Plot: What’s it about?
Eleanor Arroway (Jodie Foster) has always been interested in science, and speaking with far away people, whether it be on her little radio with people in Pensecola, Florida, or listening to the outer reaches of space. Her father fueled her interest by helping her keep science in the fore-front of her mind. While others were exploring and looking, she was listening, which led to her reputation and career being ruined, and her grant being pulled. But just before she loses her observation area, she uncovers an encrypted message, from a star called Vega. The sounds are in patterns of prime numbers, which somehow turn out to be transformed into visuals, which reveal other visuals, and after a long, and very cool segment, the visuals turn into blue-prints for a machine. The leaders think that by building this contraption we can communicate with the other life-forms, so they do. After a terrorist blows up the first machine, another is built in secret, and Arroway is chosen to try it out. Will she be able to make Contact? (Insert suspenseful music here…)
I admit it, Contact is a movie where science goes head-to-head with religion, and religion seems to win out. Arroway starts out as a strict scientist, if there is no evidence, it never happens, and so on. But as the film progresses, she meets a “man of faith” (Matthew McConaughey), and slowly starts to “see the light”, so to speak. But that aside, the movie is very well-done, and captures the grand scale of the book so well, it is amazing. The movie shows the smallest details, such as the millions of pages of encrypted text and how they turn into other visual patterns, and make the normally impossible to understand type of concepts very clear and concise. A very smart movie, but made so that everyone can understand what is happening, a mark of a great sci/fi movie in my opinion. Although we don’t know exactly what is happening, the film gives us enough information to where we get a feel for it, without binding us down with too much data.
The special effects sequences rock my ass, and they are very realistic, the type of stuff you would expect to see when dealing with outer-space. I mean, I have no clue what it would look like, but I’d bet my DVDs that it looks something like this. The incredible colors and designs are breath-taking, leaving no stone unturned, letting us see the glories of outer space just like the characters in the film. Other movies and television shows that have attempted to bring the allure and magic of space to the screen always had a cookie-cutter feel, like you were seeing a card-board cut out of the universe. But Contact succeeds where the others have failed, it really feels like you are jettisoning through space, taking in all the marvels it has to offer. If you’re interested in the making of these effects, the DVD has extensive making-of materials included.
The cast of Contact is a brilliant assembly of talent, and ranges from one end of the spectrum to the other, be it characters actors to little-known stars, to the president himself. Bill Clinton stars as himself, addressing the American public several times about the transmissions, and lends the film a feeling of realism, I mean, hell, it’s the president, the REAL president! Foster shines as Arroway, having a knowledeable side, but also playing the curious little girl beautifully. McConaughey is also quite good as a “man of faith”, who tries to show Arroway the spiritual side of everything, while also falling in love with her on the side. James Woods plays a harsh bastard who criticizes everything Arroway does, whether scientific or spiritual, and seems like a real asshole, which is a good thing, given that he is supposed to seem like one. Also starring are Rob Lowe, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt, Angela Bassett, and David Morse. Even the smallest roles, such as tiny role for Jake Busey, are well played, and this cast rivals any for the best cast ever in a film.
If you have not seen this movie, do yourself a favor and give it a try. If you like sci/fi, it’s a must, but don’t rule it out because of the scientific edge. The film is basically about people, and what they believe in, and when we need science info, the movie makes it easy to absorb. The details enhance the film, and do not make it over-bearing. Contact has romance, bits of comedy, suspense, great special effects, and so much more. And with this special edition release, the experience of Contact is just that, a total experience. So set aside an evening, sit down with some friends or special someone, and prepare to make Contact. You’ll be glad you did.
Video: How does it look?
Off the charts. A flawless widescreen anamorphic transfer, it doesn’t get any better than this. The movie has scenes that must be seen to be believed, and this transfer ensures that every little inch of outer-space is free of grain and discolorment.
Audio: How does it sound?
Again, out of this world. (Sorry for all the sci/fi references) The movie, while having his visual moments, is also very tuned into sound, as audio is what starts the whole mess. So, the Dolby Digital 5.1 takes full advantage, with all the murmurs of the first contact, and the weirdo noises crisp.
Supplements: What are the extras?
You can find out everything, and I mean everything, about this film Foster, another by director Robert Zemeckis and co-producer Steve Starkey, and the final one by Ken Ralston and Stephen Rosenbaum. If you listen to all three, you get every perspective on the making of this flick, and get every little rumor, story, and anecdote on Contact. The disc also houses a wide variety of info and featurettes on the special effects, including detailed, and I mean detailed, production notes. These are not your usual notes, like on most DVDs, these are well-made, and informative, adding a greater appreciation for what the movie was based on, and how it was brought onto the screen. Whether it’s concepts, tests, or designs, everything about Contact’s effects is revealed in this one. These features are enough to choke a horse, but with a movie like this, they are welcomed, and help to understand the movie that much more. Also included are theatrical trailersand extensive Cast/Crew bios. All in all, one of the best DVDs out there for a total movie experience.