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Friday, September 9, 2011

Why virus is more terrifying than vampires and ghosts! -- Contagion Movie Review

Potato On the Go:

Let's admit it, many of us are fascinated watching suspense thrillers and horror movies that dealt with vampires and ghosts as antagonists!  We enjoy the fright, the scream and the ride.  But I guess what can really terrify is to witness how real things can actually kill us!  This is what I saw from the suspense thriller movie "Contagion" screened earlier during its premiere in IMAX SM Mall off Asia. 

Contagion narrates the story of the people living in the different parts of the world affected by the rapid progress of deadly airborne virus that kills within days.  As the fast-moving epidemic spreads, the global medical community and government institutions race to find a cure and control the panic that spreads faster than the virus itself.  The best and worst in people come out as they struggle to survive in a society that is falling apart.

As mentioned earlier, what makes this movie more terrifying is that it is actually based on reality and the recent events that took place and created global paranoia.  Think of AH1N1, Bird Flu and SARS and you'll know what I am talking about.  Virus actually kills unlike vampires and ghosts!  Oh well, yeah, they can also kill, but only those with heart problems or those who will get into accident when people reacts with panic!  =D  Anyway, the film was able to narrate in a very detailed yet creative passion how a virus is transmitted. 
I really like how the movie was narrated, it is told not in the usual way.  The movie started with the Day 2 of the story and with a cough from one of the main characters.  From there, symbolisms continued and were maximized but not saturated.  The director was able to convey messages without even speaking about it; how a virus is passed from one person to another and how people are affected with all these things happening in their environment and the people they value most.  (Like in 500 Days of Summer) The movie is not told in a narrative passion, previous parts are inserted as the story progresses, and the scenes are tagged as to in what order it belong (Day 18, Day 100++ etc.).

Cinematography is at its best.  One notable example is the scene where one of the characters is looking at his rear mirror and how ordinary people in the streets are acting in chaos.  I also like the scenes where the transmission of virus is being traced as well as the part where one medical agent went away at the airport frustrated with her colleague.

Sound and Musical scoring are also optimal in instilling the fear in the story.  The synchronized slow to fast beats add up to the tension and suspense of each scene. 
Contagion is another acting ensemble.  Just imagine having a cast composed of Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard and Laurence Fishburne.  I am particularly impressed with the actress (sorry, I can't remember her name) who portrayed the role of a medical scientist / researcher and the actor who played his dad.  Her scene with her dying father really strike me.  In her line, she said the sacrifices a scientist / doctor like her and her dad take to save lives.  And why it's worth the risk. This scene is so heart warming!  Two thumbs and ten claps for that scene!  I also like Matt Damon's performance when he reacted violently with his wife's death, Kate Winslet's and Gwyneth Paltrow's struggles with the disease and Jude Law's portrayal of an amusingly weird character.  

Not all the major characters are in direct relationship with each other but the writer was able to intelligently connect their stories in a very good way -- from infected wife (Gwyneth Paltro) to husband (Matt Damon) to medical agent (Kate Winslet) to medical agent's boss (Lawrence Fishburne) to boss's critic (Jude Law) to a global health officer (Marion Cotillard, well not so much with her).  Most all star cast movies fail to do that, whether the characters are independent of each other or connected in a mediocre way.

There are also trivial things that I appreciate in the movie.  Contagion let us realize how the planet we live in becomes smaller and accessible to all through transportation and communication technology.  Peoples lives dramatically changed because of these two factors, it brought the good, as well as the bad.  It is fascinating to see how digital technology and social media tools like Facebook, Blogs, Chats, Teleconferencing, Video Sharing, Security Camera have affected the way we live... and die.  
For me, another amusing item is how traditional and emerging media were played up in the plot.  It somehow showed the advantages and disadvantages of both but towards the revelation (TV scene), it creatively resolved the conflict and that the two are needed and can work together.  This means there should be no conflict at all!  =)  Aside from that, a new term is coined for bloggers, which I won't reveal for now so you can discover it for yourself when you watch the movie.  =)  Well, I just don't know if other bloggers will find the blogger in the movie amusing or not as he is portrayed in a a really unconventionally weird way.  But it doesn't generalize guys, so I guess, let's not take it too seriously.  
I find the movie upbeat and almost every scene tickles the suspense and drama, however, though scenes are in exciting cadence, I find it in plateau when the film reach its conclusion.  I agree with the resolution and eventual ending but how it's treated is something I do not agree on.  It could have been done better, in a cinematic way. 

From a scale of 1 to 10 claps, I'm giving Contagion an eight!  From Warner Bros. Pictures, Contagion opens in cinemas today, September 09.

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