on 13 January 2002
To anyone who thinks that science fiction is about action-packed escapism, with ray guns and scary monsters, as all those who have jumped on the Star Wars bandwagon in the last 25 years would have us believe, watch this film. Science fiction can be plausible, intelligent and - shock, horror - have things to say just like any other form of drama. I have a personal fondness for this film for that reason, and therefore am prepared to forgive its occasional lapse into schmaltz. It's refreshing to see something that gives us a credible glimpse into what our first contact with an alien intelligence might actually be like, and how we might react to it.
Also this disc represents top value for a DVD:... here's what you get for your money:
*No less than THREE full-length audio commentaries - one from Jodie Foster, one from the director and producer, and one from the Special Effects men. And these are genuine commentaries too, not cobbled together from interviews - they are with you as you watch the film, commenting on everything you see as you see it. Together they are a wonderful eye-opener into how a film like this is made.
* Isolated music score - this option means that the film is silent for a lot of the time but provides a fascinating alternative way to view many scenes.
* Special effects featurette; sort of a technical showreel showing how many shots were composited -even the ones that don't look like FX shots.
* Production notes, the usual scene access & trailers
None of this is the cheap promo stuff that is thrown carelessly onto many discs; somebody cared enough about this film to make a real effort. all of this means you have to watch this film at least four times before you're exhausted all the disc has to offer.
If you haven't seen the film, watch out for spoilers in the other reviews on this page.
on 5 December 2002
I watched this film with caution, I knew there weren't any huge interplanetary space battles or fighting action of any sort ,and at to me that equaled boring. How wrong I was, like others before have said this film is beautifuly done, the opening sequence of the earth then pulling back through the solar system then the local star cluster then the galaxy and finally the universe itself really makes you realise how small our corner of the universe really is. Jodie Foster gives one of her best performances, her emotional reaction to seeing the beauty of the cosmos is truely touching. "No words, no words...they should have sent a poet...so beauiful...so beautiful....I had no idea, " brilliant stuff.
The special effects are still top notch and although the film slows down a little there is plenty of action and plot twists to keep you entertained. This isn't a new film anymore but the price is remarkably low for a film of this standard.
on 12 July 2007
Contact is something completely different. It's belongs to the the ever diminishing group of sci-fi with brains. Because of this. It's very understandable that it gets negative feedback from the friends of no-brainer sci-fi. Actually i find it quite funny how many people have criticized the ending of Contact, saying that they were disappointed when they didn't see how the aliens looked like. I think that was one of the least important things in this movie. Still, i would've been disappointed if there had been some green alien with tentacles or one of those little grey Roswell aliens. Instead, they made an excellent choice and didn't show us the aliens at all. Really good and brave decision. In my opinion, if you were disappointed when you didn't see aliens, you didn't really understand this movie.
The religion vs. science setting is really interesting and realistic. It's fits extremely well to modern day life and i have never seen it done better in any film. The best thing about it is that the film doesn't take sides. It just portrays both of them and leaves the decision to the viewer.
on 28 May 2006
This is a slow film with a big impact - a big impact because of the wonderful novel it is based on but also because of the quality of the acting and the conviction with which Jodie Foster plays her part.She carries the whole film in what I can only describe as a performance of galactic proportions.Special effects are kept to a minimum - though some of them are breathtakingly good - and the emphasis is placed on what people discover about themselves as they seek an understanding of their place in the cosmos.
on 17 October 2009
A review of an old fave of mine that has languished on a very poor DVD since release, and now finally displayed in all its glory on Blu ray.
Simply put, far superior to the approx 10 year old DVD as you would expect, though not perfect. However for a movie shot in 1997 it mostly holds up pretty well under the scrutiny of high def.
From a technical point of view this blu ray finally gives Contact the treatment it deserves. The majority of the movie is pin sharp, full of detail with well saturated colours. Though a couple of scenes dip below standard, one or two shots show some distracting banding in night skies, I noticed some scenes that had an uncharacteristic softness compared with the rest of movie. However the dips in quality were few and very brief, so not a problem to me.
The CGI elements hold up surprisingly well, you can tell of course that you are looking at CGI but it is not all embarrassing for a 12-13 year old movie. The beach scene where Ellie finally meets the 'alien' was intended to appear unreal due to the Vegan's creating of an artificial setting intended to make Ellie feel more secure (ie a bit of home) so it all has a strange look to it intentionally, but Ellie and her father appear to fade around the edges into the environment with a very blurred outline. No doubt showing the limitations of CGI and blue screen work 10+ years ago. However with the nature of the scene I don't find it a serious problem.
