Tuesday, September 13, 2011

You Should Get That Looked At: "Contagion" Review

      The reason Contagion was for me a highly-anticipated film was mostly not about it looking great, but more about the fact the September and October of this year are wastelands of nothing. Other than the occasional bright spot like the upcoming In Time or Killer Elite, the next two months are filled mostly with sequels that shouldn't have been made (Paranormal Activity 3), new films that don't look like anything to look at (Real Steel) or "blockbuster" movies deemed unfit to run in the summer (The Three Musketeers). So, when Contagion, the first honestly good-looking film of the fall was released, I could not wait to see it.
    Turns out I probably should have.
    Contagion is not a great film. Contagion is, however, not a bad film either. Contagion, like this summer's Cowboys and Aliens, walks the line of greatness, but never actually crosses it. The biggest problem is that the film focuses not on what would happen if a virus sweeps the world, wiping out a good chuck of the population and the panic it creates, but rather on the politics behind a virus that sweeps the world wiping out half of the population.
    Of the three major plots that take up this movie, only one follows the story of a regular man (Matt Damon). His story is one that, if given the time and focus that it deserved, could have made for an incredible film. His story follows Damon as he tries protects his protect his daughter from the virus. What make this story so interesting is that Damon's character is immune to the virus. The film rarely touches upon the great fortune and burden this would put on a normal everyday person, who is watching the people he knows and cares about die around him, but he himself can't get sick and can't do anything to help them.
    Instead, the movie shoves this point aside to tell the dull tale of Laurence Fishburne, a member of the CDC as he leads a team to try and figure out just what the virus is. This leads to problems however, because his team is so large that the film can't handle all of the many different storylines going on. This causes the editing to jump all over the place making characters disappear for a majority of the film and creating various plot holes.
    The final of the three storylines is Jude Law's. He play a blogger as he tries to prove that the virus is just, like, one big conspiracy, man. The weakest of the plots, it kind of makes sense, but it still is tough to follow. There is never really anyone to root for and I think the film attempts to add in a twist at the end, but it mainly fall flat on it's face because, for me at least, I didn't realize until I really thought about it that the film hadn't been setting it up from the very beginning.
    And while all of that sounds bad, Contagion makes things even more confusing because the film is just so well-made. All of the actors are bring their a-game, and while I don't think we'll be seeing any of them nominated, I for one, wouldn't at all be surprised if they did. Plus, the film is well written and does from time to time suck you into the story. But, where the film really stands out is the at times beautiful cinematography and direction by Steven Soderbergh. The film really does look nice and is enjoyable to watch.
    Contagion is a very odd specimen. Never has a bad (or more rather, bland) movie been so well made, at least that I've seen. The acting, writing and, above all else, directing is just top notch. However, the editing leaves the film with several plotholes and the story never feels as exciting has it should have or could have been. It's just a well-made missed oppertunity.
                     CONTAGION GETS A 3 OUT OF 6.
See you later.

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