Runtime: 2 Hours
and 30 Minutes
Contact is a very intellectual movie, and that is a wonderful thing.
I love a movie that respects my intelligence, that bothers to make
me think rather than being content simply to entertain me. I want
a movie that provides food for thought. And "Contact" does
a pretty effective job of bringing up points for the viewer to ponder
and to mull over later.
"Contact" is the story of a woman named Ellie Arroway (Jodie
Foster). Ellie is a scientist who has been looking to the heavens
for her entire life and hoping that something besides us can be found
there. She listens night after night at a radio telescope, hoping
for any hint of another race up there anywhere.
One night, she gets her wish. A signal is sent. When the signal is
decoded, it appears to be the instructions on the building of a machine
that will transport a human being to the home planet that sent the
signal. Preparations are made to choose the individual who will go.
Ellie becomes a candidate for these preparations, which the entire
world are watching with anxious anticipation.
The film does a commendable job of illustrating the problems and differences
of opinion that such a meeting, that the proof of life on another
planet, would invoke. In particular, it shows the impact that such
a meeting would have on the religions. I was worried here. I believe
in God and, although religious people can often be the biggest detriment
to their own cause, I am a little tired of movies always taking the
side of religion over science every single time. I have nothing against
science, but I just think that painting all religious people as simple-minded
idiots is getting a little old. It was nice, here, to see both sides
of the debate given equal footing. It was nice to see both sides represented
fairly, and with neither side coming off shallowly.
The government, however, is portrayed slightly as the antagonist.
Why must every general think that the arrival of alien beings is a
cause to ready the nukes? "Close
Encounters of the Third Kind" showed the government as wanting
to keep the whole thing a secret, but still wanting to talk peace.
But not all the government officials in the movie are shown this way,
and it is generally pretty fair to them too.
My main problem with this film is the meeting between the humans and
the aliens. The entire movie is made to show this meeting, the entire
movie builds up to that moment of contact (look at the damn title,
for God's sake). But when the final meeting does come, it's a bit
of a letdown. I won't go any further into it, I don't want to ruin
it for you, but after two and a half hours something more impressive
would have been welcome.
Another thing that bothered me was the lack of zaniness. Robert Zemeckis's
other films all had a kamikaze thread of delightful insanity in them.
Even "Forrest Gump",
for which he won an Oscar, showcased a love for the outlandish and
the absurd. Here, everything is played very straight. Mind you, I
don't have a problem with that. But when a man can do the zany so
very, very well it comes as a slight disappointment when he reins
in the insanity. All I can say is that I hope this isn't the start
of a trend. That would be a real shame.
But even these shortcomings cannot change the fact that this is a
very good movie with some very good points to make. If you like a
movie that respects your brain, you may want to give this one a try.