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Science Fiction - Contagion

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Starring: Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet and Lawrence Fishburn
Director: Steven Soderbergh
105 minutes, rated PG-13
Release date Sept. 9, 2011
Warner Brothers.

Contagion is a near future medical science fiction thriller featuring an all-star cast and some interesting directing choices. Whether or not you will like Contagion rest in some measure with your own temperament with regards to procedural/thriller combinations. On the procedural front no stone is left unturned at least from the gross detail standpoint though surely much is missing from the minutia of how these things are done. In brief, no spoiler here really, a woman is sick and has multiple physical contact with other people and the audience gets to watch as this new virus spreads. The difference between this virus and most viral infections is that this one is frequently lethal.

The movie weaves multiple stories together to create one picture. There is the story of the political and military powers that be and their concerns in dealing with the virus. There is the story of the CDC and how everyone from field researchers to satellite labs contribute to the investigation of the new virus. Finally there is the personal story of how the virus impacts one family in ways which they could not possibly imagine.

This is, in essence, a pursuit movie where researchers and physicians are trying to catch a killer before the killer can do more damage than it already has. The script is smart and the direction is frequently gritty lending a sense of desperation which augments the performances of Paltrow, Damon, Winslet and Fishburn. You can decide for yourself whether or not the resolution to the movie rings true but you will not be disappointed. This is a definite must see but you would be wise to keep it away from a younger audience. Near future science fiction has so many elements of the contemporary world in it and is so convincing about the imminence of the situation that younger audiences might believe the threat to be real.

Denis Bernicky

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