring in new fans as well as satisfy the old.
Don’t fret if you haven’t seen the first film. Within the first few minutes Dave, Kick Ass’s alter ego, provides brief narration explaining the first film. Other references to the first film were then coupled with the action of the second. This method of delivering exposition is effective for two reasons. First, it doesn’t bog down the pacing in the film. Kick Ass 2 is already set at a brisk pace. If the film relied on flashback, that pacing would become stilted. Second, enough information is given for audiences to understand the film. Audiences won’t be trying to figure out why Red Mist wants to kill Kick Ass. New fans can enjoy the film without needing to watch the first one.
Thematically, Kick Ass 2 is strong and consistent. The film explores the vast difference between the real world and the comic book world. In the beginning of the film, Dave gets beaten up by thugs during a reconnaissance mission. Though Hit Girl eventually saves him, he lies on the ground with his faced kicked in. In addition, the superheroes themselves are different from the comics. Their origins don’t involve parents getting murdered outside an opera. One superhero team, known as Remembering Tommy, fought crime to grieve over their missing son. Colonel Stars and Stripes was a former mob enforcer. These superheroes withstand damage done to their body to fight real human causes. Audiences identify more with these characters than those in comic books. There are moments where this theme is weakened, lost in the stylized fighting, but it never disappears from the film.
There will be some audiences who might cringe at the budding relationship between Hit Girl and Kick Ass, as Hit Girl is fifteen and Kick Ass eighteen. However, this subplot is tastefully written. The film explores the nature of their relationship, revealing an emotional intimacy rather than erotic. The subplot also catalogs Hit Girl’s character growth. Though she is only fifteen, her life fighting crime has robbed her of a childhood. At the same time, she still is a child awaiting new experiences. When she finally does kiss Dave, it is a sweet moment, not uncomfortable or erotic.
Go see the film. It’s a decent sequel. Those other ones, though? You’re on your own.