Kick-Ass 2

When you think about the serial nature of comic books and the virtually limitless stream of new stories published each month, big-screen sequels in this genre should be a slam-dunk, right? Unfortunately, Kick-Ass 2 loses its way; its themes becoming at once muddled and more clichéd. High-schooler/hero Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is upping his crime-fighting game under the tutelage of 15-year-old Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz), who soon faces her own identity crisis. Inspired by the duo’s exploits, an all-new team of masked heroes has assembled, just as the vengeful son of a dead mob boss begins recruiting his own evil army, and a showdown is inevitable.

Absent here is the original movie’s endearing blend of fun and intensity born of giddily ample profanity and graphic violence. The story is darker now, sure, but also surprisingly derivative of teen flicks ranging from Ferris Bueller to Mean Girls—a strange and unsuccessful fit. disc looks mostly terrific, the 2.4:1 picture rife with natural detail. Tiny nuances are evident in the many close-ups, while long shots of New York City pop with clarity. The color palette is pleasingly wide, and the hues reproduce with a noteworthy vibrancy. And yet, despite a high bitrate, the blacks feel crushed, with a dull, lifeless appearance that detracts from the experience.

The aggressive editing of key sequences leads to a full, dynamic DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, complete with the occasional discrete surround cue. Bass is well utilized, underscoring the many fights and giving handguns a larger-than-life ka-boom. Whizzing bullets are also embellished with clean treble and effective directionality. And in one of the more amusing bits, we hear a lust-filled Mindy/Hit-Girl’s heart thumping exaggeratedly outside of her body. Frustratingly, several lines of dialogue are rather garbled, owing to the actors’ performances, but at least there’s the uHear feature to automatically skip back a few seconds and switch on the subtitles.

An alternate opening and 11 extended scenes are revealed among the bonus features, all with optional commentary by writer/director Jeff Wadlow, who also joins his stars Taylor-Johnson, Moretz, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse on the movie’s commentary track. There’s a five-part making-of as well, plus a study of the van battle from storyboard to stunt blocking to its final form. The disc is BD-Live enabled, while a DVD and Digital Copy round out this colorful combo pack.

Studio: Universal, 2013
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Length: 103 mins.
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Jeff Wadlow
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloë Grace Moretz