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Editor's rating: 
 4.0
Friday, 19 September 2008 ,  Written by Bill Warren
Ghost Town (2008)
Screenwriter David Koepp (many for Spielberg) occasionally tries his hand at directing, usually with mediocre results—“A Stir of Echoes,” “Secret Window”—but with “Ghost Town” he finally scores. This romantic comedy, with ghosts, is understated, well-made and occasionally hilarious. Koepp’s comic timing and dialogue (he co-wrote with John Kamps) are expert and intelligent; he even stops a comic scene on a dime, immediately making it wistful and poignant with just one word (“disloyal”). Maybe Koepp should have been doing quiet comedies all along. Or maybe he just needed to work with Ricky Gervais, the star of “Ghost Town.” The town in question is New York. As the movie opens, we meet self-satisfied Frank Herlihy (Greg Kinnear), walking in downtown Manhattan, talking on his ever-present Blackberry. As he’s in the midst of keeping his wife from finding out he’s setting up a love ...
Editor's rating: 
 3.5
Friday, 12 September 2008 ,  Written by Bill Warren
Though arriving with some negative advance buzz, “The Women” turns out to be a pleasing, star-laden comedy, not a major winner, but worth seeing. It stumbles along the way, mostly due to Diane English’s inexperience as a movie director—this is her first outing—and her long experience in television (she created and ran “Murphy Brown”). Too often scenes play like those in sitcoms, with acting a shade too broad, and setups and payoff punch lines. Sometimes, even the skilled actresses here seem a little amateurish—startling when it’s Annette Bening—but that’s probably due to English’s inexperience with movie acting, too. But it’s a warm, good-hearted movie that leaves you feeling glad you saw it. It’s based on Clare Boothe Luce’s 1936 play and the 1939 movie, adapted from the play by Anita Loos and Jane Murfin. That movie is a classic, with top-notch ...
Editor's rating: 
 3.5
Wednesday, 13 August 2008 ,  Written by Bill Warren
“Tropic Thunder” is a great idea for an action comedy that, unfortunately, is given only good, not great, treatment. Ben Stiller directs for the first time since “Zoolander,” and as with that half-baked movie, shows a lot more skill in front of the camera than he does behind it. The movie has a half-assed pace—sometimes brisk, sometimes plodding—and doesn’t really bother with much characterization. It also leaves some questions—like what happens to Nick Nolte? It opens with a few amusing bogus trailers. Tugg Speedman (Stiller) is a major action star who had a big hit with “Scorcher,” which was followed by a string of declining sequels. Hoping to win an Oscar, he tackles a “demanding” role—a mentally-deficient farm worker in a movie called “Simple Jack.” But it was a bomb. Meanwhile, Australian super-duper actor and multiple Oscar winner Kirk Lazarus (Robert ...
Editor's rating: 
 1.5
Friday, 01 August 2008 ,  Written by Bill Warren
In 1999, director Stephen Sommers transformed the rough plot of the 1932 horror classic “The Mummy” into a giant, effects-laden, action-packed and pretty dopey adventure film. It was entertaining enough, but the 2001 sequel, “The Mummy Returns” was a disaster. With another director-Rob Cohen-at the helm, and a screenplay by writing team Alfred Gough and Miles Millar (“Smallville,” mostly), there seemed a chance that “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” might be big if silly fun like “The Mummy.” Alas, it's more like “The Mummy Returns.” It charges along at a frantic rate, covering ground (England, Shanghai, the interior of China, the Himalayas), tossing in another action sequence whenever the cast begins talking too much. Trouble is the talk is lame and the action scenes are among the worst shot and edited in movie history. Each sequence consists of ...
Editor's rating: 
 4.5
Friday, 18 July 2008 ,  Written by Bill Warren
“The Dark Knight” is more than just the latest superhero movie, more even than the newest Batman movie—it takes the superhero movie is a different direction. Here, though there are many stunning action sequences, including a showstopper chase scene late in the film, the emphasis is on the characters and their relationships. The movie is still stylized, still taking place in a world other than ours, but it’s more involving, more a real drama than most such films. The movie is unusually detailed, with at least five strong central characters. It covers a lot of ground emotionally and in terms of events. It’s complex in the character relationships and in terms of action—and I haven’t even mentioned Batman’s activities in Hong Kong. The production values are strong—with this budget, they’d damned well be—and it’s a great-looking movie. Six sequences were shot ...
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