Having spent almost three straight days in Hall H last July sorting through the wheat and the chaff of the geek world, I admit that I was one of the first in line to champion the preview footage from Kick-Ass as a highlight of the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con because, well, it kicked ass. It seemed tailor-made for comic book fans, exploiting their fantasies about becoming caped avengers, while at the same time offering enough foul-mouthed, visceral action to stop even the most jaded moviegoers in their tracks. And of course it featured Chloe Moretz' Hit Girl, a potty-mouthed preteen destined to become a pop culture lightning rod thanks to her equal dexterity with four-letter insults and flying jump kicks.

Unfortunately, as a full-length film, Kick-Ass is a great comic book come to life, but not much else. A faithful recreation of the rhythms of episodic funny-paper storytelling, Matthew Vaughn's adaptation of Mark Millar and John Romita's 2008 series gives greater scope to the set pieces shown in clips and trailers, but never quite finds enough cohesion or dramatic clarity to become a fully satisfying film.