Movie review: “Kick-Ass” sequel fails to do so

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From the August 15, 2013 edition

Movie critic confession: I am burned out on superhero movies.

They’re still making great movies about superheroes — there’s more good stuff like “The Avengers” than bad stuff like “Daredevil” these days — but I’ve just reached the saturation point.

That’s why I found 2010’s “Kick-Ass” to be a breath of fresh air. It flipped the script on the great power/great responsibility with a regular kid who decided to become a superhero despite his lack of superpowers or training.

It was also irreverently funny and over-the-top violent. It’s nice to see an R-rated take in what’s generally PG-13 territory.

With great (or even moderate) success comes great probability of sequels, so we get “Kick-Ass 2,” which tries to recreate the magic (and sometimes does) but generally falls short.

The alter-egos of Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) alternately waver on their commitments to amateur crime-fighting.

Costumed crime-fighters have become a “thing” in the city, so Kick-Ass partners with a collective of citizen superheroes under the leadership of Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey).

Meanwhile, the dude formerly known as the Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) is plotting a supervillainous revenge on Kick-Ass for the death of his father.

“Kick-Ass 2” goes the “more, more, more” route that is typical of a sequel. The biggest flaw is a plot that moves in too many directions and a new director for the sequel (Jeff Wadlow replacing Matthew Vaughn) who tries to keep all the plates spinning.

Taylor-Johnson and Moretz were outstanding as relative newcomers, but that magic has also thinned. They coast on talent, but both were better in the first film.

There’s still fun to be had, even if it’s just the kind that reminds you how much better the first film was. Mintz-Plasse of “Superbad” fame (still) hams it up as a wannabe villain — though one evil gag goes too far even in a movie like this.

But all in all, things just feel a bit too flat. To paraphrase Rowdy Roddy Piper in “They Live,” this movie has come here to kick ass and chew bubblegum, and it’s all out of ass.