Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Full Review: Contagion

Grade: D-

Mitch Emhoff’s wife, Beth, has just returned from a business trip to Hong Kong. She has unfortunately contracted a new flu-virus that manages to kill her in about twenty-four hours. The virus then also claims the life of Mitch’s stepson, Cliff. Mitch is immune and he takes his daughter and locks them into their Minnesotan house. This strand of flu-virus breaks out and quickly turns into a world-wide pandemic that threatens to kill billions of people. Meanwhile, members of the CDC and the World Health Organization quickly scramble to learn as much about the virus as quickly as possible in order to create a cure. As they try to do so, the media starts to question the government’s willingness to truly help the people.

Contagion, at first, seems to look like an exciting virus outbreak movie, like Outbreak but more global. It is billed as an action-thriller, but sadly I am here to report that this movie is about as far from action-like or thrilling as possible. It gets going pretty quickly. The first twenty minutes of the movie show the virus spreading quickly and it seems like it’s all going to build up to some huge and exciting climax that never shows up. The entire time I was watching this movie, I kept waiting for something to happen, so many times I kept thinking something was going to happen, but nothing ever did. Every once in a while the news would mention the numbers of people dead around the world, but they never really did anything to show the impact of that. Yes, streets were empty, but simply because the people were told to stay inside in order to avoid contracting the disease, plus the only people on the streets were people robbing stores and threatening people. Then, after a while, things just start to work out for everybody. Not to mention that this movie has one of the most annoying shots I’ve ever seen in a motion picture.

Most of the characters of the movie are very hollow and you never really feel anything for them. Mitch loses a wife and a kid in the same day and doesn’t really seem to care. The head of the CDC seems to truly not care about anybody but himself and his wife. Alan, a reporter, seems to only care about getting hits on his blog, even if that means causing mass hysteria. So many more examples like this, like I said, I didn’t care about one person in this movie.

Matt Damon (The Adjustment Bureau, True Grit) plays the role of Mitch Emhoff. I like Matt Damon and I don’t know if it was a choice or if it really is the way the character is written but he seemed ambivalent the whole movie. Lawrence Fishburne (Predators, The Matrix) plays the role of Dr. Ellis Cheever, the head of the CDC. Fishburne is great but again, I felt nothing for his character and he seemed pretty selfish and uninteresting. The movie also features John Hawkes, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Gwenyth Paltrow.

I have never walked out of a movie before but I came dangerously close with this one. I only stayed and watched the whole thing because I was determined to see how it ended. I can’t remember ever being so bored with a movie. Nothing happens in this movie and nothing keeps happening. For a movie where 100+ million people die, a whole lot of nothing happens. This movie serves only to attempt to cause paranoia in people as cold and flu season approaches and to slam the government in not so subtle ways. I really have to suggest that you skip this movie and if you absolutely have to see it, wait for DVD. Oh, this movie is also the biggest waste of IMAX sight and sound I could ever imagine. There was no visual or auditory spectacle to this movie. If you see it on IMAX (which again, just don’t see it) you get the pleasure of watching people sweat and look pale on a giant screen with crystal clear resolution, what a waste.

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