#004

Panic Room
Columbia Tristar DVD

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David Fincher's Panic Room is state of the art stuff, a masterful bit of filmmaking. Too bad it's such a lacklustre movie.

Fincher, director of Alien 3, Seven and Fight Club, is a remarkable craftsman, building mood and negotiating his camera with peerless confidence, and normally he uses his considerable skill to finesse resonance out of the ambitious genre scripts that he favors. Panic Room, alas, is a ponderous dead weight, a cruel machine of a thriller that the director takes too much delight in constructing at the expense of everything else.

Jodie Foster plays a rigorously unhappy woman seeking refuge from her bad marriage in a vast New York brownstone with her sullen and charmless young daughter. There's a fortune hidden somewhere in the place, and the night after moving day sees them playing involuntary hosts to a trio of home invaders led by Forrest Whittaker. Bad things happen and people get hurt but it's hard to care, since a maddening and systematic lack of common sense is required from every character for Fincher's plot to grind ahead.

The DVD of Panic Room is a Superbit release, which eschews extras and commentary tracks to devote disc space to superior image quality which is, unfortunately, is only really visible on higher end DVD players and TVs. It's somehow fitting that Fincher sacrificed frills for visuals, but it's a shame that he ignored his characters in the service of camera pyrotechnics and a certain stiff elegance of plot.

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The Scorpion King
Universal DVD

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The Rock is a latter-day Buster Crabbe or Johnny Weismuller in this megabudget update of the kind of cheap adventure serial that, fifty years ago, used to play at the bottom of a double feature, after the newsreel and before the cartoon. It's good, loud fun, however, if you don't expect that much. It's hard to comment on any extras that come with the Scorpion King package, having only been provided with a bare-bones, low-quality reviewer's copy, meant to discourage video piracy, but the usual menu of commentary (by The Rock), "making-of" shorts and music video is included.

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High Crimes
20th Century Fox DVD

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The plot-shaking twist in this military/courtroom thriller starring Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman telegraphs itself miles in advance, resulting in a rather thrill-less thriller. Comes with a neat selection of background shorts on subjects like military justice and a "how to" on fooling a polygraph test.

©2002 rick mcginnis all rights reserved.