The idea of a Kick-Ass sequel — even a good one, even one that might rope in an off-his-rocker Jim Carrey for more than a collective 10 minutes — seemed a bit unnecessary from the get-go. And this is coming from someone who liked the first movie, having delighted in its colorful charm and pitch black wit without the aid of any established fandom from Mark Millar's graphic novel. The 2010 superhero flick felt complete. It neatly rolled its ideas and themes into a standalone feature, notwithstanding the obvious sequel bait of its cliffhanger. So the announcement of a Kick-Ass 2? Yeah, sure, it could be fun. But "worthwhile" is another story.
Perhaps it's the absence of the original film's creative team — writer/director Matthew Vaughn and writer Jane Goldman hand all duties to Jeff Wadlow for the follow-up — that explains why Kick-Ass 2 feels not only subpar to its predecessor, but lacking in so much of its kinetic energy. Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz) slay dozens of enemies, but not with the fresh vigor that kept the first movie from feeling overdone... somehow. Very little is energized in Kick-Ass 2, without a reborn Dave Lizweski's (Taylor-Johnson) booming origin story pushing forth the action, or the haunting vigor of a young Mindy Macready (Moretz) peppering in some highly macabre fun... and a few peeps of genuinely sweet, sad sensitivity. While Moretz's character, struggling to adjust to a new "normal" life as a high school student, does engage in an interesting new story, she isn't given the time to explore it fully, as our attention is diverted to Dave's return to the heroism game (which he does for no established reason, after a hiatus brought on for no established reason) and the ascension of Chris D'Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) from bratty punk to full-fledged supervillain who calls himself The Motherf**ker.
The connotations of the name are particularly unsettling when you consider Chris' garb: a box full of S&M gear he finds in his mom's closet after inadvertently, though quite unapologetically, killing her in her tanning bed. The whole sequence of events is so mean-spirited and twisted that it just feels off-putting. It doesn't match the dark but earnest ambiance of Kick-Ass; it's as if the new mission statement was, "Let's make this one even more f**ked up!" In this tunnel vision endeavor, you lose the compassion that paddedKick-Ass' morbidity.
But there is fun to be had with the new film, most notably in its secondary players: Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl form a posse, made up most notably of ex-Mafioso Col. Stars and Stripes (Carrey, who reminds us that he's an undeniable hoot and far more versatile than he gets credit for being) and wannabe scientist Dr. Gravity (Donald Faison, launching his endearing goofiness to new extremes). But just as we could stand to have a lot more of Mindy's face-off with her new arch enemies — her high school's popular girls — we would love a chance to get to know these masked folk a bit better. Or at least watch them make more jokes!
Even the dull majority of Kick-Ass 2 never dips below watchable. Lacking in charm and spirit, but always "good enough" to keep us from losing interest altogether, the film doesn't plod along as much as it does just sort of skip in circles. A total failure of a movie? Hardly. But in its will to reinvent and experiment anew with everything we discovered in the original, we'd have to call Kick-Ass 2 effectively powerless.
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British actress Sienna Guillory gave up her Hollywood career and her life in Los Angeles and moved back to the U.K. with her family as she was struggling to cope following the birth of her twins. The Resident Evil: Apocalypse star became a mother to two girls, Valentina and Lucia, with her husband Enzo Cilenti in 2011, but the 38 year old admits she felt unable to juggle her acting work with her home life.
The family has now relocated to her native Britain to be closer to Guillory's relatives, and she admits parenting twins has been much harder than she anticipated.
Fighting back tears, she tells Britain's Weekend magazine, "Why doesn't anyone tell you how hard it is? Before you have children you think parenting is about your capacity for love and you say, 'I can do that'. Then you have two at once and you feel like they both need you all the time, and it always feels like you're neglecting one; it just breaks your heart."
Guillory goes on to reveal the family moved back to the U.K. because "I needed my mother", adding, "(In Britain) you can walk to the shops rather than driving. I missed British newspapers and I didn't want my children to grow up in a place where they use the term Mexican in a pejorative way, which happens in L.A.!"
