Kick-Ass – 4K UHD Blu-ray Review

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Film Title: “Kick-Ass
Release Date: 2010
Rating: R
Runtime: 117 minutes
Region Coding: Region A
Studio: Lionsgate
Audio Format(s): Dolby Atmos & Dolby Digital 2.0
High Dynamic Range: HDR (HDR10) & Dolby Vision
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Formats Available: 4K UHD Blu-ray
Versions Available: 4K Blu-ray
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Cast: Aaron Taylor-JohnsonNicolas CageChloë Grace MoretzEvan PetersChristopher Mintz-PlasseClark DukeMark StrongLyndsy Fonseca


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The Movie

Kick-Ass” is a film from 2010, directed by Matthew Vaughn, now best known for directing the films “X-Men: First Class” (2011), “Kingsman: The Secret Service” (2014), and “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” (2017). Before that, Vaughn also directed the films “Stardust” (2007), and “Layer Cake” (2004). So, it’s safe to say this guy was (in 2010), and is today, a very experienced, and acclaimed director of popular films. The film is an adaptation of the comic book, of the same title, created by Mark Miller (Writer) and John S. Romita, Jr. (Artist).

The film starts out with narration from our protagonist, asking one simple question that we will hear repeated again not much later in the film. We get a bit of a cinematic accompaniment, and then are introduced to our leading man, but in due time. Our protagonist is a nerdy teenager named “Dave Lizewski” (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). One day sitting at a local comic book store (“Atomic Comics“) with his two best friends “Marty” (Clark Duke) and “Todd” (Evan Peters), Dave asks his friends pretty much the very same question he asked us, the viewers, during the opening narration of the film: How come no one’s ever tried to be a super hero?” To which his smart ass friend Marty immediately replies something shooting down his question as stupid, and dangerous.

As our protagonist and his two friends sit at this fancy comic book store, where they have tables and apparently serve food, in walks this rich kid, that arrives in a luxurious sedan with tinted windows, and is being escorted by a bodyguard. Turns out the kid is their age, he’s named “Chris D’Amico” (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), and his father is a crime syndicate boss by the name of “Frank D’Amico” (Mark Strong). The friends talk about the guy and Dave suggests maybe they try talking to him, that he probably doesn’t have any friends. Let’s just say the bodyguard wasn’t too eager to see Dave try to talk to Chris. So they don’t talk, yet. However, these two kids paths will cross again throughout the course of this film, quite a few times. Now you have your hero and the villain essentially laid out for you, it’s just how it all pieces together that I’ll let you watch the film to find out. No “spoilers” here.

Let’s just say that along the way Dave actually decides to put on a costume and try to be a superhero, to some not-so expected consequences, but in the end will be eventually the hero known as “Kick-Ass.” Along the way he’ll meet some other real-life superheroes, a bit more professional than him, in the form of a foul-mouth 11-year-old girl by the name of “Hit Girl” (Chloe Grace Moretz) and her father “Big Daddy” (Nicolas Cage). What you get here in this film is straight-up “kick-ass” just as the title suggests, and was really a superhero movie ahead of its time. Sure, it’s not up there perhaps with the films from the big comic book companies / movie studios, but it was made at a major studio on a rather large budget. It proves to be full of action, amazingly funny memorable lines and just a real plot that drives you in.

Movie Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)


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Video Quality

According to the technical specifications on IMDb, “Kick-Ass” was shot on both 35MM and Super 35MM film, using the Panavision Panaflex Millennium XL camera. The 35MM and Super 35MM film sources were then mastered in 2K resolution. That means that this has been up-converted to 4K (2160p). In other words: it’s not been mastered in the full 4K resolution, yet. The film is presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. This release on the 4K UHD Blu-ray format includes both of the High Dynamic Range options available – at this current time. Those HDR formats are: Dolby Vision and standard HDR (HDR10).

