Hey folks, Harry here with my feelings about two highly anticipated films, that while I enjoyed greatly aspects of both, I was also disappointed with my reaction to both. The problem is the pedigree of the films. I seriously love KICK-ASS and DISTRICT 9. They're electrifying films that continue to entertain and thrill me. In advance, I was more concerned about KICK ASS 2, than ELYSIUM... and ultimately I enjoyed ELYSIUM a great deal more than I did KICK ASS 2, but mulling over ELYSIUM has still left me with some curious lacks of passion for the film - and I have difficulty really expressing it. So, I'll start there.
ELYSIUM is an amazing vision of a very scary future Earth seemingly controlled by those that believe human rights are paid for rather than given. The Earth has gone to shit - and I loved the story of Damon's Max & Alice Braga's Frey - especially when they were children in this world, trying to understand the disparity of Earth & Elysium, the ring world that the super rich enjoy. I like how we see this world, the reality of robotic police droids and the brutality and lack of basic understanding which results in rampant human abuse. I also greatly enjoyed William Fichtner's John Carlyle and Jodie Foster's Elysium Secretary of Defense Delecourt! I get that Foster's accent bothered some, but I also find that some people have no threshhold for performed accents if they know that's not the way that person talks. On the WALKING DEAD Season 3 bts - there's a bit of Andrew Lincoln speaking with his regular British accent - which I found very weird because his accent on WALKING DEAD seems so natural - so it goes both ways. Me, I accept accents and move on. I was more interested in her coup'etat she was plotting with Fictner, that Max throws a monkey wrench in. I love that Syd Mead was a visual consultant on this film - and there's visual wonders in this film, like Fichtner's sexy as hell orbital vehicle that just screams COOL! Then there's Sharlto Copley, which... I could just watch all day. All day. He's amazing to watch, that face blowing off and reconstruction sequence... MY GOD! Like I said - there's a lot to love with ELYSIUM... but why does the film sit funny with me.
In DISTRICT 9, the film moved from Documentary delivery to Narrative Film... effortlessly - and when the shift occurs, I never take not, it just feels absolutely natural. The pacing of ELYSIUM feels like it's struggling between storylines - and the transitions between scenes sometimes feels clunky and unwieldy. There's a ton of clunky exposition delivery between Fictner and Foster and the people they deal with and Diego Luna... which just feels writery and not natural. I've seen the film twice now - and the visuals alone demand multiple views - but I'm still having a nagging problem with underlining clearly what it is that leaves me so damn conflicted. I wish I could just leave DISTRICT 9 in its case- but given how many times I've watched and loved every second of that film... it's what I brought with me. I didn't want this to be that... I just wanted it to be as flawless, and this doesn't quite nail it. The fact that this movie is driving Rush Limbaugh crazy with rage, though, may actually push me to loving it. His conspiracy theory about the film is the greatest reason to support the film that I've yet seen. The film wears it's politics plainly.
I like the film quite a bit... but there's just something unfinished feeling about it - like it wasn't quite explored enough. Can't wait for the film to hit Blu so I can really dig into the film. There's a chance that upon multiple views I'll just go gaga for it, like what happens with so many John Carpenter films with me. At least, that's what I'm hoping for.
Whereas with KICK ASS 2... I don't think that's going to happen. It has a few sequences that I love... Like Hit Girl vs the Van and MOTHER RUSSIA vs The Cops. Those, for me, are the outstanding sequences in the film. The humor is fun throughout - with the IBS stick being the best WTF moment of the film. But other than those two sequences, there really isn't much great action here. And Hit Girl vs Mother Russia, for me was really disappointing. One, I hate that it was cut up in the midst of an army of bad cos-play heroes & villians that I didn't care two shakes about. The film makes the same mistake with HIT GIRL that I felt Nolan made with BATMAN in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES - which was leaving him out of the film for way too much of it. I know the film is called KICK ASS 2, but let's be honest, I wish the film was called HIT GIRL & KICK ASS TOO, because Chloe Moretz's HIT GIRL is just a wonderful film pairing of character and actress. Jeff Wadlow's direction and writing - just wasn't up to Matthew Vaughn's original.
