FI,  Films,  Review,  Two Stars

Contagion (2011)

Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Written by: Scott Z. Burns
Main Cast: Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Matt Damon, Jude Law, Laurence Fishburne, Jennifer Ehle
Storyline: Beth Emhoff comes home to America from Hong Kong with a deadly and unkown virus. This virus is then passed on to her lover in Chicago and her son in Michigan. Her son goes to school where he becomes sick and consequently passes the virus on to his school nurse as well as his classmates and teachers. The health regulators and doctors have a short time to work out what the virus actually is and find a way to cure it before it wipes out the planet. Some are immune but if you catch it, it is only a matter of time before your time is up. What do you do when widespread panic is all around you?

Two out of Five Stars **  

This is one of those films that has varied reviews. Some will like it and may even feel that it is a film of pure brilliance, while others will agree that it simply lacked that certain something that would make it spectacular. Perhaps it was due to all the hype surrounding this film, but it certainly did not present itself as a film that should be watched again; if at all. This is an extremely disappointing feeling as it was supposed to be a film that really captured the audience’s attention; or perhaps that was the real problem.

Essentially, if nothing else, this film is nothing but an informercial. It informs audiences of what not to do if there is an epidemic and how not to behave when you have a cold. If it does nothing else, it certainly makes you concious of everything you touch and do within the space of twenty-four hours. Unfortunately, due to it’s almost ‘government message’ feel, it did not really bring any entertainment along with it and honestly just felt like we were watching this film to be given instructions on how to properly behave if anything this drastic were to happen in real life.

Most disappointingly was the fact that all the well-known actors and actresses in this film really couldn’t bring it out of the darkness. The problem was, there was too many characters to really get your head stuck in to an emotional feel of the film. Do we feel for Matt Damon’s character who has to look after his daughter alone now? Are we supposed to feel emotionally attached to Marion Cotillard’s character who is kidnapped by a village in the surburbs of Hong Kong? Is there a feeling of ultimate kindness from Laurence Fishburne’s character who offers to look at the janitor’s son? If we are, it certainly doesn’t come across from the film. There is just too much going on with too many characters to focus our attention on.

Furthermore, the major flaw with this film was the storyline. While the concept was an extremely interesting one and one that could have gone on to do so much, it simply just flopped as soon as it hit the big screen. With so many statistics flying around, as well as literally flying around on screen from character to character, it was just too difficult to really get into the story. Not to mention, where the script really failed was the lack of a strong griphold. Where was the downfall, the almost happy ending and then the eventual downfall again? Often you find yourself sitting on the edge of your seat but not because it’s gripping but because you’re about ready to get up and leave the cinema if nothing interesting happens soon.

Ironically enough, if this film had been marketed as an art film as opposed to a blockbuster movie that was produced by Hollywood then it would probably have had a hell of a lot more potential. It is a sad but honest declaration that says a hell of a lot about the film industry today. All in all, if this film didn’t have so many characters, had a better story arch and didn’t feel like an informercial then it probably would have deserved five stars (or maybe four, depending on the direction of course) but, as it is, this film just lacked in so many places that it is lucky to even deserve two.

This film certainly isn’t worth paying money to see.


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