Because of the two film types (35MM & Super 35MM) there’s a slight inconsistency in sharpness, and amounts of film grain, but it’s nothing too bothersome, just obviously worth noting. In regards to sharpness, there’s quite a nice improvement here visually with a lot of newfound detail in most every shot, in comparison to the previously released 1080p Blu-ray. There’s a healthy amount of film grain preserved here, as mentioned before. There’s also so occasional hairs, scratches, dirt specs or such still on the film print from the 2K digital intermediate master. It’d be nice to eventually see these things cleaned up, as the film does obviously have a purposely “gritty” feel to it, it doesn’t need some occasional visual flaws to mess it up. Just a thought. The black level is pretty solid here throughout, with things such as darker shadows and dark costumes getting nice emphasis through the addition of HDR (be it via whichever format).

This really benefits nicely from the addition of High Dynamic Range (be it via HDR10 or Dolby Vision), making colors, especially the green of “Kick-Ass” costume or the purple of the “Hit Girl” costume, pop throughout. Fleshtones also appear to be more accurate than before, with the addition of HDR. The colors stand out (“pop”) a lot more here than ever before, as mentioned.

This is a pretty impressive 4K video presentation for a ‘catalog’ title, even if it didn’t receive full 4K remastering. Fans will definitely be pleased, and not regretting their purchase of this 4K release – likely to upgrade from the previous Blu-ray. Overall, this visually this holds up, as mentioned, with quite an impressive 4K presentation for a ‘catalog’ title. Sure, it’s not 100% perfect, as it has some flaws (as I mentioned a few above), but considering it’s an 8-year-old film, I’d imagine in a few years, around the 10th anniversary perhaps, we’ll likely see it get remastered, and possibly receive a true 4K digital intermediate transfer from the film sources. Until then though, this is by far the best you will see the film look aside from a theatrical presentation.

Video Quality Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)


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Audio Quality

Audio here is presented in both Dolby Atmos and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Optimized for Late Night Listening. If you’re not on a Dolby Atmos capable AV receiver and/or lack the height speakers, you’ll receive a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core mix. Just worth noting for our readers not on fully capable AV setups.

First thing that I noticed here in the Dolby Atmos mix was that the height speakers are actually used for some of the film’s original Score, mostly the classical music style pieces. This really adds some “oomph” to the mix vs the original 5.1 lossless found on the original Blu-ray release. Height speakers get used more in the Atmos for the occasional sound effects that benefit from the use.

There’s a healthy amount of bass with some nice low-end moments sure to leave your subwoofer seeing some action, during the action especially. Dialogue is delivered distinctly through the from center channel, and is never once overpowered by any of the action. Speaking of that action, this makes some excellent use of the rear channels to make you feel as if you’re in a warehouse, or vice versa. When things intensify later in the film you’ll really start to hear how much this benefits from having an atmospheric mix over standard surround. It’s not just the music that gets some use of the height speakers on the Atmos during action, but also sound effects and such, which sound downright excellent.

It’s an very impressive Atmos mix, and a definite improvement over the original 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio found on the original Blu-ray release from 2010. It’s got some “demo material” worthy sequences, no doubt. This proves to be one of the more unique Atmos mixes I’ve heard to date. Dynamic range is perfect. Plus, it just has a lot more “oomph” this time all around with an Atmos mix.

Audio Quality Rating: 5 (out of 5)


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Bonus Materials

  • A Digital Copy of the film is included, which is compatible with iTunes and Ultraviolet formats such as Vudu, and so forth. You get a paper insert included in the packaging with a URL and code to redeem.

All bonus materials are presented in Hi-Def (HD) with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound. The 4K UHD Blu-ray actually includes some bonus materials itself, where you will find the following:

  • A New Kind of Superhero: The Making of Kick-Ass” (1:53:04 – HD) is one very, very lengthy “making of” featurette, if I do say so. This is about as thorough as it can get. You’ll get tons of on set footage, behind-the-scenes footage, and loads of interviews with Matthew Vaughn (Director / Producer / Co-Screenwriter), Tarquin Pack (Producer), Mark Millar (“Kick-Ass” Co-Creator / Writer), Jane Goldman (Screenwriter / Co-Producer), John S. Romita, Jr. (“Kick-Ass” Co-Creator / Artist), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (“Dave Lizewski” / “Kick-Ass“), Chloe Grace Moretz (“Mindy Macready” / “Hit Girl“), Nicholas Cage (“Damon Macready” / “Big Daddy“), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (“Chris D’Amico” / “Red Mist“), Mark Strong (“Frank D’Amico“), Lyndsy Fonseca (“Katie“), Clark Duke (“Marty“), Sammy Sheldon (Costume Designer), Ben Davis (Director of Photography), and Fae Hammond (Make-Up / Hair Designer).

