Gavin Polone

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Premium Rush Review


Good
Director-cowriter Koepp fills this film with so many whizzy visual flourishes that we might not notice that the plot itself is utterly ridiculous. But as we laugh at every inane twist and turn, the energy is infections as the camera seems to fly right through busy New York City traffic as if we're riding the bicycle right along with the characters, seeing every potential danger spot from their perspective. And it's an adrenaline-pumping ride.

Our hero is Wilee (Gordon-Levitt), who gave up his law studies to become a daredevil courier who believes brakes are for sissies. So it doesn't seem too much to accept a job to carry an envelope for a friend (Chung) from one end of Manhattan to the other. But he's immediately accosted by frazzled cop Bobby (Shannon), who so desperately wants to get his hands on that envelope that we think his buggy eyes might explode. But Wilee is a clever biker determined to do his job, and as the cat-and-mouse chase travels down through the city, drawing in a tenacious bicycle cop (Tveit) and some nasty gangsters, Wilee gets help from his colleagues (Ramirez and Parks).

Continue reading: Premium Rush Review

Zombieland Review


Very Good
A sharply clever script and relentlessly kinetic structure keep us thoroughly entertained all the way through this corny zombie action-comedy. Although there's also the gnawing realisation that there's absolutely no subtext at all.

Zombies have taken over America and the few remaining humans are fending for their lives. Names are irrelevant, so they use their hometowns: Columbus (Eisenberg) is a resourceful nerd who teams up with bonkers fighter Tallahassee (Harrelson) to try to find someone else who's alive. They run into two con-artist sisters, Wichita and Little Rock (Stone and Breslin), and set off on a perilous cross-country journey to find the last enclave of humanity. Not only are they attacked at every turn by the snarling, toothy undead, but they don't really trust each other.

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Ghost Town Review


Weak

If you want to make money, you go to David Koepp. Three of the 20 films he has written are on the top 25 highest-grossing American box office list and another two show up in the top 100. The man makes hits and, most of the time anyways, they are well-written and focused scripts that attempt to keep exposition to a minimum. These are the traits of a very talented screenwriter... but unfortunately they do not necessarily translate into a positive resume for a feature film director.

Ghost Town is Koepp's fourth film as a director and it is the first film to feature UK comedian Ricky Gervais in a starring role. It tells the story of a dentist named Bertram Pincus (Gervais) who wakes from a friendly colonoscopy with the ability to see and hear the dead. It is inferred that this Shyamalanian gift was caused by a seven-minute interval during his operation where he died due to a two-strikes-already anesthesiologist. Ghosts of every color and creed begin hassling the chronically-introverted Pincus for favors, the leader of which seems to be Frank (Greg Kinnear).

A tux-donning victim of a high-speed Manhattan bus, Frank promises to get the other ghosts to leave if Bertram will help him derail his widow's pending nuptials. Turns out Frank's widow, Gwen (Téa Leoni), has been snubbed by Pincus on a dozen occasions (they live in the same apartment building), and her fiancé (Billy Campbell) is a civil-rights attorney. Not the easiest assignment for Pincus. But when the dentist helps crack the autopsy of a long-dead Egyptian king that Gwen is studying, she invites him to dinner, Pincus makes her laugh, and the end is already in sight. Morals are dished out on the side when Pincus agrees to help some other ghosts settle their unfinished business and there's also some stuff about "a life lived for others" passed on by a fellow dentist (Aasif Mandvi).

Much like the recent Hamlet 2, most of the film's success rides on the comic inventiveness of its star, and in this he is given little support from his director/screenwriter. At first, Gervais seems completely up to the task, employing the cracker-dry wit that made him such a phenomenon on the BBC version of The Office, the show he created and wrote with partner Stephen Merchant. There is a bright moment of hope as he has a particularly sharp exchange with Kristen Wiig of Saturday Night Live fame, who plays his surgeon. But then he script quickly shifts into standard operating procedure and comedy is swallowed by template.

