Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Half-Assed Review: Contagion
Last night I had the privilege to see the upcoming Matt Damon film, 'Contagion'. A good buddy of mine won advance screening tickets and let me use them. I didn't realize how serious these screenings are. After getting our hands stamped green, my wife's purse was searched for cameras. She had a digital camera that she keeps for those "you never know" moments. After I walked the camera back to the car, I was searched with a metal detector wand. The off-duty police officer informed me that he was searching for filming devices and that it is okay and legal to have a registered, concealed weapon in a theater. I am not sure why he felt the need to share that, but good to know.
As I entered the screening I saw 3 rows of prime seating blocked off for "film critics." If any of my readers know the steps it takes to get these premium seats, let me know. I would love to have reserved seating for free movies. Okay, so now on to the actual review.
The film starts off on day 2 with Gwyneth Paltrow's character sick. A recurring theme of this movie was to show all of the actresses with little to no makeup. Paltrow was sweaty, pale (all though that is her normal skin tone), and off in general. The movie then starts up its first of several montages showing sick people coughing and touching things. The illness then leads to violently, realistic seizures and eventually death including Paltrow, but the trailer gave that away. (These images of seizures are graphic, but I do warn you of the autopsy scene. I won't give it away, but I warned you.) At this point, probably 10 minutes into the film, people in the audience start coughing. The theaters sounds like popcorn popping in a microwave. I believe the reason behind this is the same as when people scratch themselves after talking about lice. The thought of lice just pops in their head, they begin to itch, and in no time they are scratching up a storm.* This is what happens with a theater of moviegoers watching 'Contagion.'
The trailers for 'Contagion' fail to show that this movie is a film about how people deal with a pandemic. This story does not revolve around Matt Damon, but it is centered around how this illness affects normal people, the medical community, and society as a whole. Don't worry about star power because this film has it. Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne, Marion Cotillard, and Bryan Cranston.
Nothing in this film seems too far fetched. The illness is fast spreading and deadly, but reminiscent of different pandemics throughout the last 100 years. The medical researchers have trouble pinning down the cause of the disease because it kills its host cells before it can be studied.
I enjoyed this film, but I have to be honest about my requirements for a enjoyable film. Most movies are enjoyable to me as long as they are entertaining. However, this does not mean all films are good. I just appreciate what films do and that is help us escape our everyday life. This film breaks these requirements because its plausibility does not help you escape everyday life, but Director Steven Soderbergh (The 'Ocean's' movies and 'Traffic') does a very good job of painting the picture of the stress the pandemic puts on this alternate Earth. If you boil this movie down, it is a film about its character's struggles. This is not as much of a thriller as the trailers show, but it is worth seeing.
Jake's Rating: See in theaters**
*I guarantee that 4 out of 5 people who read this began to scratch themselves. Hell, I felt an itch just typing it up. Comment if you are one of these people
**I know this is my first review, so here is my break down of the ratings from best to worst: New Release Worthy- See it the weekend it comes out. See in theaters- It is worth seeing in the theaters, but don't rush to see it right away. Redbox/VOD- Go to your Redbox or use your cable's VOD service to watch this at your home. Don't Bother- Exactly as it sounds. Run- This would be for a movie like a Friedberg/Seltzer film.