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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite movies
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...
Published on July 12 2004 by Edward Sanville

3.0 out of 5 stars Contact makes rough contact
Contact was a film that interested me from the get go. I loved the idea, and I guess I still do: a chance to make contact with Alien life and making it come across as real. There is no question that this film provides a realness, an authenticity of plot mixed in with good acting. What Contact lacks however is some contact with originality and general audience appeal...
Published on Sept. 28 2003 by Mr. Fisher

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite movies, July 12 2004
Edward Sanville "very picky bookmonger" (West Lebanon, NH United States) - See all my reviews
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars astronomer searches for life on other planets(you might be surprised at the outcome) (4.3/5), Sept. 5 2007
falcon "disdressed12" (canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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's nice to be pleasantly surprised once
in awhile.for me "Contact" is a 4.3/5
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4.0 out of 5 stars ANOTHER GREAT MOVIE MADE BY ROBERT ZEMECKIS., Feb. 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?".
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4.0 out of 5 stars Rather Good, Especially the First Half, Feb. 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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "Wanna take a ride?", Jan. 11 2004
M. Hart "Sci-Fi Fan" (USA) - See all my reviews
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.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Whoever thought a close encounter could be so boring?, Nov. 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.
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2.0 out of 5 stars FALTERING CONTACT, Nov. 2 2003
DAVID BRYSON (Glossop Derbyshire England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Contact (VHS Tape)
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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent Sci-Fi, Oct. 6 2003
Wayne "waynesworld857" (Eldersburg, MD United States) - See all my reviews
Adapted with the help of famous astronomer Carl Sagan from his book of the same title, CONTACT brilliantly brings to life the fictional story of astro-physicist Ellie Arroway (Foster) whose passion for the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence is matched only by her resoursefulness. She is instilled with a sense of wonder about the universe by her adoring father, a widower raising her alone until his untimely death when Ellie is only 9. She finds no comfort in the words of the minister who advises that she must accept his death as God's will. As an adult, she chooses to eschew religion and devotes her energies to the pursuit of science. When she meets and is attracted to Palmer Joss (McConaughey), a religious scholar, there is a clash over issues of faith.
The plot revolves around contact with an intelligent civilization many light years away that transmits blueprints for a machine of unknown purpose. But the strength of the story is the very well developed central character and Jody Foster's emotional portrayal of her (and Jena Malone does a wonderful job as the young Ellie). The story's lofty contemplations on faith vs. science and the implications for our planet of the discovery of extra-terrestrial intelligence lift this film above most other sci-fi. It also contains one of my favorite examples of imaginative cinematography. In a scene in which 9 yr. old Ellie discovers her father unconscious on the 1st floor, she races upstairs to get his medicine from the bathroom. In one continuous shot the camera tracks just ahead of and looking back at Ellie, from the 1st floor, up the stairs, turns down a hallway and into the bathroom. When she reaches for the medicine cabinet, you see that you have been looking into the reflection of the cabinet mirror the whole time. But of course, there is no way you could literally see Ellie's reflection in that mirror from the start of the shot, which began at the bottom of the stairs.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Credo for Our Age, Sept. 30 2003
Form the majestic opening of silence to the meditative ending, this is a powerful portrait of human desire for knowledge. The intelligence of this film - especially compared to the garbage shown daily - is just stunning Jodie Foster has said about the heroine that it was the closest any character had gotten in representing her spirit. That is an outstanding compliment considering the main character is based on a real-life scientist and the movie shows her as skeptic, searcher and explorer.
The movie and the book have been compared both favorably and unfavorably but that should not be the case. Both are excellent representations of their particular genre. The best one can say about their relationship is that the movie effectively captured the spirit of the book - if not exactly following the storyline.
CONTACT has been called science-fiction for "thinkers" and it is void of much of what is seen in current films of this type - no action-packed space shootouts, no morphing monsters, no aliens using ESP or advanced technology. No, it is instead a quiet demonstration, as the main character states, that we as a race are so small and so insignificant and so precious when viewed in the background of the Universe. It is continually surprising, the plot consistently logical, the characters always "in character". It is one of the best portrayals of scientists and their work with all the bickering, fighting, jealousy and in the end, awe upon discovering Nature's secrets.