All of Britain is abuzz as "E-Day" approaches. The day when the pound will be converted into euros and the former will no longer be accepted as a valid form of currency. Enter two brothers: wide-eyed 7-year-old Damian (Alexander Nathan Etel) and his 9-year-old fiscally precocious and shrewd brother Anthony (Lewis Owen McGibbon) who stumble upon a million pounds and are split on what to do with it in the short time they have. They are in agreement on one thing: They will not tell their father (James Nesbitt) about the money. Anthony just wants to spend it on material things but Damian believes the money has been delivered to them by some sort of divine osmosis a miracle from their recently deceased mother. Through the saints he claims he sees and talks to he thinks it is should be given exclusively to the homeless--or anyone deemed worthy by meeting Damian's rigorous criteria…admitting they are poor. He is later crushed to discover that the money's true origin is a heist gone awry as he crosses paths with the obligatory villain posing as a homeless man and threatening Damian to hand over the money or else pay the consequences.
There's a kind of freedom in releasing an indie film in which the biggest name belongs to the guy behind the camera. Rather than worrying about watching mega movie stars it shifts the audience's attention so they can get involved in a complex storyline. Millions is no exception to this rule. The acting is superb all the way around but undoubtedly the two biggest stars of the film are also its smallest. The interplay between two brothers--played by Etel and McGibbon in their feature film debuts--makes the viewer feel like a fly on the wall in any family's home. For such young kids they display an amazing skill at being able to capture the subtle nuances generally present in sibling relationships. Throw in the dynamic of their father--played well by Nesbitt a veteran of the British-indie circuit--and his new girlfriend (Daisy Donovan) who threatens to disrupt the family harmony and you feel like a genuine intruder on a family in crisis. But Damian's naive musings help keep the story essentially light vibrant and flowing.
Millions marks a complete about-face for director Danny Boyle. With his previous films he followed along a general path of the same moods and tones: his harrowing take on drugs and decadence in England in the groundbreaking Trainspotting; his hostage-falls-for-kidnapper caper A Life Less Ordinary; his disappointing attempt at a mind trip with The Beach; and his zombie take-off 28 Days Later. It's safe to say that a feel-good family film would not seem the logical next step. But Boyle executes Millions brilliantly showing not only his sensitive side but his flair for the whimsical. Parts of the movie even suggest hints of Tim Burton complete with sinister-sounding choral hymns in the background. With Millions Boyle establishes himself as a force to be reckoned with one of the most versatile directors around today.
Cambridge-educated Tony Wilson is a young but established TV journalist in Manchester who is fed up with his silly assignments be they hang-gliding adventures or an interview with a midget who cares for elephants. When one evening he catches an unknown band called the Sex Pistols at a poorly attended show he becomes a believer in what is the new and rebellious punk movement. Taking a chance he opens a club to give new punk bands exposure becoming a major promoter of the punk movement. But hardly the exemplary capitalist he's motivated by gut feelings and passion and his belief in Manchester as the epicenter of new music. Wilson does discover several bands that go on to varying degrees of success and notoriety including Joy Division/New Order and the Happy Mondays but punk values and the lifestyle take their toll. There are the premature deaths marital breakups including Wilson's first marriage and drug lords who wield too much influence in Wilson's club. His own loosey-goosey ways with his record business and artist contracts leads to his label's demise. Through it all Wilson keeps his day job as TV personality and never lets go his allegiance to his beloved Manchester flag.
Thanks to 24 Hour Party People Steve Coogan as Tony Wilson may well become a star in Yank country. Known to TV audiences in the U.K. Wilson with a background in comedy is a brilliant and compelling presence as the film's drolly ironic and obviously learned hero. All supporting roles here are superb including Andy Serkis as doomed and messed up producer Martin Hannett Rob Brydon as Ryan Letts and Shirley Henderson as Wilson's first wife Shirley.
Michael Winterbottom who so brilliantly directed Welcome to Sarajevo but disappointed with The Claim again triumphs here. Employing an arsenal of special effects and using DV Winterbottom perfectly captures an era a rock movement a place and the authentic spirit of a hugely intelligent and appealing maverick entrepreneur whose field of vision extended well above the bottom line.