The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Warner - 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 106 minutes
Disc Format: BD-25
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English/French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Matt Damon, Gweneth Paltrow, Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Kate Winslett, Bryan Cranston, Jennifer Ehle, Sanaa Lathan
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Music by: Cliff Martinez
Written by: Scott Z. Burns
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: January 3, 2012
"Nothing spreads like fear"
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?
Looking at Contagion based solely upon its stellar cast and director would easily lead one to the belief that it's got to be better than any of the other Hollywood productions based on the out of control epidemic/pandemic premise. I would say that assumption is more or less accurate. The story revolves around a group of characters beginning with a woman who returns from a business trip to Asia suffering from flu like symptoms which ultimately and quickly kill her. The reasons for this are unknown however the infection begins to spread and turns up not only in other parts of Asia and her home town but in Chicago. The disease is unknown, kills quickly and is moving to other parts of the world. The CDC and WHO begin deploying personnel in an attempt to trace its origins in the hopes of coming up with a vaccine. This leads the CDC to the original woman and her husband, son and stepdaughter. Meanwhile the WHO begins tracing the outbreak in Japan. Political pressure is mounting while the panic pot is being stirred by an opportunistic blogger playing both sides. Time is of the essence as the deaths are multiplying and the effects are beginning have global ramifications.
I liked Contagion but there are a few problems. The most obvious is that there are too many narrative strings. Characters are briefly introduced along with their respective subplot but they are either not played out to fruition or fully developed enough to satisfactorily engage. This adversely effects the pacing which made the film feel much longer than it was. There is a fairly deep focus on the technical aspects of how something like this would be investigated/handled which I found interesting. The theoretical side dealing with political/societal reaction had an air of melodrama but worked well within the narrative's construct. Despite these (relatively minor) shortcomings I think that Contagion succeeds in its ultimate goal which is to create intrigue along with a bit of mystery/suspense while speaking to the possibility of a pandemic threat. The cast is rock solid and is filled with lots of familiar faces. So, is Contagion worth and hour and a half of your time? I would say that it is but don't expect a thoroughly fulfilling drama/thriller that will leave you wanting to experience it over again.
The rating is for disturbing content and some language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Contagion comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Home Video featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 17 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio that has an average bitrate of 3.7 Mbps.
Colors are effectively used in this film to help set the tone/setting based upon the mood of the scene and characters within it. The chroma range isn't diverse but hues can vary from being sullen and inanimate to warm and inviting. Skin tones are appropriately bland with natural highlights and descriptive variation. Images onscreen were exquisitely detailed and sharp with superb depth of field and visible texture during wide angle shots. Contrast is spot on and blacks are deep with revealing delineation that provides excellent perceptibility during scenes shot at night or in lower lighting. The video has a clean, pristine quality that enhanced dimensionality and provided a looking through a window effect.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix features dialogue that is full bodied with defining tonal characteristics and prominent soundstage position. High level detail is readily apparent as subtle sound effects, music and voices are rendered with superior clarity and depth. There is little call for active surround activity and extended dynamics however there is frequent use of atmospheric sounds that utilize the entire soundstage in support of the exterior/interior venues depicted in the film. The end result is an excellent audio presentation that renders the soundtrack's elements with aplomb.
- (HD) The reality of Contagion - 11 minute featurette
- (HD) The Contagion detectives - 5 minute feature
- (HD) Contagion: How a virus changes the world - 2 minute PSA
- BD-Live enabled
- Bonus DVD of Contagion
- Ultraviolet Digital Copy of Contagion
Contagagion is a thought provoking pandemic thriller that proves entertaining despite a somewhat fragmented script. The cast/direction/subject matter hit the mark which keeps interest flowing and results in an above average film experience. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Home Video featuring pristine quality high definition video, crystal clear lossless sound and bonus supplements that prove far less interesting than the film's subject matter. When you're in the mood for an enlightening bit of movie drama this is worth checking out.
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