278 of 295 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Wanna take a ride?"
In 1985, Pulitzer-prize winning author and astronomer Carl Sagan (1934-1996) wrote a brilliant "what-if" scenario in his novel entitled "Contact". In the novel, Carl Sagan created a scenario in which his protagonist, a radio astronomer named Dr. Eleanor Ann 'Ellie' Arroway, discovers an extraterrestrial radio transmission that is clearly from an...
Published on January 11, 2004 by M. Hart
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bought this for my daughter..
Although the science fact here is lacking, the science fantasy is wonderful. But what was important to me was the rare character of the woman scientist. It was for that reason that I wanted my 10 year old daughter to see this, and own this film. It is not often that girls can see themselves in the characters of science fiction.
Published on March 7, 2002 by DJW
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278 of 295 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Wanna take a ride?",
In 1985, Pulitzer-prize winning author and astronomer Carl Sagan (1934-1996) wrote a brilliant "what-if" scenario in his novel entitled "Contact". In the novel, Carl Sagan created a scenario in which his protagonist, a radio astronomer named Dr. Eleanor Ann 'Ellie' Arroway, discovers an extraterrestrial radio transmission that is clearly from an intelligent alien source. The discovery causes intense debate between the proponents of science, religion and government that eventually leads to some very compelling questions on the nature of faith itself. In 1997, the novel was transformed into a film of the same name under the direction of the well-known director Robert Zemeckis, who had previously directed "Forrest Gump" (1994, for which Zemeckis won the Oscar for Best Director), "Death Becomes Her" (1992), "Back to the Future" (1985) and "Romancing the Stone" (1984).
Carl Sagan, with assistance from writers Ann Druyan, James V. Hart and Michael Goldenberg, slightly modified the original story by giving Dr. Arroway (played by Jodie Foster) a more personal adversary in another astronomer, Dr. David Drumlin (played by Tom Skerritt). At the beginning of the film, a brief exploration of Dr. Arroway's childhood (played by Jena Malone) is provided that helps to establish her purely scientific perception of reality that resulted in part from the passing away of her father, Ted Arroway (David Morse), who had also encouraged her love of science, astronomy and radio communications. As an astronomer, Dr. Arroway dedicated her work to the SETI project (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence), which Dr. Drumlin considers frivolous and potentially damaging to Dr. Arroway's credibility. With her governmental funding cut, Dr. Arroway eventually gets private funding after she approaches one of the world's richest and most influential men, S. R. Hadden (John Hurt). With funding secured, Dr. Arroway's search continues at the Very Large Array (VLA) near Socorro, New Mexico. With her unorthodox method of personally listening to outer space static, Dr. Arroway suddenly and unexpectedly hears a bizarre set of sounds. She immediately gets her team, which includes Kent Clark (William Fichtner), busy working on analyzing the signal, which likely comes from an extraterrestrial source. Once verified, she announces her discovery to the world via the news media, to the disdain of governmental officials including Dr. Drumlin, National Security Advisor Michael Kitz (James Woods) and then President Bill Clinton (himself via archive footage). It also gains explosive response from very religious individuals who don't necessarily share Dr. Arroway's enthusiasm, except for Father Palmer Joss (Matthew McConaughey), whom Dr. Arroway met in Puerto Rico in a more than casual sense. The content of the message itself raises some very large questions.
What really brought Carl Sagan's vision to life in "Contact" was placing it within a contemporary timeframe. This included the use of many real events, people and places that included CNN, the VLA, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico and many cameos from current politicians the television personalities (Jay Leno, Larry King, Geraldine A. Ferraro, Geraldo Rivera to name only a few). Also, Robert Zemeckis placed actors within archival footage in much the same way as he did with the film "Forrest Gump" in 1994. All of this, as well as superb acting from the principal actors (Jodie Foster, Tom Skerrit, Matthew McConaughey, John Hurt, William Fichtner and James Woods), great cinematography, wonderful sets and great special effects make this a brilliant film. Other memorable characters include Rachel Constantine (Angela Bassett), Richard Rank (Rob Lowe), the NASA Mission Director (Tucker Smallwood) and Joseph (Jake Busey). Some of the most memorable scenes in the film include Dr. Arroway hearing the message at the VLA, the public response, the political discussions, Dr. Arroway meeting S.R. Hadden, the machine, Dr. Arroway's relationship with Palmer, the pinnacle event and its aftermath.
