Critics Consensus

Contact elucidates stirring scientific concepts and theological inquiry at the expense of satisfying storytelling, making for a brainy blockbuster that engages with its ideas, if not its characters.



Total Count: 63


Audience Score

User Ratings: 203,669
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She's known it since she was a young girl, when she would magically connect with distant voices on her father's shortwave radio. She's known it since college, when she chose the search for intelligent extraterrestrial messages as her discipline. She's known it since she bargained for just hours a week of satellite time to sweep the heavens for evidence. And she knows it every time she stares at the countless stars dappling the infinite night sky... Something is out there.


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Critic Reviews for Contact

All Critics (63) | Top Critics (21) | Fresh (40) | Rotten (23)

Audience Reviews for Contact

  • Nov 09, 2016
    With all the fun popcorn sci-fi movies we get each year, I think people forget how interesting and cerebral science-fiction can be. Contact is an ambitious look at the lengths of our universe and our human reach, but it sometimes gets a little too obsessed with itself to make a great watch. Directed by the great Robert Zemeckis and stars Oscar winning Jodie Foster as Dr. Arroway, a scientist who first discovers a potential connection to a life form from an unidentifiable place. Contact is mostly a film about a young girl devoting her life to the research and passion of her late father, but it deals with some heavy themes and ideas. Some ideas are perhaps way to grand scale and broad for the film's grasp, but at its core I really dug the bond between a father and his daughter here. David Morse plays her father in a limited role, but his presence is felt throughout the film. Jodie Foster's performance as Dr. Arroway is also a highlight. As much as it appears this is an ensemble piece with established actors, this film is largely on her shoulders, and she always kept me engaged. Unfortunately, her character is given a love interest in Matthew McConaughey's character, Palmer Joss. It's one thing to have a one-note character as a love interest. But it's even worse to have that very character ONLY be used when the plot feels like it needs the audience to be more invested in an "emotional moment". The Joss character is merely a plot device and is a hindrance on the enjoyment of Contact as a whole. But Joss wasn't the only highly flawed character. As Arroway gets closer to analyzing the 'aliens' message to the humans, a character named S.R. Hadden secretly meets with Arroway. This scene, along with every scene he appears in, is completely tonally out of place. This is Contact's biggest issue. The film's first half is tonally balanced and grounded in realism (at least for sci-fi), but once Hadden enters the picture it feels much more heightened than it does grounded. His character seems like a villain straight out of a Bond film, and that just didn't fit in with the rest of the story. I like what this film challenges us to think about and explore. And to its credit, the third act's payoff is truly unlike anything I have seen before, so there's no shortage of originality there. But to me, the writing with a few characters and unbalanced tone is what really killed my enjoyment after awhile. +Foster +Harrowing journey full of intriguing reveals -But the tone is all over the place -As are the writing for certain characters 6.6/10
    Thomas D Super Reviewer
  • Jul 06, 2014
    Robert Zemeckis crafts a very good science fiction drama, but in many ways it does lack a bit. The sheer scope of the film is grand, its ideas are very good, interesting and captivating, but there are times that the film feels a bit underdeveloped and it could have stood out more due to the fact that it has some very good ideas and acting on display on-screen. Watching the film, I felt that at times, it felt a bit too preachy, and it could have toned down a bit, but as a whole, Contact is an engaging picture, one that boasts impressive performances and a good story. However, I felt that the film considering what it deals with should have been much better as well. This isn't a bad film by any means, but it does leave a bit to be desired in terms of its story. The problem is that it tries to be far too ambitious, and it leaves a few things to dwindle and it never comes to fruition, which is a great shame because Contact really could have been a remarkable and highly memorable Science Fiction drama that could have stood out among other genre films. Contact is a good film, but it's not one Zemeckis' best efforts. For what it is, it's entertaining film, but at times we can see that the story strains a bit and it tries to overshadow the sometimes lacking plot with far too ambitious ideas, which like I said never really comes to light, and it's a shame because Contact had all the ingredients of a great Science Fiction picture, but it could have been so much better as well.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Oct 27, 2012
    Fascinating story about first alien contact. Brilliant story telling in which complex ideas are communicated simply enough to be understood by a non-technogeek audience. (I could have done with a little less religious grandstanding though.)
    Christian C Super Reviewer
  • Mar 17, 2012
