*** Official "PANIC ROOM" Review Thread

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Robert Crawford, Mar 28, 2002.

  1. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator

    Dec 9, 1998
    Likes Received:
    Real Name:
    This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "Panic Room". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.
    Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!
    If you need to discuss those type of issues, I have designated an Official Discussion Thread which can be found at this link.
  2. L. Anton Dencklau

    L. Anton Dencklau Second Unit

    Mar 23, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Security. What is it and how do we achieve it? What does it take to penetrate your "security zone"? Panic Room does not solve these questions. And really, it doesn't matter that it doesn't since it delivers something else worth the ticket price: a good, old-fashioned "tie the lady to the railroad tracks" thriller.
    {traditional review ettiquette suggests a plot synopsis goes here. You probably already know the plot so...}
    Since this movie is an excercise in style rather than a cerebral discourse a la Seven or Fight Club, Director David Fincher elects to push the visual side of things to their limits: lots of cool lighting, quick camera moves, and impressive special effects that fly us around the entire house. I especially like the way that the camera lingers on items in the first reel (a cell phone, bottles of water, eyeglasses) which may or may not come into play later. Remember the shot of the swiss army knife at the beginning of Cast Away? Sort of like that. Fincher also has a history of superlative title sequences and manages to put something in here that, while not as amazing as his earlier work, provides an effective opening.
    The brief setup is effective preparation for the volleying between pursuers and prey that makes up the bulk of the film. In a way it is almost like a sports match, although the stakes are (obviously) higher. The back and forth nature of the action would not be nearly as effective without the solid performances turned in by Jodie Foster, Forrest Whittaker, and surprisingly Dwight Yoakum. He does a great slow burn with the character that manages to be terrifying as the action progresses.
    There's a lot to like about Panic Room, even if the plot doesn't mark it as a major statement in the Fincher catalog. (I know in my teenage years, I would have put up more of a fight against living in a house where I was on camera 24/7.) But really, I think in this movie a stronger plot would have simply been watering the soup since the action is why we are there, popcorn in hand, rooting for the heroine.
    --postscript: I have tried to avoid spoilers in the review, but this is the kind of movie that people Love to spoil for others... If you're concerned about secrets, get to a theater before someone else ruins it for you.
    Also one observation: early in the movie, Foster's character says "I'm going back to school. Columbia." The movie is distributed by Sony (Columbia Pictures) Ha Ha.
  3. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator

    Jun 30, 1999
    Likes Received:
    (Most of these comments I made in the discussion thread, but they are apropriate here as well):
    The audience I saw this film was totally into the film. They laughed at the right spots, and gasped at the right times as well.
    It's a very dark humor film (I was LOL in many places). True, the plot does have a "Home Along" quality to it, and the daughter does even look a little like Macauley Culkin. [​IMG]
    It's not a great film, but fun to see high caliber actors in B-movie vehicles. They add a polish to the film that B-movie actors can't provide.
    Finch's camera does go nuts in the 1st half of the film while going all over the house, up and down, all around through fancy zooms and pull backs. Some of the style got a little heavy, but still fun to watch and take in as a film-making exercise.
    Some of the "when a robbery goes bad" dialog between the 3 bad guys is simply a hoot. Whatever you're thinking, the characters will wind up saying, to much guffaws and nervous laughter. What you might think of doing in the situation does get done by the characters, but some of still managed to surprise me. So the script isn't entirely silly or banal.
    Jodie Foster wasn't "challenged" too much, but she did manage to provide some character changes within the framework of the film. The rest of the cast did their jobs very well. Jared Leto and his cornrows were menacing! The 3rd bad guy was pretty creepy. Forrest Whitaker did what he could with his character, though I would have like to have seen a harder edge for his character.
    I give it a grade of B or 3 stars.
  4. Ryan Peter

    Ryan Peter Screenwriter

    Sep 15, 1999
    Likes Received:
    I might as well review the film... caught it at the super bargain rate. Don't read it if you haven't seen the movie, needless to say I highly recommend the film.

    "Panic Room" resists the temptation that most movies give into today, it doesn't go overboard trying to thrill the audience. In fact, it could be described as the opposite of Fincher's early film "The Game" in terms of realism. The movie is extremely realistic, it seeks to be and doesn't violate its own rules. To paraphrase Ebert's review, once you figure out that it won't violate the rules, the suspense builds.

    Another great thing about the film is the ending as well. The character's stay true to their character. They don't leap out of movie and pull some manuever that none of us would dream of doing (such as somehow helping that black guy escape). The movie is very grounded, and in this respect those who hated Fight Club's ending will be happy.