Overall, I rate "Contact" with a resounding 5 out of 5 stars. In my opinion, it portrays many very probable debates and reactions if astronomers ever actually do discover intelligent extraterrestrial communication signals. I applaud Carl Sagan for his vision, as well as Robert Zemeckis and the many actors and other people involved with the making of this very engaging and compelling film.
89 of 95 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliantly Crafted Movie,
I first read Carl Sagan's novel "Contact" as a teenager and was instantly hooked on the stories premise of intelligent beings sending us a coded message that held within it the blueprints to build a machine. It was a book I just couldn't put down and one that sticks in my mind as a truly great story. However I am always skeptical of films made from books, as they never capture the true essence of the story. This one did not disappoint though.
Jodie Foster plays Ellie Arroway, a radio astronomer, desperately seeking signs of extraterrestrial life in the universe. This sign eventually manifests itself in the form of the above-mentioned message. What follows is a thought provoking journey of love, betrayal and political intrigue as she fights for the machine to be built and for her place on the maiden voyage. Her performance is full of enthusiasm and heartfelt emotion.
The DVD is positively brimming with extras including insights on how certain special effects scenes where created as well as three (yes THREE! ) audio commentaries from Jodie Foster, the director Robert Zemeckis and the guys responsible for the special effects. Jodie's commentary is informative and she puts herself across as a very intelligent woman. As for picture and sound quality you cannot fault this DVD. The picture is crisp and flawless while the sound is an audio treat for the Home Cinema enthusiast. It will put your Dolby Digital amp to the test with plenty of use of surround sound, especially during the scenes within the machine. The opening scene with the camera pulling away from Earth will leave you in awe.
In a nutshell this DVD is worth every penny and one that I will return to again and again.
One to show your friends just how good DVD can be.
115 of 127 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging and surprisingly human in scale,
This is not your typical sci-fi movie. If you want spaceships blasting each other or evil aliens with mental powers, try Star Wars or Dark City. This is the culmination of a lifetime spent communicating the awesome potential of scientific discovery in layman's terms. I am, of course, speaking of Carl Sagan, the heart and soul of this movie.
Sagan's vision, so eloquently translated by Robert Zemeckis and brought to life by Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey, is a realistic exploration of mankind's reaction to first contact with extraterrestrial intelligence. Skepticism, hope, wonder, fear, distrust, and wide-eyed enthusiasm greet the "Message from Vega." Zemeckis stays true to Sagan and delivers a thoughtful character study, a surprisingly even-handed debate on religion and science, and a commentary on mankind's readiness for entry into the Galactic milieu.
One of the finest and most scientifically (circa 1990's) accurate sci-fi dramas of the past 10 years. (Except for the fact that we search thousands of frequencies at once, so humans don't actually listen to signals from space.) Foster's performance is worth the price of the movie.
45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Six stars, if only I could.,
This is more of a personal response to this movie, since many other reviewers have detailed the plot, the actors, the strengths and (though few, in my opinion) the weakenesses.
To the dismay of my family, especially of my 14-year-old daughter, this is still one of my favorite movies, if not my most favorite. (To be fair to said daughter, a few weeks ago she picked this one from a list of three, sat through the entire movie, and then wanted to discuss it afterward. Yessss!)
I have dealt through my entire adult life with the issues of "science vs. religion." No other Hollywood movie I'm familiar with addresses this nexus so well. I grew up in a conservative religious environment, in which the short chronology of Earth was a given. And by short I mean about 6,000 years, per the genealogical chronologies of the Hebrew Old Testament. (As you may know, the Greek Septuagint OT chronologies run a tad longer, say about 7,000.)
Graduate study in ancient Near Eastern history/achaeology and excursions into geology (including a three-week stint in the fossil forests of the Yellowstone) forced me to reconsider the "given-ness" of the short age of Earth, and to look more objectively at the nature of "truth," of perception and epistmelogy, of "myth" (as an organizing stucture). Without saying more, let me just say that this personal journey has left me closer to Ellie Arroway than to Joss Palmer.
