2010 has been a real crummy year for films. In a year that has given us films like Tooth Fairy, Furry Vengeance, Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore and The Last Airbender, among others, Kick-Ass is a truly refreshing and exciting film. It’s easily one of the best films of the year and is a movie you must see.
With Kick-Ass, director Matthew Vaughn has sprung himself onto the A-list of directors. Undeniably thrilling, extremely violent and truly funny, Vaughn pulls no punches in his latest film. Without studio execs breathing down his back (Vaughn privatley raised the film`s $30 million budget, an audacious move to say the least) Kick-Ass really pushes the envelope on a few fronts and it provides for a wildly entertaining experience.
The film is a superhero film at its core but it’s not a superhero film in the traditional sense. Surprisingly it isn’t set in the Marvel or DC Universe (shocker!) and even more surprising is the fact that our fearless protagonist, Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) has no superpowers.
And wait, this is the most shocking part of all, are you ready? His parents weren’t killed by angry thieves or corrupt mobsters. Dave is just a normal guy. In fact, his only real ‘ability’ is his self admitted ability to be invisible to girls.
Dave is ambitious though, he is tired of watching society crumbling under crime and corruption. Eager to do something about it, Dave sets out (with somewhat hazy motives) to become a real life superhero. His alter ego’s name? Kick-Ass.
In his first attempt to clean up society, Dave is met with a rude awakening. By rude I mean beat up, stabbed and somewhat unnecessarily hit by a car. Shockingly undeterred by his massive setback, Dave recovers from the incident and comes back with a vengeance. One night Dave sets out to help an innocent victim fight off a gang of hooligans. The incident is recorded by a bystander and is uploaded to YouTube. Over night, Kick-Ass becomes the talk of the town and it is here that the movie really takes off.
As Kick-Ass continues his vigilante endeavours, he realizes he’s not the only nutcase out there. Apparently other people think it’s a good idea to dress up and call themselves superheroes. Two of these people are Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and his 11 year old daughter Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz). There’s nothing wrong with this right?
I really enjoyed the story of Kick-Ass. Based on the comic book series of the same name, Kick-Ass is pretty tightly written by director Matthew Vaughn and writer Jane Goldman. It manages to stick pretty close to the source material and should keep fans of the comic book happy. The dialogue is also great. Smart, sophisticated and truly funny at times.
Much has been made of Chloe Moretz’s character Hit Girl. Here we have this 11 year old girl swearing like a sailor and brutally murdering thugs with zero regard for human life. To some, this may be morally reprehensible, to others this may be totally ‘kick-ass’. I personally have no problem with it. Hit Girl is one of the coolest movie characters of 2010. She’s completely badass and at only 11 years old it makes the whole thing even better.
Hit Girl is truly the best thing since sliced bread. She’s absolutely lethal and most of the shocking violence in the film comes from her. Chloe Moretz, the actress who plays her, is nothing short of phenomenal. Possessing a maturity far beyond her years (she was only 12 at the time of filming) she masterfully captures the character of Hit Girl, turning her into one of the best female superheros that we’ve seen in a long time. Moretz is flawless here. She is full of talent and an actress who will surely go far.
Another tremendous asset to the film is Vaughn himself. His passion for the project comes through in every frame of the film. He has a real knack for visual flair and akin to John Woo, he stages action scenes that pack a real punch. Visceral and expertly staged, like a swift kick in the face, the exhilarating actions scenes go by as fast as they come. They’re quick, heart pounding and straight up a blast to watch. Kick-Ass basks in its bloody nature and it never tones it down.
Near the end of the film, some of the violence gets a bit too over the top and does awkwardly clash with the film’s more ultra realistic violence but it’s never too much of an issue. The ending scene steps a bit outside the realm of reality and it takes away a bit from the film’s serious and mature tone but it’s still a ton of fun to watch.
Behind the camera, Vaughn propels the film forward with an unyielding energy. At a two hour runtime, the film moves very quick and is paced perfectly. Very few scenes feel perfunctory or unnecessary and the action is well dispersed throughout the film.
