I might have known I should never have watched Contagion, the thriller starring Matt Damon as a grieving husband whose wife, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, sets off a worldwide panic after inadvertently spreading a deadly disease. Thus the title.
I’m already fairly germophobic, and after seeing Contagion in theaters last September, I was super-germophobic. Then it sort of faded away until I watched the DVD released on Jan. 3, 2012, and then I was super-germophobic all over again.
[amazon_link id=”B00664AM5C” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Contagion[/amazon_link] is the type of movie that sounds good in theory and has all the right elements in place, including a seasoned director in Steven Soderbergh. The story follows a group of people who are impacted when a lethal virus sweeps across the globe, killing millions and sending scientists into a frenzy to develop a vaccine. The first case is brought to the United States by Beth Emhoff (Paltrow) after she flies home to Minnesota from Asia. Shortly after catching a cold, she goes into convulsions, is taken to the hospital and immediately dies.
The cast couldn’t get much better: Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Elliott Gould, Bryan Cranston, Jude Law, and Laurence Fishburne, along with Damon and Paltrow. Stellar, right?
But … it just didn’t gel as well as I thought it would. Sure, It made me a little panicky about the whole germ thing, but other than that, it’s not a movie that sticks with you in a dramatic way, partly because the characters are never fleshed out to a point where we really care what happens to them. That’s one downfall of a big ensemble cast like this one.
However, one reason to either rent or buy the blu-ray combo pack is to see the three featurettes, which were almost more interesting than the movie itself:
The Reality of Contagion: If you’ve ever contemplated what would happen if a real contagion took place, this maps it out, including how fear and misinformation can spread just as fast as the virus. The cast and crew discuss their experiences working on the film, as well as how experts were brought in to make the film realistic.
The Contagion Detectives: This featurette looks at real scientists whose roles and professions inspired the ones seen in the film. It also drove home the point that this would never be a job I could do. Dealing with the world’s most dangerous infectious diseases? No, thanks.
Contagion: How a Virus Changes the World: This fast-paced animated feature investigates how a virus spreads across the world. Scary stuff. Let’s hope we never have to live it in real life — at least not to the extent played out in the movie.