For the first thirty minutes, or so, Kick-Ass
contents itself with reasonably clever riffs on costumed crime fighters. It
posits some interesting questions, spins them out in an agreeably casual
fashion and invites us to come along for some mildly grown-up four-color
And then she arrives: a ten-year-old sociopath clad in purple mylar and
going by the handle of Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz). Her shocking dispatch
of an entire room of drug dealers—to the theme song from “The Banana Splits”
no less—signals the film’s true intentions. The scene is horrifying,
exhilarating, gut-wrenching and more than a little sick. Numerous critics
(including Roger Ebert) quickly worked themselves into a lather condemning
it. Few of them understood its true intentions, however: to rip bare the
foundation of the superhero genre and give us a good, long look. Yes, it was
exploitative, but it also struck a deep and abiding chord that challenged
comic book fans in ways that few films before it ever dreamed.
The movie’s hero (Aaron Johnson) is a perfectly ordinary, scrawny teenager
who suddenly decides to put on tights and beat up bad guys. Nothing compels
him to do it—no murdered Uncle Ben or deep-set hatred of criminals—just a
need to make a difference in the world. He’s not very good at it,
illustrating the reasons most of us don’t confront muggers in dark alleys to
begin with. Hit Girl and her father Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) soon follow in
his footsteps; they’re very good at it, but have become so twisted by their
desire for justice that they tread dangerously close to full-bore insanity.
Director Matthew (Stardust) Vaughn reveals their story in starkly violent, decidedly unheroic terms. In the process, he forces us to ponder the difference
between fantasy and reality: the ways that heroes both inspire us and leave
us open to fatal, soul-crushing delusions. We adore these figures, but the
film shows us those parts of their psyche we’d rather not consider. The
bloodthirsty side, the damaged side, the side with no moral compass and a
burning desire to act without consequences. Kick-Ass provides no easy
answers for us or them, thrown into a world which has little patience for
lunatics in spandex and forced to do the best they can.
In the process, it attains a remarkable balance. It admires these heroes,
invests in their story and asks us to pull for them with all our might. But
it also deconstructs them , pities them, and wonders aloud why any of us
would form an attachment to them. It’s not always pretty, but it exhibits a
profound understanding of the genre, and invites us to think long and hard
about why we love it so much. That it comes atop a terrific good guys vs.
bad guys throw down is just icing on the cake. Before we’ve even realized it,
Kick-Ass has become the best superhero movie since
The Dark Knight and one
of the better movies of 2010, bar none.
The Blu-Ray emphasizes cutting-edge goodies, topped by a “Bonus View” mode
that provides behind-the-scenes tidbits running alongside the movie itself.
It also allows for D-Box and BD Touch downloading, as well as interactive
news feeds from Lionsgate and a bookmarking feature that lets you pick your
personal favorite spots on the disc. More mundane features include an audio
commentary from Vaughn; a pair of behind-the-scenes features; a gallery
which includes costumes, photos and original art from Kick-Ass co-creator
John Romita; and both a DVD copy and a digital copy.
Hard-core comic book fans shouldn’t require any prompting, and casual action
lovers will enjoy it as well. Parents should be warned, however: despite the
brightly colored poster and presence of a little girl among the leads, this
is most definitely not a movie for kids.
The bells and whistles on the Blu-Ray add to an already impressive movie.
Kick-Ass is an acquired taste, but those on its wavelength should consider
the Blu-Ray a must-buy.
- Rob Vaux