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RuPaul's Drag Race: The red carpet is the way home for one contestant
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Seattle's Pride Idol: Week one
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On the pulse of On the Town: An interview with Greg McCormick Allen
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Maria Jose and Club Papi heat up Neighbours
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Langston Hughes African American Film Festival kicks off
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Robopop! pushes boundaries and broadens concepts
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Farcical Taking Steps is sheer silliness
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Vaginas still talking 15 years later
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VIDEO - White House closes Lafayete Park due to DADT protesters, kicks out media
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Steel Train pulls out all the stops at Chop Suey
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Badass Kick-Ass the funniest movie of the year
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Outbound: Ten things to know before going to Tokyo
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Epic Warlords fights a losing battle
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Where It's At: Buble, Spoon and La Roux warm up April
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Q-Scopes by Jack Fertig
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Picks and predictions for this weekend's Academy of Country Music Awards
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Letters
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Jonsi gives majestic performance at Showbox SoDo
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Dyke About Town: Seattle Men's Chorus and Charlie Musselwhite
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Deep Inside Hollywood - Romeo San Vicente
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The xx stellar in Seattle headlining debut
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The BEARatones come out of hibernation
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Strike a pose: Glee goes all-Madonna on Tuesday's episode
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Seattle Opera Young Artists stun with Ariadne
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Spoon pushes their limits at Moore
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Unclear True West loses laughs in miscasting
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Mucho bueno! Seattle Men's Chorus' Ole! Ole! Ole!
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Badass Kick-Ass the funniest movie of the year
by Scott Rice - SGN Contributing Writer

Kick-Ass
Opening April 16


Miley Cyrus can kiss my ass. Same goes for Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez. There's a new tweener girl hero in town, and her name is Hit Girl. She's the real star of the new movie Kick-Ass, and she doesn't fuck around.

Unfortunately, the screaming tweeners won't be able to get a ticket to see Hit Girl in this five-coupon spectacular because Kick-Ass is rated R - and for good reason, too. This is a comic book flick for adults only, and it's the funniest movie I've seen in months.

Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) is a typical awkward teenager, sifting through high school life anonymously until he decides to become a superhero named Kick-Ass (don't forget the hyphen) by slipping into a customized wetsuit and roaming the city streets looking for criminals. The only problem, young Dave doesn't have any superhero superpowers, so he gets his ass kicked.

Enter Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz). The only things sharper than her wit are her Chinese throwing stars, and she isn't afraid to use either. She talks like a truck driver and fights like a caged wildcat. She does it all wearing a purple wig, plaid skirt, and sporting pink accessories. Hit Girl and Big Daddy, the real heroes of the town, step in to teach Dave a few tricks of the trade.

There are also a few new twists to the superhero milieu. Dave lets his high school crush Katie Deauxma (Lyndsy Fonseca) believe he's Gay so he can woo her. The playing-Gay-to-woo scenario is not a new twist in general, but it's new to this genre and handled nicely by the writers.

Is Facebook passé yet? Is YouTube old news? Guess not. Both features prominently in the storyline as Kick-Ass uses his Facebook page to find people who need his help and he gains fame through a viral video shot on a cell phone.

There are villains and sidekicks and everything else one expects from a deliciously sophomoric movie based on a satirical graphic novel that targets mainstream comic books. There is also plenty of good, old-fashioned movie fun, tasteless humor, and sickening violence - just the way you like it.

Aaron Johnson is best known for diddling Sam Taylor Wood, the substantially older director of Nowhere Boy, a biopic about the young John Lennon that starred Master Johnson. The couple is expecting their first child as I write. If that seems catty, it's only my jealousy bubbling up to the surface.

Johnson is gorgeous even when playing nerdy, which is pretty much the entire movie. He goes from frumpy awkward teenager to lithe awkward superhero wannabe as he dons the wetsuit. Kick-Ass, the superhero character, never quite gets the superhero thing right, and that's part of his charm.

Big Daddy is played by the tamped-down version of Nicolas Cage (thankfully). You never know which Cage you'll get, and much depends on the director. When properly reigned in, Cage is awesome good fun to watch (Adaptation). When he isn't, things spin out of control (The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans). He's under control here, but just barely.

