on July 12, 2004
One of my favorite subjects as I was growing up and into my early 20s, was backyard skywatching and astronomy. I believe this movie accurately portrays the emotional aspects of science in general and astronomy in particular: the sense of awe and beauty when confronted with infinity, and the sense of lonliness felt by everyone with an idealistic passion.
If you have ever read Carl Sagan's books, you'll see that this movie touches upon the usual staples of a Carl Sagan read: the foundation of religion vs. the foundation of science, the mutual misunderstanding and struggle between those governed by curious optimism versus those governed by primal fear, and a demonstration of the dangers of a world that depends on science which is filled with so many people who do not understand it.
Some have argued that they find Contact to be "preachy." I don't really see much of a foundation in that assessment of the movie. Just like in real life, the ultimate philosophical answers are left wide open at the end of this movie, leaving it open to many different interpretations. And I think it's refreshing to see a movie that doesn't follow the contemporary pattern of avoiding any serious discussion about morality and philosophy. These are some of the conversations the human race will be forced to have with itself if we want to survive the coming centuries. Recent events since this movie was released and Carl Sagan's death only accentuate the importance of facing this fact.
I love this movie. From the beautiful computer-generated opening sequence, through the middle sequences detailing the main character's relentless and passionate quest for scientific knowledge and exploration, to the adventurous surreal climax, I felt that I had a personal connection with almost every aspect of this movie.
on November 13, 2010
They did an amazing job bringing this to Blur ray! Worth adding to your BR collection! My only nit pick about BR releases is lack of added content, like deleted scenes and the little extra us movie nuts love! Gag reels and deleted scenes make for a complete disk! On and Inserts would be nice!
When it was released waaay back in 1997, the movie may have been a sleeper hit, but it seems to have resonated with its audiences ever since. The many religious implications, emotional choices and everything in-between all forge an A to B plot, not as challenging as one may think but still a honest to goodness great effort in filmmaking. A few scenes truly stand out from the movie, all showing amazing cinematography and editing. Alan Silvestri's music is sweet, engaging and helps put you in the mood for Jodie Foster's character and her whole epic inside journey, which is only magnified by the events she is forced to go through... the ensemble cast is just top notch. From Matthew MacConnaghey to James Woods, everyone does a fine job if caricatured at times, for some parts are quite one-dimensional. Nevertheless, director Robert Zemeckis was at the height of his career, strong from his Forrest Gump success, he could do anything and anyone would have provided... and this picture shows it. "Contact" may not be the "be all end all" of sci-fi/religion movies, but it sure is a competent effort.
Special features are just the same as your old DVD, so if you're looking for a reason to trade format, your best bet is to consider the audio and picture elements, which are far superior in every way to their DVD counterpart.
Thanks for reading, by the way :) and should you be so inclined to bet Contact on blu-ray, I trust you'll enjoy it time and time again.
Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster), appropriate last name, is a scientist seeking the fringes of space to find if we are alone. Mean time she has to overcome terrestrial impediments as Dr. David Drumlin (Tom Skerritt) a limelight-steeling pragmatist, and Palmer Joss (Matthew McConaughey) the religious antagonist. Supported by the mysterious multi-billionaire S.R. Hadden (John Hurt), will Ellie get her wish or is she a victim of Occam's razor.
Intriguing story based on a book by Carl Sagan; however, I never read the book to compare. The supposedly two-sided story that becomes two versions of the same argument is rather hokey and one-dimensional.
Occam's (or Ockham's) razor is a principle attributed to the 14th century logician and Franciscan friar William of Ockham. Ockham was the village in the English county of Surrey where he was born.
The principle states "Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily."
I have followed the film from the movies to Blu-ray and will probably watch it again when the re-master for 3D or whatever comes next. However, the basic acting has not changed with any technical innovation.
On the positive side, the Blu-ray edition is packed with DVD extras that include several commentaries, trailers and much more. After the commentaries, SETI yourself down and re-watch the movie.