Scenes featuring the machine, again, for the majority look convincing and it is with these scenes that the sound really gets to work. On the whole Contact is a dialogue movie with few 'action' scenes to show off the sound design, but when we get to see the machine up close we really get an impressive sense of the machines enormous energy and momentum. When the rings spin beneath the launch pod the sound really conveys the weight and scale of the thing really helping to sell the completely CGI image.
All in all a fine effort in my opinion, for a movie desperately needing the hi def treatment as the original DVD release was annoyingly poor. Just compare the opening scene as we take a trip from earth to the outer reaches of the universe, very impressive on blu ray as opposed to the digitised mess on the old DVD.
Highly recommended upgrade for a fan of the movie.
on 8 March 2005
I am such a great fan of Jodie Foster and everytime a film of hers is shown on television I always watch it. I started to watch Contact with no enthuasiasm whatsoever - it's a Sci - Fi film, need I continue? But then I came to see that it was so much more than that. I think everyone at at least one point in life mustv'e questioned it's meaning; what are we all doing here? Does God really exist? And this film deals with all those issues without making it to religious or "mushy". It just really gets you thinking. It's an amazing film with a really strong cast, and Robert Zemickis, who hasn't heard of him?! There isn't anything I don't like about it and everytime I see it, it hits my really hard and saddens me. We really are all so alone. It is exetremely thought provoking and it has since inspired me to become an astronomer myself! Please don't listen to reviews who completely rip it apart - fair enough everyone has different tastes, but if you just gave it a go, with an open mind and an open heart, I think you would really love it. I can't even begin describe what a great script it has and the way the story evolves. It is one of my favourite films and it has taught me to never judge a film by it's cover. Being a philosopher myself, It copes with the religious issues exetremely well without being boring or over the top to people who aren't religious, It just gets them thinking. All my friends love this film, and so do I. Just please, give it a go and you will also come to love it. It's time to make Contact!
Based on prominent and talented Scientist Carl Sagan’s book of the same name, Contact is a big Hollywood movie with loads of big names, a top notch director and a huge budget to boot.
Jodie Foster works for SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Life) and spends her life waiting and hoping for “contact” to be made. Well it doesn’t take long before she thinks she has found it. Working out what is being said is difficult and an international effort is put into place and we follow our characters efforts to solve the puzzle. The puzzle solved we see our heroine set off on a journey of discovery in more ways than one. What will she discover, who or what will she meet, and what will she learn?
Contact is a quality film that touches on what it is to be human and what belief means in a world that often demands physical proof. Are Science and Religion really enemies or are both looking for the same truth in different ways.
Contact has high goals and in the main fulfils them, but it also tries to reach up to the late Carl Sagan’s prodigious intellect and in doing so often feels a little a bit cold. The Foster character is also cold, she prefers the coldness of space to warmth of human contact. This character flaw is of course pertinent to the film but the character for me was a little soulless and uninteresting. The Mathew McConnaghy charcter seemed only slightly more human but again rather cold.
Where “Close Encounters” had humanity at its heart, Contact seems like a technical exercise and as a result has a clinical and cold feel.
I have watched this film quite a lot over the years as, despite knowing what happens throughout, the story is intriguing and the movie is so well produced and has such a good screenplay.
Warner have clearly put some effort into this Blu-ray release (as they usually can be relied on to do, contrary to other studios such as Universal who I think can be a bit 'unreliable' with their Blu-ray release of older films), as the image and sound are not only improved over the DVD (even when played-back upscaled via an HDMI connection) BUT this UK-release has amalgamated the extras present on both the superior Region 1 DVD AND the one and only 'goodie' the Region 2 'Special Edition' DVD had over it, namely an isolated DD5.1 score option.
The plot of the film eventually gets a little involved and is obviously revelationary if I explained it all (and would spoil it for first-time viewers !), so I shall give a brief description by quoting/supplementing the first section of the Amazon synopsis - AND WARN YOU not to read the full synopsis itself as it goes on to reveal too much :
"After the death of her father, Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster) devotes her life to science in 1990s USA. Convinced of the existence of extra-terrestrial life, she uses satellites to sweep the stars for evidence......"
