“ Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy - Science Fiction / Suitable for 12 years and over / Director: Steven Soderbergh / Actors: Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law ... / DVD released 2012-03-05 at Warner Home Video / Features of the DVD: PAL „
* Prices may differ from that shown
Some months ago I spotted this film pop up on Sky Movies. I had hear good reviews about it when it was in the cinema so set about recording it, but due to busy lifestyle I only got round to watching it recently!
- Plot -
The film begins with a brief cameo from Gwyneth Paltrow, who once back home from a trip to China, has clearly contracted a killer virus and within moments of screen time is now deceased. Through rapid scenes it becomes evident that people all over the world are contracting this killer virus and dropping dead like flies left right and centre. Matt Damon is her bereaved husband, and the film follows his struggle in caring for their daughter, and what life would be like when civilians take matters into their own hands.
Also followed in the film is battle to find out where the virus originates, creating a vaccine against it and who will be prioritised to get it first?
- My Opinion -
I thought Matt Damon was brilliant as a grieving husband and dad he conveys his emotion and struggle with ease and understanding making me as in the audience actually feel some compassion. Although the film also follows other plot lines e.g. Marion Cottiliard trying to find a vaccine, Jude Law as an everyday "conman" with his own home remedy to protect from the virus etc it all seemed to flit about too much between the different storylines which made it pretty easy for me to lose track and not connect with the story as much. I had heard so much about how this film would make you OCD and want to wash your hands when out in public on transport/restaurants etc but somehow it didn't seem to affect me as much! Granted, it showed in great detail how germs and bacteria could spread so easily and such a contagious virus could be deadly but somehow I just felt detached from it as it didn't seem realistic.
The film boasts a lot of big names, Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet which all looked glamorous and interesting in the trailer (and for the cover of the DVD) which make it look really oscar worthy or something but somehow the film ends up going a little bit flat as the performances (except Damon) are just really monotonous and you never really get enough time to be properly interested in the plight of any of the characters.
- Overall -
This is a good film, but it after about half an hour I watched it more so to see it through to the end so I could say I watched it more than it actually being a gripping watch. It isn't awful, but it wasn't the powerful, extremely interesting film I'd hoped it would be! The premise is good, the execution ok, and the acting neither here nor there. So sadly I would recommend it as something to pass the time one evening, but no need to rush out to buy the DVD!
Matt Damon can be seen as Paltrow's bereaved husband and he portrays the 'everyman' in the film. Whilst Damon is always a competant actor the script doesn't give him much to work with and I thought moments that should have been very emotional were quite cold.
Other notable characters include those played by Jude Law and Kate Winslet. Law's performance is very over the top and although this is meant to be what his character is like I couldn't help but be unintentionally amused by the portrayal.
Contagion is a dramatic but slow thriller that examines what could happen were an epidemic disease to take over the world as we know it. I hadn't really heard much about the film before watching it, although it's rare to see such as long list of A listers on the cast list. There's no one main star, as recognisables fade in and out of the film with some just happening to stay longer than others.
It starts with Gwyneth Paltrow returning home after an international trip to China, stopping over in Chicago for a clandestine visit with a man she used to date. Returning home to husband Matt Damon, she finds herself ill and this deteriorates rapidly. Elsewhere, we see snippets of other people around the world suffering similar illness, all of them eventually dying. A few main protagonists then try to stem a news outbreak while they attempt to diagnose and vaccinate whatever it is killed them, with no success. The film then follows as the virus increases to alarming proportions around the world, creating widespread panic and martial law before every comes to a head.
What I like about films like this is how main cast members can come in and leave, die off or stay the distance without any great emphasis on it - it makes the story that much more realistic. Names such as Elliot Gould, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne and Jennifer Ehle all play their part, but it's all about the scenes that depict the quick spreading of the disease. I thought the main thread intersected well with each individual character's personal life as well, and while the film isn't particularly extensive, I had the feeling that the plot was complete, that I knew more than I actually did about the characters, and that I felt some emotion towards a few of the characters.