Contact by Carl Sagan
on September 5, 2007
this movie pleasantly surprised me.i had put off seeing it for
years,mainly for 2 reasons.the first reason is that the movie looked
like it would be 1 long bore.the 2nd reason is Jodie Foster.i have
never been a fan of her.something about her just rubs me the wrong
way.however,tonite the movie was on 1 of the movie channels,and i
thought,what the heck.i'll give It a shot.i figured i'd watch for a
short time,then become bored and do something else.that was not to be
the case.yes,the movie is long,clocking in at almost exactly 2 and a
half hours.but it doesn't feel like a 2 and a half hour movie.i thought
the time went by rather quickly,and considering the subject matter,you
wouldn't think that would be the case.the movie has a lot of dialogue
and passive action,for the most part.a drama,more than anything.but the
filmmakers made it interesting,and even compelling at times.the visual
effects were very well done.the film has a beautiful look to it in many
scenes.Jodie Foster did a good job in this movie,and i didn't find her
annoying at all.i think she really brought some heart and soul,some
passion to her character.i also liked the use of irony in a scene
towards the end of the movie.it's nice to be pleasantly surprised once
in awhile.for me "Contact" is a 4.3/5
on February 10, 2004
When you see a film made by Robert Zemeckis, you can be sure that you are going to find three things in such movie:
1).- THE MOVIE HAS OUSTANDING TECHNICAL LEVEL: "Contact" has excellent visual effects, the worm holes seem very realistic, when Jodie Foster travels to another "planet", the scene looks spectacular. The photography in "Contact" is very detailed. The shots that show the outer space and the natural beauties surrounding the research centers are proof of the high technical level of the team behind "Contact". The use of footage of popular characters (like Bill Clinton) look as real or even more real that the scenes in "Forrest Gump" (same technical team behind "Contact", but with more experience and more technology than where they did "Forrest Gump" in 1994). By the way, the music is also perfect for this film, the composer was Alan Silvestri.
2).- THE MOVIE HAS AN INTERESTING CAST: in "Contact", we can find popular actors like Jodie Foster, James Woods, John Hurt, Tom Skerritt, Rob Lowe and Matthew McConaughey.
3).- THE MOVIE WILL BE INTERESTING, PERHAPS WILL BE FASCINATING: and "Contact" isn't the exception to this rule. The human beings are always interested in the study of other planets and solar systems, and we are always wandering if there is life in other place besides the Earth.
Robert Zemeckis is a director capable of tell a story in his movies, he has a lot of tricks and resources, he is very creative and he is always surrounded by the right people in every movie that he makes. Another interesting movies filmed by Robert Zemeckis are: "Forrest Gump", "Back To The Future", "Cast Away" and "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?".
on February 2, 2004
I was in no hurry to see this film and didn't for ages. For one thing the really fun alien movies are those where they are evil and want to eat us. As any real sci-fi fan will tell you, nice, friendly aliens are for sissies. For another it's by Robert Zemeckis whose other films tend not to rock my world. And for another again I thought it would be a bit like "Close Encounters" which I hated. Why did I hate "Encounters"? Well, mainly because I thought it was dumb: it's the key film in the rather troubling mainly American cultural trend of treating the possibility of alien contact as a kind of ersatz religion. And it's a pretty silly ersatz religion. It ended, you remember with a great crowd of people (a crowd clearly intended to included us the audience) gazing upwards in an attitude of dumb, sub-religious awe. And with nothing to merit it except a vision of gleaming metal and astronomical power. Which is one of the stupider reasons around for any kind of awe. For some reason I expected this to be a bit similar but it's really a lot more interesting and, for the most part steers appealingly clear of the dumb sub-religious awe route.
The first - and better - half is a nice attempt to work through imaginatively what would actually happen if the people who sit around listening for alien signals from outer space were really to come across something unambiguously so sourced and seriously interesting. And we can readily enough appreciate how the military establishment might muscle in, how assorted fringe - and perhaps some not so fringe - religious groups would get badly carried away in diverse directions, how the bigshot scientist who had dismissed all such research as nonsense and vetoed the funding is suddenly right on board and claiming half the credit. All this is very nicely, very credibly portrayed, with James Woods as the unappealing National Security man who does the muscling, Tom Skerritt as the previously hostile bigshot who takes more than his share of the credit and the always fine Jodie Foster as the Ellie Arroway, the scientist to whom most of the credit is properly due. I was rather less convinced by Matthew McConaughey as the bigshot religious thinker and spiritual adviser to the President who intermittently romances Arroway. (And by the way, how plausible is it that a bigshot religious thinker would not know what Ockam's Razor is? OK, so I guess Arroway's explanation was really meant for us, the audience. That's fine then, but I was a bit shocked somewhat earlier when we are treated to a similarly gratuitous explanation of what prime numbers are: is the target audience for sci-fi movies really so mathematically illiterate that this was necessary?) A small appearance by John Hurt as a bonkers maverick scientist is also a bit unconvincing but such great fun I forgave it instantly.