Christopher Mintz-Plasse, who charmed as the misguided teen paramour McLovin in his screen debut Superbad, does journeymen work in a role destined to be fleshed out in the sequel. He doesn't have much to do but count his money until Kick-Ass II gets green-lighted.

That brings me to the real star of Kick-Ass, and the reason to see the movie: Moretz steals the film from the moment she takes the screen. Whether she's a pigtailed little girl named Mindy who teases her dad by asking for a puppy instead of a bazooka for her birthday or is bouncing around the screen as Hit Girl offing bad guys three times her size in fantastically creative ways, you can't take your eyes off her. Moretz is a gifted young actor, physically and emotionally, and she is lovely. Let's hope she's the next Natalie Portman and not the next Lindsay Lohan.

The fight scenes are great fun with expert and creative choreography, the story is simple and familiar with enough of a twist that it feels fresh, and the actors are great. Kick-Ass is the most fun I've had watching a movie all year.


Epic Warlords fights a losing battle
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN Contributing Writer

The Warlords
Opening April 16


I feel like I saw Peter Chan's The Warlords ages ago. Granted, the first time I came across the picture was during the 2008 Seattle International Film Festival, so I guess you could say that feeling is more or less true. The Chinese war epic has taken what seems like an eternity to reach domestic theatres, with Magnet Releasing finally taking a chance on the picture and giving it a limited release before shuffling it off to Blu-ray and DVD later this year.

To be honest, it's easy to see why it has taken so long for the film to see the light of day. Although Jet Li gives a strong and stirring performance as central figure general Pang Qingyun, and while a few of the epic battle sequences - most notably the half-hour-long blockade of Suzhou City and the early assault on Shi City - are downright extraordinary, the melodramatics at the center of it all range from banal to outright silly. What should be a massive WWII-style war-is-hell allegory instead devolves into an absurdly turgid love triangle that barely kept my attention.

The basic plot is set during the Taiping Rebellion and revolves around Qing Dynasty General Pang, the sole survivor of a massive bloodbath. Traumatized, he's rescued by lovely peasant Lian (Xu Jinglei), who gives him back his resolve as his thirst for vengeance grows.

Through her he is led to bandit leader Zhao Erhu (Andy Lau) and his trusted sidekick Jiang Wuyang (Takeshi Kaneshiro). After he saves Zhao's life, Pang forms a brotherly bond with the two warriors, and the trio ultimately engages in a battle to support the government in a somewhat secret endeavor and for revenge on the rival general responsible for the earlier massacre.

All this is just fine, but director Peter Chan handles it all with a dour solemnity that quickly becomes tiresome. Additionally, other than the finely crafted character he's handed Li to play, the remainder of the cast are all stuck playing two-dimensional caricatures. Even the usually reliable Kaneshiro looks particularly lost as he tries to make the most of things.

On the plus side, the battle sequences are truly sensational. Noted Hong Kong action impresario Ching Siu-tung (The Curse of the Golden Flower, House of Flying Daggers) simply outdoes himself here - one set piece involving some cannons is beyond stunning. There is a dug-in, gritty realism to the sieges that is emotionally devastating, and the human price of the conflict is a bloodstained tragedy that's beyond belief.

But ultimately, none of this ends up mattering. The love story involving Pang, Lian, and Zhao is annoying and would be a better fit in a Harlequin romance. The political machinations at the heart of all the military conflict is also never explored as fully as they should be, and it feels as if large parts of the narrative have been excised for no apparent reason. A lot of the film has the aura of being peculiarly unfinished, and part of me can't help but wonder why Chan would bother hinting at so much if he wasn't even going to take the time to delve into all the goings-on with greater detail.

I wish I liked The Warlords more than I do. Li really does give one of his very best performances, and some of the battle sequences are certainly extraordinary. But the plot is a messy canvas of melodrama and political imbroglio that doesn't make the grade, and while less is usually more in striving for brevity, coherence is the biggest victim laid to waste on Chan's cinematic battlefield.









 
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