Philosophically, it asks many questions. The book deals more forcefully with the role of superstition and religion as it relates to scientific ventures. Indeed, both the book and movie go to great lengths to explain that science does not demand blind obedience and is constantly challenged and tested in its assumptions and theorems. Whether or not one believes that other alien civilizations exist, this film makes one wish that it were true.
Added kudos to the cinemtography and music.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Contact makes rough contact, Sept. 28 2003
This review is from: Contact (VHS Tape)
Contact was a film that interested me from the get go. I loved the idea, and I guess I still do: a chance to make contact with Alien life and making it come across as real. There is no question that this film provides a realness, an authenticity of plot mixed in with good acting. What Contact lacks however is some contact with originality and general audience appeal and satisfaction. Now what in the world did I just say? Well let's analyze this movie:
Arroway played by the supberb actress Jodie Foster is a scientist who goes out of her way to be the first to make contact with recent Alien life that eventually becomes national, meaning it becomes obvious to the public. Now two good things here that I liked:
1. It pretty much avoided the cliche of the big "government conspiracy" that so many sci-fi films feel they must have (until the end). The government and public are just as surprised by the sudden alien contact as any one else.
2. You don't get to see Aliens, they are left up to the viewers imagination. Another words, you don't know what this out of space life is. This maintains interest and suspense.
Now, here's where it lacks originality. Arroway is not an original character. She's a scientist, a believer in new life out there, explorer, etc. This is the character "we" as the audience would expect to be the main character. Although it may be what we expect, that doesn't make it original. What makes Close Encounters of the Third Kind better is that the main characters were ordinary people, with no expertise, learning and changing and developing as the film progresses. Arroway changes hardly at all, because practically the film is about everything changing for HER. Everything opens up to her from opportunities to beliefs. We don't sympathize with her because she doesn't grow, only the plot grows around her. And it should be the other way around.
Another cliche is Skerritt's death. I'm sorry, you knew that was going to happen. You knew some accident was going to take place to keep him from going up so Arroway could go in his place. This plot is good, but it is at the same time predictable. And because it's predictable, some of suspense goes down the drain.
Now the worst of all worst cliches in the movie is when she makes actual "contact" with a being that's in the shape of her father. How utterly stupid. How many films have I seen now that have this? Visited by an image of her father, a ghost like figure, so many films do this. They have to ruin this film by making the "contact" turning out to be a relative of hers. There is no satisfaction to this, all the suspense during the whole film of wanting to know WHAT is trying to make contact is answered by adaptation of her father?! What a waste.
That costed it one star, the cliches and the wasted suspense of this movie. What costed it another star was that I really did not like the political/religious bias and slams and cliches in this movie. I'm sure Athiests love this movie, because religion is dissed big time in this. Half this movie was not about the contact from another life form, but rather the struggle between theoretical differences (Athiests vs. Religion). This did create drama and friction between characters such as between Arroway and Palmer (Matthew McC.). However, it came across as if this film had another objective in mind. As if it was on a mission to show up religions and make it appear as if "religion is the doorstopper in progression."
I'm not the only one who thinks this, who was a little offended by how someone who believes in God is represented. Sorry, Palmer didn't make a very convincing religious person. He basically shies away from Arroway when the topic comes up, as if "he knows she's right." And naturally for villains, the director has it be these religious wackos. Then when Arroway is being interviewed by world leaders, they make it appear as if she's being persecuted for not having a religious belief.
Again, these are all slams and cliches against religion, and some of us like to see better representation in movies if it's going to be an essential element of the movie. Not that the issue has to be ignored in movies, but create a balance not a bias. Otherwise, leave the subject alone if you can't accurately or fairly represent the other side. Because quite clearly there was an anti-religious agenda in this movie and I felt it uncalled for.
Other than the biasness and the lack of originality in climax and character, this film has a good storyline. It has great acting, it is a very believable film. And if not for these blackmarks, I would've considered among my top favorite sci-fi films. But the director made a classic mistake in dividing the audience by slamming a belief system rather than telling a story without the anti-spiritual agenda.
Grade: C
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Contact (Bilingual) [Blu-ray] (Sous-titres français)
Contact (Bilingual) [Blu-ray] (Sous-titres français) by Robert Zemeckis (Blu-ray - 2009)
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