Sunday, 31 March 2013

Trailers@24 Panels: KICK-ASS 2, 2 GUNS

Here at 24 Panels, we like to give each new comic book movie trailer the roundtable treatment. Click through for the 24 Panels take on new trailers for Kick-Ass 2 and 2 Guns...

DRU: Alright, first up is the new international trailer for Kick-Ass 2, a film for which I'm struggling to find any feelings other than indifference. I always found Chloë Grace Moretz's performance in the first film to be a real low point -- she's so mannered, and I always got the sense that she's trying too hard to be a bad-ass, which may be the point of the character but it doesn't work for me personally -- and this film looks to be very much The Hit-Girl Show. Scribe of the original comics Mark Millar has promised that the film will be based not only on his Kick-Ass 2 series but also that the first act of the film is essentially an adaptation of his Hit-Girl miniseries. I've liked Moretz elsewhere (particularly in Hugo) but I find her pretty insufferable in badly written roles (Dark Shadows probably being the worst offender). 

I read a couple issues of Kick-Ass 2 and lost interest (it's almost impossible to sustain my interest in a monthly series, so that's not a huge slag on the books), but I think I've got the gist of the film's premise, at least. I'm curious to see if the film is able to shake me out of my apathy for the franchise (I did kinda enjoy the first one, with reservations), but I'm not really champing at the bit to see it.

Andrew, I know you've got pretty strong feelings about the first Kick-Ass. Feel free to briefly summarize your thoughts on the first one and where you stand regarding what we've seen so far of the sequel.

ANDREW: Let me begin a little abstractly. You guys all remember the weird kid in high school? The one who would show up dressed like a Victorian gentleman and have a pet iguana on his shoulder or whatever? And you'd feel bad that this guy kept getting harassed by everyone else, only to realize that his “weirdness” wasn't a genuine expression of his interests, but a calculated effort to alienate everybody else as a show of superiority? That kid grew up to be Mark Millar, and the iguana turned into Kick-Ass.

Let's rewind a bit. A few years back, I read Millar's Kick-Ass, and while I didn't exactly love it, it did a few interesting things in terms of subverting and deconstructing the superhero origin narrative. Soon after, I saw the red-band trailer for the film (my first red-band ever!), and my curiosity was piqued. However, the finished film was remarkably disappointing. Don't get me wrong -- it was well shot, generally well acted, and reasonably faithful to the book. However, the film deviated at a few critical points -- giving Big Daddy a tragic origin, having Katie decide to date Dave in the end, and of course, jetpacks -- which effectively turned Kick-Ass into just another stock superhero film, and completely negated the entire point of Millar's text. We were left with a film that offered no new takes on the genre beyond totally-in-your-face cursing and occasional moments of ultraviolence, and a general sneering attitude that wasn't justified by any formal or narrative creativity.

Needless to say, I haven't been following much of Millar since. Kick-Ass 2 went unpurchased and un-leafed through at the comics shop, and when I heard that it would be adapted into its own movie, I busted out a trademark Babbsian face-palm. My fear was/is that a sequel would continue to neuter all the book's intriguing elements, and offer continuation to a narrative that doesn't really merit it in the first place. So, having seen the trailer, where do I stand? In pretty much the exact same spot, as the trailer makes Kick-Ass 2 look like more of the same.

Let's run down the list:
Dave showing off his teenage awkwardness? Check.
Dave, in costume, getting love from the general public? Check.
Red Mist doing something goofy that he thinks looks totally cool? Check.
Mindy saying something offensive before killing somebody? Check.
Mindy driven to avenge and honour her father's memory? Check.
A-list actor that has lapsed into self-parody playing a self-parodic character? Check.
Really artificial looking rooftop sequences? Check.
Ramping aplenty? Check.

Of course, there's often a world of difference between trailers and films, so the finished work may actually do something considerably different. However, on the basis of the trailer, I can't honestly say I'm any more or less excited to see Kick-Ass 2, simply by virtue of the fact that it's presented as the exact same movie, only with a few more crazy costumes. That said, you guys may have had a less reactionary response, and I'm guessing you each had pretty different responses to the first film as well. James: what did you make of the trailer, and does it make the continuing adventures of Dave Lizewski a “must see,” a “must torrent,” or a “must avoid?”

