Contagion

 

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: Warner Bros

MPAA Rating: PG 13

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Review Rating: 7 Face Masks

The spread of a new strain of virus that rockets around the world killing millions, plus the repercussions on the populace and culture.

I had such high hopes for this movie. Such high hopes! It’s advertised as a big ole drama, slopping over with celebrity actors to give the film more oomph, and yet. Hell, the film actually started off with Gwyneth Paltrow’s autopsy, it doesn’t get much better than that! And yet. They even tried to do a Memento-style sequence of events, where the film starts off on Day 2, and we don’t get to Day 1 until the very end of the movie. And be aware, you have to pay attention to those Day whatever signs, otherwise the timing and pace of the movie will be lost on you. And yet, even with all that, I wasn’t satisfied.

So we have Matt Damon as the (I gather) 2nd husband of Gwyneth Paltrow’s character, all strength and vulnerability. Everyone loves Morph—I mean Laurence Fishburne, as the head doctor type Ellis Cheever trying desperately to find a cure and making human mistakes along the way. Jude Law is Alan Krumwiede, blogger and would-be reporter who ends up apparently the voice of the common man, while still managing to be, let’s face it, an ass about it. Even Kate Winslet gets to star as one of the medics trying to organize this mess. We have such a great cast here, and the roles they’re given are mediocre at best.

So Paltrow’s character is off on a business trip in I think it’s Hong Kong, comes back to the USsickly, and thus begins the spread of the disease. People sicken, people die, society begins to break down and chaos runs riotously rampant. And then, after a whole litany of complaints as far as how long it’s going to take for an actual cure or vaccine or whatever, the movie jumps to what is it, Day 130-something, and the factories and hospitals begin tossing out treatments. Which of course leads to more confrontations, but hey, at least we have something. And it’s a shame; all those scenes that show the riots, the mindless herd response of humanity and mans inhumanity to man, plus the corporation response to such an outbreak, all combine to make me feel as though the movie is shaking its finger at me. Admonishments I can live with, if there were suggestions on improvement – there aren’t. There is great opportunity for one-liners in the manner of Outbreak, but oh no, apparently we have to stay as serious as possible for this movie. Which doesn’t make sense to me – are they trying to scare the nerves off everyone with this movie? And that ending. The wrapup explanation of how a series of, I’m sorry, almost completely unrelated events led to this mess, is irritating. Bat and Pig and Human is Sci-Fi, not overglorified disaster drama. Contagion gets a rating of 7 Face Masks, with the satisfied knowledge that at least there won’t be a sequel – everyone’s dead.

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