DVD Review: “Kick-Ass” hurls the controversial Hit Girl to home video

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: HollywoodNews.com stays on top of the latest DVD and Blu-ray releases so you know which films are worth your time and money. This week, we review:

Matthew Vaughn’s “Kick-Ass” could be viewed as the anti-“Batman Begins,” and in a strange way, that’s a good thing.

While both detail a superhero’s rise to power, the protagonist at the heart of Christopher Nolan’s origin story has valuable resources, authentic skills, a legitimate beef with society, and the power to make a difference.

That’s not necessarily the case with Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), a mild-mannered teenager who becomes the costumed crime-fighter Kick-Ass after being mugged one afternoon, but quickly realizes he’s in way over his head. Kick-Ass can’t hang with bona-fide heroes Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz). And after interfering with the criminal activities of Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong), Kick-Ass angers a volatile foe … and gives birth to a potential nemesis in Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse).

Those who protested the excessive violence of Vaughn’s serial thriller likely haven’t picked up a comic in decades. Clearly, though, Vaughn and co-screenwriter Jane Goldman adore the medium and worship Mark Millar’s source book, treating Kick-Ass’s ascension with reverence and spending just enough time on Mintz-Plasse’s character to make his eventual conversion appropriately chilling. And yes, Moretz and Cage steal the show as the deranged father-daughter crime-fighting duo, though how their actions could be considered shocking years after Batman tutored Robin in the art of violence is a mystery.

While “Kick-Ass” and “Batman Begins” have their differences, they each deserve credit for approaching the comic book genre from viciously new perspectives, successfully breathing new life into an ever-shifting storytelling method.

Specifications for the DVD and Blu-ray are as follows:

• Ass-Kicking Bonus View Mode (Blu-ray Disc Exclusive) – Synchronous with the feature film, this innovative multi-media presentation incorporates video and audio commentary, behind-the-scenes clips and illustrative graphics with Co-Writer/Producer/Director Matthew Vaughn, plus cast and crew providing an all-access perspective on Kick-Ass
• “A New Kind of Superhero: The Making of Kick-Ass “ documentary (Blu-ray Disc Exclusive)
• “It’s On! The Comic Book Origin of Kick-Ass” featurette
• Audio Commentary with Writer-Director Matthew Vaughn
• “The Art of Kick-Ass” gallery
• Marketing Archive
• BD Touch and Metamenu Remote
• Lionsgate Live™ enabled, featuring extra content for Internet-connected players
• Enhanced for D-Box™ Motion Control Systems
*Subject to change
• Standard Definition DVD Copy of the feature film
• Standard Definition Digital Copy of the feature film
• Audio Commentary with Writer-Director Matthew Vaughn
• “It’s On! The Comic Book Origin of Kick-Ass” featurette
• “The Art of Kick-Ass” gallery
• Marketing Archive
The movie – ***1/2 out of 4
The DVD – *** out of 4

“The Losers” (Blu-ray)
“The Losers” are a standard-issue, rag-tag group of mercenaries bound by loyalty, sarcasm, and survival skills. When they are double-crossed by the mysterious Max (Jason Patric) during a Bolivian mission, Losers leader Clay (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) stashes the group in Central America until sultry Aisha (Zoe Saldana) comes calling with an opportunity for revenge.

As directed by Sylvain White, “The Losers” practically out A-Teams Joe Carnahan’s “The A-Team.” The script, from notable scribes James Vanderbilt and Peter Berg, feeds co-stars Chris Evans, Idris Elba, Morgan and Saldana quip after quip. And Patric sheds his normally subdued persona to portray a menacing, unpredictable and dangerously charismatic megalomaniac. The next time they are casting a Bond villain, “Losers” should be Patric’s audition reel. The plusses outweigh the minuses in “Losers,” most of which are linked to White’s overly stylized direction, which routinely turns the film into a gaudy, slo-mo music video for a 1980s hair band.

Now on Blu-ray, “Losers” packs a sharp but relatively dark transfer, with popping audio and a boatload of features. There’s one deleted scene and a handful of “Behind the Scenes” extras. Warner also includes a sneak peek at the anticipated “Batman: Under the Red Hood.” The entertaining “Zoe and the Losers” also explains how the lithe, gorgeous actress meshed with White’s hard-hitting male cast. Finally, the Blu-ray comes with a digital copy of the film for your portable devices.
The movie – ** out of 4
The Blu-ray – *** out of 4

“Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” (Blu-ray)
The “Harry Potter” blueprint guides “Percy Jackson,” and not just because director Chris Columbus graduated from Hogwarts after helming the first two “Potter” films.

There’s young Percy (Logan Lerman), a school-aged teen who learns he’s part of a long line of powerful beings — gods, not wizards — and possesses fantastic powers which he must learn to master. Together with his school chums, Percy embarks on a life-altering mission, assisted along the way by such character actors as Pierce Brosnan, Uma Thurman, Sean Bean and Catherine Keener (who play’s Percy’s mom).

That doesn’t mean “Percy Jackson” isn’t fun. In fact, Columbus knows how to direct for a young — and decidedly male — audience, and teenage boys will dig the adequate “Percy Jackson” effects. The movie doesn’t break any new ground, the way the “Potter” franchise did and continues to do, but there’s growth potential in this literary series, and a second installment would actually be welcome.

You should also welcome Fox’s Blu-ray treatment of “Percy,” which includes a regular DVD, a digital copy, and ample extras on the Blu-ray disc. Look for 10 deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes featurettes, a “Discover Your Power” quiz, and much more.
The movie – **1/2 out of 4
The DVD – *** out of 4

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