DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD & Blu-ray Releases: Monday 6th September 2010


Kick-Ass (Universal): A post-modern superhero film based on the comic book by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr. It is the story of teenager (Aaron Johnson) who decides to become a super-hero named Kick-Ass after purchasing a costume (even though he has no powers or training) and soon finds himself involved with a local gangster (Mark Strong); his son (Christopher Mintz-Plasse); and a highly trained father and daughter vigilante duo (Nicolas Cage and Chloe Moretz).

Directed by Matthew Vaughn, produced by Brad Pitt and written by Vaughn and Jane Goldman, the film was independently financed – at a budget of $28 million dollars – and gleefully subverts the superhero movie whilst also paying homage to it. It isn’t the awe-inspiring masterpiece that some would have you believe, but it is still a witty and interesting take on the comic-book genre.

The extras on the Blu-ray and DVD versions include:

  • 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
  • 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

> Buy Kick-Ass on Blu-ray / DVD / Special Edition Combi Pack

Exit Through the Gift Shop (Revolver Entertainment): The debut film from enigmatic graffiti artist Banksy is a documentary (or is it?) which tells the story of Thierry Guetta, a French immigrant in Los Angeles who is obsessed with street art. It shows Guetta’s constant filming of his own life and his attempts to capture Banksy on camera. It also features other artists including Invader and Shepard Fairey (the man famous for the Barack Obama ‘Hope’ poster).

Narrated by Rhys Ifans, the music is by Geoff Barrow and although there has been a continuous debate about the nature of the film since it debuted at Sundance in January, it has got very strong reviews and is likely to increase the mystique of Banksy even further.

Extra features include: stickers, art prints, the movie, and ‘limited edition 2D glasses’.

> Buy Exit Through The Gift Shop on Blu-ray or DVD


After.Life (Anchor Bay Entertainment UK) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Bent (Park Circus) [Blu-ray / with DVD]
Black Lightning (Universal Pictures) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Doctor Who – The New Series: 5 – Volume 4 (2 Entertain) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Entourage: Season 6 (Warner Home Video) [Blu-ray / DVD]
The African Queen: Restoration Edition (ITV DVD) [Buy it on Blu-ray]
The Brit Indie Collection (4DVD) [Blu-ray / DVD]
The Last Song (Walt Disney) [Blu-ray / DVD]
The Official 2010 World Cup South Africa Review (2 Entertain) [Blu-ray / DVD]
True Inspiration Collection (4DVD) [Blu-ray / DVD]

> The DVD and Blu-ray releases for September 2010
> The Best DVD and Blu-ray releases for 2009

Box Office News

Kick-Ass disappoints at the US box office


Despite an expensive marketing campaign and web-fuelled hype Kick-Ass under performed at the US box office this weekend.

There had been expectations that it would hit the Number 1 slot and could have a $30 million opening, but it failed to hit the top slot which was instead claimed by the DreamWorks animated film How To Train Your Dragon, which is in its fourth week of release.

* UPDATE 19/04/10: Variety are now reporting that Kick-Ass was the Number 1 film of the weekend as Lionsgate opened it early on Thursday and are counting those grosses in with their final figure. This allows them to claim the weekend, although the figures are so narrow I still think the studio are going to be disappointed with this opening. *

It is worth pointing out that Kick-Ass was an interesting case study as it was funded outside the studio system and was a rare example of a high profile indie film having a shot at making some decent cash.

Things looked promising as it was being released by Lionsgate (the only major distributor outside of the big six major studios) and they have a strong track record in releasing edgier films – like the Saw franchise – to a wide audience.

Kick-Ass seemed to be tailor made for them: it looked like a superhero movie; it had lots of carefully cultivated buzz on the geekier websites (AICN, CHUD); and it was a film that directly appealed to a hipper, younger audience.

This meant that Lionsgate felt they had a potential breakthrough hit on their hands and they spent heavily marketing the film. Some have speculated they acquired it for $25m and $40m on prints and advertising, including TV ads like this.

Going in to the weekend it had decent reviews (76 on Rotten Tomatoes, 67 on Metacritic), online buzz, awareness and it was on a load of screens with little in the way of serious rivals (the main one being the US remake of Death of a Funeral).

All this boded well and some Hollywood observers were even expecting it to make $30m.

By the end of the weekend it had only grossed $19.7m and had been (narrowly) beaten to the top slot by an animated film that had already been out for three weeks.

Why did it under perform?