However, with a widely used cast with only a few having more screen time than the others, it was hard to really connect with the vast majority of the characters in the film. Perhaps Kate Winslet and Laurence Fishburne's characters were developed a bit more, with Matt Damon in it for the long haul as the first real visual display of the virus being linked with him. It has a certain level of feeling, although the latter actor seemed to have put on some weight and just didn't seem quite like his usual characters in this film. With not a huge amount of screen time it was therefore a bit noticeable as a difference each time I saw him and this jolted me from whatever zone I was in with the film.
The medical side of things is explained quite well, with quickfire descriptions and layman terms being used cleverly due to the authorities needing to be given facts and figures quickly and simply. This made it easier for us as viewers to understand a comparative notion with the film and the virus to be able to understand the magnitude. It was a little far fetched in its presentation at times, although the way it was presented made it seem almost like it was based on a true story, and so it made me think that this feeling was more to do with the limited timeframe of explanation rather than whether it was real or possible.
Would I recommend this? I suppose so, but then I wouldn't say you should go out of your way to watch it. It passes the time, is fast and intriguing and interesting, and is probably less 'Hollywood' than Outbreak for example, relying more on the content and focusing less on the individuals in the film and therefore less on the acting which, by the way, was very good all round. High numbers of stars can often ruin a film, but this was cleverly directed and there seemed a good level of selflessness here to ensure everyone just played their part. I couldn't see any more dominant actors, reading between the lines. I may be wrong, but this is what it seemed like. It's worth a watch, and although you have to pay attention at some parts, it's the sort of film you could have on while you're doing other things. Worth a watch, but nothing special.
Contagion is an apocalyptic style film about the spread of a deadly virus across the world. It features an all star cast including Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Laurence Fishburne and Matt Damon. It was released in September 2011.
The film begins on day 2 where we see Beth (Gwyneth Paltrow) who has contracted the flu like virus after visiting Hong Kong on a business trip. She has a seizure and is taken to hospital where she later dies. Shortly after this her son is taken home from school after feeling ill and he also dies from the killer virus. This is all shown in the trailer so is not a big spoiler. Her husband, Mitch (Matt Damon) is later taken into isolation but he is found to be immune. What follows is a race against time to find a cure/vaccine before the virus infects the population at large . The film moves around various locations around the world showing victims, scientists and investigators and how the pandemic is affecting them . Also shown is the chaos that ensues such as looting and burglary as more and more people contract the virus.
There are a number of key characters in the film who each have different roles.
Mitch played by Matt Damon is one of the human and non scientific characters. He has lost his son and wife and he is also trying to protect his daughter from contracting the virus.
Marion Cotillard as Dr. Leonora Orantes is out to try and find the origins of the virus.
Laurence Fishburne and Kate Winslet also play doctors in the film trying to keep calm under pressure.
Jude Law plays a blogger/conspiracy theorist who believes that the government and other organisations are not telling the full story. He also believes in a herbal remedy as a cure for the virus.
This is a film with a very interesting premise. It is a 'what if' scenario of what would happen if everyone we came into contact with could kill us. The pandemic and fear/panic that ensues seems pretty true to life. The portrayal of death is quite unnerving. The acting is pretty good from the main characters, although the character development is a bit weak. There aren't any real big action sequences like in some disaster films. It is more about the virus and the spread of it and general consequences of it. The film is slow paced and this is not good in terms of keeping you interested. There is a lot of scientific jargon also thrown around for good measure which may interest those who are interested in that kind of thing but those after big action will be left disappointed.
Overall I thought this was a watchable film with some interesting content but it also felt like there was something big missing in it. I felt at the end there could have been a bit more action or a more satisfactory conclusion as well as developing some of the characters a bit more. At the end I was left a little disappointed. I would give it between 3 and 4 stars but if I had to choose it would be 3 stars.
Having strangely loved classic pandemic film 'Outbreak' in the past, I was extremely excited for 'Contagion' a film seemingly dealing with the same issues, but with a much more diverse and modern take.
~~~THOUGHTS ON PLOT~~~
After a business trip to Hong Kong, Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) becomes ill and subsequently dies. The unknown disease starts to spread all across the world and a pandemic strikes. What will Beth's husband Mitch (Matt Damon) do to protect his daughter? What are the doctors (Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard) willing to sacrifice in order to find the origin and the cure? And what does one influenza blogger Alan (Jude Law) think about the whole thing?
