Contagion – Film Review

OK, I’ll start this post with a confession. I’d probably not have watched this movie if it wasn’t for the current crisis we’re all probably experiencing in one form or another. My general genre is Superhero and SciFi and while I enjoy a disaster movie as much as the next person, it’s often a summer popcorn flick (Tornado, Earthquake etc.) vs. something as real as a virus. I know, I’m a bit typecast that way, but I like what I like!

That being said, I really did like this movie! Now that could be because of how real it is and how close to reality it feels with everything we’re all going through. I mean the cast does not hurt at all with some major names scattered throughout the production. I mean Gwyneth Paltrow is in it, if even just for a measly 5 minutes!

For those of you that have not seen it, give it a try as its available on Netflix and is trending pretty highly. The story, in a nutshell, is that Beth Emhoff (played by Gwyneth) returns from a business trip to Hong Kong. She’s not feeling too well and fairly soon after her return she starts to feel ill. Initially believing it to be nothing more than a cold or flu, she starts to have seizures and dies at the hospital.

Her husband (Mitch) played by Matt Damon seems to be immune but unfortunately, her young son is not & he ends up infecting some other students at his grade school.

As the movie progresses we see others around the world also infected and impacted and in many cases succumbing to the virus. When the CDC (Center for Disease Control) steps in with the WHO, the search is on to find out where this virus came from, was it manufactured or did it evolve, and how can it be cured.

There is no magic bullet in terms of a cure here. Scientists work long and hard as do medical professionals to try and combat its spread. I’d almost say that in some ways, the professionals portrayed on screen are less altruistic than what we see in the real world which is one nice thing. They are on the front lines and doing everything they can to combat the spread and ensure that as many people as possible survive. Just as in real life, some of the characters we’ve grown invested in also get infected as this virus does not seem to be as age or health-specific as Covid19.

Another thread to the story is that of the whistleblower/journalist/blogger played by Jude Law. As a private citizen, he is in some ways outside of the normal channels but is in the early stages trying to get the word out about the virus. However, as the movie progresses his initial Knight in Shining Armor stance is shown to be a bit more venal. Sadly this does seem to be a role Jude Law often fills!

As the contagion spreads to millions of people worldwide, societal order begins to break down as people panic. We’ve already seen it in some small ways with the panic buying of toilet paper and cleaning supplies. This could easily come to pass and it frightens me. Fortunately, stores in Canada seem to have the majority of supplies once more, but this is something that could quickly change.

I don’t think I’d ruin anything for you if I told you that eventually, they survive. This movie came out in 2011 and if you’re like me, you’re probably watching it to ensure that there was a happy ending. While the death toll in this movie is alarming, there is an eventual end to it.

If you want to watch a believable movie that seems to get things right and still give hope, give it a shot. The science and technology all ring true. Sadly some scenes of violence and looting are also what you’d expect to see.

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I'm a geek! I love all things SciFi and Fantasy and have done since I first read LOTR as a kid. Escapism to fantastic worlds filled with weird and wonderful creatures initially for me was via books and comics, but with the recent surge in popularity of this fare in film and television also - I'm in a state of bliss! As the editor of Zone Six, I've been lucky to meet some other awesome authors and writers that share this love and passion. The great Ray Bradbury said - "Science fiction is any idea that occurs in the head and doesn't exist yet, but soon will .. it will change everything for everybody, and nothing will ever be the same again."

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