Panic Room offers a seamless integration of computer generated images into a film which is very grounded in the here and now.

What the films lacks in heart, it makes up for in beautiful cinematography, stunning camera work and beatiful set design.

Directed by David Fincher, the film bears a strong resemblance to his last film, Fight Club. In both films Fincher’s usage of CGI offers a stunning view of reality that can only be described as gorgeous.

Surpassing the “Ikea” scene from Fight Club, Fincher moves through the 4 story brownstone where the story takes place with a grace that could only be accomplished with CGI. The camera becomes an ethereal eye floating through space and the handle of a coffee pot.

The downside of this film is the fact that its most remarkable aspect is the cinematography.

The acting isn’t limited by the talent in the film ? Jodie Foster, playing Meg Altman, and Forest Whitaker, playing Burnham, give stellar performances. The problem lies in a mediocre script that never really clicks or acheives much depth of character.

Short expo, flat characters

The David Koepp’s script spends very little time introducing Meg and her daughter Sarah (Kristen Stewart) and jumps right into the body of the film.

He tries to handle the exposition and development of the characters simultaneously as the film progressizes, so the audience learns of the burglars motivations, and other personal details slowly as the movie progresses.

Its a neat method of exposition and has huge amounts of potential. Unfortunately, this potential isn’t realized by Koepp’s script and with the exception of Foster and Whitaker, the characters are left exceptionally flat.

Junior, played by Jarod Leto, comes across as whiney and generally unpleasant.

While this characterization is accurate, there lacks depth and his greed doesn’t seem to be enough motivation.

Raoul (Dwight Yoakam) is given an intentionally silly name and is never developed at all. You’re left with the feeling that the script had some explanation of his motivations but that it was left on the cutting room floor.

The most developed character, Burnham (Forest Whitaker) shows the potential that the film had and should have achieved.

It is ambigous whether he is an antagonist or a protagonist, but in the end one can’t help but feel some pity for him ? even if he is responsible for his own actions.

Panic Room is definately a movie worth seeing, but the intimate thriller should be just as entertaining on the small screen as the big one.

If you can catch it in the theater, great. Otherwise just wait for it on video. It’s worth renting.

Paris is reached at tparis@campustimes.org.



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