    What I really enjoyed about the film is that we could put ourselves into both sides of the team. Especially Bernham and the mom. But also the periphial characters as well. When the rich character says "Why didn't we do that??" the audience is thinking the same thing. Bernham and the mom seek to protect the daughter. One of the bad guys is actually a good guy.

    Jared Leto is really good in this too. He's a great actor and bound to get nomination at some point. Foster is *perfect* in this movie. I can't imagine Nicole Kidman showing the toughness and the anger like Jodie does, but I'm sure Nicole would have been great too.
  5. John Yacka

    John Yacka Auditioning

    Jan 5, 1999
    Likes Received:
    A couple thoughts on Panic Room:

    The opening titles are some of the coolest I've seen. They are both beautiful and strange. I wish all movies would give as decent a two minutes as this one, most just pop up titles on a black screen or during meaningless opening scenes...

    I thought the film was very suspenseful. Jodie Foster was great, I couldn't imagine Nicole Kidman being as effective. Jodie comes off as so intelligent, and she is very believable in her battle of wits with Forrest. She really carries the film.

    The movie looks great. Lots of eye candy for Fincher fans. The swooping shots in the trailer are mostly early and really give you a good sense of the layout of the home. They end up being very useful as opposed to just for show.

    Overall, me and the wife thought it was great. Obviously much more simple than Fight Club, but very entertaining. Go see it, you will be entertained. 3.5 out of 4.

    - John
  6. Phil Jones

    Phil Jones Auditioning

    Feb 28, 1999
    Likes Received:
    *very slight spoiler*
    I loved Panic Room.
    Two things:
    * Foster's body looked *fabulous*. There was one shot that I thought was included just so we could see more of her cleavage. I almost laughed out loud! [​IMG]
    * how do you think the cop knew what he did? I didn't see anything in her appearance that would have suggested anything going on... did I miss something, or was he just a *very* observant guy?
  7. Jeremiah

    Jeremiah Screenwriter

    Jun 22, 2001
    Likes Received:
    I saw "Panic Room" earlier today and I thought it was a very good suspensfull movie, it also had some funny moments. Fincher had that camera going everywhere which I liked, and the opening credits were pretty sweet.

    Not too complicated like Finchers other movies but worth the money, I will buy the DVD.

    What other movies has that daughter been in? She looked familier.
  8. Jeremy Allin

    Jeremy Allin Supporting Actor

    Oct 6, 2001
    Likes Received:
    I too thought the opening credits were amazing - very unique.

    Overall, a fine movie. Nothing too special but I thoroughly enjoyed all the nifty camera trickery (the shot entering the keyhole just as a key was inserted on the other side was particularly cool).

  9. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

    Oct 26, 1998
    Likes Received:
    Even thrillers can be subjective.
    Panic Room is an effective and solid thriller mainly because of David Fincher’s direction and visual style and the acting by its main principals including Jodie Foster, Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto , Dwight Yoakam, and Kristen Stewart. David Koepp, who also wrote the screenplay for Mission Impossible, keeps the story simple and to the point on this one.
    David Fincher skillfully captures the tone and mood of the thriller genre. The camera work is very impressive especially in one scene that showed the entry points into the house in what looked like one long tracking shot. The cinematography is equally impressive.
    The film doesn’t waste time and gets into the action within the first twenty minutes. It is also tightly edited and I can think of very few scenes that were unnecessary. The film held my attention throughout its 108-minute running time.
    Panic Room is one of the better thrillers I have seen in quite sometime. It rates [​IMG] (out of four)
  10. Travis D

    Travis D Second Unit

    Feb 15, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Did anyone else see the sunflare blocking the DOP credit a bit? I laughed some and I know people thought I was crazy.
    (Spoilers abound)
    AS for the film I must say I was not disappointed. Fincher lays out the ground work in the beginning by flying around "the playing field" as it were. Setting up a 3 floor building, in the dark, to an audience is not an easy task for a director, but he seems to have nailed it. And when the movie gets more serious toward the end so does Fincher. He cuts the swooping eye-candy and starts to craft around the characters.
    The characters themselves also fall into the realm of Fincher's mold. The truest form of Meg and her daughter, I felt, was the scene in which Sarah says "fuck 'em" in reference to her cheating father. The reaction Jodie gives is so honest. Junior, Raoul, and Burnam are the icing though. Leto is perfect as the fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants douchebag that the story needs him to be so you can root for his ass to be burned, but also not a ruthless person so you feel sorry when he is murdered by Raoul.
    My absolute favorite moment (and I don't know if it was intended to get this reaction) is when the camera goes to Junior's dead feet, stays for a couple of seconds, and he doesn't get up. It felt as if Fincher said, "Yeah, I'm gonna bring him back..... [​IMG] Fuck You and your presumptions. You saw him get shot in the head for Pete's sake! This fucker is dead!"
    Like I said, I doubt it was meant for that, but I love it all the same.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] /[​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  11. Nick Graham

