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Dave Lizewski, a comic-book fanboy, decides to take his obsession as inspiration to become a real-life superhero. As any good superhero would, he chooses a new name -- Kick-Ass -- assembles a suit and mask to wear, and gets to work fighting crime. There's only one problem standing in his way: Kick-Ass has absolutely no superpowers. His life is forever changed as he inspires a subculture of copy cats, is hunted by assorted violent and unpleasant characters, and meets up with a pair of crazed vigilantes, including an 11-year-old sword-wielding dynamo, Hit Girl and her father, Big Daddy.
For more about Kick-Ass and the Kick-Ass Blu-ray release, see Kick-Ass Blu-ray Review published by Dustin Somner on August 5, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nicolas Cage, Garrett M. Brown, Clark Duke, Lyndsy Fonseca, Deborah Twiss
Narrator: Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Director: Matthew Vaughn
» See full cast & crew
Kick-Ass Blu-ray Review
A film that defies classification is given a second chance on Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Dustin Somner, August 5, 2010
Given Hollywood's increasing dependence on blockbuster comic book adaptations to fill the lucrative summer release slate, it's not terribly surprising to find some producers mining breakthrough franchises that are still relatively unknown. After all, bringing a character like Spiderman or Superman to the big screen carries tremendous pressure to stay true to a beloved character, while still delivering a storyline that remains fresh and original. Some can pull it off (Christopher Nolan's Batman reboot), while others tend to flounder (Daredevil, Elektra). What makes Kick-Ass such an interesting venture among the world of comic books has less to do with the lack of iconic characters within the storyline, and more to do with the leap of faith that led to the subsequent screen adaptation. Created in parallel with the comic book version, the film acted as both a borrower and lender to Mark Miller's ongoing Marvel series, allowing director Mathew Vaughn the opportunity to craft an end product that's never truly faithful to the print version, but fits perfectly within the framework of the film medium. As most comic book fans know, there's often something lost in the transition from the vivid panels of a comic or graphic novel to the reality-laced silver screen, but that simply makes the faithful adaptations that much more gratifying. Since Kick-Ass never claims to be a true adaptation in the sense of other long-time franchises (X-Men, Spiderman, etc.), we can throw most comparisons out the window and merely soak up the film in its own right. So long as you're comfortable taking that stance, I'd wager you'll leave Kick-Ass with a huge Cheshire grin on your face.
After stumbling aimlessly through the majority of his high school years, social outcast Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) is determined to branch out from his evenings spent porn surfing and do something meaningful for a change. Scouring the internet for anything resembling a superhero outfit, he eventually settles on a green wetsuit/mask combo to conceal his true identity, and begins a meager crusade for justice. His first encounter with the criminal underworld lands him in the critical care ward of the hospital, but that proves a weak deterrence to the newfound sense of purpose in Dave's spirit. Upon his recovery from several severe injuries, he returns to the street in search of any poor soul who might need his help. Opportunity soon knocks, resulting in a viral video of Dave's alter ego 'Kick-Ass' taking on several menacing thugs. This attracts the attention of a father/daughter team of weapons experts named Damon (Nicholas Cage) and Mindy (Chloe Grace Moretz), who also don masks in an attempt to bring down the city's notorious crime boss Frank D'Amico (Mark Strong). Viewing the recent emergence of these fake superheroes as meddlesome in his business affairs, D'Amico focuses his attention on the destruction of Kick-Ass, allowing his nerdy son Chris (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) to become the latest addition in the superhero craze as a way to draw him into the open. What he didn't count on was the ferocious nature of 11-year-old Hit-Girl (Mindy), and the vengeance she and her father intend to pursue against his crime syndicate. Caught in the middle of the crossfire, Dave must decide between finishing what he started, or settling for his old life of Kick-Assless normalcy.
In a nutshell, Kick-Ass is pure unadulterated fun. Mixing odd tonal shifts that range from gut-wrenching comedy to tearful tragedy, this is a film that defies any semblance of Hollywoodized safety, and emerges as an uncompromised vision of every vice possible. To gain a better understanding of how I expect most parents to react toward the production, look no further than the R-rating description on the back cover.
