THE first film about Dave Lizewski and his invention of Kick-Ass was a direct response to Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy if nothing else.
Twisting direct quotes and scenes, Matthew Vaughn's telling of this fanboy's fantasies was a punchy look at how superheroes in the real world could come to exist. And an 11-year-old Chloe Grace Moretz saying the 'c' word for good measure.
Three years later we see the return of Dave/Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Mindy/Hit Girl (Moretz) in the time after the first film's events.
The crime fighting has stopped but Dave wants back in. The thought of achieving success as Kick-Ass is an addiction, and with Mindy by his side as trainer and potential partner in crime Dave believes they could do great things.
This sequel in many ways is a repeat of its predecessor. The Spider-Man references/style continues, there's another bad reference from the little lady and a new superhero father figure emerges in Jim Carrey's Colonel Stars and Stripes.
More emphasis is placed on Mindy coming out of her shell as a 15-year-old. She is subject to bullying at school from the mean girls she tried to befriend and discovers how males can be seen as an object of desire.
Secret fantasies are also a game changer for The Motherf--er (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), in dominatrix-inspired get-up as the world's first supervillain. He's out for Kick-Ass' blood to avenge the death of his father.
It becomes a battle of the supporters as both Kick-Ass and The Motherf--r have strength in numbers. The good team is an odd bunch, but all reveal good reasons for being there in the film's most poignant scene. The bad guys - well, that's where the film begins to spiral.
John Leguizamo is the only sane one in the baddie camp as he tries to explain the political incorrectness of henchmen names like Genghis Carnage and Black Death. It doesn't work, and The Motherf--r steadily declines into a psychotic state. The film eventually hits rock bottom as it attempts to make a potential rape scene a point for laughter.
Taylor-Johnson may impress with his abs but not particularly with a whinier Dave, and Moretz, while the best thing about the film, still threatens to over-sexualise the now-not-completely-innocent Mindy.
Director Jeff Wadlow took over from Vaughn to create a similarly stylised affair. But gags best kept to the Batman series of the 60s somehow make their way into this hyper-violent world where they don't belong, and the film suffers as a painful return as it struggles to kick any butts or gain credibility.
Now screening at Reading Cinemas