    Nick Graham Screenwriter

    Oct 16, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Travis, I chuckled at the shot of Junior's feet as well, and almost whispered to my wife "HE's ALIIIIVE!" before Fincher thankfully cut right back away, saving us from a cliche that would have killed the movie entirely. As for the question about how the cop knew to come back, you've got me, although in the end when Burnham hears Foster scream from outside, he's a decent ways out, so maybe Fincher figures we'll think the neighbors heard it too. BTW, anybody else find the age of Foster's ex a little creepy? That guy could have been her dad! Did her character Anna Nicole Smith him or something?
  12. David Oliver

    David Oliver Second Unit

    Apr 12, 1999
    Likes Received:
    I guess I get to be the first to say what a huge disappointment this movie was. The problem is strictly in the dumb story and the dumb people. I could recite a laundry list of things that I simply was shaking my head over in this movie, but I think that is better left for the Discussion thread. The direction was very good, nice style,although a few times it seemd like FIncher was trying to out FIncher himself, but the dierction was very good in setting tone, mood, pacing, etc. The acting, as could be expected is very good as well. And I guess the movie is suspenseful, but just way too many times, I was, "But..." "why?" "C'mon!" Just some ridiculous stuff. I was really expecting a lot, since I thoroughly enjoyed FIncher's olther movies, it is a real shame that he decided to waste his time and skill on this ridiculous story.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] out of [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  13. Ron Ryder

    Ron Ryder Auditioning

    Mar 29, 2002
    Likes Received:
    I saw this yesterday and thought it was just really magnificant. A great cast, combined with a truly visionary director, and you get a great film.

  14. JohnS

    JohnS Producer

    Jan 17, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Real Name:
    John Steffens
    Panic Room
    Another Fincher winner!
    First to start off, the opening titles were creative, stylish and just plain neat, with a slight creepiness to them.
    Jodie Foster did a pretty good job. She really looks good in the clunky glasses.
    Fincher uses great camera work, especially when he's showing all enterence levels and floors of the brownstone.
    He zooms along, like your in a roller coaster zooming along the track then takes you on all the turns.
    He slows up again, to only take you on more of a ride.
    The story's great, with good tension and suspense.
    The three burglars(Leto, Whitaker and Yokem) all played great parts.
    But here is where the story could have been SO much better.
    First, Whitaker's character almost seems to readable right away. His character gives off too much character(you seem to know what he will do in the end)
    Second, Jodie Foster's character is believed to be claustrophobic(spelling?) They dwell on it in the begining, but don't seem to dive into it that much.
    Showing more of her fear, would have made great fear and tension.
    Last, I would have liked it if what they were looking for in the panic room, wasn't there to begin with, or you never find out what that thing is.
    I guess I was hoping for some kind of surprise or cliffhanger.
    All in all, a great thriller. But it was lacking little things from being a four star film.
  15. Martice

    Martice Screenwriter

    Jan 20, 2001
    Likes Received:
  16. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Lead Actor

