Dave Lizewski (Taylor-Johnson) is an ordinary teenager who goes unnoticed in high school until he takes a chance to "do something" and dons a mask and becomes "Kick-Ass" to fight real-life crime. Bruised and beaten and without any real super powers, he is saved by a father-daughter duo (Cage as "Big Daddy," Moretz as "Hit-Girl") who know all the right moves and have a vendetta against a vicious crime lord, D'Amico (Mark Strong). After a fiery internet storm of publicity for Kick-Ass, D'Amico wants to meet the masked man, and his son (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) dons a costume of his own and becomes "Red Mist" to befriend him and get in his father's good graces. The story comes to a head when D'Amico succeeds in luring the crime fighters to his home and ass-kicking destruction ensues.
There are only a handful of films I would say improve on their novel counterpart, and Mathew Vaughn's Kick-Ass is one of them. Based on the graphic novel of the same name, Mark Millar's original take felt a bit too divisive with its crudeness. There is no doubt that Vaughn's take is itself crude, but it also has a heart to it which balances the tone, creating a well-rounded narrative.
Aaron Taylor Johnson got his start here playing Dave, a guy so geeky, bland, and vanilla that even his dweeby friends have more personality than he does. One day while reading a comic book, he wonders why nobody has tried being a superhero in real life, and he decides to don the cowl without a cape, and take it on himself. But of course, it isn’t that easy, and it isn’t long before he needs the help of insanely homicidal Hit-Girl/Mindy (Chloe Grace Moretz) and her father Big Daddy/Damon (Nick Cage). Together they set out to stop the violent Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong) and his bratty son Chris (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). Kick-Ass is a no holds barred, honest take on what would happen if one of us chose to be a superhero. We would get hurt… a lot… bruised up, broken bones, severed limbs, beaten to a bloody pulp kinda hurt. But Mathew Vaughn finds the humor in that brutal fact and revels in it. Add in a satirical take on the superhero genre, and an instant classic sidekick with Hit-Girl (who let's face it, isn't a sidekick at all) and you get one of the most gleefully pleasing films in the superhero genre.
If you like what you read here and want to read more, check out our full original review by clicking HERE.
The Vital Stats: The Ultra HD
Lionsgate has been pumping out the 4K Ultra HD releases lately and here is another one in a standard steel slipcover to hardcover casing featuring the box art we have all come to know and love from the poster of its 2010 theatrical run. Inside we are gifted with a BD-66 Ultra HD Blu-ray that features Dolby Vision and HDR10, a BD-50 Blu-ray, plus an Ultraviolet Digital HD download code. As usual with Ultra HD releases, we are brought straight to the main menu without trailers, and straight into the action.
Kick-Ass aims to ramp up its hyper stylized visuals onto 4K Ultra HD with a 2160p HEVC/H.265 encode and does a decent job at it. I was not a fan of the initial Blu-ray in terms of video quality -- its blown out, saturated visuals rendered the image softer and flatter than a normal release at its time, leaving very little depth. So, I took a trip to see this 4K version on a professionally calibrated LG OLED65C7P with Dolby Vision capabilities to ensure that I was getting the best viewing experience. Immediately, there was quite a noticeable difference in sharpness as I watched Dave walk into his school during the intro. The stark yellow color palette of the bricks behind him separated from the image quite nicely leaving a more sharp, detailed viewing experience that lasted throughout. Pick any scene and you will have a noticeably more accurate representation of the 2010 theatrical viewing experience.
Framed at a 2.40:1 aspect ratio, most people don’t know Kick-Ass was shot on 35mm while actually being mastered in 2K, making this an up conversion of the original 2K source. The rich color palette remains stable, for the most, part without intruding on other elements of the transfer, while providing a mild uptick in the overall color palette itself. This was just not designed with the intention of Dolby Vision or HDR. With that being said, its desaturated colors do pop more, specifically with the harsher yellows and greens in this transfer. Blacks remain inky, much like the previous transfer, but less intrusive leaving only a handful of scenes where it becomes an issue. The same goes for the dimensionality of this transfer. It is noticeably better in some scenes while in others (like when Damon shoots Mindy in the parking lot) that are more washed out, it becomes more of an issue. All in all, there is a noticeable difference with this transfer despite its shortcomings, and this reviewer is proud to say that he is the owner of a version of Kick-Ass that he is proud to have in his collection.
Kick-Ass leaves you as a bloody pulp on Blu-ray with a Dolby Atmos track (that decodes into Dolby TrueHD 7.1) that, let’s be real people, is the reason we were waiting for this 4K Blu-ray. This is the biggest upgrade on this release. Every bone-crushing punch is so well balanced between the fronts and the sub, it is phenomenal. In a Heartbeat is a theme song that has been used in multiple films, but never as fully utilized as here, with a wide and expansive feeling. Uppers get a decent workout, being mostly relegated to the score. Luckily that isn’t a negative due to the fact that they are masterfully mixed to stick out from the rest of the mix so that we always get activity through them. There is also one other instance during Dave’s second fight where Dave gets pummeled in first person POV that offered a bit of action in the height speakers and a few others, but those are few and far between. Still the gleeful violence the film portrays feels expansive in a sound field that comes across as endless. This is truly a step up from its standard counterpart, and is the reason to buy this release.
All special features are the same as the 2010 release that can be read HERE.
As time goes on and we are given one super hero blockbuster after another, it becomes more apparent to me how important Kick-Ass is as a film. Its relevance as a satire has actually grown over time. Its colorful character and lust for violence make it unique and one of the most uncompromising visions in the super hero genre out there today. Add in a performance by Nicholas Cage that is actually memorable and not just off-the-wall crazy, and you have a film that's sure to be a gem in any superhero lover’s collection. Pair that with a transfer that has its issues, but is a big enough step up from its 2010 counterpart and you have a solid, recommend 4K Ultra HD release.