Kick-Ass appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. I felt happy with this consistently excellent presentation.
At all times, sharpness looked great. I noticed no signs of softness, as the movie remained concise and accurate. Jaggies and shimmering weren’t concerns, and the flick lacked edge enhancement. Source flaws also failed to materialize in this clean transfer.
Though most modern action flicks go with stylized tones, this one stayed with a bright palette. The costumes and other elements came out with lively hues that looked quite vivid and satisfying. Blacks were dark and dense, and shadows demonstrated good clarity. If any concerns popped up here, I didn’t see them; this was a fine transfer.
While not quite as impressive, the DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack of Kick-Ass more than satisfied. The soundfield opened things up well, though not quite to the degree one might expect from this sort of film. The various action sequences used the different channels in a compelling manner, but just not to the consistent degree I anticipated from a big superhero flick.
Still, that’s a minor complaint, as the soundscape delivered a lot of vivid material. Fights, gunfire, explosions and other such elements filled the room in a positive way. These boasted nice localization and movement, and they blended together smoothly. The entire package came together well.
Audio quality pleased. Speech was concise and natural, without edginess or other issues. Music showed good range and vivacity, while effects worked nicely. Those elements came across as accurate and full, with solid low-end response and positive definition. All of this was good enough for a “B+”.
Quite a few extras show up here. We open with an audio commentary from director Matthew Vaughn. He provides a running, screen-specific look at cast, characters and performances, production design, music and cinematography, some budget issues and editing, effects and stunts, story/adaptation, costumes, influences/inspirations and a few other areas.
Vaughn sags occasionally, but he usually provides a bright, engaging take on his film. He throws out some praise but also isn’t afraid to criticize problematic aspects of the production, and he shares stories about problems that occurred during the shoot. Vaughn delivers an enjoyable, informative chat.
(Favorite moment: when Vaughn accidentally calls actor Christopher Mintz-Plasse “McLovin”. Early in the track, Vaughn mentions that the actor hates to be called that, and he states that he hopes Kick-Ass will give Mintz-Plasse a new public persona. However, about 57 minutes in, he slips and refers to the actor as “McLovin”, a statement that comes with a pause in which you can almost hear him internally call himself an idiot.)
For something similar, we go to the Ass-Kicking Bonusview Mode. Essentially, this offers Vaughn’s commentary mixed with interview snippets and behind the scenes footage. Throughout the “Bonusview”, we hear from Vaughn, co-composers John Murphy and Henry Jackman, production designer Russell De Rozario, screenwriter/co-producer Jane Goldman, director of photography Ben Davis, comic co-creator/writer Mark Millar, co-creator/artist John Romita, Jr., producer Tarquin Pack, assistant stunt coordinator Max White, 2nd unit DP/steadicam operator Peter Wignall, and actors Aaron Johnson, Garrett M. Brown, Lyndsy Fonseca, Evan Peters, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Clark Duke, Mark Strong, Chloë Grace Moretz, Jason Flemyng, and Kofi Natei. During the segments that differ from Vaughn’s commentary, we get notes about music, cast, characters and performances, sets and locations, the film’s depiction of violence, photography and effects, and stunts.
“Bonusview” doesn’t satisfy because it does little more than offer “commentary plus” – except when it’s “commentary minus”. While it presents the vast majority of Vaughn’s chat, it omits occasional remarks, so fans who want to hear the entire track will still have to screen it separately.
And if they do so – like I did – then “Bonusview” becomes a bit of a chore to watch. It does branch off to comments from others and behind the scenes video, but those components aren’t all that frequent; Vaughn’s commentary remains the most dominant element. This means we get a great deal of repeated information, and there’s no easy way to view just the non-commentary material. In isolation, “Bonusview” works pretty well, but it’s too redundant if you also listen to the commentary on its own.
Next we encounter a four-part documentary entitled A New Kind of Superhero: The Making of Kick-Ass. This show goes for one hour, 54 minutes, four seconds as it includes notes from Vaughn, Pack, Millar, Goldman, Romita, Johnson, Moretz, Mintz-Plasse, Strong, Duke, Fonseca, Davis, De Rozario, Jackman, Murphy, costume designer Sammy Sheldon, makeup/hair designer Fae Hammond, prosthetic supervisor John Schoonraad, special effects supervisor Dave Harris, visual effects supervisor Mattias Lindahl, Chloe’s mom Teri, fight coordinator Peng Zhang, stunt double Greg Townley, 2nd unit armorer Rob Grundy, 3D supervisor Peter Jopling, 2D supervisor Stuart Farley, and actor Nicolas Cage. “Kind” examines the project’s origins and development, script, story and character topics, the film’s tone and depiction of violence, cast and performances, costumes and visual design, stunts and various effects, actor training and fight choreography, weapons and vehicles, editing, music, post-production, distribution and reactions.
With nearly two hours at its disposal, “Kind” has the time to really dig into the film’s creation, and it does so well. We get a plethora of solid information, and not a ton of repetition after the commentary and “Bonusview”; “Kind” manages to find other angles to discuss the flick. It’s a terrific program.
For a glimpse of the movie’s source material, we head to a featurette called It’s On! The Comic Book Origin of Kick-Ass. It lasts 20 minutes, 36 seconds and provides remarks from Millar, Romita, colorist Dave White, and inker Tom Palmer. As expected, they cover many aspects of the comic’s roots, development, characters and situations. They provide a dynamic discussion of the subject and give us a good history of the book.
Under The Art of Kick-Ass, we get some galleries. “Storyboards” covers seven sequences and lets us see still screens with four panels of art per page. “Costumes” delivers 14 screens of photos and art for the superhero outfits, while “On-Set Photography” provides 77 shots from the shoot. “Production Design” offers six plans for locations, and “John Romita Jr. Art for the Film” gives us 38 drawings from the comic’s artist; these let us view rough versions of elements that appear in the final film. Some of these components work better than others, but all deserve a look.
Finally, the Marketing Archive gives us promotional materials. We find two trailers – including an “R”-rated “redband” trailer that focuses on Hit Girl – as well as ad campaigns for both North America and international locales. The former features 22 ads, while the latter provides seven more promo posters. I expected the international ads to simply adapt the NA ones, but they’re unique. The NA promos work the best, though, especially the ones that spoof old WWII campaigns.
On a second platter, we find a DVD Copy of Kick-Ass. Note that this offers a barebones release; I believe the separate retail DVD will have some extras, but this one just includes the movie. Still, it allows fans who’ve not gone Blu yet to watch the flick and “future-proof” themselves.
A third disc throws in a digital copy of the flick. As always, this allows you to slap the movie onto a portable viewing device or a computer. I like to use these as shiny coasters.
Kick-Ass provides something unusual as a superhero flick, but it doesn’t become a totally satisfying one. While it boasts good general entertainment, it falls short of greatness, and its ambitions occasionally override its effectiveness. The Blu-ray features excellent visuals, very good audio, and a strong roster of supplements. Although I’m not wild about Kick-Ass, I still like it, and the Blu-ray presents it in a very satisfying manner.