    Aug 6, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Northern Virginia
    Real Name:
    Chuck Mayer
    This was my second most anticipated movie of the year, and would have been the first if not for the continuation of some pesky JRRT/PJ trilogy.
    Ever since I became a movie fan, I quickly learned to follow the filmmakers over the "stars." I had better luck that way with the end results. I have recently learned there are a few actors worth watching as well, but usually more for their script-reading skills than their acting ones.
    When I started this theory, David Fincher was my first man to avoid. He ruined Alien3, for pete's sake! At least, that's what I thought when I was a senior in HS. Fortunately, NL sucked it up, and gave him Se7en, to good reviews, and great word of mouth. So I saw it, didn't remember his name, and Se7en is Se7en. I just missed the game in theaters, but it was quite solid when I saw it. Move forward to 1999. Fight Club. I had read about it (underground boxing clubs...could be interesting), but the initial trailer turned me off. But as the ads rolled right before it's release, it looked cool. So, on October 16, me and my brother in law checked it out. My impression of it, as it is very hard to grasp on a first viewing, especially if you don't know what you are getting into, was not unlike getting a live wire stuck right into your brain. I didn't know what to think, except that I had to see it again. The second viewing sealed it. David Fincher was really DAVID FINCHER.
    So, with great excitement, I learned he had a new movie with Nicole Kidman Jodie Foster. My college buddies used to make fun of my complete adoration of Jodie Foster. They'd discuss Jenny McCarthy, etc and I had pictures of Jodie everywhere. Enough said on her[​IMG] So, my favorite actress and my favorite director! But how does David Fincher follow up Fight Club? With a Hitchcockian suspense thriller? Even better, with a crowd-pleaser? In the end, I enjoyed the ads that touted this film: From the visionary director of Fight Club...
    Panic Room is a good film. Panic Room is a great movie, a great thriller, and something you'll watch with friends in the years to come. It's not Se7en or Fight Club, but it's new for Fincher, and it's better than most of the trash we are peddled[​IMG] As stated, the script is lean, the camerawork is beautiful, the performances are all great, and Jodie looks incredible (and creates A LOT out of very little)! Based on my viewing, DF manipulates the audiences as effectively as he does the camera, and it is a great ride.
    As for believeability on certain scenes, the old toad ACTUALLY divorces Jodie Foster for a skank model in NY. If I can believe that, I can believe anything. But, more importantly, the director is smarter than the script and the audience, so we are left playing catch up with an average story. It is nice to see a movie about intelligent people making informed decisions in uncommon situations.
    If I haven't gushed enough about DF, the man showedthe most respected actress in Hollywood, a two-time Academy Award Winner and director herself, taking a leak. That's trust. Who else would Jodie do that for??
    Enough said. The more I think about it, the more I like it. It may not be remembered as long as Fight Club or Se7en, but it's a different animal than those films. And a very worthwhile trip to the theaters.
    3.5/4.0 (or 9/10 for my 2002 list - also coming soon)
    Take care,
  17. Bruce Hedtke

    Bruce Hedtke Cinematographer

    Jul 11, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Panic Room was a bold step for a director who is best known for duping the audience into one realm of thinking and then shattering their notions with an unforseeable ending. Indeed, this was almost an anti-Fincher film as the happy ending alone would suggest. So, did Fincher just decide to make a standardized film or did the story run out of material and force him to? Probably the former as I don't see Fincher as the kind of director who would try to film an unconcluded story. So, it was in fact, a bold step. And a welcome one, at that. If Panic Room does one thing, it concretes the presumption that David Fincher can make a masterpiece in whatever genre he wishes to work in.
    A strong, tightly paced film that kept the audience tuned into every breath, every moment of realization. When Jody Foster has an idea, it's as if the viewer is able to go "Yes, that's what I would have done". Those thoughts enter your mind in real-time, as they play out on the screen. There is hardly a waste of film. Every nuance, every detail is nailed. Fincher crafts the film like a fine painter might craft a Van Gogh replica...spotless and keen to the respect it deserves. Indeed, the story and the pacing and the settings take so much precedence that the actors could have been cardboard cut-outs and I wouldn't have noticed. Fincher doesn't draw the conclusions in black and white or manipulate you into predetermination, but you end up at his mercy all the same. Point blank: this thriller was concise and believable. For every action there was a reaction and it all fit. It worked.
    I won't dismiss the acting in any form. Forest Whitaker is superb. Throughout the film, he lends himself as the poor shlub who got caught up in something that was over his head. In the end, that dedication pays off because I found myself rooting for him-that he would get away clean. His arrest is a sad moment. As for Kristen Stewart, though she really wasn't given enough to do, was also excellent. Her young girlish fear and stubborness were clear and upfront and really rooted the story in being believable. Jody Foster was workman-like but at just the right moments was terrifically emotional and strong. The suprise was Dwight Yoakam. Truly menacing and downright viscious, he was the glue that kept the story from drifting away from a taught thriller into something ho-hum or hokey. You knew Forest was too nice and Leto was too stupid to really be scary...but Yoakam (Raoul)...you could never put your finger on him. Was he nothing more than a mindless thug who would shoot first and ask questions later...or was he a cold, calculating killer who was ruthlessly efficient at making sure there were no loose ends? I am still wondering about that very thing.
    Overall, the snappy pacing and terrific settings and story would make for a very good film. The careful hand of David Fincher and his vision and style raise it to a level of masterpiece.
    Panic Room [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  18. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