The second half worried a lot less about being plausible. The aliens have sent us a blueprint for a ship that takes a passenger instantaneously across vast reaches of space to their home and this is duly built at vast expense and tested at huge risk. A natural thought is that, if the aliens can make these ships, why not just make their own and come calling? Part of the answer presumably is that Spielberg already made that movie. The answer we in fact get at the end is that aliens work in mysterious ways their wonders to perform. Which isn't really very satisfying. But I thought it was an interesting, intelligent piece of film-making that held my interest pretty nicely for all of its 150 minutes.
on January 11, 2004
In 1985, Pulitzer-prize winning author and astronomer Carl Sagan (1934-1996) wrote a brilliant "what-if" scenario in his novel entitled "Contact". In the novel, Carl Sagan created a scenario in which his protagonist, a radio astronomer named Dr. Eleanor Ann 'Ellie' Arroway, discovers an extraterrestrial radio transmission that is clearly from an intelligent alien source. The discovery causes intense debate between the proponents of science, religion and government that eventually leads to some very compelling questions on the nature of faith itself. In 1997, the novel was transformed into a film of the same name under the direction of the well-known director Robert Zemeckis, who had previously directed "Forrest Gump" (1994, for which Zemeckis won the Oscar for Best Director), "Death Becomes Her" (1992), "Back to the Future" (1985) and "Romancing the Stone" (1984).
Carl Sagan, with assistance from writers Ann Druyan, James V. Hart and Michael Goldenberg, slightly modified the original story by giving Dr. Arroway (played by Jodie Foster) a more personal adversary in another astronomer, Dr. David Drumlin (played by Tom Skerritt). At the beginning of the film, a brief exploration of Dr. Arroway's childhood (played by Jena Malone) is provided that helps to establish her purely scientific perception of reality that resulted in part from the passing away of her father, Ted Arroway (David Morse), who had also encouraged her love of science, astronomy and radio communications. As an astronomer, Dr. Arroway dedicated her work to the SETI project (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence), which Dr. Drumlin considers frivolous and potentially damaging to Dr. Arroway's credibility. With her governmental funding cut, Dr. Arroway eventually gets private funding after she approaches one of the world's richest and most influential men, S. R. Hadden (John Hurt). With funding secured, Dr. Arroway's search continues at the Very Large Array (VLA) near Socorro, New Mexico. With her unorthodox method of personally listening to outer space static, Dr. Arroway suddenly and unexpectedly hears a bizarre set of sounds. She immediately gets her team, which includes Kent Clark (William Fichtner), busy working on analyzing the signal, which likely comes from an extraterrestrial source. Once verified, she announces her discovery to the world via the news media, to the disdain of governmental officials including Dr. Drumlin, National Security Advisor Michael Kitz (James Woods) and then President Bill Clinton (himself via archive footage). It also gains explosive response from very religious individuals who don't necessarily share Dr. Arroway's enthusiasm, except for Father Palmer Joss (Matthew McConaughey), whom Dr. Arroway met in Puerto Rico in a more than casual sense. The content of the message itself raises some very large questions.
