Media

Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - January, 2012

ARTICLE INDEX

"Contagion" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Heinonen

movie-january-2012-contagion

Synopsis

Beth Emhoff (Gweneth Paltrow) returns home to Minneapolis from a business trip to Hong Kong, and feels under the weather from what she suspects is jet lag.  Just a couple of days later she collapses from a seizure in her kitchen and her husband Mitch (Matt Damon) rushes her to the hospital but she dies from an unknown cause.  He returns home from the hospital to find his stepson, Clark, has died suddenly after feeling ill as well.

As the disease starts to spread with no known cause or cure, the CDC tries to maintain order and keep people healthy while the World Health Organization and others try to track down the root cause and origin of the virus to discover how to fight it.  The social order starts to collapse as everyone begins to do anything they can to survive, while a blogger (Jude Law) fans the flames with his own posts questioning the role of the government in the outbreak.

Specifications

  • Warner Brothers
  • 2011, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 46 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Codec: AVC
  • 1080p
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring: Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Kate Winslet
  • Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Implied
  • Language: Yes

Commentary

As a big Soderbergh fan I was hoping that Contagion would be enjoyable, but it was much better than I expected.  The film really flies by, as the tension and drama build quickly, and the soundtrack does a fantastic job of ratcheting that up even more.  It can be easy to lose track of how much time has passed, as the story progresses very quickly, but is never confusing or hard to follow.  There is really so much going on that it could have been an extra hour to fill in even more details and would probably still be fantastic, though some of the tension might fade if it was drawn out that long.  Really recommended, as long as the idea of a lethal virus running around doesn’t scare you.

Technical

Contagion looked very good, though often a bit muted in its palette.  Detail is usually good but not extraordinary, though shadows and contrast were very good.  It was shot with a Red One camera, so there is no hint of grain or other film qualities, though the digital image looked very film-like in viewing.  Not a perfect image, but very good.  The soundtrack was what I found to be extraordinary.  While not a tour-de-force as an action film might be, the use of surrounds and music to pull you into the environment and mood was absolutely fantastic, and dialogue was clear and detailed throughout.  A wonderful example of using the audio to really enhance what is happening on screen.

Extras

A couple featurettes about the reality of a super virus, as well as a DVD copy and an Ultraviolet digital copy for watching on your computer or other device.