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Panic Room [Italia] [Blu-ray]
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Meg Altman e sua figlia Sarah sono costrette a nascondersi in una stanza segreta (completa di acqua, cibo e un sistema di telecamere a circuito chiuso) all'interno della loro casa di New York, per difendersi dall'intrusione di tre uomini alla ricerca di una somma di denaro occultata all'interno della casa. Il guaio è che ciò che i ladri vogliono è nascosto proprio all'interno della 'camera nascosta'
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There is much that can be considered to be quite contrived. For example her daughter who goes into diabetic shock if she doesn't get her emergency injection. Or the typical scene where her ex shows up to try to rescue them. I could go on but those are two examples that remain in my mind. Even the ending is rather anticlimactic in light of what was viewed.
So why watch this if the plot relies on clichés? As Fincher proved in his numerous works he is a master of setting up some very good camera shots and "impossible" camera moves. And while it's all the more obvious that he's relying upon CGI (the shot of the flashlight within the wiring conduit is a prime example of overuse) some are just simply very interesting to view. Such as the opening traveling shot which is essentially a tour of the house. The camera appears to float around from upstairs to downstairs and even pass through the handle of a coffee mug in one unbroken take and is fairly seamless until it "passes through" the floors. The opening credits deserve a quick mention as the titles are laid out among the buildings of New York and perfectly rendered in a silvery font and casting shadows across the cityscape as through they're part of the landscape. It's an attempt at style attempting to cover up the lack of substance, though. It's still neat to view.
The acting is top notch from all involved. The standout is Dwight Yoakam's character who elevates the stakes as a psychotic killer who doesn't mind killing off one of his crew in cold blood. Forrest Whittaker holds his own as he tries to keep the situation from spiraling further out of control as the leader of the burglary gang. And I have no complaints about Jodie Foster's performance. It doesn't come close to her role in "Silence Of The Lambs" but it's still serviceable.
But why the high rating? The three-disc special edition is something worth savoring for anyone who wants to know more about David Fincher and his crew's creative process. Much is revealed as to the use of CGI, the location shooting, sound design and much more. From top to bottom this is one of the most detailed documents of how the movie was put together. Compared to the two-disc edition of "SE7EN" this is even more detailed. The multiple feature commentaries are good but the special features spread across two additional discs are by far more in-depth. Compared to the 2-disc special editions of "Fight Club", "Zodiac" and even "Benjamin Button" I have a feeling that the need to overcompensate was mandatory for a rather average thriller.
So it's an average movie just chock full of neo-noir eye candy. There are much worse "thrillers" out there so it could've been much worse. But the extensive features concerning the filmmaking process are worth viewing. Compared to the original single-disc SuperBit release it's an improvement. If you're a film geek then this is worth a purchase. Everyone else should stick with the single-disc release.
The most important thing was that it instantly pulled me in and took me for a ride for the entire two hours. That does not happen often, particularly for a film that I was late seeing and about which I therefore had tons of preconceived notions. I was pleased with how well they established the basic premise of the film at the beginning, something that had seemed silly in the trailers was perfectly credible in the actual film. The $95 Million U.S. box office must have happened from word-of-mouth because the trailer simply does not do the film justice.
There were only minor plot holes, although the lame way that Meg and her daughter initially get into the panic room almost derails the whole thing. And I still find it inconceivable that $48 Million had to be spent on what is really a very small film. Since so little of the budget ever makes it onto the screen they would have been better served with the creative incentive of a smaller budget.
Nicole Kidman was originally cast to play Meg but hurt her knee and had to drop out. I don't think they lost anything by bringing in Jodie Foster, I can't imagine Kidman doing any better, Meg's kind of brainy stubborn scrapper is Foster's specialty. And she is much better from a physical casting perspective, as Kristen Stewart looks like she could actually be Foster's daughter. In fact, there were more that a few times when I momentarily got the two of them confused. This was very appropriate because "Panic Room's" heroines are not the usual film-fare mother and daughter (one strong and one weak), but rather a "like mother-like daughter" situation. I think Stewart has a great future in films (see "Speak" for a example of her ability to carry a whole feature) and it was nice that she got a chance so early in her career to work closely with Foster.
I was particularly impressed with the pacing of this story and its similarity to chess masters hiding one line of attack inside another. The battle progresses much like a chess match, as pieces are lost the layout becomes less familiar and the alternatives fewer. As the two sides use up resources and get sucked in deeper, their earlier choices limit the choices that are available to them. This chess-like process holds until the very end of the film.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.