The film starts on Day 2 of the virus and from then the pace is extremely pacy with our first casualty in minutes. With the large ensemble cast, the film focuses on many different angles of the pandemic: a family man, a selfless doctor, a WHO officer, a blogger... this diversity and broad perspective gives this film a refreshing light.
These individual characters also provoke an emotional attachment and I found myself rooting for several of them throughout; wanting them to prevail, wanting them to live. What makes this film also great is that it is not afraid to kill of the cast and throws you off by doing so.
Unlike 'Outbreak', this film's strengths lie in the realism of the situation which is to praise, but lacks action and tension. Despite it being strong in the emotion aspect (I found quite a few scenes quite emotionally evocative) it could definitely do with a bit more action.
As the film reached it's climax, I found the pace confusingly jump here and there and the closure for such seemingly apocalyptic virus seemed convenient, quickly glossed over. That said, the endings to each character's story is well tied up and the final scene showing Day 1 of the virus beautifully book-ended the movie.
With films like this, it is easy to get sucked into the plot holes, scientific flaws and inaccuracies, and inevitably, this film will have errors, but that aside, it was a solid movie that kept you thrilled and entertained both emotionally and mentally.
Gwyneth Paltrow- Beth Emhoff
Matt Damon- Mitch Emhoff
Kate Winslet- Dr. Erin Mears
Jude Law- Alan Krumwiede
Marion Cotillard- Dr. Leonara Orantes
Also stars Laurence Fishburne and Elliott Gould.
Unfortunately, A-lister Gwyneth Paltrow's character Beth dies within minutes of the film's start, but she delivers a genuine and shocking performance despite her short screen time. The main cast all delivered a great performance which was emotive and genuine.
'Contagion' is a strong portrayal of life during a pandemic from a range of characters' perspectives. Whilst this is only loosely a thriller, it is fantastic in delivering emotional stories and captures a surprisingly heartwarming message of love, dedication and sacrifice a midst devastating times.
So I've read a few reviews about this film not being all that great and I've read a few that are slightly more positive. I actually saw this film when it was in the cinema because I'd seen trailers for it and was really excited both by the concept and also by the cast. I have since bought this film on DVD which gives you an idea of how much I liked it, but I thought I would take the time to explain why.
I have to premise this review by saying that I am obsessed with both reading books and watching films that have apocalyptic or dystopian plot lines. This pretty much makes this my ideal film because it is a realistic portrayal of what could happen given a worldwide pandemic. In fact the plot is so realistic it is kind of terrifying - the characters feel very real and everything is just a little too close to home, but that does make the film rather brilliant in my opinion.
So, let's begin with the cast. Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Winslet are the better known actors, but believe me there are also a great deal of lesser known but extremely talented actors not listed here. A film with a plot I'm really interested in combined with an all star cast - how could this film possibly be bad? I think for the majority of people the film falls down in two ways: character focus and consistency of plot. I'm going to argue with the majority of people and actually make a case for why these two things make this such a brilliantly terrifying film.
The basis of the film is that a strain of virus has formed between bat and pig, has mutated and passed to humans and has then spread worldwide in a matter of days. Gwyneth Paltrow is the 'index patient', the first person to contract the infection and spread it to a number of other people. She is on a business trip in Hong Kong when she comes into contact with the virus and she then goes on to infect a number of different people both in Hong Kong and back in America. She returns to her home feeling and looking very unwell - the symptoms seem to be similar to flu though there is a faster onset and most people effected seem to die within 24-48 hours. Gwyneth Paltrow (Beth) infects her own family and she dies alongside her young son. Her husband, Matt Damon is somehow immune to the virus and though quarantined for testing he never becomes ill and neither does his teenage daughter from an earlier marriage. I would say these characters form the central part of the film, though much of the action takes place elsewhere. Matt Damon being one of the few to not be infected becomes a central character by virtue of staying alive long enough for the audience to connect with him and his plight.