The film is also darkly humorous. There are some really funny moments and a lot of the films humor comes from the very nature of these characters. You have to remember, these are just normal people dressing up and fighting crime. Hit Girl and Big Daddy are so into the whole superhero gig that they come off as almost wacky and eccentric. This is a good thing though and it makes the film all the more enjoyable.
Performance wise, Kick-Ass is firing on all cylinders. As stated before, Chloe Moretz steals the show as Hit Girl but that doesn`t mean there isn`t room for the other actors to showcase their talents. Aaron Johnson plays our fearless hero and he brings a genuine vulnerability to the role. We always feel a sense of danger for our hero since he is just a normal teenager.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse is still stuck in his McLovin (from Superbad) shoes but that`s not necessarily a bad thing. His character is similar to McLovin but his shtick works. He`s funny and sometimes it`s hard to take him seriously because we still see McLovin on screen. To be honest, while he`s a good actor, I don`t think he was right for the role.
Mark Strong plays the villain (no surprise there) and in a role that isn`t exactly a stretch for him, he does exactly what you`d expect him to do. He creates a menacing villain and as per usual, he gives a solid performance.
Probably the biggest name in the film is Nicolas Cage, who plays Big Daddy, Hit Girl`s dad. In one of his best performances in a while, Cage really hits the mark here. He`s clearly emulating Adam West`s Batman and it works well.
Even supporting actors, like Clark Duke, do an admirable job in their somewhat underwritten roles.
Part of the reason that the film works so well is because you truly care for the heroes. The whole way through you are rooting for them. They are not indestructible and there is no guarantee they`ll make it out alive. The film crafts the characters so well that you really want them to succeed.
When all is said and done, we get a jetpack with gatling guns, mid air reloads, strobe-light gunfights and the coolest assisted suicide ever put on film (and I mean that in a good way), what more can you ask for? Half Watchmen, half Superbad, mixed with a touch of Kill Bill and a thin layer of Pulp Fiction, Kick-Ass turns out to be an unadulterated barrage of awesomeness. Throw in a few nice pop culture references and a rocking soundtrack and it makes for an absolutely electrifying film.
When the whole thing culminates in an orgy of bloody mayhem, you can`t help but to feel as if you should cheer. With the ending leaving things open for a sequel, all I can say is, bring on the aptly titled Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall.
On Blu-Ray, Kick-Ass doesn’t disappoint. Both the audio and video are handled very well and the special features are more than enough.
The picture looks great, sporting a pretty sharp and crisp look. The strong, vibrant colours bounce off the screen in this visually enthralling film. Detail levels takes a hit here and there but for the most part it looks fine. A few minor issues hold the transfer back from being perfect but it’s certainly nothing to look down upon.
When it comes to the audio, Kick-Ass is a beast. The wicked soundtrack shines here as every song sounds flawless. Dialogue is clear as can be and never gets lost amidst the sounds of gunfire and explosions. Speaking of gunfire and explosions, they both sound great. Explosions boom through the speakers and the sounds of bullets ricocheting and gunfire popping sound perfect. All the sound effects have a real punchy feel to them and it makes for an immersive experience.
The film continues to deliver when it comes to special features. First up is the ‘Ass-kicking Bonus View Mode’ which is kind of like a picture in picture mode. We see some behind the scenes footage, some interviews and some commentary by Vaughn. You can also watch the film normally with an audio commentary by Vaughn but it’s far less interesting.
Next up is a making of documentary that is close to two hours in length. It’s pretty interesting and gives a great look at the making of the film. It’s a very comprehensive look and it is sure to please fans of the film.
The last documentary we get relates to the comic book. It’s a short piece, coming in at only twenty minutes, but for fans of the comic it should provide for a nice viewing experience. Lastly, we get some trailers and art for the film.
When it comes down to it, Kick-Ass on Blu-Ray is a great package. The movie itself is undoubtedly one of the best of the year and the transfer doesn’t disappoint either. The making of documentary is great and the additional features are the icing on the cake. It’s a fantastic film and one that is certainly worth your money.
Movie Score: 4.5/5
Video Score: 4/5
Audio Score: 5/5
Special Features Score: 4/5
Overall Score: 4.5/5
Kick-Ass was released on Blu-Ray on August 3rd, 2010