Despite being a very long film, those opening events occur in just the first 15mins or so of the film, what happens thereafter quickly develops to include incredible discoveries, deep mysteries, a minor love 'angle' and a dash of scurrilous behaviour....
For me, what makes this film succeed is that it blends a majority emotional trait (which is emphasised with what is occasionally soundtrack music that is a bit twee for my liking, but note the director is also responsible for 'Forrest Gump' which probably explains a lot...!) with a healthy amount of believable special-effects, and a firm-grounding in the technicalities of scientific fact/hypothesis. It also includes, in addition to Foster, a number of notable acting talents who no doubt discarded any inhibitions concerning the inherent 'fantasy' elements of the story to give everything the credibility it deserves (it is based on the novel by Carl Sagan).
Whilst not extravagant, the production values (which includes copious use of archive footage, superimposed with the film characters, plus a lot of CGI) ensure everything we see is convincing.
Warner have clearly 'tinkered' with the original film footage to produce this Blu-ray; I say this for no other reason than the overwhelming majority of those annoying small white 'speckles' which flash on the screen on the DVD edition are absent on this HD platter; some have 'slipped though the net', but most are now absent.... Other than that I'm not convinced too much else has been done with the footage, with reliance simply being left to the higher bit-rate that Blu-ray offers to present a mostly impressive picture which is clearly sharper, and MUCH redder (in my opinion), than the upscaled DVD. There are occasional dips into mediocrity, but thankfully the scenes where the picture is not improved are the less important middle ones such as a cocktail party etc; all the exterior shots and special-effect scenes (the more significant first and last parts of the film) ARE improved.
For me, the changes are akin to the subtle (but nonetheless impressive) improvements made to the superb Michael Mann crime thriller 'Heat' which Warner released not that long ago, 4 years after the previous 'Special Edition' DVD.
Another area of improvement is with the sound, which is more lively courtesy of being upgraded from DD5.1 to Dolby TrueHD 5.1.
Finishing off the list of improvements is the extras list, which is significantly enhanced from the Region 2 DVD as it now includes the copious number of featurettes which were only on the Region 1 DVD. Happily, the 3 commentaries which were on both DVD are still present PLUS the isolated score, which was only on the Region 2 DVD, also features...so this Blu-ray really does offer the best of both worlds !
So, existing fans of 'Contact' should be impressed with a move to this superior Blu-ray and new viewers have plenty in store to enjoy. A convoluted and thought-provoking sci-fi plot is combined with traditional story elements, and a notable acting cast, to make a thoroughly engrossing movie which both looks and sounds impressive on this new HD offering.
on 10 February 2002
This must be Jodie Foster's finest film role. she plays a gritty, doggedly individual astronomer seeking life on other planets. Familiar scenario? Not the way this unfolds. Step by step she discovers an apparent way to travel to the star Vega. Political and religious factions hamper and cross her every step of the way - but she has a hidden benefactor who helps her achieve her desire. Central to this film is the dilemma of believing science or religion, which for her is agonisingly pinpointed by falling in love with a priest. The visual effects in this film are stunning, the plot ever self-renewing.
Drawbacks? Some of the dialogue is barely audible, making it advisable to use subtitles, and the Extra Features are poor. Nevertheless a marvellous film, and a good buy.
on 12 July 2012
Anything which originates from the pen of Carl Sagan is onto a winner, and this movie provides almost two and a half hours of gripping entertainment. Jodie Foster, as the radiotelescopic astronomer, is as feisty as she always is, but hardly attractive enough to indulge in the boring romantic interludes. Matt McConaughey is clearly introduced to gain the affections of female cinemagoers who see him as a Paul Newman clone. The clash between the scientist and the theist brings some acerbity to the romantic structure, but in all honesty, if it were not for the appearance of John Hurt as the dying eccentric millionaire, the movie would have bombed. The scene I particularly liked is where Foster faces a panel of US VIP sceptics and has to face the question of whether she believes in God. Since the motto of the USA is 'In God We Trust' we know that she is onto a loser. She ducks the question. The fact that 95% of the world's population, we are told, believes in God is the argument that her opponents proffer. I have a feeling that Sagan himself was an atheist, as are many other American scientists who are unwilling as yet to raise their heads above the parapet. The scene where Foster meets her deceased father is clearly an echo of Solaris and leaves many questions unanswered. The special effects are brilliant and we are treated to a kaleidoscope of colour and computerised animation. Worth the money ? Certainly.