In a nutshell: This is a really great problem with some obvious flaws that may leave you a bit underwhelmed.
The most glaring problem I had with this movie is the voice over in the beginning. When I heard George Clooney's crisp voice at the start of the film I thought, "Ah, this is THAT kind of movie." Except it isn't... The voice over technique is just used at the beginning and it simply explains things. Sure Clooney made a few good jokes, but it felt like an afterthought. It seemed as if Payne didn't think audiences would understand the characters he developed in his film so he added the voice over. It really rubbed me the wrong way, and I wished it wasn't there.
That being said, this is a very intriguing film. It presents many hurdles and hindrances that a man and his children must overcome and none of his options are easy. All these interwoven obstacles feel like they come about organically, which is hard to find these days. Clooney and Woodley are great as father and daughter (the younger daughter is also pretty great.)
Despite the the story presenting all these intriguing ideas, I felt like there was something missing. I don't know what it was, but when I left the screening, I knew that it wasn't a masterpiece, but I felt like it could have been. I really don't know what I could have suggested to Payne, but it's the kind of film that will sweep awards but won't be remembered in the long run.
Still I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, it made me laugh a surprising amount. Payne is able to wring humor out of very unexpected places. I highly recommend seeing this movie when it comes out, but don't be surprised if you don't "head over heels" love it.
A fun and disturbing religious romp... with GUNS!!! Yeah this movie kicks-ass. Well let me rephrase that, it kicks religious fanaticism in the ass. This is Kevin Smith's take on the Westboro Baptist Church, and the effects of religion.
Michael Parks and Melissa Leo give absolutely chilling performances. Seriously, Michael Parks is without a doubt the most underrated working actor. This is Oscar caliber acting here. As for the film, it's funny, and provides the viewer with a good time (unless your last name is Phelps... you might be more pissed at this film then.)
Even with it's over the top goodness, it's not perfect. It's a bit clunky, and there is somewhat a pacing problem (even though it's only like 80 minutes.) Still, this movie is a blast. Definitely worth checking out!
The film starts with a cough, a simple innocent cough. Though coughing is something we've all heard and done before, this cough is different. We know that the person coughing doesn't have the flu or a cold, but something much worse.
This person is Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow), a woman who just returned from a trip she took to Hong Kong. When she arrives home to her husband (Matt Damon) and son, she says she's jetlagged. The next morning she collapses and has violent seizures. No one knows what's wrong or what to do.
Several people all over the world start to show the same symptoms as Beth. This causes the government to bring in the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization to help control the outbreak and hopefully discover a cure for the virus.
Once the virus begins to gain more attention, the film starts to play out like a medical procedural drama. It gives great focus to describing the process of quarantining infected people, stopping the spread of the disease and the effort it takes to create a vaccine.
Unfortunately, all these intriguing medical elements come at the expense of character development and emotional content. Many may find this off-putting, but the film still stands. Most of the characters we observe are doctors who have been trained to stay calm and detached in the face of death. It would have been nice to learn more about certain characters, but the film's main focus is creating tension and advancing the story.
Director Steven Soderbergh juggles an enormous cast of A-list stars in Contagion that includes Paltrow, Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard and Lawrence Fishburne. Incorporating so many characters and story arcs is often difficult to do well, but Soderbergh manages to make it work.
The only pitfall is that some are bound to be more interesting than others. The epidemiologist played by Cotillard starts off as a strong character when she attempts to pinpoint the genesis of the disease, but once that is discovered she essentially becomes pointless.
A key element to the film's success is Law's character Alan Krumwiede, an online blogger who is convinced the government is keeping vital information about the virus from the public. His character cements this film in the modern world, where technology and communication can lead to panic and anarchy during a global crisis.
Soderbergh's film is a tense thriller that is equal parts engaging and disturbing. Soderberg takes images and shots that would normally seem trivial and makes them terrifying. I have never been so petrified of a bus pole or a bowl of nuts in my entire life. With its propulsive energy and staunch realism, Contagion is one of the best thrillers of the year