Sep 9, 2011

BP Film Review: Contagion

 Image from Warner Bros. Pictures' Contagion

IMDB Plot Summary
A thriller centered on the threat posed by a deadly disease and a team of doctors contracted by the CDC to deal with the outbreak.

Film Review by Christian Salinas
With all the remakes being made in Hollywood these days, I'll admit I was pretty much just expecting an 'Outbreak' remake. Once again however, director Steven Soderbergh presents something we haven't seen before. 

Entertainment Value...
Just like most Soderbergh movies, this film is not very entertaining in the traditional sense. It doesn't feature explosions, car chases, or shoot-outs. Everything is presented in a very "mater-of-fact" way, with no obvious plot structure. Not "entertaining" however, does not mean "not interesting".

This is a very well made film. It serves as a reminder that Hollywood can still make solid films when it wants to. I was amazed at how a film featuring an all-star cast could still manage to make a story seem very believable, and stay grounded in reality. The imagery is disturbing without being overly exaggerated, and is enhanced by strong context. In my opinion, I would say some elements could easily be labeled, by some, as borderline propaganda, but I chose to see it as the filmmaker's attempt at keeping the story grounded in real-world probability (at least I hope). This is very much a Steven Soderbergh film in style, and structure. If you like his work, you will like this film. I could literally write an entire essay on the strange, sometimes brilliant, sometimes downright confusing, but always interesting decisions Soderbergh makes in storytelling. I would definitely qualify this as "required viewing" for anyone interested in the craft of filmmaking.  As a side note, after walking out of the theater I was literally too scared to touch door handles, and nervous about eating out... Its been a while since a movie has inflicted that type of fear in me.

The Good...
This is a well made film, with a fresh take on an old genre. It's "real world" approach was much more effective in making it a more believable, and certainly a much more frightening story, than last week's Apollo 18's "found-footage" style ever came close to.

The Not So Good...
This is very much a Soderbergh film, and just like most of his work, it features experimental elements that are not very "entertaining" (by Hollywood standards) nor very popular. The film is not slow to develop, but it is slowly paced, and does not follow traditional plot-structure.

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