My guess is that it played well to the male-skewing fanbase but just didn’t connect with the wider audience due to the violence, the in-your-face tone of the film and the fact that it was not a conventional super-hero movie at all.

Distributor Lionsgate’s exit polling indicated that 60 percent of those who saw Kick-Ass audience were male and 50 percent was under 25 years old.

In essence, the geeks raved and went to see it but the wider audience didn’t.

Given that the accepted formula for a film’s theatrical gross is to multiply the opening weekend figures by 2.5, this would suggest Kick-Ass is only going to gross around $65m.

This might seem a respectable number for an independent production but in order to greenlight a sequel and build a franchise, they’d be looking for a higher number.

Although the film had created levels of hysteria amongst fanboys not seen since Watchmen, it is a salutary reminder that creating a genuine mainstream hit outside the studio system remains difficult.

Cinema Thoughts


A comic-book adaptation with a difference, Kick-Ass gleefully subverts and pays homage to the super-hero genre.

The plot transfers Mark Millar’s comic to the screen which involves a geeky teenager (Aaron Johnson) who decides to become a superhero named Kick-Ass, which brings him in to contact with a mob boss (Mark Strong) and his son (Christopher Mintz-Plasse); and a crime-fighting father (Nicholas Cage) and daughter (Chloe Moretz) who have revenge in mind.

After a decade of superhero movies – and more sequels and reboots to come – this is something of a cheeky teenager of a film: foul-mouthed, sly, violent and yet strangely innocent.

Embracing the superhero mythos, it also simultaneously debunks it: ‘Kick-Ass’ himself has no powers and is simply a teenager in a funny costume, whilst the other characters who suit up are mostly played for blackly comic laughs.

Crammed to bursting with references to superhero films (I lost count of the visual nods towards the Spiderman, Superman and Batman films) it is aggressively aimed at comic book fans and those who take Comic Con a bit too seriously.

This isn’t an entirely bad thing as it has a punchier attitude than most of the superhero adaptations made by the major studios and also spoofs the insatiable online consumption of comic book material.

Although when it opened a couple of weeks ago there was an expectation by some that it would be ‘controversial’, I don’t think the comedy violence or the fact that a young girl swears really bothered anyone who actually saw the film.

A key scene is a fight sequence when Kick-Ass takes on some thugs outside a diner and a nearby teenager screams to a friend that it is ‘awesome’. It almost embodies the film and its fans in microcosm.

Despite having some notable qualities, the film does have its drawbacks: it isn’t quite as subversive or clever as its fans might claim (Mystery Men covered similar territory back in the late 90s) and Matthew Vaughn still has limitations as a director when it comes to shooting and plotting a film.

That said, there are aspects that intrigued me.

If you look at the credits you’ll see that there are no less than four credited composers (John Murphy, Henry Jackman, Marius de Vries and Ilan Eshkeri) and what sounds like a lot of temp music which Vaughn got so attached to that he left in rather than use a freshly composed score. (Look out for sequences featuring what sounds like Murphy’s music for 28 Days Later and Sunshine)

The other issue that leapt out was why the major studios turned this film down as it seems certain to nail the lucrative fanboy demographic they usually crave.

Obviously there would have been concerns about some of the swearing, violence and general air of political incorrectness.

But given that major studios have released fairly extreme fare for mainstream audiences like Hannibal (brains being eaten), Bruno (extreme sexual content) and Bad Boys 2 (insane violence), I’m surprised when they get all prudish.

Perhaps the larger question that crossed their minds was whether it would breakthrough to a mainstream audience.

This meant that Vaughn had to raise the budget independently outside the studio system before selling the distribution rights to various studios such as Universal in the UK and Lionsgate in the US.

Quite how he and his producers managed to raise the reported $28m budget (which is very high for an independent production) is another interesting question but in the long run I can’t see this losing money.

When it opened in the UK a couple of weeks ago, it was overshadowed by Clash of the Titans and How To Train Your Dragon but has since earned a highly respectable £7m.

But how will it fare when it opens in the US this weekend?

On the plus side Lionsgate have a solid track record in marketing edgy fare like the Saw films to the masses.

On the downside, it is tricky to get mainstream awareness for a film like this, essentially a post-modern superhero comedy, and I suspect that some audiences outside New York and LA will find the swearing and comedy violence a little off putting.

Add some reportedly less-than-stellar tracking numbers and perhaps there is cause for concern at Kick-Ass HQ. But although it plays like an expensive cult film, in the long run I can see it having a long shelf life on DVD and TV.