In various sub-plots the other well-known actors appear. Marion Cotillard is a doctor sent to Hong Kong to review footage or Beth - Gwyneth Paltrow - and find the source of the virus. She is kidnapped and taken to a small village where she is held hostage (sort of...) and later used as a bargaining tool in a dramatic exchange for the antidote, MEV-1. She is convincing and her role in the film adds another dimension which is really interesting. It also makes it possible for the viewer to get an idea of where the virus began and how it spread and also the way in which governments respond to outbreaks and pandemics such as the virus in 'Contagion'.
Laurence Fishburne is also great in the film. His role is of another doctor and the main plot connected to him is his public role in the outbreak as he speaks with journalists. He also takes the controversial decision to tell his fiance to leave the city before the public are notified of the seriousness of the virus. It is interesting to see the way in which those in the public eye deal with difficult and probing questions about the virus and also the extremes they will go to to protect their own loved ones.
Jude Law plays a really interesting and all too lifelike blogger with a huge fan base. His role in the movie is to record and speak honestly about the virus, how it spreads and also the effects it is having on the city he lives in. As people become more desperate for a cure it is his videos about a herbal remedy which he claims cures the virus that get him into trouble. His character and the related plot line seem true to life, you can imagine similar characters popping up should there be a real life pandemic.
Kate Winslet is probably my favourite of all the characters. She plays a doctor working for the Epidemic Intelligence Service, she goes to investigate the death of Beth and tries to minimise the spread of the infection. Her role for the audience is to break down the science and explain it in a way which is accessible and understandable for most people. She does this really well and though her character is hard and strong willed there are degrees of vulnerability which are played really well and add another dimension to this likeable character.
These plots run alongside each other as the film passes from day to day, each being represented on the screen at the beginning of the scene. I like the way they have done this as it give you a really clear idea of the time span for the spread of the virus and the extent of the panic. Controversially I also really like the way the film doesn't focus on any one particular character, and also that they are willing to kill off the main characters at any given moment. This is probably the biggest criticism that the film faced but actually I think it is one of the real strengths. The critics argument is that it doesn't allow the audience to form a bond with the character and will their survival as they watch the film. I actually think if anything this is a more realistic way of making a film like this, and it makes it eerily realistic that so many get ill and die (even the beautiful main stars of the film). It demonstrates the vulnerability and fragility of human life in the face of a virus that manages to outsmart and outrun even the brightest scientific minds. It gives a clear idea of how this kind of virus could spread, could kill many people and could potentially become threatening to the existence of the human species. It almost serves as a warning in some ways.
...and that leads me onto another contentious issue for many viewers. The film doesn't end in apocalyptic disaster, as far as we know. The virus is contained and an antidote is found which seems to work. Though Jude Law's character is sceptical about the possible after effects of this in years to come. I think this is actually the perfect ending to this film. It demonstrates how wrong it could possibly go, should no vaccination be found. But it also shows the viewer how it could be overcome and how people might begin to rebuild their lives and society. In fact the whole thing seems heavily based in reality and that's what I like about it. It does include medical jargon and scientific references which are, at times, a little complicated. It does, however, successfully portray the way in which these things would be discussed behind closed government doors. The film doesn't talk down to the viewer, it doesn't assume that you are an idiot - it relates things in a realistic manner. It also isn't packed full of action, people die in their hundreds quietly at home and quickly. This seems to be a wholly authentic dramatisation which manages to do without the hollywood element which would push it over the edge towards farce.
Overall, I really enjoyed this film in the cinema and just as much at home on DVD. I may be in the minority but I thought it was really great: honest, tangible and a little too close to home. You can buy it for under £8 too, what a bargain!
Star - Gwyneth Paltrow
Genre - Thriller
Run Time - 106 minutes
Country - USA
Certificate - PG-13
Rental - £3.00 per night at Blockbusters
'...........' By the toll of a billion deaths, man had earned his immunity, his right to survive among this planet's infinite organisms. And that right is ours against all challenges. For neither do men live nor die in vain'......'
(War of the Worlds, 2005)
Governments love fear, creating it whenever they can, usually through hype and always the ones who can offer you the solutions to that particular fear, especially if they are engineering the threat. They do it to get you into a rhythm of obeying instructions from the state. Blair's calm after 911 did not match his anxiety during the fullers strike the year before. That always worried me. Was he expecting one and not the other and so able to deal with 911 and not the strike?
