Review by Gordon Justesen
Stars: Aaron Johnson, Christopher
Mintz-Plasse, Mark Strong, Chloe Grace Moretz, Nicolas Cage
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Audio: DTS HD 7.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Lions Gate
Features: See Review
Length: 117 Minutes
Release Date: August 3, 2010
“Ok, ya c*nts. Let’s see what you can do.”
In an age where the market is over flooded with comic book movies, something like Kick-Ass is just what the world needs. By that, I mean something that's a total break from the norm. Here's a movie that follows a traditional superhero origin, but does so in way never before seen...mostly because many would find this approach way too insane for any movie.
That's basically the very excuse director Matthew Vaughn had to put up with when studio after studio refused to distribute his movie. The film was being put together at the very same time writers Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. were completing their comic book series, which was filled with page after page of young heroic characters dispensing some graphically violent justice while spouting off some remarkably explicit one-liners. That part is what troubled the studios, but luckily Vaughn found a distributor in Lions Gate following a rousing reception at last year's Comi-Con, where some footage had premiered.
Like the comic book series it's based on, Kick-Ass is one hell of an original movie, especially as comic book movies go. It manages to poke some minor fun at the entire superhero mythology while at the same time celebrating it and creating its own little origin story. That's not an easy act to pull off successfully, but Vaughn and co-writer Jane Goldman were able to find the absolute perfect balance.
The first act of the movie is actually something of a high school comedy, as we're introduced to Dave (Aaron Johnson), a real life Peter Parker who's fascinated by superhero lore. He so fascinated by it that he wonders why nobody has ever tried to become one in the real world. A good reason for this would be that, unlike in the comic book world, it's a lot easier for one to get their ass kicked.
But Dave is nonetheless inspired to try out the superhero act himself. Once ordering his own costume off the internet, which appears to be something of a huge green sock-like costume that would only make the likes of Kermit the Frog happy, Dave attempts to do his part in ridding the city of crime and filth. If you consider getting beaten, stabbed and hit by a car to be a success...well, then Dave was most successful during his initial confrontation with a pair of street muggers.
This doesn't stop Dave whatsoever from proving himself. Once he recovers, he's back out on the streets and runs into another band of street thugs that he manages to take them all out in a beating that happens to be videotaped and seen by millions all over the web. This first time at prevailing over evil also inspires Dave to announce his alias to the world; Kick-Ass.
As it turns out, the actions of Dave/Kick-Ass have inspired another pair of modern day crime fighters to step their game up a notch. They are the father and daughter team known as Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz), who are actually way more hardcore about their crime fighting technique than Dave is. For one thing, they actually go about killing the bad guys in super bloody fashion, where as Dave had only been accustomed to laying a simple beatdown with a set of clubs.
But Big Daddy and Hit Girl's vigilante act has a purpose to it. As we come to learn in a remarkably executed sequence, Big Daddy's real life identity is that of Damon MaCready, a former cop who was framed and sent to prison for 5 years. Daughter Mindy was born while he was in prison, though his wife overdosed on sleeping pills and died shortly before the delivery. The man responsible for the framing is crime boss Frank D'Amico (Mark Strong), who Big Daddy is dead set on taking down.
The scenes involving 11 year old Hit Girl taking on countless bad guys with her many weapons of choice are nothing short of astounding. It goes without saying that you'll either end up being someone who finds this badass on so many levels or someone who finds it all morally reprehensible. Let's face it, as far as movies go we have never seen anything like this before...and it is ONLY a movie, something Roger Ebert seemed to have forgotten in his unfairly scathing review which also provided spoilers for the entire final action sequence (not cool, sir!).
I should also mention that young actress Chloe Grace Moretz is absolutely stunning in what is indeed her breakthrough role, blending both charm and menace into the role (quite a difficult mixture to handle). And Nicolas Cage hasn't had this much fun with a role in years, and it's fantastic to watch him in full Adam West mode when under the guise of Big Daddy. The introductory scene of him and his daughter is already a classic scene in my opinion.
In short, Kick-Ass is one of the best times I've had in the cinema in quite a while. Not only is it an ingenious take on the comic book origin story, but it's a brilliant mix of outlandish comedy and brutal violence, all of which is crafted in a superb piece of passionate filmmaking by Matthew Vaughn, who proves that he was born to make this movie. It's already my 2nd favorite film of the year, and it goes without saying that if you are desperate for something different as far as both comic book movies and movies in general are concerned, look no further than this violent masterpiece!
This is one spectacular looking film, loaded with bright images and amazing color usage throughout. Lions Gate has taken full advantage of this and cranked out one AMAZING looking Blu-ray release. Image detail is flat out stunning in both daytime and nighttime sequences, of which there are both an equal amount of. Black levels are quite rich and skin tones are natural just at the right level. But it's the color quality that really knocks this presentation out of the park for me. It shines so incredibly in so many instances, from the appearance of the characters' costumes to nearly darkened shootout late in the movie. If anything, a visual presentation that does this movie justice!
Being that this is an action packed movie, and that a 7.1 DTS HD mix is supplied here, I was expecting to be floored right from the beginning of the movie. And while that's not exactly what happened, the presentation is still fantastic for the most part. During most of the first half, the sound is limited to the front area. But once the first big action scene involving Hit Girl rolls around, the sound definitely kicks into high gear and by the end of the movie, the presentation has become entirely effective. Surround sound channels get a great working from the hardcore action set pieces and Vaughn's unique handling of the music score, which includes it's own composed work but also includes bits from the scores of 28 Days Later and Sunshine. Again, don't be put off by the sound performance in the first half...it will totally get better!
If you'll pardon the pun, Lions Gate does manage to kick some ass with the extras on this Blu-ray release. To start with, we get an awesome viewing option called the “Ass-Kicking Bonusview Mode” which immerses you completely in the behind the scenes making of the film as it is playing, as well as offer video commentary from director Matthew Vaughn, who is very revealing in discussing what it took to get this film made. Also included is a separate audio commentary with Vaughn, as well as numerous documentaries including “A New Kind of Superhero: The Making of Kick-Ass”, which runs nearly two hours and covers even more extensive ground on the making of the movie. Next up is “It's On: The Comic Book Origins of Kick-Ass”, which takes a look at the creation of the comic book series and what inspired it. “The Art of Kick-Ass” provides seven storyboard sequences which are all viewer-controlled. And “Marketing Archive” delivers both the theatrical and red-band trailers for the movie, as well as posters used both in the North American and international campaigns.
Lastly, there is a second disc containing the standard DVD version of the movie, as well as a third disc containing a Digital Copy edition to play on your PC.
We at DMC are known to champion modern day hardcore action movies, which Kick-Ass most certainly is. Apart from it's overwhelmingly awesome action, it's a unique take on superhero mythology and also extremely hilarious at times. There's never been anything quite like it, and the Blu-ray from Lions Gate is certainly worth your dollar!