Review of Contagion (2011)

3 Oct

contagion_ver8Contagion (2011) is a drama/sci-fi/thriller film.

Directed by Steven Sodenberg (Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989), Magic Mike (2012)), who frequently has been associated with all-star casts.

Written by Scott Z. Burns (The Half Life of Timofey Berezin (2006), The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)).

Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet, Demetri Martin, Bryan Cranston and others.

You got to start at the beggining and the epitome of not knowing shit about a movie is taking a look at the poster and forming an opinion. And looking at the poster for Contagion what you see is six big name actors. I think having too many stars can be a bad thing, because it is just jarring.

Every now and then you are pulled out of the movie by going “oh, it’s that guy!”. Because it’s not just the main characters, it seemed rather odd to me that they would cast such big names in relatively minor roles. Gwyneth Paltrow is more of a plot device and doesn’t play much of a character, dying 5 minutes in the movie (yeah, spoiler alert). Demetri Martin seemed just randomly thrown in there and I was expecting him to say something funny. He did not. Bryan Cranston didn’t do anything all that odd, but I felt like he was some kind of a caricature of a dimwitted general, even though he has played that type on other occasions with better results.

However, the performances from the main cast I found quite impressive, although as there were no main character, there wasn’t much time spent focusing on who they really are. So what little screen time they had, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Matt Damon (a very pleasant surprise) and Laurence Fishburne did a great job.

Jude Law had some kind of a prosthetic, that made one of his front teeth crooked. Why? Because he’s British? Because he’s a blogger? Either way it is kind of offensive. On the other hand, I’m a blogger and my teeth are not straight. And Jude Law is British. Ok, movie, I’ll let that slip.

An interesting aspect that was handled a bit poorly, was the issue of printed press dying and internet media taking over, but also considering the aspect that most people don’t take bloggers seriously. Here I think one of the movie’s bigger problems became clear, it divides its attention without focusing on one main thing, so both the characters and subjects are gleamed over and lack the depth.

It portrays the threat of a flu a bit more realistically than you would expect in a modern Hollywood movie. And this leads to my main problem with the film. It seems to rely on the star-power to carry out a rather anti-climatic film. The middle part is slow and then it goes in to all these build-ups, yet they don’t ever pay off. Maybe it’s because I went into it expecting something like The Stand, I felt a bit disappointed in how unentertaining it was. But! I’m not saying it’s a bad movie, it’s well made, has social commentary and shit like that. No, I did not want a disaster movie, but it tragically lacks some kind of a punch.

If you’re a germophobe or a hypochondriac, better avoid this film, because it’ll spike your phobias to the max. Oh, and it has some coughing that sounds so deep and painful, that you start to feel like coughing yourself.

I recommend it, if you want to see a distanced mildly dystopian portrayal of a world where the flu panic had been well-founded. I do not recommend if you’re looking for a suspenseful sci-fi thriller.

Oh, yes, I fancy me some of those jolly old bolly woggles and tippety toes, with my crisps and crumpets!

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