The Swine Flu hysteria was the same deal, a hyper drive of the west's hype unleashed across the world, the internet speculation as viral as the disease, Swine Flu a virus that has been around for hundreds of years in human form yet scaring the crap out of us, that fear of the unseen that you are defenceless against and the panic that ensues the subject of Steven Soderburgh's Contagion, the clue in the title, a filmmaker that sticks to his message when he has something to preach. In fact it's that hysteria, and not so much the bug, that does the damage. We were told Tamaflu would save us and so rushed out to buy it, but the drug merely a decongestant that would lessen the symptoms, one or two of the Labour ministers who over - ordered the drug having directorships with the company who made it.
'Physicians of the Utmost Fame were called at once, but when they came they answered, as they took their fees, 'There is no cure for this disease'
Hilaire Bellox (1911)
In the news recently we learnt a secret lab in Europe has tried to do what nature hasn't and created the animal flu hybrid virus we all fear, or say they are saying, the point being they can also then create the antidote, a threat and reward in the same sentence. The fear element is then hyped again that terrorists could steal it and then unleash it, which would eventually kill the terrorists, a floored logic that stops the cure being made. Saying that, 40 years ago the biggest terrorists of all, the CIA, created a Small Pox 'bomb' in a similar secretive lab, but no plans for an antidote, no doubt ideal for dropping on North Vietnam...
Gwyneth Paltrow ... Beth Emhoff
Tien You Chui ... Li Fai (as Chui Tien You)
Josie Ho ... Li Fai's Sister
Daria Strokous ... Irina
Matt Damon ... Mitch Emhoff
Griffin Kane ... Clark Morrow
Laurence Fishburne ... Dr. Ellis Cheever
John Hawkes ... Roger
Jude Law ... Alan Krumwiede
Monique Gabriela Curnen ... Lorraine Vasquez
Teri McEvoy ... School Nurse
Grace Rex ... Carrie Anne
Marion Cotillard ... Dr. Leonora Orantes
Kate Winslet ... Dr. Erin Mears
Jennifer Ehle ... Dr. Ally Hextall
Elliott Gould ... Dr. Ian Sussman
Around the world we see a handful of people showing extreme flu symptoms, one in Hong Kong, one in Japan and one in America, day 2 of the infection. By Day 4 the CDC (Centre for Disease Control) in Atlanta begin to take note of these now unexplained global deaths, H1N1, SARS and Swine Flu dismissed by head honcho Dr Ellis Cheever (Laurence Fishburne), this one something new. By day 5 the original infectants are all dead, including American Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow), returning to her husband Mitch (Matt Damon) in Connecticut from a Hong Kong business strip with the flu symptoms, having seizures and then passing away in hospital. When his step son dies of the same symptoms on the same day its obvious something's up.
By day 7 there have been lots of deaths all around the world and governments desperately trying to suppress the seriousness of the situation to avoid panic, panic that would spread the disease more, internet blogger Alan Krumwiede (Jude Law) determined to keep people informed on what's really going on.
Dr Erin Mears (Kate Winslett) is strategically deployed by CDC to put into action emergency procedures for the coming disaster in America, sports arenas turned into hospitals and cities locked down, Chicago now quarantined. But there is hope, maverick doctor Ian Sussman (Elliott Gould) claiming he can identify the make of the pathogen and so the cure, determining it's a hybrid between human flu, bat and pig, medical DNA he has shared with his determined daughter to accelerate the haste to find the cure as two million deaths world-wide tick up.
But any cure will take months for the now named 'MEV1' and so now is the time for the people to take action as the face masks go on and the panic begins to rumble, but people still having to go about their business as the death toll rises. But soon there will be a run on the banks and with projected deaths to top that of the Spanish Flu outbreak when 1% of the world died it looks grim as the riots begin on day 15 and the supermarket shelves tripped clean of food and the troops on the street.