STRONG BRUTAL VIOLENCE THROUGHOUT, PERVASIVE LANGUAGE, SEXUAL CONTENT, NUDITY AND SOME DRUG USE-SOME INVOLVING CHILDREN
I don't know about everyone else, but whenever I saw a trailer for Kick-Ass during the theatrical marketing campaign, I quickly dismissed it as a lame stab at yet another children's superhero production. Having zero knowledge of the comic book series at that point, I never made it far enough into a trailer to find the pot of gold at the end (I'm referring to the R-rating), and never considered it worthwhile to seek out the Hit-Girl red band trailer depicting a mere child using the "c-word" and chopping limbs from men twice her size. After hearing more about the film in the months leading up to the Blu-ray release, my interest level turned from indifference to heightened awareness as I realized I unknowingly fall smack dab in the target market of this little venture. Furthermore, we have Mathew Vaughn at the helm of the picture (the director of other misunderstood cult classics such as Stardust and Layer Cake), who's current project X-Men: First Class looks to be the next big blockbuster in the Hollywood juggernaut of origin reboots. Vaughn may not be among the tier-1 directors breathing new life into this generation of the silver screen, but I'd still rank him among those we should keep a close eye on in the coming years.
So what makes Kick-Ass such an entertaining production? For starters, I'd have to go with the blatant lack of concern for trivial rules and conventions that suggest little kids shouldn't murder or cuss, and fathers shouldn't shoot their daughter with a .45 as part of a "training" regimen (for the record, she's wearing a bulletproof vest and has ice cream to look forward to afterwards). While I'll readily admit most parents may find this film outrageously inappropriate within the confines of normal societal values, the target audience for the film should be capable of separating entertainment from reality. After all, it's not like Vaughn is advocating for senseless violence without a purpose, and anyone willing to give the film a shot should recognize the implications addressed by raising a daughter within a world of guns and violence (making Hit-Girl more mature than her age would suggest). Moving beyond the extreme violence in the film, Vaughn manages to keep the comedy tight and even-paced, serving as a constant reminder that this is anything but a serious film. The end result is a storyline that can be taken serious enough to justify concern for the safety of likeable characters, but not overly dramatic to the point of losing its comic book sensibility.
In closing, I feel compelled to offer a brief acknowledgement of the performance by young Chloe Grace Moretz as Hit-Girl/Mindy. Considering she was a mere 12-years-old when filming on Kick-Ass commenced, Hit-Girl emerges as one of the strongest characters in the production, and truly carries the film during several key moments. From extremely physical scenes (think Gerard Butler in 300) to somber displays of emotion, Moretz never fails to evoke an intended reaction from the audience, showing tremendous acting talent for such a young age. I honestly hope they make a sequel to Kick-Ass as a showcase for the emerging talent of this youthful starlet.
Kick-Ass Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in 1080p utilizing the AVC codec (at a bitrate that averages around 22Mbps), Kick-Ass is a bit of an oddity when it comes to the visual style of the film. I'd never go so far as saying this is merely average or even subpar when stacked up to other recent blockbusters, but there are frequent moments in the film where something feels slightly "off". Whether it's the bleeding brightness of a sun-drenched sky or the unstable coloring on Hit-Girl's purple wig, we're given an end product that almost takes on a surreal characteristic, enhancing the over-the-top nature of the film itself. Fortunately, this doesn't often extend into fine object detail, allowing most textures to reveal a sense of depth that rivals all but the best Blu-ray productions. I wish the same could be said of the coloring in the film, but as I mentioned before, there seems to be a hint of color-boosting in several shots that will surely catch the eye of the most discerning videophiles, making you wonder if your eyes are playing tricks on you. Likewise, you'll notice a degree of black level weakness in a handful of shots, as the transfer struggles to fend off a shift to gray--forcing contrast to steady the subtle shade differentiations in the moderately dark portions of the screen. Getting back to the positive aspects of the transfer, I never noticed the appearance of edge halos, artifacting or aliasing, and grain is presented in an unobtrusive fashion.
In summary, when the transfer looks good, it REALLY looks good. However, it never quite reaches the upper echelon of its peers.
