They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me

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Sick, Sicker, REALLY Sick

Getting Better

So we're recovering from our bout of intestinal bug. Makes it a bit creepy to go to this particular movie after being sick. Almost a shame there wasn't a hacking cough... (evil-grin)

Contagion [PG-13]
Holland 7, #2, 4:20pm, 2×$5.75

There are plenty of killer plague movies out there, including Outbreak and The Andromeda Strain. But rather than the military being a villain, here there are other demons, including the virus itself. And the cast is extraordinary -- Lawrence Fishburne, Kate Winslet, Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Elliot Gould, Jude Law. But the real star may be the CDC. We want the CDC to be calm, confident, professional and successful in real life.

Contagion does a good job of laying out the timeline of the epidemic, the search for a cure, dealing with the crisis and tracking down Patient Zero. Also the mechanism of the spread and the international travel connections. And the breakdown of civil society. If anything, the delivery might turn off viewers who want their action movies to be loud, noisy, devoid of thought on the screen or any hint of science literacy on the part of the viewer. Certainly the older couple sitting behind us had to talk a lot to piece together some of the plot.

Jude Law plays a special kind of anti-science blogger trying to cash in on the crisis at any cost. I think they could've developed the black market false cures further, even with fake ID wristbands, if those are required to move around. On the plus side they've done some very nice things of internationalizing the crisis and spreading the hot spots around.

There's not a lot of description to go along with the good looking technical scenes. I know enough about BSL4 labs to know why they seal and inflate the empty suits to look for leaks. And others at the CDC should have told Kate Winslet how to pack her go bag for Minneapolis in the winter.

Although we get the whole Internet subplot, I can't help but wonder if this was filmed or written just long enough ago to fail to take into account the social networking as witnessed in the Arab Spring revolutions. One reference to Facebook and some teen texting makes this look dated, unfortunately.

And many of our characters end up with failures of character at some point, though to be sure they aren't unexpected.

My one big question remains, though -- why the hell is this also available in IMAX? I'm not sure I want to see rioters in IMAX, and there are a lot of beautifully filmed scenes with either wide vistas like empty airport terminals or close-ups on faces. And even the geek in me didn't see enough detail in the Bio Safety Level 4 labs for techy geek porn IMAXized. Also, opening on the 9/11 weekend?

Still, it is beautifully filmed, the final scenes give us some resolution to some hanging plot bits, and there are some outstanding performances as the victims -- in particular Gwyneth Paltrow gets to chew up some scenes. And I love forensic plague movies which are smart and literate.


Dr. Phil
Tags: disaster, medicine, movies, reviews, sf

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