Apologies if I forgot anyone’s names above, as this featurette, when you hit “play all”, runs about as long as the film itself, as mentioned. I just got done watching the movie itself, so asking me to fully watch another one and review it is a bit much here. That’s in no way a complaint though, as you’ll read further below.

  • It’s On! The Comic Book Origin of Kick-Ass” (20:36 – HD) includes a lot of still images from the original comic book, and interviews with Mark Millar (Writer and Co-Creator), John Romita Jr. (Penciler and Co-Creator), Dean White (Colors), Tom Palmer (Inks). You even get to watch the artists work on some panels of the comic, which is very cool, especially for the original comic book fans. For more information about the comic, be sure to check out the Wikipedia page. This comic has some history, and even was published under Icon comic label (a division of Marvel Comics).
  • Audio Commentary by Director Matthew Vaughn – proves to absolutely be worth the listen as you re-watch the film. Vaughn is an excellent filmmaker and his thoughts here prove to be very entertaining, informative, and such.
  • Theatrical Trailer (2:30 – HD)
  • Redband Hit Girl Trailer (1:16 – HD)

The Blu-ray Disc also contains bonus materials, namely the ones listed above (as well). The bonus materials on the Blu-ray ONLY include the following:

  • Marketing Archive” includes:
    • North American Campaign” (HD) is still image gallery.
    • International Campaign” (HD) also is still image gallery.
  • Ass-Kicking BonusView Mode” is a Blu-ray only feature that uses the BonusView feature for PIP (picture-in-picture) or rather pop-up videos to play throughout your viewing experiences like a visual and audio commentary of sorts.
  • The Art of Kick-Ass Gallery” (HD) is yet again a Blu-ray only feature.
  • D-BOX motion coding is included ONLY on the Blu-ray.
  • BD-Touch is included ONLY on the Blu-ray.

Overall, the bonus materials here are just recycled but at least the smart folks at Lionsgate included them mostly on the 4K disc itself, as well as on the included Blu-ray Disc. This, and things like “Bookmarks” are nicely carried over in forms of BD-J (Blu-ray Disc Java) that the company [Lionsgate] has been one of the pioneers of since the Blu-ray Disc format’s launch back in 2006.

I mean, c’mon, the “making of” featurette clocks in with a 133 minute runtime, longer than the actual film itself – by 26 minutes roughly. That’s just one featurette, and there’s more included, as well as audio commentary, an art gallery, and the very unique (and still very cool) BonusView mode. There’s a whole lot to keep you entertained with if you never previously owned the Blu-ray Disc version, and or (like myself) haven’t revisited the film in a while. In terms of rating, I have to reward a great effort at bonus when I see it. This overall is an impressive set supplemental material, even still to this day, in comparison to some of the films recently released on either Blu-ray or 4K UHD Blu-ray formats.

Bonus Materials Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)


Closing Thoughts

Roughly eight years after its release, “Kick-Ass“, as a film still proves to hold up relatively well. Director Matthew Vaughn would go on to make more films (that kick ass), however would not return to direct the film’s 2013 sequel. The performances here are unforgettable from Aaron Taylor-Johnson (our lead), Chloe Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Mark Strong, and Nicolas Cage. If you’ve actually never seen this film, it’s worth totally giving a chance if you’re a fan of action, comic books, comic book films, and a bit of nicely blended comedy. I recommend this film to most everyone. Sure it’s not for everyone, but you’d be surprised who actually enjoys it.

In terms of 4K UHD Blu-ray release, this gets:
4.5 (out of 5) for video quality
5 (out of 5) for audio quality
4.5 (out of 5) for bonus materials


Overall Verdict:
Great Film & Presentation


Available as:

kick-ass_4k
2017 4K UHD Blu-ray Release


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