Kick-Ass Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Continuing with Lionsgate's trend of offering a lossless 7.1 audio track on their blockbuster titles, Kick-Ass is every bit the entertaining beast we'd expect it to be. Surround separation is the primary contributing element in the overall proficiency of the audio experience, tossing the whimsical soundtrack from speaker to speaker with the grace of a butterfly, and delivering the playfully violent audio effects in a manner than never felt flat or stagnate. An excellent example of what I'm referring to can be found in the well-staged warehouse fight sequence pitting Big Daddy against a legion of goons with firepower. Bullets ricochet around the room with an aural assault that's sure to leave a gleeful expression on your face as you soak up the onscreen carnage.
Alas, not every scene in the film can be a violence-laden example of finely-tuned immersion, leaving dialog-heavy sequences a bit more front-heavy than I'd prefer. Clarity and richness are still superb during the quieter moments of the film, but I'd expect more side-to-side separation across the front spectrum on any release worthy of a perfect 5-star rating, reducing this to a mere 4.5/5 in my book.
Kick-Ass Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Ass-Kicking BonusView Mode (1080p, Dolby Digital 2.0, feature length): Dedicating a small portion of the screen to a window that contains the film itself, we're treated to various interviews and behind-the-scenes footage in the remaining full-screen image. By my estimation, I'd say forty percent of the runtime is dedicated to director Mathew Vaughn's audio commentary (available as an alternate audio-only track on the disc), as we watch him sit through a viewing session of his final cut of the film.
Audio Commentary with Director Mathew Vaughn: Despite my respect for Vaughn's work as a director, he's not the most entertaining contributor when it comes to a discussion of the film. The majority of the commentary focuses on the particulars of each scene, including such tidbits as set design, tone, and production difficulties. If you want my advice, I'd opt for the BonusView supplement and skip the solo commentary.
A New Kind of Superhero: The Making of Kick-Ass (1080i, Dolby Digital 2.0, 113:04 min): Assembled as a comprehensive collection of interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and production tales, this supplement offers an exhaustive look at the film adaptation that will surely delight fans. Running just shy of two hours in length, I grew a bit bored by the later stages of the dissection, but given the informative nature of the production, it's hard to knock it for being too in-depth.
It's On! The Comic Book Origin of Kick-Ass (1080i, Dolby Digital 2.0, 20:36 min): The creative minds behind the original comic book concept provide background on the creation of the story and artwork in the printed format.
The Art of Kick-Ass: Broken down into various segments, this image-based feature contains slide-shows of costumes, storyboard art, on-set photography, production designs, and other artwork for the film.
Marketing Archive (1080p, Dolby Digital 2.0): Consisting of two trailers (including the red band Hit-Girl version) and a poster art collection, this is your basic marketing supplement.
Rounding out the package, we're given a DVD copy of the film, and a Digital Copy disc with an included download code (Itunes compatible).
Kick-Ass Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Kick-Ass certainly isn't a film for everyone, and may be downright offensive to the more conservative among us, but if you're able to effectively separate fantasy from reality and accept the violently comic style of the production, it's a film that's worth watching over and over again. For those that are already sold on the film itself, rest assured the presentation offered by Lionsgate is more than adequate in replicating the style of the unusual cinematography, and the 7.1 audio mix proves equally proficient. Add in an exhaustive collection of supplemental materials (set aside a full day if you have time), and this emerges as one of the better all-around Blu-ray offerings in recent memory. Highly recommended!
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Kick-Ass Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Blu-ray Sales, Aug 2-8: Kick-Ass Does Exactly That - August 12, 2010
Kick-Ass was clearly the top-selling title on Blu-ray during the week ended August 8, according to data from Nielsen VideoScan First Alert. Lionsgate's very R-rated superhero movie moved more than twice as many BDs as Clash of the Titans, and got a whopping 49% ...
• This Week on Blu-ray: August 3-9 - August 3, 2010
Every young boy goes through a phase where, to their mother's dismay, they tie on a bed-sheet cape and run around the house pretending to be their favorite superhero. Every superhero-inspired film released is accompanied by boat-loads of toys that help to enhance ...
• Kick-Ass Announced on Blu-ray - June 7, 2010
Lionsgate Home Entertainment has set an August 3 release date for the Blu-ray edition of Kick-Ass, the action movie about do-it-yourself superheroes based on the comic written by Mark Millar and John S. Romita Jr. This Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy pack will exclusively ...
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