With a heavyweight cast to a foreboding soundtrack there are quite a few Oscar winners and nominees reporting for duty here to director (Soderburgh, Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon and Jude Law reunited for the first time since The Talented Mr Ripley), a movie that's only mission is to lay out in intelligent detail exactly what will happen if a SARS type virus does become airborne and so contactable to humans through respiration and fermatas, surfaces able to sustain the virus for a period of time, like door handles and public phones. On average humans touch 2,700 surfaces a day, mostly fingers and hands to their lips and face, the people of the third world crammed in as tight as their livestock and so mixing their genes. If CDC doesn't trace the outbreak quick enough then modern transit systems will send it all around the world and so most people will inevitably catch it, that very reality the driving narrative here. By the end of this you thank God it's only a Hollywood film.
Their interest quirks to the script, the viewer learning that the shaking of hands originally came from the fear of spreading disease, the handshake a gesture that the person thinks you are clean, smart observations like that littered throughout this movie. And this is not only about the timeline and terrifying speed of the spread but also how the media can be just as viral these days, overriding structures put in place to calm any panic. It also touches on how the big pharmaceutical companies may exploit an outbreak to make even more money, say be rationing any cure to certain western countries or overcharging for the poor ones for it, like what we see today with AIDS antivirals and malaria treatments. If the big boys got together they could eradicate most serious illness but that's bad for business.
The acting is perfectly fine and, as always, Soderburgh plays things low key and so no grandstanding allowed by the stars, Matt Damon almost passive to the point of invisibility. There are clichés, like the: 'I'm going to tell you something but you mustn't tell anybody else, ok' moment, women gossiping responsible for world panic in all of these outbreak movies it seems. I do like the way the timeline of the disease is cleverly weaved into the narrative through flashback and unpicked in an unrushed and subtle way to show jus how easily the bug began and was spread, from the first carrier to the crush for the cure, the eventual death toll as terrifying as the film. Ok, the science may not be that realistic because things are squashed into a two hour film but this could happen one day and that still seems to be the consensus. The bigger the Earths population rise the more it interacts with animals and the more chance of the creation of an animal flu making the jump.
Imdb.com - 6.8/10 (76,245 votes)
Metacritc.com - 70% critic's approval
Rottentomatos.com - 84% critic's approval
The Daily Telegraph - 'Ever the cerebral essayist, Soderbergh isn't in this for edge-of-your-seat thrills - his approach is more cold sweat than burning fever'.
The Melbourne Age - 'A starkly effective ensemble drama which could well do for the sniffles what Jaws did for great whites'.
CNN Film - 'Adopting a clean, chronological and punchy approach, Soderbergh holds a steady eye on panic and chaos. It's a disaster movie with a brain and conscience'.
The Melbourne Age - 'The disease/pandemic movie has grown up'.
Film Only Review:
I wanted to see this film as I'm a fan of the actor Laurence Fishburne and I heard he had a part in it. 'Contagion' is a movie that was released in 2011 and as well as Fishburne it stars a host of well known actors and actresses. I would categorise the movie as a drama and thriller whose themes focus on virus control, the social effects of a pandemic disease, human relationships in the modern world as well as ecological ane environmental concerns.
The film traces the actions of many different characters whose lives are impacted by the spread of a killer virus. Gwyneth Paltrow is a business woman who quickly falls ill after arriving home from a meeting abroad. Her son is also infected and it's not a major spoiler (since they reveal this in the movie trailer) to say they both die since and is what sets the wheels of the film in motion. After the virus is analysed a race starts to prevent others from being infected. It's very reminiscent of the real life Avian and Wine Flu epidemics when people who were on flights with infected people had to be traced and informed.
Matt Damon can be seen as Paltrow's bereaved husband and he portrays the 'everyman' in the film. Whilst Damon is always a competant actor the script doesn't give him much to work with and I thought moments that should have been very emotional were quite cold.
Other notable characters include those played by Jude Law and Kate Winslet. Law's performance is very over the top and although this is meant to be what his character is like I couldn't help but be unintentionally amused by the portrayal. He sort of reminds me of a twelve year old lad trying to play 'Oliver' on stage. I'm also not sure what accent he was aiming for - Cockney with a splash of Australian? Law plays an internet 'journalist' who tries to rally communities behind a so-called cure for the virus. It's sort of a cooky part for Law and one that he seems to be hamming it up for, possibly for comedic effect. Well I laughed but probably not in the way that he was hoping for.
