Contact (1997)

Reliable Robert Zemeckis (FORREST GUMP) directs this glossy, easy-
to-follow adaptation of Carl Sagan's science-fiction novel, about a
radio astronomer (Jodie Foster) who intercepts the first inter-
galactic e-mail addressed to the planet Earth, and then finds her-
self at the center of controversies political, religious, and sci-
entific.  (As the trailer so kindly gives away, the alien-o-gram
contains a blueprint for a transport device.  And you can guess who
has a First Class ticket.) Closer to a character study than an epic
sci-fi flick, CONTACT has a little of something for everyone.
There's action, with people running around a small lab, shouting
technical terms and excitedly staring at computer screens.  (Who
knew that radio astronomy involved so much adrenaline?) There's
romance, involving a hunky religious scholar (Matthew McConaughey).
There's intrigue (of the White House variety), some real suspense
(how about those countdown sequences!), a couple of science lessons
(hey, you learn about prime numbers *and* Occam's Razor!), a sur-
face-level discussion of faith versus proof, and, even, the occa-
sional hint of hilarity.  (Check out the lunatic fringe that sets up
camp outside Cape Canaveral.  I spotted an Elvis impersonator.)

And there's so much more:  great photography, exceptional effects, a
ready-made supporting cast (James Woods acting antagonistic, Angela
Bassett being stern, etc.), loads of convenient dramatic invention
(look, there's someone on the gantry who shouldn't be there!), and
cameos by, I believe, CNN's entire on-air staff.  Everything fits
together exactly as it should and, at times, almost painfully
perfunctorily so.  (Is this the most exciting boring movie of the
summer?  Or does that distinction belong to FACE/OFF?) Yup, every-
thing fits together very nice and neat, except for the ending,
which, depending upon your sensibilities, is either a major or minor
botch.  (I found it as distracting as Foster's narration during her
magic carpet ride.) When all is said and done, no one in the film,
including Foster's seemingly smart cookie, thinks to ask the obvious
and most logically scientific response to the hubbub:  "repeat the
damn experiment and see if you get the same results." Sigh.  Well,
if nothing else, CONTACT is a summer movie that (a.) makes you think
and (b.) makes you think about the scientific method and, hell,
that's more brain power than you've probably used in the last six
weeks.  And you *do* get to see stellar sights, such as the sculpted
profiles of McConaughey and Foster, when they turn away from the
camera to kiss.  Have you ever seen such perfect noses?  (Rated "PG"/
150 min.)

Grade: B

Copyright 1997 Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies in MOVIE HELL: July 6, 1997

Home   |   Recommended   |   Reviews   |   Views   |   Letters   |   Links   |   FAQ   |   Search!

Please report problems to
Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros -Movie Hell™ is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros