Action movie Kick-Ass was so lively and inventive that it stood out from most other superhero adventures.
KICK-ASS 2 (15: Universal) doesn’t quite press all the buttons of its predecessor, but nevertheless it delivers a high level of thrills and comedy.
Teenagers Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Mindy Macready (Chloe Grace Moretz) are trying to adjust to the growing pains of normal high-school life.
But they’re forced to revive their alter egos (Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl) when they’re targeted by the vengeful, rich brat son (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) of the crime lord they defeated in the first film.
This second outing has a more pedestrian tone compared with the original, and now that Moretz is a few years older, the shock of her spouting foul-mouthed dialogue is diluted.
The violent set pieces and edgy humour remain the same though and the arrival of Jim Carrey as another would-be vigilante is an enjoyable bonus.
> More antiquated, globetrotting nonsense fuels OAP espionage caper RED 2 (12: Entertainment One), but it’s slightly better than the original.
Frank (Bruce Willis) calls on his ageing secret agent buddies (including John Malkovich) to track down a nuclear device invented by a Cold War era weapons genius (Anthony Hopkins) whose mental instability poses a threat to world peace.
Frank is also struggling to inject the fire back into his relationship with one-time hostage Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker).
As before, the rapport between the stars is the film’s best asset. Apart from that, director Dean Parisot takes one joke – the elderly in action mode – and mines it to death.
On the plus side, the sight of Helen Mirren in a slow-motion shoot-out still hits the spot, as does her dotty impersonation of the Queen to gain access to an asylum.
Catherine Zeta-Jones’s femme fatale adds little to the film, but new addition Byung-hun Lee makes a big impression as a contract killer on Willis’s trail with a choreographed whirlwind of fight moves and flying bullets.
> There’s plenty of prehysterical slapstick to keep kids entertained and adults amused in THE CROODS (U: Twentieth Century Fox), a Flintstones-esque slice of CGI-animated family fun.
Nicolas Cage and Emma Stone voice the father and daughter of a not-so-modern Stone Age family who hit bedrock when a rock slide destroys their cave.
They flee impending apocalypse in the company of a more evolved teenager (Ryan Reynolds) from another tribe and seek safety, shelter and enlightenment through a weird landscape of land whales, elephant mice and piranha parrots.
> Another decent diversion for youngsters is provided by the return of those little blue heroes in THE SMURFS 2 (U: Sony).
The first film, adapted from the Belgian comic and 1980s cartoon series, was good-natured fun for the under-sevens and easily amused – and so, too, is this.
CG smurfs interact with hapless returning human stars Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mayes and Hank Azaria against a Parisian backdrop.
The French capital is where hiss-boo baddie Gargamel (Azaria) takes Smurfette (voiced by Katy Perry) in an evil plot to create two pseudo-Smurfs and harvest their ‘true blue’ magical essence.