JAMES: The first Kick-Ass is kind of fun and interesting to a point – it has some good observations about the superhero genre and the YouTube age, but as you point out, Andrew, it abandons critiques of those things in the latter half of the film and opts for playing into the genre just with more obvious jokes. I did some extra research and watched the red band trailer (NSFW, peeps). It comes as no surprise to me that the trailer for the second one looks almost exactly like the stuff I didn’t care for in the first one. I’m intrigued by Jim Carrey’s presence, but only because he’s playing against type. I also don’t have much interest in a film that plays a hyper-violent, foul-mouthed 15 year-old girl and a villain named M-----f----r for laughs. To crib from Third Eye Blind (yeah, for real), “we wanted clever but settled for stupid.” I’ll be skipping this one most likely.

Next up is the trailer for 2 Guns, which you can find over on Apple (couldn't locate an embed!). It's not based on a comic that too many people have heard of, so feel free to check it out on Amazon. Will it be Bullet to the Head all over again? 

JAMES: Like just about everyone else, I had no idea this was based on a comic until it started popping up in my news feeds. I’ll say it right out, I’m sold. Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg are both charismatic and likeable leads, and this looks like a fun buddy action movie along the lines of Midnight Run. Fun action/comedies are few and far between these days, and I don’t know if I’m getting nostalgic for days of yore, but I would like to see more of them. Plus look at that supporting cast: James Marsden! Edward James Olmos! Bill Paxton! Fred Ward! That said, it looks like the kind of movie that could go sideways really easily and turn out to be something offensively bland like a Brett Ratner movie. I’ve not seen anything else by director Baltasar Kormákur (I hear Contraband is okay), so I’ve got no frame of reference.

My only complaint is that it looks like they let the biggest gag out -- that both Washington and Wahlberg are government agents. That would’ve played really well.

DRU: Well, I was completely uninterested in the movie until they let that gag out, so I think it was a necessary move in order to market the movie effectively. I had low expectations for this, but it does look like it has the potential to be fun. I don't expect anything on the level of Midnight Run, but Bullet to the Head has set the bar pretty low for bi-racial buddy cop movies based on comics this year, so I think it'll be up to the challenge. 

At this point, I'm not sure that Washington is a charismatic lead, though. It looks like he's got a bit of a schtick in the movie -- the gold teeth and the scumbag goatee do most of the acting for him, I think -- but ultimately I think it's Wahlberg's movie to lose. Plus he was in The Departed, and this movie looks like it was pitched as "What if The Departed was a buddy cop comedy?" 

Anything to add, Andrew?

ANDREW: From the trailer, 2 Guns seems to be positioning itself as an action movie first and foremost, and only a comic book movie as an afterthought, which means we likely won't see anything particularly novel at the level of adaptation or remediation. Yet there's something to be said for a well-made genre film; it would be nice if every movie reinvented the wheel, but the majority do not, and still remain pretty entertaining. Sometimes, your film can succeed simply by having all the familiar parts arranged in the right order. 2 Guns looks like it could do just that.

The usual action movie trappings are there -- humourous cutaways interrupting gunfights, an “opposites attract” plot dynamic, and a “no-look” explosion -- though as you've both pointed out, the cast is talented enough to make it work. Say what you will about Denzel's range, but he's one of the best at suave and charming anti-heroes in the business. As for Wahlberg, he's somehow transitioned from a lousy rapper to one of the better leading men around. Sure, this movie will be a lot more Italian Job than The Fighter, but Wahlberg has shown that he can do drama, action, and comedy in equal measure. Also, he has this natural sense of vulnerability that I just find impossibly endearing. Throw in “The Pax,” and you have three actors who can sell a weak script or an unoriginal premise on charm alone.

2 Guns may not turn into our generation's 48 Hrs., or even Another 48 Hrs., but I'm certainly much more interested in this one than The Last Stand, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, or any of the upcoming Die-Hard-in-the-White-House movies.

Kick-Ass 2 and 2 Guns hit theatres this August.

No comments:

Post a Comment