Lee Daniels' The Butler is a guided tour through the U.S. civil-rights movement of the 1950s and '60s and beyond. The movie is a procession of crucial events – from sit-ins and Freedom Riders to the later Black Power and anti-apartheid ferment – that neatly concludes with the election of the country's first black president. The picture is contrived (how could it not be?), factually dubious, and sometimes heart-wringing to the point of weepiness. But, as Kurt Loder notes, the story is nevertheless stirring, and most of the actors, even in small roles, give unusually fine performances.
Kick-Ass 2, on the other hand, simply takes up where the surprise hit Kick-Ass left off three years ago. There's an avalanche of savage action, staged for maximum in-your-face impact, but the intended shocks aren't quite as shocking as they were the first time around. Which is not to say the movie isn't a lot of fun, for the most part. It definitely is.