Kick-Ass gained a lot of notoriety because the creator of the story, Mark Millar, envisioned the concept as a film at the same time as a comic. As the early discussions of the film were happening Millar was partnering with John Romita Jr., one of the best artists in comics, to craft this truly unique story. Director Mathew Vaughn took on the project and even went out and found independent funding to get the film made. Was it worth the effort?
Kick-Ass is a movie that could have given mixed signals to families that don’t pay close attention. Moms and Dads may think: “Oh look it’s a movie with kids in costumes! We should take the kids to see this one!” If they had paid just a bit more attention, they’d have realized that this film was rated R in theaters and now on DVD too. The film features kids but it’s not necessarily a film for young kids. In the film, a geeky teen asks the question “Why hasn’t anyone become a super hero?” It seems perfectly logical to him that someone would want to put together a costume and go out into the world with no powers or real gadgets and fight the good fight against villains. So, what you would expect to happen does. Kick-Ass gets his ass kicked quite a bit. Things get more interesting when more kids put on costumes and attempt to do everything from fly to fight. Hit Girl and her father (Nicolas Cage) actually have the goods with major fighting skills and tons of weapons and gadgets. These two characters steal the movie and Hit Girl steals every scene she’s in. the film is directed by Mathew Vaughn who first gained notoriety from his U.K. gangster film Layer Cake. The film is based on a comic book series written by famed writer Mark Millar. Millar actually sold the story as a film before the comic book series was even finished.
The film exists in two different ways for two different characters that eventually cross paths in a big way. Kick Ass is a regular geeky guy from beginning to end. He just wants to be a hero, and more importantly he just wants to be somebody for the girl that he loves who has never paid attention to him before. For Hit Girl and her father this film isn’t about the same questions. For them it’s a more traditional revenge film and they don’t have to wonder about being heroes or having super gadgets because all of that is who they are. The film gets most interesting when a wannabe hero crosses paths with a real one. It’s possible that you might feel a major shift in the film from the gritty realism of Kick Ass’ life to the truly comic book super hero life of Hit Girl but the truth is that both of these stories are being told in parallel to each almost from the opening credits of the film.
This film is one part teen drama and love story and one part comic book hero movie and the balance is nearly perfect. Some of the jokes, like some of the violence are of a level deserving the R rating so that’s something to keep in mind before watching the film. This sort of edgy content in a movie of this genre was a gutsy move for Vaughn, Millar, and the rest of the team and the results were fantastic, in fact Kick Ass made our list of the Top 10 Super Hero Films.
The 1080p 2,40:1 presentation on this HD release is vibrant and beautiful but also imperfect. Color is overall just beautiful in this HD presentation but black levels are inconsistent. Often blacks look great but then out of nowhere a scene features murky fuzzy blacks. Detail levels are also great for the most part but then there’s a scene or two where the oversaturation blows out facial detail. At one point there’s also a weird blue line that appears on screen for little more than one frame but it still flickers enough to see it. This presentation is worlds better than the SD DVD presentation but even this one needs to be redone because this film deserves a pristine presentation. It’s good, really good, but far from the best that we’ve seen in new release films on blu-ray.
The blu-ray gets a DTS Master 7.1 mix and it sounds fantastic overall. The mix for dialogue, score and action is near perfect with dialogue always on top except for one or two Nick Cage lines. Equalization is solid and there’s even tons of excellent use of the sub woofer. Action scenes features gunshots blaring from all channels and bone crushing fights are perfectly and painfully rendered. Music in the film explodes from the speakers keeping everything exciting and also keeping the mood perfectly on the fence between dark and fun. The only real problem with the experience is that it’s a bit too inconsistent. During action this presentation is nearly unmatched but during quieter scenes the mixes loses its energy. A crowded comic book store should sound crowded not like a library. With that said though the action sounds phenomenal.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
This presentation features three discs with one of them on a hinged flipper. There’s the blu-ray, a DVD version, and the digital copy. It seems a little pointless to provide a DVD version of the film in this package unless this was to be the only version of the film released to home video but the reality is that there is a DVD only version out there. Finally though, if you fork out the dough for the blu-ray version you’ll get some bonus content that old school DVD buyers won’t get.
First up is a director commentary. Vaughn should not have done this commentary by himself because it often feels draggy with him just describing scenes that we are watching. He does manage to offer up some great behind the scenes information here and there though with focus on changes made to the film and the shooting of it. It’s not the worst commentary I’ve heard but it gets a little too dull at times.
“It’s on: The Comic Book Origins of Kick-Ass” is one of those featurettes that is often left out of comic book movie bonus features. Fortunately someone who knows a thing or two made sure we got to hear the creators of the comic book discuss the creation of the book and their process of working on it. It only runs around 20 minutes but it’s a really solid featurette.
“The art of Kick-Ass” is an archive of images from the creation of the film including John Romita Jr.’s artwork done for the film, costumes, behind the scenes images, and storyboards. There are an epic number of images in this feature.
These are the features that are common between the DVD and blu-ray releases. While what’s here is good stuff it feels incomplete, until you delve into the blu-ray exclusive stuff:
The HD Bonus View Mode is much more fun way to experience Mathew Vaughn’s commentary. The film plays in a small window with excerpts from Vaughn’s commentary, behind the scenes footage, and cast interviews taking up the larger part of the screen. This presentation has much more energy to it than his solo audio only commentary.
“A New Kind of Super Hero” when watched as one big documentary is a highly detailed and lengthy look at the creation of this film. This near two hour documentary, also available to watch in four smaller parts, starts with Vaughn’s first meeting with comic book creator Mark Millar and goes all the way through the creation of the film and ends with its premiere. This is the kind of behind the coverage we are looking for and it makes the blu-ray worth a purchase beyond the better video and sound.
Finally there’s a marketing archive that features trailers and posters from the North American release of the film. Why don’t we ever get foreign trailers and artwork? It would be fun to compare the marketing here to that in other countries. There’s supposed to be some additional extras via D-Box BDLive, but at the time of this viewing there was nothing to speak of.
What we get here is a fantastic selection of bonus features that really does a great job of showing us everything that went into making this great film happen.
Kick-Ass always seemed like it would be an entertaining film but when it actually hit theaters it was better than most people expected it to be. Upon second viewings it doesn’t lose one bit of steam. This is a film for everyone but there are tons of winks at the real comic book fan from the real comic book shop to all of the real comic book references that litter the film. This is a much more lighthearted super hero film in a sea of dark serious super hero projects.
Overall (Not an Average) 8.5/10
The Movie 9/10
The Video 7.5/10
The Audio 8.5/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 9/10
Overall (Not an average) 8.5/10