Carl the Critic: Reviews "Contagion" (Caution Contains Plot Spoilers)
"Contagion" Movie Poster
"Contagion" Movie Trailer
Experience/Expectations: August and September are usually slow months, and not a lot of movies seem interesting enough to watch. So instead I went to see the latest Steven Soderbergh movie "Contagion", a recent film starring Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow, and other well-known actors who usually give good performances. But now you're probably wondering, what is Contagion about?
Story: The movie opens with Gwyneth Paltrow at an airport in Hong Kong talking on a phone with a man whom she just had sex with. She doesn't feel very well, but she is determined to get home to her husband and son (establishing that she is an unfaithful wife.) Then there is a montage of people from all over the world who seem to be sick of some sort of bug that causes seizures, and death to anyone who comes across it and is not immune to it. Gwyneth Paltrow comes home to her husband, Matt Damon, and son, and it is here that both Gwyneth and her son die from the virus. Matt Damon doesn't get sick because he is immune to it, and it turns out that he has a daughter (who doesn't live with Matt, but her real mother), who comes to see him in a quarantine room. Meanwhile Lawrence Fishburne is a doctor who learns about deaths that are occurring all over the world by some new virus. He is trying to find out what it is, try to find the vaccine to get rid of it, and with the help of Kate Winslet who is trying to find a place to quarantine the infected people. Jude Law meanwhile is spreading around that the CDC, is not helping sick victims but helps their friends and loved ones, claims that he has a cure for the virus (which if you know anything about viruses you can tell that this is bullshit). Meanwhile Marion Cotillard, plays a woman who is trying to figure out where the virus came from, but is then kidnapped by Chinese people who are holding her ransom for the vaccine to help save their people. And meanwhile I am watching this movie going "My God I am SO bored right now!"
Critique: If what I read seemed confusing that is because it is. The movie jumps around quickly and at times I felt like I was watching 50 different movies. The movie starts off promising, and in today's day and age it is an important movie because of its subject on virus scares, as it makes references to the recent H1N1 (Swine Flu) virus.
One of the biggest problems I had with the movie was Matt Damon's performance, which seems to be weak, and bland (I like Matt Damon a lot, but this was not his best performance). The movie tries to do what "Traffic" had already done eleven years ago, by taking an important issue in today's society and view it from multiple view points. But the reason why "Traffic" worked was because each characters had a different conflicts because of what was going on, each of the characters were unique, and each of the stories and characters were well balanced. In "Contagion" there is one conflict (avoid anyone who has the virus), the characters were uninteresting, and the Lawrence Fishburne story seemed to be what was predominating the film, while the Marion Cotillard story only took like ten minutes and it had a cliffhanger ending just to annoy the hell out of people like me.
The editing of the film was weird, there was a moment where Jude Law is confronting Lawrence Fishburne in a T.V. interview, and shots of his face kept changing from the left side of his face to the right side of his face after each sentence. Edits like this don't make any sense, why do we need to see both sides of Jude Law's face? Why not cut back to Lawrence Fishburne, or even the TV reporter, reacting to what Jude Law is saying? Why not cut to someone watching T.V. reacting to what Jude Law is saying? I am assuming people would be watching this to know more about the virus, or do people just don't care?
Another edit that is to be questioned is the scene after Kate Winslet talks to Matt Damon, and then it cuts to her talking to Lawrence Fishburne on the phone, telling him about how Matt Damon reacted when he learned that his wife may have cheated on him. But why not show us rather then tell us, I mean she was right there, and then have Fishburne ask her irrelevant questions.
Now I am going to spoil some things about the movie so I can express my frustration.
The movie begins on Day 2, according to the subtitles, and after several days the movie lets us know what is happening on what day. At the very end of the movie, it reveals to us what caused the virus. It turns out a fruit bat ate a bad banana, dropped apiece on the ground above a bunch of pigs. One of the pigs eats the bat spit covered banana, and then the pig is sold to a man who kills the pig so it can be cooked in a restaurant. The Chinese chief is about to cook the pig but is interrupted because he heard that Gwyneth Paltrow is in his restaurant, so then he wipes his hands on his apron as he goes out to meet her and shakes her hand. Then the subtitle appears saying "Day 1". So there you have it folks; Bad bananas plus bat spit plus a pig equals a virus. How very thorough, but it does answer to the audience where the virus came from.
So is "Contagion" a "Bad Movie"? Not necessarily, it was boring for me, but Lawrence Fishburne, and Jude Law acted very well in the movie, the cinematography was not bad, sound design added to the realism of the film, and the beginning and ending were well done, even if the movie's middle was padded like the walls of an insane asylum cell. It's like what I said about "Water for Elephants", it not a bad movie but it's really hard to get into and I didn't particularly get anything out of it. It is an interesting idea that deals with an important issue, but I feel like the execution of the film was weak near the middle. Although I didn't enjoy it, perhaps you will instead it's one of those hit or miss movies that some people like while others will find frustrating and annoying.
Overall: So I give "Contagion" a 7.5/10 to be fair, and that there were some good parts and some originality, but it was just boring for me.
How to stay Healthy and Germ Free: If you are deadly afraid of germs, or are a hypochondriac this movie will only escalate this fear, but here are some ways you can avoid the spread of diseases:
- Cover your face when you cough or sneeze (if you sneeze into your hands, wash them immediately.)
- Wash hands for 20 seconds before you eat, or do anything else that requires your hand to touch your face.
- If you feel like you have the flu STAY AT HOME, drink plenty of liquids, and get lots of rest. If that doesn't work and if you have been sick for a long time see a doctor.
- Do not do anything stupid! (i.e. drink another person's water bottle, have unprotected sex with a complete stranger, use someone Else's toothbrush, drink anyone's blood, etc.)
- If you had vomited, brush you teeth afterward to prevent decay.
- Do not use antibiotics if you have a viral infection. There is a bacterium in your body that is trying to help you stay healthy, and killing the good bacteria will only escalate the issue.
- Make sure your food is properly cooked and prepared before you eat it.
These are just some of the ways that you can stay healthy, and if you follow these steps you can prevent the spread of disease and not have to worry as much about getting sick. All you really need is basic common sense, learn about more about germs, and of course to eat smart, and exercise, so that you may live a long, healthy life.
People who die:
- Gwyneth Paltrow
- Some Chinese guy (who turns out to be a waiter at the casino where Gwyneth Paltrow stayed at)
- Some British Lady
- Gwyneth Paltrow's son
- Gwyneth Paltrow's Lover
- Kate Winslet
- Jude Law's friend whom he refused to help (I'll explain later in my spoilers).
That's all I could remember, anyone I missed was either forgettable, or not that important.
- Jude Law claims that he has a cure for the virus, which he blogs about and posts on the Internet. But as it turns out it was all a scam to get $4 million. He fakes getting the virus, and takes a drug and says that the CDC is withholding it because... Jude Law hates the CDC I guess, his motivations for hating the CDC were never fully explored. Also Jude Law has his friend who works for the newspaper, who gets the virus and because she doesn't know that Jude Law's lying about the drug he used, she goes to him asking him for some to help her. He tells her that people stole his and tells her to leave (it was a very sad scene, because it was the only time we see Jude Law feeling a little guilty about what he is doing.)