Contagion

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contagionOh come on, Mr. Soderbergh. Haven’t we seen this movie before? And I can’t believe I’m about to type this, but…Outbreak was even better than this movie. Now, I don’t fault you for not giving us a movie as good as 12 Monkeys. That was one of the best films that year. But couldn’t you have at least made a movie that had me on the edge of my seat? Couldn’t you have had a few more characters I cared about?

This is the first movie I’ve seen Matt Damon in where I thought his acting was poor. Damon was also in the the Soderbergh directed movie The Informant!, by the same screenwriter.

In a scene where Damon’s wife dies, he starts screaming. It had me wondering why the director didn’t scream “Cut! Can you do that again and try to sound…like you’re really upset.”

Here’s the story. Gwyneth Paltrow returns from a business trip to China. She has a flu that quickly escalates to her dying (no spoiler alert needed; it happens early in the movie).

Damon finds out their son is also sick, and he’s trying to keep his daughter from catching this mysterious illness. All the while we see the numbers showing how people all over the world are quickly dying (stay away from Chinese food in China).

There are lots of other stories going on at the same time. Jude Law plays a sleazy freelance internet reporter. He’s one of the few interesting characters in this.

John Hawkes plays a guy that doesn’t have a lot of money, which means his kid with the virus probably won’t get the proper medication.

Laurence Fishburne, always the perfect person to cast when you want an authority figure, is trying to cover a few things up.

Elliot Gould showed up in one of the few roles I haven’t cared for him in.

The cast is rounded out by Marion Cotillard (she’s doing a lot of movies these days), Kate Winslet (who I enjoyed in this), and Bryan Cranston.

I’m guessing this movie will get great reviews, and I’ll be baffled as to why. Soderbergh had an equally strong cast in Traffic, and I was disappointed in that, too. Yet critics praised that highly unrealistic story.

There’s so much about this I disliked, including the horrible score. It was like a low-key rave.

If we haven’t had similar movies dealing with these things, maybe story lines involving how hard it is to quarantine people (remember how great that was in District 9?), or the ethical questions of what doctors sometimes do when they know the people involved. Even when we see the numbers on the screen telling us “Day 2,” and “Day 28”…it never really works. I mean, were we supposed to be so shocked when it finally showed us Day 1, and what happened on that day? I sure wasn’t. Those days shown on screen worked wonderfully in The Hurt Locker. Instead, I glanced at my watch (well,  my cell phone) when each day was shown. And each time I wondered why they had to make this movie so long.

This movie only gets 1 star out of 5.

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