Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Video review: "Kick-Ass"
Was there a more polarizing film this year than "Kick-Ass"?
Roger Ebert called it "morally reprehensible." A.O. Scott of the New York Times said it "turned my stomach." I admitted the film left me disturbed, but also entertained, and "disturbed by how much I was entertained."
Fourth months after its theatrical release, the British/American send-up of the super-hero genre is looking like one of the boldest cinematic visions of 2010.
Aaron Johnson plays the title character, a high school loser who wonders why everyone loves super-heroes, but nobody actually dons a costume and goes out and fights crime. He buys a green wetsuit, wields a couple of billy clubs, and calls himself Kick-Ass.
The only ass initially kicked is his own, but after a few false starts the fledgling hero makes a name for himself, via YouTube video of his exploits.
Soon a whole lot of supes come out of the woodwork, notably Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz), a pint-sized package of blood-spurting destruction, and her father/mentor/enabler Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage).
If Kick-Ass is a pathetic wannabe, this frightful duo are the hair-raising real deal. Hit-Girl shoots and slices her way through bad guys, and insults them with the foulest language you've ever heard coming out of the mouth of an 11-year-old.
This is, after all, based on a comic book whose teaser line was "Sickening Violence: Just the Way You Like It!"
Love it or loath it, this movie smashes Hollywood conventions.
When it comes to video extras, "Kick-Ass" does just that.
The Blu-ray/DVD combo pack includes a digital copy, and a host of features that shed light about the production. The centerpiece is a making-of documentary that, at 113 minutes, is only slightly shorter than the film itself.
The doc touches on absolutely every aspect of conception and shooting, including director Matthew Vaughn's pushback at those who flogged the movie as exploitative. One revelation is the filmmakers gave the role to Johnson before they knew he's British.
Vaughn also provides a feature-length commentary track, including the tidbit that Marvel Comics forced him to change logo of his longstanding production company, MARV, even though those are simply his initials. (His obeisance must have paid off; Vaughn is now slated to directe the "X-Men" reboot.)
Additionally, there's an "Ass-Kicking Bonus View Mode" that includes tons of behind-the-scenes video footage (which also incorporates some of Vaughn's commentary).
Plus, a 20-minute featurette on the comic book origin, and a gallery of stills.
Movie: 3 stars out of four
Extras: 3.5 stars