It’s here. The 2010 SXSW Film Festival has finally begun and it’s opened with a bang. Last night marked the world premiere of Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass, the R-rated comic book movie that went from being the little engine that could to the talk of the town. The film centers on a group of unlikely heroes led by an awkward teenager who dresses up, fights crime, and takes down the bad guys. They can’t fly, they can’t see through walls, and they’re not invisible, but one thing is for sure…they can kick your ass.

Check out some early reactions to the very first screening of the film…

The Premise:

  • The premise of this movie, and comic on which it’s based, is a frighteningly simple one: what if someone really tried to be a superhero? What would the consequences be? The answer, over a frenetic running time of approximately two hours, is that it’s a horribly dangerous path that will probably get you killed in relatively short order. If that seems a somewhat thin platform, then let me assure you Kick-Ass takes that and every other comic book convention and plants them firmly wrong-side up. And I don’t mean in a moronic Meet The Spartans type way. The referential humor and genre twisting in this are clever and mature, and, for the most part, not remotely infantile. [Den of Geek]

The Performances:

  • Johnson, true to his character, lets himself be upstaged by his costars — especially Moretz, who with Kick-Ass has gone from voicing Winnie the Pooh cartoons to slicing up drug dealers with a samurai bloodlust Quentin Tarantino would appreciate. Though the movie initially wants to stay rooted in the real world, it stops trying when her “Hit Girl” is onscreen — the tween character is straight out of The Matrix, and it’s only Moretz’s likeably ludicrous tough-girl act that holds things together. (As her dad, Nic Cage bolsters his portfolio of quirky performances and might make viewers wish he had been allowed to play Superman for Tim Burton way back when.) [THR]
  • Also surprisingly good in Kick-Ass is Mark Strong. I say surprisingly because although I know he has his fans I have yet to see him anything where he has impressed me; I was particularly underwhelmed by his performance in Sherlock Holmes. In Kick-Ass Strong plays Chris’ father and crime boss Frank and he is pretty funny in the role and plays the exaggerated cartoon crime boss bad guy with great panache.[Hey U Guys]

The Action:

  • The action sequences are brutal yet balletic, and wonderfully underpinned with the oddest assortment of soundtrack choices I’ve ever heard. I can only salute a man who’s prepared to put wholesale slaughter to the theme from The Banana Splits. Vaughn is up for that, and also adds in many other wonderful signature moments. [Den of Geek]

The Direction:

  • Matthew Vaughn is an assured director; takes his time, gets things right. Despite the OTT brawling, he disciplines himself in terms of dialogue, shots, sound and production design in a way that guvnor Quentin Tarantino, for all his filmmaking genius, simply does not. Kick-Ass is loud and ludicrous, but not in your face. [Clothes on Film]

Overall:

  • Even having seen only the Comic-Con footage from last summer and largely skipped the interstitial clips and promotional materials, I hoped I hadn’t seen everything it had to offer, but was disappointed to discover there was little more to explore in the finished film. Once the novelty wears off of watching a 12-year-old girl impale adversaries while calling them “*ssholes” or worse, there’s nothing deeper or more meaningful within Vaughn’s vision to sustain subsequent viewings. The closest analogy I can think of with Kick-Ass is that it’s a visceral (as opposed to logical) companion piece to a film like Memento or The Usual Suspects, where the style and energy is spectacular and striking the first go ’round, but it’s not only the concept, the “hook,” but the execution, and finally, the cumulative effect that prompts you to return to the material again and mine what deeper intricacies may exist. [Cinematical]
  • Kick-Ass is going to put a giant boot in the face of that mentality. It is a pitch-perfect send-up of everything that is characteristic of superhero films. It is versed enough to cite convention, but clever enough to find the humor in the genre’s absurdity. And the biggest advantage Kick-Ass has in the parody department is that it is unrelentingly entertaining. It seems that in the last few years, terrible parodies have made undeserved fortunes at the box office while better-crafted entries have gone largely unseen. Kick-Ass, on the other hand, has all the necessary components to clean up at the box office and be well deserving of its success. [Hollywood.com]

Did you attend the SXSW screening of Kick-Ass? What were your thoughts on the film? Are you surprised by some of the reactions?