Kate Winslet plays a super effecient doctor, Erin Mears, who is sent in to investigate the virus. Again, she is obviously a very talented actress but we don't find out a lot about the character who she plays so whilst I admired her drive I didn't particularly care for her safety. Rathermore Winslet is able to inspire dramatic moments into the film that might have been less thrilling in the hands of a less competent actress.
French actress Marion Cotillard is another doctor who is searching for the source of the virus. She seems like a sympathetic chraracter but unfortunately dissapears from screen longer than she should have done. Other faces you may recognise include Bryan Cranston and John Hawkes, British actress Jennifer Ehle and Elliot Gould.
The film is fairly formulaic and I wasn't particularly surprised by anything that happened in regards to the treatment and outcome of the virus infection. It's a plot that I've seen many times before. The only thing different this time is that there are a host of A-list actors at the forefront. The big names are watchable but I often found myself asking throughout the movie: "Why would they have wanted to do this role?" as I don't think the roles are what you imagine an A-lister to proceed to in the course of their successful acting career. Whilst you can see these actors are at the top of their profession the roles are confining and the script that of a standard medical thriller. The interweaving, choppy scenes also mean that we never spend too long with the characters so we can never fully connect with them.
I also was a bit confused in regards to director Steven Soderbergh's aim too. Did he mean this to be a human drama where the audience would hope against hope that each character would survive this virus? I ask this because the actions of some of the characters in the film simply made me despise the human race a little bit. If it's supposed to be a mirror held up to the world to highlight our overpopulation problems, our inherent greedy natures and our hideous destruction of natural landscapes in the name of capitalism then this might be a vague interest the more introspective viewer. The casual viewer, however, would probably not notice any of these themes and might simply get a thrill out of when the next A-lister star is killed off.
I would not sit through this film again and to be honest I would not really recommend it unless you are a fan of one of the actors involved.
Having a look on Sky the other night, I couldn't find anything I was in the mood for watching so decided to look on Sky Box Office and saw Contagion was available to rent. I rented it straight away as it was a film I had wanted to see at the cinema but just hadn't got around to seeing it. Although I didn't know too much about the film other than it followed an epidemic, I was impressed by the cast. The film wasn't what I was expecting, it was a brilliant watch.
The film follows Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) on a business trip to Hong Kong where in the very start of the film she begins to feel unwell. It doesn't follow each character for long, and you are soon introduced to several other fairly well known actors and actresses all who have a different role to play in the epidemic. Matt Damon's character Mitch Emhoff is married to Beth and as the death toll rises around the world into the millions, Mitch strives to protect his family and keep them safe from the disease as well as the looting and violence that follows it. The film is as much about the looting and break down of society as it is the epidemic, and it is frightening yet fascinating to see how low people will go in order to protect themselves and their families. I always find films like this fascinating as you can't help but think about what you would do if the situation were to ever happen for real.
The effects and acting in this film are fantastic. When people contract the illness, they feel generally unwell with flu like symptoms until they begin to convulse and fit. The actors that were doing this in scenes were so convincing, and one of the main characters also pulled it off with ease, which I was rather impressed at as I didn't actually think they could act before this film!
Without giving too much away about this film, I can't really explain much more about it, but the concept is interesting. It follows the epidemic in days and begins with 'day 2', day 1 is right at the end of the film and makes the whys and how's make much more sense. It is interesting to see a little in to the World Health Organisation and how they would cope and provide strategies for countries, rather than just showing people contracting the illness.
One thing I will say about the film, is that it is rated a 12, which I think is too low. It should have been a 15. There are some fairly graphic scenes including the autopsy of one character and people fitting and dying from the disease including a child of around 10. I found this would have been quite traumatic for a 12 year old but what do I know?!
Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet and Jude Law also star in this film adding to the already impressive cast of Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow. All play integral roles and don't disappoint. Jude Law plays an interesting character who is basically a conspiracy theorist, Kate Winslet is a doctor and Laurence Fishburne is her boss.