Kick-Ass is tailor-made for geeky-fanboys, but then there are a lot of those about.

> Official site
> IMDb
> Reviews at Metacritic


UK Cinema Releases: Friday 2nd April 2010



Clash Of The Titans (Warner Bros.): A big budget remake of the 1981 film, loosely based on the Greek myth of Perseus (Sam Worthington), who ventures on a dangerous mission to defeat the evil god Hades (Ralph Fiennes), before he can seize power from the all powerful Zeus (Liam Neeson) enslave earth. Directed by Louis Leterrier, it features lots of battles against creatures and demons and has been converted to 3D quite recently although it was shot on regular 2D cameras. Warner Bros will expect bad reviews but given the massive marketing push can expect a decent opening weekend before bad word of mouth spreads. [Empire Leicester Square & Nationwide / 12A]

How To Train Your Dragon (Paramount): The latest film from DreamWorks Animation is based on the 2003 book and is the mythical story of a young Viking named Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) who learns how to fight the dragons that plague his village by befriending and taming a smaller one. Featuring the voices of Gerard ButlerChristopher Mintz-PlasseCraig Ferguson, and David Tennant. Directed by Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, the writing and visuals are very solid, whilst the 3D (especially in the flying sequences) achieves a pleasing sense of exhilaration. Decent reviews plus the Easter holiday weekend will mean a high family turnout and it will be a major surprise if this doesn’t take the number one spot. [Vue West End & Nationwide / PG]

Kick-Ass (Universal): Perhaps the most interesting release of the week is this post-modern superhero film based on the comic book by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr. It tells the story of teenager (Aaron Johnson) who decides to become a super-hero named Kick-Ass after purchasing a costume (even though he has no powers or training) and soon finds himself involved with a local gangster (Mark Strong); his son (Christopher Mintz-Plasse); and a highly trained father and daughter vigilante duo (Nicolas Cage and Chloe Moretz). Directed by Matthew Vaughn, produced by Brad Pitt, and written by Vaughn and Jane Goldman, the film was independently financed – at a budget of $28 million dollars – and gleefully subverts the superhero genre whilst also paying homage to it. Internet fanboys will lap this up but whether it can break through to a mainstream audience is a big question. The violence (although comic in tone) and fruity language will likely alienate older audiences, but if it can hold its own in a very competitive weekend then it could turn out to be very profitable indeed. [Vue West End & Nationwide / 15] (Previews 26-28 March)


The Railway Children: 40th Anniversary (Optimum): A re-release for this charming 1970 adaptation of E Nesbit’s enduring tale of three children (Jenny AgutterGary Warren and Sally Thomsett) ho move to a Yorkshire village and become entranced by the local railway line and make friends with the locals (such as Bernard Cribbins and William Mervyn). Written and directed by Lionel Jeffries, it is being presented on a newly restored digital print. [Key Cities / U]

* Listen to my interview with Jenny Agutter about The Railway Children *

Psycho (Universal): A re-release for the classic thriller from Alfred Hitchcock about a woman (Janet Leigh) who ends up at an isolated motel run by the enigmatic Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) [BFI Southbank & Key Cities / 15]

City Of War: The Story Of John Rabe (Metrodome Distribution): A drama starring Steve Buscemi in the real-life tale of a German businessman who saved more than 200,000 Chinese during the Nanjing massacre in 1937-38. [Empire Leicester Square / 15]

Double Take (Soda Pictures): A film by director Johan Grimonprez that uses footage of Alfred Hitchcock from 1962 and 1980 to paint a surreal picture of his life. [BFI Southbank, Curzons Mayfair, Wimbledon & Key Cities]

Kakera – A Piece Of Our Life (Third Window Films): A Japanese drama from director Momoko Andô about a college student, her boyfriend and medical artist who makes prosthetic body parts. [ICA Cinema]

Remember Me (E1 Entertainment): A romantic drama about two lovers (Robert Pattinson and Emilie de Ravin) in New York on the eve of the 9/11 attacks. [Odeon West End & Nationwide / 12A]

Samson & Delilah (Trinity Filmed Entertainment): Australian film about a couple living in a remote community in the Central Australian desert. [Apollo Piccadilly Circus, Barbican, Empire Leic Sq., Renoir, Tricycle & Key Cities / 12A]

DVD and Blu-ray Picks for Monday 29th March including 2012, Stargate, The Informant! and Homicide
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