Kick-Ass Blu-ray Review with D-BOXAugust 03, 2010
At the core of almost every superhero tale are secret identities, super villains and their useless army of intelligence-challenged disposable henchmen, a hero coming of age or coming into their own, and some of the coolest accessories and weapons endless money can purchase.
Matthew Vaughn's Kick-Ass, based on the graphic comic of the same name by Mark Millar, smoothly checks all these boxes and then by the power of YouTube turns Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), an ordinary vulnerable geek dressed in a laughable mail order scuba getup, into a worldwide pop culture sensation. He cannot walk through walls, fly or muster more than a couple pushups, but he can kick your ass - or at least he thinks he can. That is more than the typical bystander who witnesses a crime and turns the other way rather than stand up for his fellow citizens in distress.
Dave's story shares similarities to the heroic rise of Peter Parker from school bully bait in the amazing Spider-Man, sans superpowers. That motive in itself is an intriguing story but Dave isn't the only superhero. There's also the father/daughter tandem named Big Daddy (Nicholas Cage) and 11-year old Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz) who, driven by revenge into their costumes, kill first and ask questions later. There's also Superbad's Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Red Mist who dons a bright red suit and cape seeking both his father's acceptance as someone capable of taking over the family's criminal organization, as well as fitting in with his peers whom he is sheltered from by burly bodyguards.
This melting pot of youthful idiots and trained killers running around dressed up like superheroes is especially entertaining once all of them are in play about halfway through the film. When you include Hit Girl's brutal kills and foul mouth along with Cage channeling Adam West for Big Daddy's voice, Kick-Ass is over the top comic-inspired excellence and unfiltered geek filmmaking at its finest.
Kick-Ass looks generally sharp on Blu-ray with the vivid comic book colors springing to life in 2.4:1 1080p video. Some establishing shots tend to deliver an abnormally high amount of grain which sticks out when sandwiched in between cleaner footage. Overall the video transfer is befitting the film and there are no major complaints to issue.
Lionsgate gifted Kick-Ass with an ass kicking 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Vaughn's direction starts slow and builds into the action as the plot moves forward so you have to wait for the real audio fireworks while the front channels are prominent. When they come they do not disappoint, from the popping of gunfire as Hit Girl attempts a daring rescue mission with night vision goggles to the roar of a massive fire that crackles in all four of those surround channels.
D-BOX Motion Code
I had forgotten that Lionsgate included D-BOX Motion Code on the Kick-Ass disc so I ended up watching the film in its entirety twice in consecutive nights. Thankfully it's enjoyable enough to do so, and the D-BOX has enough moments to make the double viewing worth the extra time.
I was a little nervous at first when the opening scene, perfect for D-BOX, was underwhelming in its delivery. This letdown was quickly made up for when Kick-Ass dons his suit and takes on crime for the first time. I'm not about to spoil the surprise for anyone who hasn't seen the film yet.
From that moment forward the D-BOX track closely mirrors the audio, coming to life in a big way when there's a lot of action on-screen with explosions and gunfire. Some sort of shotgun used in the finale offers a great kickback that D-BOX takes advantage of and there are some flying sequences in the closing moments to offer a different experience from the barrage of bullets.
Beyond the Feature
The Kick-Ass Blu-ray bonus features do not hit you with numbers but what Lionsgate packed onto a single disc is enough to keep any fan engaged for several hours. In addition to a pair of Blu-ray exclusives that are by far the most entertaining parts of the supplements are all of Lionsgate's high-tech upgrades including BD Touch and Metamenu for iPod/iPad/iPhone remote control interaction and BD-Live connectivity and live news updates on the main menu. Kick-Ass on Blu-ray is also a combo format release with the DVD included, a first for Lionsgate.
BD Exclusive: Ass-Kicking Bonusview Mode - Director Matthew Vaughn takes a seat in the mixing studio a day after much drinking during the Kick-Ass premiere to record this picture-in-picture mix of commentary, interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. Unlike most PiP tracks, this one shoves the film into the lower corner and gives the other 90% of the screen to the filmmakers. With the audio always on the commentary and never on the film, Vaughn talking about the score of a scene carries little weight as you cannot hear what he's referencing. All the great insight into how the film was shot and Vaughn's casual dry humor and delivery are alluring and informational enough to sit through.
Also offered is a separate Matthew Vaughn Feature-Length Commentary designed more for the DVD crowd.
BD Exclusive: A New Kind of Hero: The Making of Kick-Ass (1:53:04, HD) – Several clips from this four-part documentary teased the type of raw behind-the-scenes material, time in the editing bay, the Comic-Con panel and run-ins with actors between scenes that are a big part of the nearly two hour runtime. It's broken into four parts: Pushing Boundaries, Let's Shoot This F****!, Tempting Fate, and All Fired Up! Don't even bother watching each individually; select the play-all option and learn more about the making of and eventual distribution of an American pop culture film made by a UK team then you probably ever wanted to know.
It's On! The Comic Book Origin of Kick-Ass (20:36, HD) – Mark Millar talks about his inspiration for the comic that in turn inspired the film. It was an autobiographical experience for the writer who growing up always wondered why no one had ever tried to become a superhero. Maturity taught him that they would be killed almost instantly if they did.
Rounding out the bonus features are some optical goodies including the Art of Kick-Ass with Storyboards, Costumes, On-Set Photography, Production Design and John Romita,Jr. Art for the Film, as well as a Marketing Archive with the North American Campaign, International Campaign, Theatrical Trailer and Red Band Hit Girl Trailer that became an Internet sensation.
I saw Kick-Ass theatrically once and have been patiently waiting for its Blu-ray debut. A solid high-def treatment, extras that dismiss any useless fluff and an entertaining unique take on superheroes with infinite replay value makes for a disc deserving of your attention and dollars.
- Dan Bradley
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