What really brought Carl Sagan's vision to life in "Contact" was placing it within a contemporary timeframe. This included the use of many real events, people and places that included CNN, the VLA, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico and many cameos from current politicians the television personalities (Jay Leno, Larry King, Geraldine A. Ferraro, Geraldo Rivera to name only a few). Also, Robert Zemeckis placed actors within archival footage in much the same way as he did with the film "Forrest Gump" in 1994. All of this, as well as superb acting from the principal actors (Jodie Foster, Tom Skerrit, Matthew McConaughey, John Hurt, William Fichtner and James Woods), great cinematography, wonderful sets and great special effects make this a brilliant film. Other memorable characters include Rachel Constantine (Angela Bassett), Richard Rank (Rob Lowe), the NASA Mission Director (Tucker Smallwood) and Joseph (Jake Busey). Some of the most memorable scenes in the film include Dr. Arroway hearing the message at the VLA, the public response, the political discussions, Dr. Arroway meeting S.R. Hadden, the machine, Dr. Arroway's relationship with Palmer, the pinnacle event and its aftermath.
Overall, I rate "Contact" with a resounding 5 out of 5 stars. In my opinion, it portrays many very probable debates and reactions if astronomers ever actually do discover intelligent extraterrestrial communication signals. I applaud Carl Sagan for his vision, as well as Robert Zemeckis and the many actors and other people involved with the making of this very engaging and compelling film.
on November 29, 2003
I like Jodie Foster. She's a terrific actress if given the right script (Silence of the Lambs springs to mind). But, like any other human being, she isn't perfect. Contact, apparently her creative child, ought to pop whatever "genius balloon" the folks in Hollywood have tried to pin on her sleeve. This movie is slow, overbearing, and not very interesting--quite an accomplishment for a movie involving inter-stellar travel and first contact with intelligent life outside of Earth. All in all, Foster holds her own compared to the insufferable performance from Matthew McConaughey. Simply put, he is awful, attempting to portray an intelligent representative of the religious point of view. He simply isn't up to that task, and comes across as more of a dumb hick way out of his element. (Has he ever been good in anything? Not that I've seen.)
So Contact just drags on and on, preaching this, prattling on about that, spoon-feeding us the life story of this preeminent scientist (Foster), showing us stereotypical intrigue between those who want scientific progress and those who do not. Added for good measure are some sophmoric attempts to engage in philosophizing about "big" issues (which end up being just plain dumb) and an ending that simply isn't worth the wait. The long, long wait as Contact crawls to its anti-climactic conclusion.
on November 2, 2003
Considering the subject it tackles, I always felt that Carl Sagan's 'Contact' was a little bit of a let-down. It would be unreasonable to look for something of the order of Childhood's End let alone of Stapledon, but Contact trivialises itself in too many ways. When the author presents us with the undeniable evidence (fictional of course) that a major civilisation is consciously trying to reach us, to base a lot of the story round the issue of trying to obtain funding is sheer bathos. Also, to a European reader the whole issue of science-vs-faith is a complete non-issue seemingly introduced to play to a certain kind of American gallery, and even from that standpoint it is hard not to find ridiculously implausible the status the book gives to vested religious interests, to say nothing of an auto-da-fe being made the qualifying criterion for participation in the project.
The film could have alleviated some of this, but the production elects not to and instead throws in a variety of gratuitous downers of its own. It should be said at this stage that the film abruptly hoists itself on to a higher level towards the end, from the point where the alien machine first appears. Until then the camera-work is dull and average, the situations are void beyond belief of imagination, (the romantic theme in particular seeming a blatant crowd-pleaser), the dialogue is as flat and artificial as could be, and the only remaining hope was that the acting might raise the level a bit. No such luck. McConaughey is downright awful, but Foster and the rest of them are very little better, and it took a machine to rescue the production. The thought crossed my mind that if I had been the alien intelligence I would have hit the off-switch and looked for a more promising culture on Betelgeuse, Algol, Polaris or in another galaxy altogether.
I'm a bit of a sucker for light-shows, and my level of interest and involvement rose sharply when the alien machine started up. The actual alien contact is notoriously vague and inconclusive. There is nothing basically wrong with the idea as far as I am concerned, but it should have been developed in some way. Instead we are brought back to earth with a bump and the focus shifts back to the less-than-gripping topic of congressional hearings, this one featuring some perfectly farcical conduct by the committee chairman.
The story has the basic makings of real greatness, the film has some undoubtedly gripping sequences - so could I honestly manage to award it a third star? Not really. Not with any integrity or fairness to other productions.