The movie critique portion of this review was written by my colleague Ben Belcher.
The incredibly violent superhero action comedy that is Kick-Ass was one of the most interesting superhero movies to date when it was released back in 2010. Based on the comic series/graphic novel of the same name by Mark Millar, Kick-Ass showed everyone that the superhero genre could also have a less serious side. I remember thoroughly enjoying Kick-Ass when it came out 11 years ago. While there is a lot of the movie that holds up fairly well, there are definitely some things that don’t.
Kick-Ass opens on a very Richard Donner’s Superman-style intro as we fly through the clouds and it comes across immediately like your average superhero movie until everything is upended by a man in a bird suit jumping off a skyscraper to no success. The film wastes no time telling you that this is not going to be your average romp with super people.
We’re introduced to our very awkward main character Dave Lizewski, Aaron Taylor Johnson, in narration as he walks us through his life and introduces us to his friends, family, and the film’s main idea: “Why has nobody tried to be a superhero?” Dave is INCREDIBLY AWKWARD, and the film wastes no time establishing that with a healthy amount of masturbation jokes and references to being a pubescent male.
What follows is a madcap coming of age adventure where Dave realizes his dream and sees what it would actually take to be a superhero in the real world filled with action, dismembering, new friends, betrayal, and even a jetpack!
The action in Kick-Ass has aged very well and still holds up compared to modern action movies. Our first time seeing Chloe Grace Moretz as Hit-Girl, for example, sees an 11 year old severing limbs from drug dealers and then doing sick parkour as she escapes (all set to the Banana Splits theme). If that doesn’t make you want to watch, then I can’t help you.
The biggest issue that Kick-Ass has developed in the last 11 years is its dialogue. It is very much a product of its time. Dave and his friends constantly make “gay” or “retarded” jokes and it gets old very fast. Dave’s love interest Katie, played by Lyndsy Fonseca, wants a “gay best friend,” which facilitates a “comedic” subplot wherein Dave pretends to be gay so that he can get close to her. Yeah… While this seemed hilarious in 2010 it just doesn’t sit right anymore.
The big bad, Frank D’Amico, is played by the always fantastic Mark Strong, and is my favorite part of the entire film. He’s a mobster and that isn’t lost at any point, but he’s also a family man. The juxtaposition of those two things and the way that they’re used with each other are genuinely interesting and hilarious. He and Nicholas Cage’s Big Daddy are the highlights of the film for me. Cage is just as crazy as ever here, and it works sooooo well. The way that he speaks in-general is enough to get a laugh.
Overall I’d say if you wanted to take a trip down memory lane and see how we eventually got movies like Deadpool or SHAZAM, then Kick-Ass will prove to be a fun watch. If you’ve never seen it, I’d definitely recommend it. I will warn you going in, there are some very not PC lines in this movie and it may be a bit much for some people, but if you can get through that you’ll have a good time.
The 4K UHD Blu-Ray of Kick-Ass from Lionsgate comes in its original 2.40:1 in 2160p with Dolby Vision which offers a decent uptick in quality over the accompanying Blu-Ray, but there are some elements that make this one of the weaker discs on the format. The most notable improvement is in its vivid, heightened color palette which makes the film seem even more like a surreal dream. There are significant gains in visual pop and saturation that make the bold colors leap off the screen even more. Where the film falters more so are the pushed black levels that give the film an oily sheen in darker elements that are not appreciated. The argument that this could be a benefit to the fantastic ambiance of the film is valid, but it just looks a bit strange in the end. The highlights in the film are more defined with whites more pure and balanced with no instances of blooming to be found.
Skin tones experience a tiny bit of DNR at times which gives a waxy appearance that robs some of the detail. The transfer reveals an increase in the depth of field in the varied locations that we visit around the city. In the wake of the various scenes of destruction, you can more clearly make out textures within the production design, not to mention the textures of the costumes. The grain in the film can be a bit problematic with some instances of unnatural swarming in a few instances. This coupled with some unsightly print damage in a few shots feels like a problem that should not be on the table for such a recent release. There are definite benefits to this 4K upgrade, but it is not the homerun some fans may have hoped for in the end.
This disc comes equipped with a dynamite Dolby Atmos presentation that will give your system a workout. This has always been a title that sounded practically perfect, but the addition of the height channels makes this one supremely immersive. Sounds are appropriately rendered with precise directionality from the more kinetic action scenes to interpersonal moments of dialogue. The overhead channels are especially welcome during some of the fight scenes in a way that makes it feel more immersive. Ambient details are plentiful and quite satisfying in the rear and overhead channels. The score envelopes the room in a really pleasing manner that transports you into this world. Dialogue is presented perfectly clear without ever being overwhelmed by any of the competing sonic elements. The gunfire and forceful hits provides an all-encompassing soundscape that kicks in throughout all the speakers. The low end is very active in a way that may have your neighbors complaining. The mix will more than satisfy fans of the film.
Lionsgate has provided Kick-Ass with an optional sleek new Steelbook that is truly lovely in person. The case comes with a removable clear slipcase with some additional artistic elements. The front artwork is a nicely animated depiction of Kick-Ass, Hit Girl and Big Daddy, and the rear features a similar depiction of Frank D’Amico and Red Mist. The interior sports a comic book-style depiction of Kick-Ass with his jetpack flying through the city. Photos of the Steelbook can be found at the end of this review.
- Audio Commentary: Director Mathew Vaughn provides a decent commentary track recorded at the time of the film’s premiere in which he lays out the development of the film and takes you scene by scene detailing some of the different elements that had to come together during production to create this film. A bit dry at times, but overall entertaining.
- A New Kind of Superhero – The Making of Kick-Ass: An extensive four-part documentary clocking in at an impressive 1 hour and 53 minutes which details the creation of the film from the initial development of the source material through production and release. There are a vast array of interviews with the cast and crew that delve into the shooting of the stunts, the rendering of the special effects, the scoring of the film and much more. It is difficult to imagine any questions you have about the film would not be covered in this deep dive.
- It’s On! The Comic Book Origin of Kick-Ass: A 21-minute piece which takes a closer look at the source material with a specific focus on the story and artwork as detailed by the creative team.
- Theatrical Trailer: A two-and-a-half minute trailer for the film is provided here.
- Redband Hit Girl Trailer: The minute-long NSFW trailer focusing on Hit Girl is provided here.
- The Art of Kick-Ass: The Blu-Ray features a collection of Storyboards, Costume Sketches, On-Set Photography, Production Design concepts, and John Romita Jr. Art for the Film.
Kick-Ass was a breath of fresh air when it debuted over a decade ago, and in most ways it still holds up as a supremely fun addition to the superhero genre. While some of the attempts at humor are a bit dated, there is still much to laugh and plenty of hard-hitting action to thrill you. The performances are pretty fantastic all around, and it is wild to see where some of these performers have ended up in the intervening years. Lionsgate Home Entertainment has released the 4K UHD Blu-Ray in a stunning SteelBook package that collectors will love. The disc itself struggles a bit in the video department, but the audio presentation is top notch and the special features are very in depth. If you are a fan of the film, this is a pretty solid release overall. Recommended
Kick-Ass is currently available to purchase on 4K UHD Blu-Ray in Limited Edition Steelbook Packaging.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the 4K UHD Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: Lionsgate Home Entertainment has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.