Contagion hit the scene with quite a splash, and there was a time when everyone was talking about it. Somehow, it managed a short-lived fascination, and became more like the odd cold people wanted to put behind them, as opposed to the raging epidemic which continued to spread and wouldn’t go away.
It’s hard to figure out exactly how and why this happened (see our own Christopher Lominac’s 4.5 star review of Contagion for our general views which make this confusing), but the film seemed to fall by the wayside as the holiday season approached. We were moving into awards season, and this wasn’t the thing everyone was talking about, and then it spiraled out of control, and became (as is oft the case during award season) the thing no one talked about because it wasn’t one of the things people were talking about.
Though somewhat convoluted, the film is intense, and at times mesmerizing, and features some of the better performances its stars have managed in a while. Couple that with an unusual, and purposeful direction, and it is nothing if not an entertaining, captivating effort. To quote from the above-mentioned review.
Contagion has a lot of things going for it. A great cast, good story, sharp direction, and perfectly atmospheric score, the only thing holding it back from reaching the stratosphere of cinematic achievement is an overly ambitious multithreaded narrative. Even with this shortcoming, Contagion is one of the best movies of the year so far. An epic disaster flick this meticulously executed in the day and age of glorified B-movie commoditized studio schlock is a rare find indeed.
The Blu-Ray itself is fine quality, and certainly won’t give viewers anything to complain about, but it isn’t exactly the sort of feature that plays up the sorts of shots that truly sell Blu-Ray capabilities. Of course, there are any number of darker moments, and the ebb and flow of the color palette shows off the quality somewhat. More impressive is the sound in this particular instance. Frankly, this is the kind of work that makes for an argument toward home theaters. Being beaten over the head in a theater with the volume too loud isn’t especially interesting, but sucking you into a mood in your own home can be.
The special features are something of a strange bag here, though I hardly expect that fans are looking for a blooper reel with this one.
The Reality of Contagion has the stars exploring the reality of the film, obviously. Looking at the real possibility of such an outbreak, and how it would likely all go down, the featurette is both educational and nerve-wracking. We also get a look at the efforts that were made to get a true translation in the film, by exploring the available avenues to find out how such an event would really be handled. It’s a fine enough featurette, but it’s a little odd.
The Contagion Detectives is an expansion on the last note from the other featurette, and gives us the stars talking about the scientists and others that they talked to in preparation for the film. Possible the best aspect of this featurette is seeing some of the stars outside their comfort zone. It fits the film, and is worthwhile for fans of the actors, but it is exactly as interesting as you think it is. Plus, it’s rather short, running something like 5-6 minutes.
Finally, you get Contagion: How a Virus Changes the World, a couple of minutes worth of curious PSA-esque directive on how you can help prevent the spread of a terrible virus… or something.
Apart from the fact that an UltraViolet Digital Copy comes with the release, that’s it for special features. Again, this isn’t the sort of film that has people chomping at the bit for mountains of bonuses, especially from the categories we usually find, but we’re only looking at 20 minutes of extras here, if I’m being generous, and the reality is that we want a bit more for our money these days.
It’s a solid film, and well worth seeking out, but the purchase is for serious fans only.
Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Laurence Fishburne and Bryan Cranston, along with medical journalist Sanjay Gupta, explore the real science of global viruses and what they mean to the human race. The world is preparing for the next biological disaster…but is it too late?
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