Ghost Town has a smidgen more class than most contemporary romantic comedies but it is seemingly unaware of its strengths. Gervais' interplay with Leoni has a brisk charm to it but it seems too-often rushed and stuffed with jokes about dog poop, Chinese names, and naked ghosts, all of which seem out of place and drawn out. Egregiously over-sentimentalized, the last 30 minutes of the film rush through a half-dozen major conflicts in a mad dash to build to a predictable emotional climax. It's a total con and it sells Gervais' tremendous abilities up the river. Koepp's talents at structure falter slightly here, adding a few too many storylines than he seems capable of handling. Will Ghost Town make money? Probably, but it's the kind of film that gives box-office rankings a bad name.

My sinuses....

Primeval Review


Bad
If there was ever a film that was so awful it practically begged for the resurrection of the cult TV show Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (or MST3K), where geeks made fun of films while watching them, it's Primeval. Not only is this killer croc flop not frightening, it's insultingly stupid. The plot is a flimsy mishmash of every nature-run-amok and adventure-in-Africa film of the past 50 years, and there are sequences that feel so old -- so moth-eaten -- that I expected a man in a gorilla suit to appear and carry off the leading (white) lady.

So, this killer crocodile, with the absurd handle of Gustave, is munching on Africans in war-torn Burundi. And he's like super hungry. Given that he can live to 100 years and eats hundreds of people a year, the croc's a one-lizard population safeguard. Unfortunately for the villagers who live in fear of this monster, there's another Gustave in the bush: Little Gustave, a nasty decapitating warlord. (His name is a great example of Hollywood slap-your-forehead allegory.) When an American news network sends in a television crew to film the capture of the croc, they run afoul of both the cold-blooded river beast and the hot-tempered warlord. Hysterics ensue.

Continue reading: Primeval Review

Panic Room Review


Excellent
It's Home Alone for grown-ups. And just like kids ate up Macaulay Culkin and his homebound adventure, Panic Room is a real (yet creepy) crowd-pleaser for adults.

David Fincher directs this long-awaited follow-up to his groundbreaking Fight Club, with Jodie Foster in her first lead role since 1999's Anna and the King. The story is deceptively simple: Imminent divorcee Meg (Foster) is gaining a boatload of a settlement and, with her bratty, diabetic daughter Sarah (newcomer Kristen Stewart), decides to buy a cavernous, four-story brownstone in Manhattan's upper west side. The night they move in, three burglars pay a visit, searching for an alleged $3 million hidden somewhere in the house. Meg and Sarah hightail it to the secret "panic room," an impenetrable safe room off the master bedroom - only to learn that the money is secreted inside the panic room as well. A game of cat and mouse ensues - only the mice are definitively trapped in one tiny room.

Continue reading: Panic Room Review

My Super Ex-Girlfriend Review


Good
To use relationship parlance, My Super Ex-Girlfriend is good for a one night stand. It won't be meeting the other DVDs in your family. When you see it on the cable stations, just nod and move on so no one gets hurt.

Alone and deprived of sex, New Yorker Matt (Luke Wilson) begins dating nebbish Jenny (Uma Thurman) hoping to get some frenzied lovemaking and little else. He gets more than that. Not only does he get a girlfriend, she's the city's savior. When not riding the subway and working at an art gallery, Jenny is G-Girl, the 21st century answer to Supergirl.

Continue reading: My Super Ex-Girlfriend Review

Little Manhattan Review


Excellent
In a year that has seen both Simpson sisters on screen, Scarlett Johansson in a Michael Bay movie, and Scotty from Boogie Nights playing Truman Capote, it's fitting that the forerunner for the feel-good movie of the year is Little Manhattan, a romantic comedy focusing on two grammar school students. What's surprising is that more people haven't heard of it. It's that good.

