Panic Room (2002)

Genre: Drama, Thriller, Crime

Director: David Fincher

Writer: David Koepp

Starring: Jodie Foster, Kristen Stewart, Forest Whitaker

Rating: ★★★★

Panic Room is a film that is both clever and at the same time thrilling, Fincher although not creating a classic but a film which is always remembered and known. A great storyline with innovative effects make for an entertaining and fulfilling watch, whilst stars such as Jodie Foster and a young Kristen Stewart add solid performances to cap of a good release.

The storyline focuses on a woman and her daughter on their first night within their new large Victorian three-floor apartment. Meg (Jodie Foster) is mum to Sarah (Kristen Stewart), divorced she looks after her diabetic and bold teenage daughter but her night is troubled when intruders invade. Three men searching for a missing and hidden fortune break into their new home but when Meg and Sarah are awoken by their surprised visitors they take refuge in the house’s panic room but what the intruders want is where the hosts are hiding. The intruders think of ways to fight their way in and scare the pair out, but locked away Meg and Sarah try their best to survive and get help fuelling for some exciting events.

Thrilling is an understatement, there are many jumpy and heart-racing moments throughout Panic Room achieved by some great screen-writing. There’s real horror to the idea of someone breaking in whilst you’re asleep and likewise being trapped within your own house with three intruders. There always seems to be huge plot twists and deciding moments too which keeps the story not only entertaining but fast-paced which is a huge highlight to Panic Room.

The acting ensemble is also a distinguishing feature to Fincher’s film; Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart give solid performances which add to the film’s thrilling experience.  However equally as impressive was the roles and acting of the three intruders. Forest Whitaker, Dwight Yoakum, Jared Leto play Burnham, Raoul and Junior. Whitaker’s Burnham is a great character although a thief and burglar there is a real likable and sympathetic aspect to his character and persona. Whilst newly Oscar-famed Jared Leto plays the brilliant, clueless and funny character of Junior who is equally lovable and hateable. Panic Room’s performances really live up to the films overall quality and add again to the experience created.

David Fincher’s directing is great really creating the heavy, isolated and somewhat claustrophobic feel very successfully. The way the camera’s floated through everything and fly around the house is awe-inspiring something very new and innovative for almost 12 years ago. The very opening credits as the letters floated on the Manhattan backdrop was flawless and set the tone for the amazing camera work throughout. Although this is an underrated release from Fincher he should be praised for not only bravery to accept such a challenging task but his excellence in achieving such an exciting film which is only set within one house and mainly in one room.

The only faults that Panic Room holds are at times the annoyance that gets created by Foster’s Meg’s clumsiness. At many times simple things turn into drastic and dramatized moments, such as reaching for a fallen phone and knocking over loud furniture which at times can even be predictable. The only other picky thing I can fault is how I would have liked to seen a bit more justice or closure on the character of Burnham. However these aspects really don’t put down this film too much.

Panic Room deserves much more praise than it gets, alongside writer and director David Koepp and David Fincher for creating such a thrilling clever film. It can be so tense and thrilling it is amazing considering the simplicity of the events and setting. It isn’t as outstanding as other Fincher films but it is new and unique and shouldn’t be forgotten, easily watchable and enjoyable Panic Room is the definition of entertainment in many ways.

 

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Into The Wild (2007)

Genre: Adventure, Biography, Drama

Director: Sean Penn
Writers: Sean Penn (screenplay), Jon Krakauer (book)
Staring: Emile Hirsch, Marcia Gay Harden, Vince Vaughn, Kristen Stewart
Rating: ★★★★½
Into The Wild is a film that’s based on a true story and an adaptation of a book, Sean Penn captures every bit of emotion possible creating an inspirational, beautiful, sad and influential film that you will always remember. Words won’t do justice to just how good a storyline this film has, the fact it’s based on a true story just adds to the emotion and wonder. It has a fantastic crew that shows when looking at the film from the technical point of view, it also features a cameo of all star actors and actresses from Vince Vaughn to Kristen Stewart.

Emile Hirsch plays the character of Chris McCandless a young man who has it all, youth, wealth, intelligence but it isn’t what he wants, he just wants to live to be out there. After graduating from Emory University with straight A’s he abandons his old life, his possessions, his car, he gives his complete $24,000 savings to charity and decides to hitchhike his way to Alaska to live in the wild as Alexander The Supertramp. He rebels against his demanding snobby parents (Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt) and leaves his bewildered sister (Jena Malone). On the way of his great adventure he meets some extraordinary and different characters that shape his new life.

The film skips between Chris in Alaska at the end of his adventure to how he got there and the lessons he learnt and the people he met, finally they meet and the film follows the present day. The characters he meets all vary giving not only Chris advice but you feel the audience life lessons. He meets the characters middle aged “hippy” couple Rainey and Jan (Brain H. Dierker, Catherine Keener) to the likes of an old man Ron (Hal Holbrook) not only is it inspirational and heart warming but the relationships and bonds formed are truly heart warming.

Sean Penn has adapted the book very well, staying close to the original source. He was helped along the way in creating this wonderful film by an excellent crew, credit should be given for a inspirational mood setting soundtrack by the sound department. The acting was outstanding, Emile Hirsch adapted very well not only mentally but physically to play the character of Chris McCandless, for me it’s one of my favourite performances in the last decade. All in all Into The Wild is a must watch film, not only is it a inspirational story but a serious one about a boy who was lost due to his desire to live. It deserves its status as the 165th best film of all time and its many wins and nominations, don’t miss out.