    Jan 23, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Panic Room - This movie is one big 90 minute pressure cooker. The plot is what you've seen in the trailers, and it gets right down to business. Even so, there is a fair amount of character development. There is humor, some violence, and a whole mess of suspence. The movie has a few plot holes and possible mistakes, but many of the choices can be chocked up to character panic. This isn't a turn-your-brain-off movie either, but you'll find some flaws if you look hard enough. That said, I think this might be just the kind of movie that Hitchcock might have made these days (in fact, there are several times that I thought of Rear Window and Rope while watching this). Things to look out for:
    • Jodie Foster looks and acts incredibly well. It is great to see her back in a suspense film.
    • The new actress playing her daughter (Kristen Stewart) does a very good job, and was well chosen for the role
    • Forest Whitaker aquits himself for Battlefield Earth
    • David Fincher further refines his visual style and uses some amazing camera tricks to give you a perspective on the house that would be impossible
    • An opening credit sequence that is so good I can't believe it hasn't been done before.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] (out of four)
  19. Sam Hatch

    Sam Hatch Stunt Coordinator

    Mar 22, 2000
    Likes Received:
    I don't know why I'm adding to this, since everyone else has pretty much nailed it so far... but here goes.
    First off, I should admit that despite being a Finch-Head, I had low expectations for this film. The trailer didn't excite me, and the concept sounded really forced. Even in the film proper, the setup felt like a waste of time -- the movie doesn't begin until the protagonists are in the Panic Room. They could have just showed the trailer first and started there and I would have been fine with it. Except for the fact that I would have missed those incredible title shots! It kind of reminded me of a Future Sound Of London video from a few years back. (And yes, I too thought the sun flare on the D.P. credit was a little more than coincidence!)
    I've decided that Fincher works in a specific pattern, which is: throwaway film that he makes better by his presence (Alien3, The Game), followed by a masterpiece (Se7en, Fight Club). I wasn't surprised at all by the lack of depth in this film, since I was expecting 'The Game, Match 2'. I know that many feel that film to be an equal to something like 'Se7en', but to me it felt like Finch running on impulse power. And there's the fact that the ending was so emotionally false that it made me want to eat human flesh!
    David Koepp gives us lean material to work with here, and during the first twenty minutes or so I just kept repeating to myself -- "How are they going to make this interesting for another hour?" But surprise, surprise... Finch and crew pull it off wonderfully. It never runs out of ideas, and actually gets better and better as the film progresses. I too thought of Hitch, and how he would have loved to have used BUF's photogrammetry (sp?) on something like Rear Window. Come to think of it, he whould have used those photoreal credits on North By Northwest as well.
    Performances were great as expected, mainly from Whitaker and Foster. I don't know why, but Forrest looked really cool in those big boots and worksuit. The only letdown was Jared Leto -- he was overacting his little heart out, but he came off a little too over-the-top. I could have lived with a bit more of a menace from the villains in the beginning. The script wants you to associate with them way too early, and you only get a few moments where their presence is really creepy. We get to see them as the Three Stooges so fast that it robs us of some good scares.
    I almost laughed out loud in one early scene, when the daughter (who looks way too much like alterna-rocker Matthew Sweet) complains that 'It's too dark!'. I wanted to scream back 'Of course it is! You're in a Fincher movie!' I also loved the bit when Raoul references Meg's strategy in one scene with a casual 'Why didn't WE do that?' I had been thinking the same thing during the previous minute, and was pleasantly shocked to see that the screenplay was aware of it. (Though Finch-films love to do that -- everytime I saw Se7en with someone new, they always thought the upside-down painting in Greed's office was a mistake only to be proven wrong a moment later by the explanation.)
    There's not much you can say about the film itself without ruining the fun of it all. Ebert said it's like a chess game, and that's very true. Which is perhaps why the opening felt a little useless -- you don't want to watch chess players getting dressed and driving to the meet, you just want to see the match itself. I had heard the ending was a letdown, and was expecting the worst, a la 'The Game', but another shock -- it worked! My only gripe is that the add-on finale added nothing to the film. The pre-ending left some things up in the air, so naturally you want a wrapup. But I'd rather have an odd, untidy ending than one with a tacked-on wrapup that says nothing at all!
    Overall, this was a very entertaining piece of fluff that could have been directed by anybody. (Zemeckis perhaps?) Yet Fincher has managed to craft it into something so much more than it was on paper. Bravo! I'm sure that this will be something fun to watch for years to come.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  20. Cory_G

    Cory_G Auditioning

    Nov 14, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Having high expectations for this film, I was dissapointed.

    The camera work was excellent and the movie had the typical Fincher look, but it didn't have the edge. Jodie Foster, as the overbearing mom, was average but nothing special.

    As people above mentioned, the openning title sequence is amazing, unfortunately, it might have been the best part of the movie.

    Without spoiling the movie, the most annoying thing about the movie was the stupidity of all the characters. The never did the logical thing (maybe they paniced?).

    I'll have to see this again when it comes to video. It is an entertaining movie, but not the movie I was hoping for.

Share This Page