Gabe (Josh Hutcherson) is a 10-year-old kid whose life is, as he puts it, "very fulfilling," despite his parents' pending divorce. His summer days consist of basketball, video games, and hanging out with his friends. His decision to take karate is looked upon as just one more part of a life well-lived. That is until longtime schoolmate Rosemary Telesco (newcomer Charlie Ray) becomes his sparring partner.

Continue reading: Little Manhattan Review

Secret Window Review


Weak
Secret Window, the umpteenth film based on a Stephen King novella (Secret Window, Secret Garden), shares a striking resemblance to one of King's best films, Misery. This time around, the writer is held captive in his own home by an obsessed fan who insists he rewrite the ending to one of his novels. Sound familiar? After Window's first few scenes, it seems the film is destined to be a remix of its predecessor. Yet, what we ultimately receive in Window is a clear disappointment, not because it follows a familiar formula, but because it lacks the suspense and action so prevalent in King's novels.

The fan, John Shooter (John Turturro), believes novelist Mort Rainey (Johnny Depp) has plagiarized one of his novels. Shooter shows up at Rainey's rustic, upstate New York cabin ready to inflict whatever force necessary on Rainey until he admits to copying Shooter's work. Rainey is completely unprepared to deal with the situation. Rainey is struggling to come up with an idea for his latest novel and is dealing with the pain of his pending divorce to wife Amy (Maria Bello). When bad things start happening, Rainey immediately suspects Amy's home-wrecking boyfriend Ted (Timothy Hutton) could be the mastermind behind the madness. Rainey hires a private investigator (Charles S. Dutton) to sniff around the town, patrol his cabin at night, and conduct the investigative work Rainey himself is too lazy to do.

Continue reading: Secret Window Review

Stir Of Echoes Review


Very Good
Imagine a strange conflagration of The Sixth Sense and Close Encounters of the Third Kind and you might have an idea what Stir of Echoes is like. All in all, Echoes is a pretty capable horror/thriller. The story involves Bacon's blue-collar Chicagoan, who starts having visions of a dead girl shortly after being hypnotized at a party, but it's Zachary Cope that steals the show as the kid who also has the shining... While Kathryn Erbe is terribly miscast as Bacon's wife, don't be surprised if you have an urge to start digging after you watch this picture.

8mm Review


Weak
Looking to delve into the smarmy underbelly of hard-core porn, even snuff filmmaking? Well, 8MM isn't going to take you there. 8MM (Eight Millimeter) is something of a joke, and reports of how "disturbing" it is are highly overrated. As horror, 8MM didn't even give me a jump. As an over-the-top "think about this!" piece, 8MM is even less successful. Why? The film's premise (rich widow hires Cage, P.I., to investigate whether her husband's secreted snuff film is real or not) is wholly unbelievable because, as the audience, you know the film isn't real. The dead girl has a credit at the end, for God's sake!

Continue reading: 8mm Review

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Gavin Polone Movies

Premium Rush Movie Review

Premium Rush Movie Review

Director-cowriter Koepp fills this film with so many whizzy visual flourishes that we might not...

Zombieland Movie Review

Zombieland Movie Review

A sharply clever script and relentlessly kinetic structure keep us thoroughly entertained all the way...

Ghost Town Movie Review

Ghost Town Movie Review

If you want to make money, you go to David Koepp. Three of the 20...

Primeval Movie Review

Primeval Movie Review

If there was ever a film that was so awful it practically begged for the...

My Super Ex-Girlfriend Movie Review

My Super Ex-Girlfriend Movie Review

To use relationship parlance, My Super Ex-Girlfriend is good for a one night stand. It...

Advertisement
Little Manhattan Movie Review

Little Manhattan Movie Review

In a year that has seen both Simpson sisters on screen, Scarlett Johansson in a...

Secret Window Movie Review

Secret Window Movie Review

Secret Window, the umpteenth film based on a Stephen King novella (Secret Window, Secret Garden),...

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