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Contagion

by

Jeff Nelson

Contagion isn't as infectious as I had hoped, but it's worth seeing.

Contagion
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As different diseases and sicknesses have been revealed to the world, there's something more terrifying than the illness itself. This happens to be the unknown. Contagion explores this fear and shows what occurs when the greatest weapons happen to be each other. However, the film takes a more subtle approach by slowing down to focus on character development and not make the visuals and eye candy the primary reason why moviegoers should check it out. When I took the time to really think about the concept, it's rather interesting. Humans are constantly touching objects that aren't very clean. Afterwards, we touch our faces and ultimately may contract a sickness.

After returning home after a business trip to Hong Kong, Beth has become deathly ill with strange symptoms. As the days pass and the body count rises, the race to discover a cure to the disease. Contagion follows multiple characters and tells his or her story of how the plague has drastically affected civilization. Instead of showing explosions and tense action sequences, the screenplay centers around developing the characters. The only roles I felt genuinely sympathetic for are Dr. Mears and scientist Ally. Both of these characters are likable and I followed them holding hope that they would survive the illness. The rest of the characters feel either cliché or simply unlikable. The dialogue is well-written and the pacing may be slow for some, but certainly moves along.

Those who watched the trailers should know that Contagion has quite a cast. Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, John Hawkes, Jennifer Ehle, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, and more. This list of actors instantly caught my attention. For that many big names to be drawn to a script usually means that it's a winner, although that's not always true. This cast drives the realism straight to home. Without these actors, the movie would be critically lacking. Knowing that there are quite a few names that have been listed at the Academy Awards is sure to give audiences high expectations. Be aware that this isn't the best of many of his or her careers, but are suitable. Different viewers will find a variety of actors to deliver standout roles. I thought Jennifer Ehle gives an enjoyable performance. Jude Law's character is one of the most unlikable on screen, but he pulls it off very well. Don't expect to see mind-blowing performances, but they're worthwhile.

As previously mentioned, the script is clearly the biggest focus. Contagion could have easily been a mindless flick. It isn't he most thought-provoking, but it has an interesting concept. Director Steven Soderbergh creatively displays how the sickness is spread. There are a lot of closeups on how some characters receive the illness and just might make some viewers paranoid. Once the body count becomes overwhelming in the millions, the imagery is quite intense. The visuals are good while it's clear that it isn't the primary focus.

Those who are extremely alert to contracting a sickness are sure to be even more so after seeing Contagion. The film is ultimately successful in what it sets out to do. Even though this doesn't come close to one of my favorite movies of the year, it's worth seeing on the big screen. There are times where the pacing drags a bit, but it quickly recovers. Contagion isn't as infectious as I had hoped, but it's worth seeing.

My Rating = Three and One Half Stars

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