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Customer Review

135 of 158 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Catch A Cold, December 11, 2011
This review is from: Contagion [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Reposted from September 25, 2011

It figures a week after I've seen CONTAGION, director Steven Soderbergh's latest ensemble film, I come down with a cold and a slight cough. Nothing that can't be cured easily with two gel capsules and a glass of water, mind you; however, being sick this week did cause me to pause about the circumstances of my situation.

My dumb cold is nothing compared to the shellacking that Gwyneth Paltrow's character goes through within the first 20 minutes of the film: Rushed to the emergency room by hubby Matt Damon, Paltrow goes bug-eyed, convulses, and flatlines. Yep, Our Lady of GOOP goes down in the first half of the film. Much of Contagion is straight to the point with a sledgehammer, but the stakes are never so much higher as soon as Soderbergh kills off one of its leading stars.

Similar to the multi-threaded storytelling seen in TRAFFIC, CONTAGION tracks a global epidemic in multiple locales across 90-minutes-or-so. One death becomes three, three become nine, and so on, until governments begin panicking, big pharma clasps its hands in anticipation, and the CDC works day and night looking for a cure. Soderbergh deftly avoids the usual plot contrivances and lavish expenses that plague most disaster flicks, choosing to go for brisk montages of society breaking down as people loot Rite Aids for medicine, corpses piling in the street, and long lines at hospitals.

And the talking! If there ever was a film that avoids sloppy expostion, this is it. There's never a moment in CONTAGION where I felt the characters reduced their dialogue to a Cliff Notes pamphlet. At one point, Jennifer Ehle and Laurence Fishburne--both playing a scientist and the head honcho of the CDC respectively--have a sit-down to discuss a mutation in the virus. It's probably the most compelling dramatic scene I've seen this year, if nothing else but to hear the excitement and terror in Ehle's voice as she describes changes in the contagion's pattern and Fishburne calmly nodding in agreement.

CONTAGION is intelligent--in some ways, almost overthinking itself. We need more films like it (and not another Roland Emmerich bloatfest), and we need more directors like Soderbergh who are willing to put their roots from independent "art" films into big-budget genre films.

And if nothing else, you can blame the deaths of 12 million people or so on Gwyneth Paltrow.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 5, 2012, 7:53:30 PM PST
Troy Mccombs says:
I just finished watching Contagon. Just wondering... was that a banana the bat ate at the end or was it something ON the banana the bat ate? Either way, it confused me lol

Posted on Feb 19, 2012, 9:00:25 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 19, 2012, 9:12:01 PM PST
There IS a place for R. Emmerich's spectacle shots if for
no other reason than the professonalism of the various
catastrophe's displayed (I actually had dreams after "2012"
whereas I pretty much dispelled "Day After Tomorrow" after
about 36 minutes or so). CGI can be a wonderful though overused tool. I'd viewed this film when first available at Redbox and tonight we watched it as our family film (ex-wife, son and myself) right after this decades remake of "Planet of the Apes"........."Rising" an interesting, enjoyable combination (we finally got snow in Charlottesville, Va. so we spent the evening as vidiots).

Posted on May 4, 2012, 7:28:18 PM PDT
This is going to put me in a bad light but I thoroughly enjoyed the box scene in Se7en and I'm going to rent this movie just to see Paltrow kick it.

Posted on Jul 7, 2013, 5:15:46 AM PDT
My fault, I guess, for reading the reviews before renting a film, but in the future it would be nice if you added a SPOILER ALERT before giving away major plot points.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 29, 2014, 1:44:19 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 29, 2014, 1:46:53 AM PDT
Tricia K. says:
The bat had a virus; it was transmitted on the piece of banana, which the pig subsequently ate. The pig had a different virus. The two viruses got together and produced a third (the "hybrid" nature of the virus is mentioned in the film).

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 29, 2014, 1:45:37 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jun 29, 2014, 1:47:00 AM PDT]

Posted on Apr 24, 2015, 6:27:02 PM PDT
Kawthar says:
Wonderfully written review. This movie ALWAYS gives me the heebie-jeebies.
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