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Contagion Review

Contagion Review

 

  Contagion follows the fictional worldwide outbreak of a deadly virus called MEV-1 over a 135 day period. The movie does not center on just one person but follows a few different people so that we get to see the epidemic from several different viewpoints.

 

  It all begins on day 2 of the epidemic with a "lay over" at an airport in Chicago with Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow); an executive of the Aimm Alderson company, who has recently returned from a business trip in Hong Kong. It is obvious at this point that Beth is coming down with something but she thinks it is nothing more serious then the Flu.

 

  We then get to go around the world to see several different seemingly unconnected people who are also not feeling well. With each city name revealed we are given the current population numbers for that area. The first victim of MEV-1 we get to see die is a young woman in London before the film makers take us back to Beth and her homecoming in Minneapolis only to then swoop us off once to more to distant cities where other people are not feeling well.

 

  The movie than moves to Atlanta to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), were we get to meet Dr. Ellis Cheever (Laurence Fishburne), before moving on to San Francisco where we meet blogger and closest thing we have to a villain in this film (outside of the disease itself) Alan Krumwiede (Jude Law), who is trying to convince his friend Lorraine (Monique Gabriela Curnen) to publish a story about a man who died on a bus in Asia. Alan thinks the man died of a mercury induced illness from tainted fish and that the fishing industries and governments are covering it all up.

 

Tin foil hat supplies

Every disaster movie needs at least one person with a tin foil hat. It's a rule.

 

  As you can see the movie constantly swings around from character to character and scene to scene. I hope that you do not get dizzy easily.

 

  Back in Minneapolis Mitch Emhoff (Matt Damon) has to pick up his stepson Clark (Griffin Kane) from school because...wait for it... he is not feeling well.

 

  Day 4 is upon us and we move back to the Emhoff residence where :: Spoiler Alert :: Beth has a seizure and collapses. Mitch rushes her to the hospital but it is too late and she dies. Devastated Mitch returns home only to find that his son Clark is now also dead. Did I mention we are only ten minutes into the film so far?

 

  After only five days the WHO (World Health Organization) and CDC discover that there is a serious viral outbreak. The WHO try to trace the disease backwards to patient zero, while the CDC sends an agent out to Minneapolis to begin setting up quarantine protocols.

 

Pill choice

Hope you have a prescription for that.

 

  Along with the traditional tin foil hat wearer we find in disaster films, we have to have the stupid politician who wants to hold off on setting up quarantine until after the holiday weekend. Well at least were checking off all the boxes on our stereotypes list.

 

  One of the things I will give the movie credit for is the intelligent way that virology is presented throughout the film. MEV-1 is a realistic disease that is not 100%  fatal like some other movie viruses (I am looking at you deadly Motaba virus from Outbreak). MEV-1 spreads in a way that is easy to not only comprehend for the viewer, but is also easy to see with all the visual clues that we are given.

 

  However there is definitely some glairing insanity going on with the doctors and scientists in this movie.

 

:: Spoiler Alert ::

 

  First off Mitch Emhoff is found early on to be immune to the disease. This is something whole other movies are based around, finding that one person who is immune to the virus. Does the doctor cry with tears of joy at finding the one man who is immune? Nope, she says and I quote "Blood serums take a long time to make and are very expensive". Yeah guess we'll just forget about that option all together huh.

 

  Next when the CDC realizes just how dangerous MEV-1 is they limit research to laboratories that can safely contain the virus so that it does not spread even faster. But one doctor in the movie decides that his lab is only one step below that in safety level so he is going to keep working on it anyway. I guess the surrounding population centers should just suck it up.

 

  At another point in the film a doctor decides to go the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde route to test a possible vaccine for MEV-1.

 

  Good thing for all of the above that they are rewarded for their bone headed maneuvers instead of accidently killing millions of people. Oh wait a minute millions did die because it is expensive to make blood serums.

 

Trash = Apocalypse

Remember trash always equals apocalypse.

 

  I could never shake the feeling that I was watching a made for television movie. The only thing that this movie has that sets it above that type of movie is the number of big Hollywood stars that appear in Contagion. I think that a lot of other critics are giving this movie a much higher rating than this film deserves because of the star power present and the environmental message shoe horned into the film.

 

  The performances themselves are very good with a special tip of the hat to the brilliant acting of Laurence Fishburne as Dr. Ellis Cheever. You can feel his empathy for others, making some of his more questionable actions later seem more reasonable.

 

  Eventually the WHO trace the outbreak back to a casino in Hong Kong and it is at this point that you have to really suspend your sense of disbelief. I know that casinos have tons of cameras everywhere but when it came to the footage from the casino I just shook my head. Was a security guard with a camcorder following Beth around the entire time she was there?

 

  Finally I just wanted to talk a little bit about the attempt to villainies both bloggers and the blog o' sphere in general. Someone had an obvious political axe to grind here and I found it very annoying the way bloggers where portrayed in this film.

 

  In the end Contagion was neither a very good or bad film. The acting and visuals along with the way that they show the breakdown of society, balances out the odd pacing and political/environmental messages that the film was trying to make.

 

Final verdict for Contagion 5/10 Average. This one you can wait on for when it hits cable or network television (as it should have been intended for in the first place).

 

 ~Professor

 

 

 

 

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