Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Put on your face masks and lock your doors, we're reviewing Contagion!
I'm hoping this reads more 'creepy' than 'trippy'.
Contagion releases a deadly virus upon the populous and then shows us how we as a people would handle it. But is it as dramatic and panic-filled as their trailers would lead us to believe? SPOILERS AHEAD.

 Beth EmHoff(Gwyneth Paltrow) comes home sick to her husband Mitch(Jason Bourne I mean chubby Matt Damon) and promptly dies. Don't feel bad for her though, she's a cheating slut, so there's that. An outbreak of some sort of mega pig-bird-bat-Charlie-Sheen virus starts popping up and killing people all over the world and it's up to ALL OF THE SCIENTISTS to figure out where it came from and how to stop it before it get's all Black Plague on humanity's ass.

From the trailers and the basic premise, you expect a movie of this nature to have a pretty epic and pandemonium-inducing scale, but it sadly never gets to that point. So if you're hoping for some crazy people-freakin'-the-fuck-out-and-dying-in-the-streets-action, Outbreak this is not. it never really reaches those levels. Just when the biological shit is about to hit the fan, they find the cure and everything just wraps up nicely. Not to say the movie isn't interesting, it's just the most dramatized "clean your hands" P.S.A. to date.

Most of the movie focuses more on the CDC and various scientific and political groups and how they would handle something of just this nature. And that's really kinda interesting what with ways of developing antigens, virus protection protocol, and political ramifications. The problem is that it's not really that dramatic. It never feels like there's any ups or downs or sheer panic you'd want from a virus movie. Just politics and science. "I'm sorry virus, you can't create zombies without the proper paperwork" *30 minutes of virus filling out paperwork*.

It also doesn't help that they put ALL THE ACTORS in this movie and tried to focus on twenty different stories. No really, everyone is in this movie. The biggest surprise to me is that it's not being narrated by Morgan Freeman.  They have Jude Law playing an internet blogger trying to get hits to his site by any means necessary, Marion Cotillard as a sexy french scientist, Kate Winslet and her sexy sexy eyebrows as a CDC rep and Demetri Martin as a scientist. Yes, DEMETRI FUCKING MARTIN. In a serious role. How did they do that?

But anyway, by trying to tell thirty different stories, it's hard to focus on and care about a single one. Especially Matt Damon's story thread, who I thought was supposed to be the main character but quickly lost interest after finding out he's somehow immune to the virus. I'm sorry, did I just spoil that for you? WELL THE MOVIE SPOILED IT FOR ME SO THERE. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to take that out on you reader. I'm not mad at you, I just don't understand why, if he's immune to the virus, they don't study him more. I mean I know why because the scientists in the movie told me, but I still feel like it's just a bullshit reason so they could get Damon back out in the streets where they want him so the audience doesn't wonder why he isn't dead or stuck in containment. Also, I really have a hard time understanding his family dynamic, even with all his clunky exposition filled relatives.

Aside from the story, the acting is superb. Everyone acts the hell out of their part.  Damon(though I'd really much rather see him in some more badass roles) does a great job as a frightened father. Laurence Fishburne's mustache plays a complex CDC top scientist who's torn between using his power to help the ones he loves and trying to keep his cool for the job. Jude Law is a raving sociopath blogger scaring you into subscribing to his site(insert political metaphor here).  They have posters of his face with the word "profit" that I want to get and place on my wall.  I also enjoyed the hell out of the disturbingly intimate cinematography and the haunting yet energetic and catchy soundtrack.  If it doesn't give you the willies making you remember the movie, I'd recommend picking it up.

The worst acting in the movie came from the virus. It had no personality or character to speak of.  I don't know what was happening during the filming, but it was definitely phoning it in here. Where other movies give you shots of hundreds of dead bodies lined up in the street and scenes of victims with infected lesions all over their body, this has people sick with red noses. They say how many it's killing and show you maps of what areas are affected, but again, it's nothing on the scale of outbreak where you got to see the virus in action. In its most basic form, an infection movie is a monster movie.  What they've done here is shone the light to reveal the monster is merely science and numbers. Interesting, but not scary.

The pacing is terrible. By the time you realize it actually has gotten bad, they find a cure(logically yes, but it feels like it comes out of nowhere) and it all starts to clear up. And because they had fifty different stories going on, many of them didn't feel like they ended properly.  After all is said and done, the movie gives off a feeling that it wouldn't really be that bad. The CDC's got our back yo. And in the end, they show the virus is over because people can start touching each other again. WAIT GUYS WASN'T THAT WHAT GOT US INTO THIS MESS IN THE FIRST PLACE?!

THE GOOD: Good acting, great soundtrack, and hey, learn how the CDC works!
THE BAD: Not really scary or dramatic, too many separate stories, unsatisfying ending.
OVERALL: It's ok. Not great, and certainly not the big virus scare movie it trumps itself up to be. It is interesting, but if you were hoping for a movie to scare you into never leaving your house again, you can safely wait until your teacher starts showing it in your health class.
ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: Kate Winslet and her voluptuous eyebrows walk through a sports stadium with a town flunky, planning on how they're going to set it up as a center for the sick. It's really interesting, and even entertaining, but in no way anxious or fear-inducing.

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