I used to say that religion and science were two valid ways of looking at the universe. Now I'm not even sure what such an assertion means. I no longer think of myself as a two-part witness to reality (whatever that is). Split epistemology like this no longer works for me.
Ellie and Joss wrestle with "Ocham's Razor." In terms that would be entirely at home in the Evolution vs. Intelligent Design "debate," this movie asks the hard question that few on the religious Right today seen to care for: "What is the evidence."
Other reviewers have made the point, correctly, that this movie is appropriately ambiguous on the answers to the largest questions. That said, good science still has the best approach to deriving trustworthy answers about the universe. I will leave for others the question of the place of religion in this mix.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No. 1 DVD - it doesn't get better than this,
Excellent acting, outstanding directing and a thrilling story combine to produce an absolute masterpice of the science-fiction genre. SF - yes - but they make you believe it could happen exactly like this (and who knows - it might...). One of the most interesting facets of this movie is the fact that it has something that is rarely seen in Hollywood: a female heroine! Jodie foster brilliantly portrais a woman who is strong, intelligent, driven, courageous but also sensitive and emotional. Easily the strongest female character since Sigourney Weaver in "Alien". The DVD is a showcase in itself: the 5.1 digital sound is clearly the best in over 100 DVDs I've seen, extremely dynamic (if you have a subwoofer: tie it to the floor for the "liftoff" and journey parts of the movie or else it will bounce all across your living room), there are wonderful directional effects aplenty, the dialogues are crisp and easy to understand and the score is a beauty, too. For me the highlight are the full-length commentaries of Jodie Foster and director Zemeckis. They offer interesting and often humorous first hand insight into the making of this great movie. You learn a great deal about filmmaking (much more than through any "making-of" featurette), share toughts, feelings, even doubts of the people who brought this masterpiece to you and even learn about some memorable human episodes that happened during the shoot. Last but not least the image quality is very good, the contrast is high, the tonal balance is beautiful and the sharpness is way above what VHS could ever offer. This DVD is a true gem - I recommend it to everybody!
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite DVDs!,
I feel like Contact is a gift to humanity from astronomer Carl Sagan. It's an incredibly moving story about a scientist who lives out a scenerio that has played out in the minds of real life dreamers like myself. The ultimate "what if...?". Indeed, what if THEY (E.T.'s) contacted US (Earthlings). Director Zemeckis does an excellent job of transferring novel to screen. "Too long" say some critics. No way! Perfect. Things play out quite well. The "backing into space" opening sequence is probably my personal favorite of all time. I'm thrilled to live in a time when movie makers can create such magic. It's worth the price alone to see the first few minutes of this film.
The cast is very good with Jodie Foster and John Hurt standouts. Foster is as good in this as she was in SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. She has moments of pure magic...I get misty eyed. And John Hurt's "Wanna take a ride?" is my favorite character.
The DVD transfer is one of the best in my collection. The picture and sound are excellent. If you're into 2001 A Space Odyssey and the like, then Contact should be on your shelf.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Contact,
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This was a very intriguing movie! I thought Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey had great chemistry on screen as Ellie Arroway and Palmer Joss. Some of their conversations brought age-old debates to the forefront. I was particularly interested in the disagreement they had on religion and God. Ellie made the point that as a scientist, she could only believe in what she could see and equate facts with. Palmer then asked her if she loved her father that had passed away when she was a child, to which she replied yes. Palmer looks directly at Ellie, and said, "prove it". Very thought provoking movie.
25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An underrated classic!,
By A Customer
I'll keep this short & sweet! Contact is simply one of the best movies I've seen in recent memory. I can't believe the way the Academy ignored this film when it came to oscar nominations! Jodie Foster certainly deserved a best actress nomination for her performance as Ellie Arroway. The supporting cast of this movie is a who's who of top rate actors in hollywood today & all good in their roles: James Woods, Tom Skerritt, Matthew McConaghey, & Angela Bassett. The always brilliant Robert Zemeckis, who walked home in 1994 with the best director oscar for Forest Gump, certainly deserved a nomination for his work here. I personally think CONTACT is his best film to date. The visual effects in this film are second to none & astonishing to look at. From the opening force ten pullback sequence to the scenes involving The Machine...Kenneth Ralston & his team at Sony Pictures Imageworks (once again!) deserved an oscar nomination. If you have a DVD player, get CONTACT on DVD...you won't regret it! I would encourage anyone to see this movie(can you tell!). CONTACT is definitely an underrated classic!
