Saturday, May 5, 2012

Movie review: Contagion

The last movie I watched was about an astronomical disaster wiping out humanity. This time, it was a biological disaster almost wiping out humanity. My next movie is going to be a dumb comedy, I swear.

Two points in particular struck me about "Contagion":

First, if a previously unknown, fast-moving virus broke out and killed millions of people worldwide, this is what I imagine would happen, on the scientific, governmental and societal levels. This movie feels real. At no point was my disbelief not suspended. The plot follows several characters: scientists who try to trace the virus to its source, find a vaccine and contain the outbreak; a widower who's determined to keep his teenage daughter alive while society breaks down into chaos; an immoral blogger who uses the people's fear to gain fame and profit.

Second is the all-star cast. I was counting the number of Oscar winners and nominees on the screen: Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Matt Damon, John Hawkes, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard. Holy cow. How did Steven Soderberg manage that? Probably by virtue of being Steven Soderberg. Not all of them survive to the end. One character dies horribly in the first 10 minutes. But when the film is called "Contagion," there needs to be a Patient Zero, right?

Possibly my favorite part comes at the end, after all is said and done. We go back to Day 1 and find out exactly how the virus started. Its origins are so mundane that they're scary, and I'll probably think twice the next time I'm about to dig into a plate of pork.

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