    Clearly, this is Robert Zemeckis trying to make up for not being able to adapt that space travel bit from the original novel when he did his then-previous film, "Forrest Gump". Yeah, I know I sound like I'm looking too far into it, but now-a-days, Matthew McConaughey can't seem to escape being typecast as country doofus... I said, even though he's playing a genius in this film. Okay, maybe I am looking too far into it (Yeah, I can't believe it either), not just because Tom Hanks is certainly no Matthew McConaughey, but because if Bob Zemeckis wanted some good old fashion Southern accent, then he couldn't have gotten it any more off if was going for Jodie Foster. It had cannibals, a sex-change operation hopeful skinning people and a cop being strung up by his guts to look like an angels, yet nothing in "The Silence of the Lambs" was more horrifying than Jodie Foster's Southern accent. Hey, bad accent or not, she still knows what she's doing in every other department of acting, much like James Woods, who is such a great actor that he appears to have gone full method and launched himself into space, which would explain where he's been the last couple of years. Well, he was either doing that, or watching this film, seeing as this movie takes a couple of years to finish. No, it's not that long, but if you're thinking that Zemeckis is going to take a break from slowness for this two-and-a-half hour "discussion" on aliens, then you must be somewhere in space, because you're clearly not getting a whole lot of oxygen in your brain. Okay, in all fairness, the '90s was around the time Zemeckis experimented with slowing down on the slowing down, so this is quite less slow than some of his early work, which is to be expected seeing as his early work consisted of wacky comedies and adventure films, which are, of course, typically immensely less exciting than the aforementioned two-and-a-half hours of scientic mumbo jumo. No, but seriously though, Zemeckis does a fabulous job of pumping these two-and-a-half hours of mostly dialogue full of material and intrigue, as I'll get into later, yet when he's not heavily playing up the atmosphere or blasting moments of insanely over-the-top sound design into your skull, the film goes a bit limp. It's not terribly slow or quiet during those moments, yet those moments remain active nevertheless and really dry up a film already damaged pretty heavily by pacelessness. The runtime of the film is not tediously paced, though it is palpable, and while you're not too likely to fall out of the film too much, you are bound to check your watch on more than one occasion. It's a dialogue-driven, two-and-a-half hour long intellectual study, so it's to be expected that this film will fall into slowness, no matter how many golden moments it has. Of course, then again, this film has a lot of golden moments, which isn't to say that it's a consistent knockout, but it is to say that it's still with plenty of moments where intrigue blends with entertainment and really wakes you up. Of course, what is consistent about this film is Zemeckis' genius ability to keep you going even when the film is at its lowest, because although not all of his films can be "Forrest Gump", he is a phenomenal director. Strap in boys and girls, because I'm about to hit the nail so hard on the head that you can't believe no one has come up with this, because it's just so fitting: ...The sci-fi version of "JFK". Actually, come to think of it, I don't know if I hit the nail on the head that hard, because although this is also a lengthy, fascinating, highly intellegent and slickly-stylized study on, well, to be frank, some bull that never happened, this film is much tighter and much less repetitive. Don't get me wrong, "JFK" was pretty rock solid and even better than this film is a fair deal of aspects, yet when it comes to fulfilling the promises of a compellingly provocative and perfectly probable in as comfortable of a manner as possible, look no further than Mr. Robert Zemeckis, who further proves himself to among today's great directors with his highly impressive ability to pump this film with so much intrigue and information, while staging the presentation of these aspects in a highly unconventional fashion. Sure, for every convention the film transcends, it falls into a cliche, yet there is not one cliche that is not heavily outweighed by the uniqueness of the film, and for that, credit is due, not only to Zemeckis' storytelling, but to his style, because although he'll touch your mind and sometimes even your hearts, he always does it in style. His style is not off-the-walls like we, or at least I usually like it to be, yet when things do get intense, he appeals to the style fan in us all with clever manipulation of cinematography, as well as atmosphere, and when the snappy editor, the fabulous visual effects team, the great score composer Alan Silvesrti and - woah boy - those crazy sound designers all get a hold of what Zemeckis crafted when the cameras were rolling, they add the final touches and ultimately produce tighty, powerfully-stylish moments of punch-up to break up the slowness and keep the film lively. Whether it be the always skilled Robert Zemeckis or the charming members of the colorful cast - headed by a fabulous Jodie Foster -, there are plenty of people giving this film a touch of style and life that make it both provocatively intellegent and tighter more often than not. Okay, now, let me slow down, because the film is not as excellent as I'm making it sound, yet it is still pretty darn good, boasting a slick mixture of style and substance that produces enough juice to get this puppy to its point in a fashion that's more often than not graceful. When it's all said, sent back in mathematic code waves by a alien race and done, this film descends into slowness quite often, yet is constantly without pace, but what keeps it pumping along with very little steam-loss is the charming, colorful cast - led by an deeply compelling and, at times, deeply emotional - and, most of all, Robert Zemeckis, who blends dazzlingly golden moments of pure entertainment, style and even emotion with pure, thought-provoking intrigue - supplemented by highly educated and highly buyable writing all but seamlessly - to make "Contact" an ultimately often spotty, yet thoroughly rewarding sci-fi experience that will leave you with plenty to think about, and not just when it comes to what the film is discussing, but when it comes to the film's overall quality. 3/5 - Good
    Cameron J Super Reviewer

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