Throwing an Army against an Army, where both sides are just kind of clumsy & uninteresting... well, its disappointing. Think about that PENTHOUSE ending of the original. Remember the joy of seeing HIT GIRL just wade through henchmen like they were playthings to be torn asunder? We don't get that here. I would have loved to have seen that kind of emotion and flair and focused energy for the end sequence, but after an amusing time highlighted with some exceptional grossness and two action sequences... Then there's the awkwardly comedic(?) rape scene, that had me flashing to Alan Rickman and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio's awkwardly comedic(?) rape scene - and remembering distinctly it didn't work that well there either. The film loses alot of the power of the first film. It's still fun, but even these great characters... need a bit more tender love and care than they got here.
Loved Jim Carrey's Colonel Stars & Stripes, just wanted more of him. I kinda wish that Vaughn & Millar had planned many more years ahead and shot footage of a younger Nick Cage and Chloe would be available for flashbacks... but that's because I really and dearly missed the presence of Big Daddy & Hit Girl. Again, that's a credit to how well that dynamic worked in the first one that I want more of it. To a degree, Carrey and Garrett Brown's Kick-Ass' father are trying to fill that void, but Carrey's character never really is given a real moment of real connection, the way Big Daddy had with Hit Girl. As a result, when Carrey leaves the film... it doesn't have any real punch to it. It's more cartoonish than brutally sober. There's a lot of death in this film, but most of it was just... alright. Nothing replaces Big Daddy here.
And - ultimately - seeing Hit Girl on her Hitgirlcycle heading off for parts unknown... PLEASE - HBO - now! HIT GIRL series starring Chloe Moretz on escapades... would be impossible
Don't get me wrong, I really like Aaron Taylor-Johnson's Dave/Kick-Ass... Whose origins now feel particularly DAREDEVIL esque now. After the Hit Girl training sequence... I didn't feel like KICK ASS improved enough and was a tad disappointed that after that, he wasn't miraculously KICK ASS. Instead he's still very much hanging on for dear life. I like everyone just fine, I'm just not overly involved with this particular story. I really wanted better for all these characters.
There was more nuance to the first film and Mark Strong. This isn't to say I wanted him, I wanted someone with that kind of menace in the film. But that's missing here. The film is a lot sillier. And it's entertaining enough... but wasn't the home run that the first film was.
I just felt this could have been a lot cooler.
Thinking about ELYSIUM and KICK-ASS 2 both failing to really meet expectations, I wondered if I was building them up too much in my mind - and I've really been wrestling with both of these films for a bit of time. I enjoy ELYSIUM on many levels. KICK-ASS 2 I can't really say that. I think more costume characters created a sense of clutter that made the film less powerful to me. Alone many of the characters could stand out, but the film is cluttered with sketches of characters. ELYSIUM - I want it to be about an hour and ten minutes longer and feel shorter. I felt like I was missing character beats and I suppose that's the danger of creating a beautifully intricate visiion of the future. The attention to detail is to be loved! What I missed was simply wanting more of it all. I was disappointed when it ended, not because the ending was a bit of a downer, but because we had already reached the end.
That's definitely the difference between the two movies for me though, ELYSIUM I wanted more of, KICK-ASS 2 I could have lost alot of the silly school stuff - mainly because it felt lacking of something other than leading to a gross sight gag, that I howled laughing at. But it was a long set up. Alot of time to get there.
Also, both films put me in a bit of a funk too. On KICK-ASS 2 there's a stinger after the credits you may want to catch.
It also didn't help that between the two, I saw the best film I've seen this year, Gilliam's ZERO THEOREM - which is an incredibly full film experience. But more on that later.
I rarely ever group reviews like this - but the films similar dissatisfied enjoyment feeling put them in an odd category of film in my head. The Almost films - and I've hated writing about nearly awesome films that are actually alright, but not all that great kind of category. Often times these kinds of films become better upon repeat views. So, we'll see for sure on Home Video.
They're both worth checking out, they're just not as great as I think they could have been.