So what comes to mind when you think of a disaster movie? Is it gigantic alien invaders? Is it volcanoes exploding and flooding the land with lava? Or is it the world ending in some fiery, cosmic, or overpowering natural force way? Regardless we’ve seen various movies that have tried to destroy the human population in flashy, explosion filled ways. However, one movie that released this weekend called Contagion has decided to approach the threat of human extinction in a different way. Was it worth it? Well read on to find out.
Okay let’s face it, when I first saw the trailer I couldn’t help but think that this movie was going to be nothing more than a boring and overdramatic remake of the movie Outbreak. About thirty minutes into the film however, I was proven wrong as the tale unfolded into something much deeper. As the trailer pointed out, the plot of Contagion centers on a mysterious virus that suddenly appears in a few random cases, making the doctors think that it’s nothing more than a common virus. The opinion soon changes however, when cases across the world come pouring in and many people begin experiencing the symptoms. Soon the experts begin working out a solution to the virus causing the disease, but the fear and paranoia filling the general public begin causing major problems, which could be even deadlier than the virus.
However this tale is really split into two different scenarios one involving Matt Damon and his family and the other on Lawrence Fishburne and his team dealing with the silent killer. Both of these tales were, too my surprise, actually pretty interesting with their pace and drama balanced to a healthy level. Perhaps what made this movie come to life was the great acting by Fishburne and Jude Law. The two actors played the head of the health team and the weasel journalistic respectively, fighting each other to the vary core. While one is trying to pool all his resources into combating chaos, the other continues to increase it with his articles. As the two combat one another, the rest of the supporting cast, most of who are on Fishburne’s team, attempt to do their part in surviving in the panic filled world. I’ll mention here that Kate Winslet and Jennifer Ehle fans will be happy with the roles played by these starlets, while fans of Damon and Paltrow will be disappointed as their roles are much more diluted and calmer than what we’ve seen in the past.
Now although the acting was good, the biggest factor that gave this movie character was how the crew made your imagination fill you with fear. The combination of the camerawork, layout of the scenes, and dialog all combined to create a believable scenario about a world caught up in an epidemic. Instead of the flashy explosions, scream filled close-up death scenes, and high speed outrun natural disaster scenes, the virus instead silently travels across the world and you don’t know who it’s going to strike next. As a result, I was caught up in suspense at hoping my favorite characters would not succumb to the virus or be taken out by someone plagued with fear. Regardless despite not being able to see the killer, the virus may in fact be one of the scariest killers I’ve seen in a long time.
The other factor that I thoroughly enjoyed were the realistic steps and actions portrayed in this film that were used to combat the epidemic. The science, governmental laws and regulations, propaganda, and many other factors I felt were pretty accurate, and I was able to follow and understand what they were doing. I’m not going to lie that my favorite parts to this movie were the scientific explanations about the virus, which I was able to understand, but lets face it I’m a geek. Regardless I’ll warn you that people who don’t like science or bureaucratic processes will not like these scenes.
Now lets get to the weaknesses of this movie that I wish to share with you. The first thing is that this movie is very sad at parts and people who don’t like depression will want to avoid this movie. The movie is not afraid to show the dying victims up close and personal, which can either tug at your heartstrings or make you sick. Germophobes as well will want to stay away from this film, as their fears will only be amplified by some of the focused shots of the victims leaving the virus on various surfaces. I guess the only other weakness I can say is that for an action-thriller, which this movie is classified as, there is not a whole lot of action. Again there are no high-speed chases, suspense filled acrobatics and climbing expeditions, or giant CGI natural disaster attacks. Those looking for said characteristics should choose another movie.
Contagion is one of the better disaster movies I have seen in a long time. The good acting, well angled shots, and ability to use the audience’s imagination to paint the fear kept me deep into the movie and kept me surprised through most of the movie. However I do have to say that the focused portrayal of death and the emotions that came with it were not my cup of tea. As a disaster movie this film gets a 9.5-10, but as a movie overall I would say somewhere around a 7.5-8.0 will do this movie justice. So until then I welcome constructive criticism and hope you have a fun time at the movies!