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Customer Review

313 of 332 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Wanna take a ride?", January 11, 2004
This review is from: Contact (Snap Case) (DVD)
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.
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Showing 1-10 of 19 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 17, 2007 7:36:57 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Apr 30, 2008 4:49:29 PM PDT]

Posted on Aug 26, 2007 9:52:43 PM PDT
Except the character of Palmer Joss wasn't a priest and hence, not a "Father." He stated he was a seminary drop out.

Posted on May 4, 2008 12:29:51 AM PDT
EliteLamo says:
AWESOME REVIEW, I got goosebumps just with your subject opening line, totally a classic.

Posted on Jun 15, 2008 8:26:44 PM PDT
Valentina says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Jun 18, 2008 12:07:20 PM PDT
JUST to add a minor carp: when you say " which Dr. Drumlin considers frivolous and potentially damaging to Dr. Arroway's credibility," although it is true that Drumlin SAYS he is acting out of concern that Arroway is damaging her credibility, in the context of the film it seems that comment is just one more sleazy and dishonest way Drumlin undercuts others and enhances himself. Drumlin (typically brilliant protrayal by Tom Skerrit) is perfect as the bureaucrat-scientist, the type who never does science but in reality is a politician who exploits the work of others for the power thereby derived. Never was there a smoother hypocrite in film than Skerrit in this role.

Posted on May 11, 2009 4:09:18 PM PDT
H. Perez says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 29, 2009 9:16:33 AM PDT
Rev2010 says:
Wow, this person ^^^ (H. Perez) is seriously confused. It wasn't her father trying to reach her! I can't understand how people that have seen this movie consistently talk about the ending as if it really were her dead father. It's not, the alien being just took that form to make things easy. It was pretty much the same way in the book. I can't understand why that bothers everyone so much. I guess people just aren't satisfied without their obligatory CG alien on screen.

This movie is fantastic and is different in many ways from the book, which I've also read. Personally, I prefer the movie over the book. It's been my favorite movie since it came out. And just for those that are curious, in the book several people went on the journey and each saw the person they most wanted to see. So in essence, the aliens presented themselves as someone familiar to each person. Excited to see it now coming out on Blu-ray.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 6, 2009 6:56:27 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 6, 2009 6:59:46 AM PDT
Hi Rev2010,
I agree with you, I remember when I first saw Contact being well aware of who Carl Sagan was, is, I must admit the scene when Ellie meet her father on the beach didn't make me happy, I wasn't blaming Carl Sagan either, up until that point Robert Zemeckis was doing such a marvelous job, I'm thinking why have they ruined the story, they have put Ellie in heaven and her farther has come to say hi, but it lasted for only a few seconds, it didn't take to much to realized that how they were portraying "first contact" was quite plausible, you only have to remember that Ellie had a scan done to her on her journey to the "center of the universe" it was at this point that our extraterrestrials who claim that this is the way it has been done for a long time!...only Hollywood invents horrible creatures with bulbous eye's and long tentacles or something just as horrific!....the FACT is we don't know what an extraterrestrial looks like, Ellie was being kept alive by an invisible blister that was surrounding her and she was transported into an environment that was familiar i.e her drawing of Pensacola, chances are that these other creatures where living in an entirely different gravity possibly breathing a slightly different mix of air and quite possible would look every different to us, who knows!...so I think the way Robert Zemeckis has portrayed a first contact scenario is quite plausible and logical, Hollywood has done wonders to act on humanity's fears of the unknown....I love Contact I can relate to it on many levels, for one thing I am a Ham Radio operator and have been since I was 16, I'm 49 now, and I happen to be a Amateur Radio Astronomer as well and have high hopes for the SETI endeavor....if only those people who are quick to criticize the story could appreciate how accurate Contact is on many levels, thanks in part to Robert Zemeckis Vision and in part to of course Carl Sagan...boy I wish he was still alive, I always feel something when I see that little credit at the end of the film...."for Carl"

Cheers

Clint - VK3CSJ
Melbourne

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2010 9:38:23 PM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Dec 8, 2010 3:22:38 AM PST
Hey Travis,
Good point, its quite possible that I didn't have a Blu Ray copy when I wrote the above, however I do now, Blu Ray is only as good as the orignal master print used in creating a B/R Disc and in most cases what a Blu Ray Movie offers is usually pretty good over a standard Def DVD, sooooo....having said that, I use a Epson TW2000 Projector and produces an image on my wall over 4 meters by 2 meters in size, which means put the Blu Ray version of Contact on and it looks pretty darn good and worth spending the bucks...but it could've been better with a little remastering and released in true 16:9 wide screen.

Cheers
Clint - Melbourne Town
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