Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Directed by Steve Soderberg, Warner Bros. Pictures, 2011, Starring Matt Damon, Gwyenth Paltrow, Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, et al

Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Question: Are you a germaphobe? If you are, you might want to skip this review. If you aren't, you might be after watching Contagion - trust me.

I must confess I am a bit of a germaphobe because 2 years ago I contracted a heart infection that nearly killed me because the doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong with me for weeks. They finally did and it started with a simple common, everyday ailment that I picked up from someone else. So when I saw the preview for this movie a few months back I was unsure if I really wanted to see it. Plus, I felt like this story was told before with movies like Outbreak or the beginning of every zombie movie.

There really is nothing new with Contagion - as far as the plot goes. Of course, it is a about an outbreak - a new type of influenza that quickly spreads across the planet. Sound familiar? Yeah, I know. However, there is one thing different with this film. It was completely realistic with how much we move around the globe, touch things others have then touch ourselves - our faces specifically. Here is where you germaphobes may freak a little. I even jumped in the theatre when someone sneezed right behind me during the movie. I even went as far to make sure I didn't touch the arms on my chair for the rest of the movie.

Imagine if something like this did happen. Well, it did back in 1918 with the Spanish flu pandemic where 50-100 million people died because there was no vaccine. Yes, that many. Now I know we had the outbreak of N1H1 in 2009 but it was quickly contained and a vaccine was made. Now think if a virus was so new and nothing we already had as a cure could stop it. There's Contagion.

The film-makers took the approach to tell a story about a modern-day pandemic with an ensemble cast and multiple stories intertwined. This approach fascinated me.  There really was no set "lead" actor or specific story that stood out unless you want to say the "virus" was the lead character. That was the common element, although many of the stories were connected, which also had me thinking how this story seemed so "real".

It starts out with who were the first few victims and how powerful this strain was and how it was able spread to others. Governments soon become involved by sending workers around the world to figure the out pandemic. People died left and right - no one seemed immune...well, that isn't exactly true. You'll see. Anyway, the pandemic started out listing either day 2 or day 3 - I can't remember exactly, and for the next 100 minutes or so the story was tagged with counting of the days.

I won't say anymore about the details of the story except to say I really liked the ending for two reasons. One, many things were left unanswered. I know some won't like that but, to me, that's what made it scary and....real. The second reason...well, I'm going to leave that one a mystery. Sorry.

There are so many actors listed in this film that it is hard to talk about all of them. Matt Damon should be mentioned. His wife was one of the first victims and his reaction to her death was powerful. I also enjoyed Kate Winslet's performance but if I say much more I will be giving things away. Silence.

Laurence Fishburne must also receive a mentioning in this review. His character works for the CDC and from behind the scenes he sees how the virus is destroying the world he knows. He comes face-to-face with some decisions that no one would like to make. There is one particular scene that almost had me choke up at his response to one of his decisions. You have to see it.

So, grab your Purell and head to the theatres for this one. Oh, and for you bloggers out there, you might enjoy Jude Law's character.

My favorite thing: That's a hard one - I think it would have to be the last few minutes and how they ended the story.

My least favorite thing: Finding out how many times we humans touch our faces and how viruses are spread by doing that. I kept catching myself touching my face and quickly having to pull them off during the movie. Are you touching your face right now?

Rating: PG-13
Length: 105 minutes

Review: 7 out of 10

Click on the film poster to watch instantly:

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