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Against boredom, the gods themselves struggle in vain,
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This review is from: Contact [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I too have seen the movie N many times and have even read the
book, and as a result, I too appreciate how much better the movie is than
the book, and here is why:
Here is Why the Movie 'Contact' improves on Sagan's original book IMHO:
1. it is not clear why there is no explanation in the SETI message of what the
object of the trip is to be, i.e. why go? In the book the aliens evidently
cant resist showing us the equivalent of their hobby room, just like a nerdy
earthling, 'hey come on over and look at my widgets' (see pg 364 "that's
what we mainly do - engineering") But in the movie, there is zero technical
presentation from the alien contact, only a spiritual connection, so
evidently the purely technical nature of the original message was a trick or
lure to fool a techie-obsessed culture into being directly shown by an
'incredibly technologically advanced' civilisation that, 'hey, that's not
where it's at, loving one another is where it's at'.
2. Removing the technical content from the actual contact experience was a
stroke of genius and greatly increased the power of the movie, and gave it a
subtlety missing in Sagan's book.
3. Sagan's vision of the alien's interests are just extrapolations on his
own. He evidently would like to design galaxies.
Also, the aliens are not motivated by a quest for knowledge, but out
of boredom. (pg 364: "no new galaxies .. just the same old crowd.
Everything's getting run down. It'll be boring.")
("Against boredom, the gods themselves struggle in vain." - Nietzsche)
In the movie, the aliens are evidently motivated out of love, there is
no hint that they are bored.
"See, in all our searching, the only thing we've found that makes the
emptiness bearable, is each other."
4. Sagan tries to make the case that a scientist's experience of the
'numinous' in calculating pi to N-billion digits is on a par with the
religious experience of the numinous. He misses the point that one
person's calculation makes another's irrelevant and redundant, whereas
one person's religious experience of the numinous, does not make
another's redundant. This the message of Ellie after the return:
'I wish everyone could have this experience'. She is cast in the
classic position of every earth mystic in history, rendered incapable
of conveying the numinosity but yearning for everyone to participate.
Yet both the book and movie fail in making the leap to the religious
experience of the numinous as being valuable precisely because it is
available to all and not dependent on a BIG EXPENSIVE MACHINE.
All this is not to denigrate Sagan's book which I enjoyed. And I think he
might agree the movie improved on his original concept in ways he hadnt
thought of, and I am sure he would have delighted in the unforeseen
improvements, like a real scientist.
Rest In Bliss, Carl, we love ya :)
"They said that's the way it's been done for billions of years."
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best sci fi ever in some ways,
I originally viewed this at the theater. Later purchased the DVD. And view the movie again from time to time. No other movie is as good to watch repeatedly as this one to me.
Jodie Foster does an excellent job in the key character of this movie. And a fine supporting cast do quite well working to make all the events seem plausibly quite real.
Of the negative reviews I see here, they seem to fall into three categories. One is people who knew nothing of Carl Sagan's writings. And think the movie should be juiced up. One is people who read the book and don't like the changes made. And finally those who don't like the treatment of religion or the manner in which the science seemed at odds with religion as portrayed here.
If you aren't familiar with Carl Sagan, then you are possibly looking for the wrong thing from this movie. It isn't a sci-fi thriller meant to mindlessly entertain for a short while.
If you don't like the changes from the book, well I think that a matter of taste. I thought the changes didn't diminish too much the ideas from the book. And some concessions have to be made when books become movies.
For those not liking the portrayal of science and the way it is sometimes at odds with religion I can only say it must have seemed that way to Carl Sagan. And I think it often is at odds. As we advance in science as a culture it will be more at odds in the future. Some compromises or changes will have to occur. This movie left that open ended. As it must do to be honest.
In my opinion, 5 stars all the way.
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