Interesting fact: To promote this film, Warner Bros. built two giant Petri dishes treated with bacteria and fungi and set them to a shop window in Canada. Over several days, the bacteria and fungi specimens grew to spell out the name of the film and form biohazard symbols.
A really interesting film that shows how the world would cope in the face of a pandemic of a disease which they can't see and which there are no known vaccinations to prevent or cure it. A very good film, with a very good cast. Recommended.
Run time: 106 minutes.
I am a massive fan of apocalyptic films, weather they be zombies and vampires or man made disasters. From the trailers contagion looked like a pretty decent film concerning man kinds fight against a deadly and very contagious disease, something that everyone has a slight fear of.
The film has an incredible cast, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Laurence Fishbourne, Matt Damon, to name just a few. I found the acting to be very good. There was no oscar worthy performances but I found the characters believable.
The film focuses on several different people and how they are affected by the outbreak of a deadly virus that sweeps the globe. There story is nothing new but its an interesting topic and the way contagion is shot, very realistic. The film is set over a year or so period starting with day 2 of the outbreak (I found this a great way to start the film and has a great impact at the end but I will not say any more to avoid giving away anything). There is not much more to describe to be honest as the idea is simple.
The characters range from an average family man and his daughter, whose wife is the carrier of the disease to the response team who are in charge of containing the disease and dealing with the media. The film is quite scary in a sense that its very realistic and makes you think about how people will react if/when this happens.
The film has some 'twists' and some unexpected things happen (again keeping it brief as do not want to spoil it for anyone who has not seen it).
The film got some pretty bad reviews all in all. I tend to find IMBD quite accurate and they gave the film a decent 6.8 / 10. Whilst it was not film of the year I would rate the film around a 7 / 10. It has a great cast and decent story line that made me have a good think after the credits rolled but having said that im glad I did not pay to see it at the cinema. Definitely one for DVD.
Now, those that know me or have read some of my reviews in the past will be aware of my fascination of preparing for the apocalypse. I make no secret of the fact that secretly I am hoping for a bubonic plague or nuclear meltdown, just so I can use my expired ration packs from the Norwegian Army and my Guatemalan Army jungle machete and ultimately prove my doubters wrong, who mocked me for my off-the-wall survivalist buys from ebay.
Contagion is an interesting film, or at least the subject matter is. It's a procedural thriller looking at how worryingly easy a pandemic virus can spread worldwide and the devastating after effects it causes and leaves behind. We follow the spread of the virus day by day as multiple deaths surface around the world.
This truly is an all star cast with Matt Damon, Gwenyth Paltrow, Laurence Fishburne, Elliot Gould, and Jude Law amongst the A-list ensemble and in truth none of them let you down as actors, in particular Jude Law and Matt Damon. The Director is Steven Soderbergh, probably best known for his Oscar winning directorship of Traffic, and with such a cast, such a director and such an interesting storyline it was a real surprise and disappointment that this film was so underwhelming.
This is a film that did not know what it was - the story was told in a ramshackle and disjointed manner; following different subplots hastily and without connecting to the characters. It was hard to feel empathy for a character or truly 'get them' with just fleeting appearances on screen in slow moving almost unattached plots. I left the film not knowing if this was a paranoia based thriller, an exercise in fear, a conspiracy film or an unsubtle satire - either way Contagion failed on all accounts.
Apart from being slow and dare I say it, a little tedious; there was too much medical jargon, too many clichéd scenarios and characters and an absenteeism in the storylines that left me begging for something to happen... anything at all!! Whether the entire human race died or a cure saved all; you really didn't care you just wanted something to happen. Every single character's plot line in this movie could have been removed without consequence. After you've seen it you'll realize that none of it mattered, nor intertwined, nor propelled the story.
I have read some reviews that said it was an edge of the seat thought provoking thriller. Well, I don't know what seats they are perched on but they sure as hell are not big seats and the only thoughts this film provoked was along the lines of what a wasted opportunity.
I won't spoil the ending; Steven Soderberg did a good enough job of that himself. But this is a film that could've been so much better on so many counts. Great cast, interesting subject matter but this was far too meandering, no depth and more a collection of slow disjointed subplots than a thrilling film drama.
Run time 106 mins