Contagion Movie Review: Catch It!

Contagion is not Outbreak. One, the latest film from Steven Soderbergh produces a much more real version of how an international virus outbreak could cripple the entire world. And two, Contagion catches a fever with audiences in how Soderbergh can craft a mystery movie under the guise of a global catastrophe film.

Matt Damon in Contagion

The cast — and director — of Contagion is top notch. Oscar winners Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cotillard and Soderbergh are involved as are Oscar nominees Jude Law and Laurence Fishburne. Any film from the director of Traffic with a larger cast and an even larger international scope would have us intrigued. With Contagion, film viewers go on a journey from the get-go that is equal parts ensemble film, thriller, international espionage and medical movie.

Paltrow’s character comes back from a business trip to Asia with what she believes is jet lag like she’s never felt. Within 24 hours, she is ill beyond all help. Damon portrays her husband. When he takes her to the emergency room it is too late. A Contagion has killed her. That is no spoiler, the fact of Paltrow’s death is a given from the film’s trailers. But what makes the moment extraordinarily powerful is Damon’s performance upon hearing the news.

Gwyneth Paltrow in Contagion

But then again, the trifecta of Paltrow, Damon and Law previously created cinematic gold in The Talented Mr. Ripley. In Contagion, Law is much more distant to the Damon-Paltrow storyline, yet equally as central to moving the plot. Contagion features Law as its voice of reason and in many ways, its narrator. Even though they are on separate sets, in one scene with a Sanjay Gupta interview featuring Law and Fishburne, Law manages to out Fishburne the Matrix actor in leveling the audience’s perception of how a scene is expected to go with a stroke of their talent.

Like Traffic, Contagion should get the Oscar race moving in early fall. Let the Oscar buzz begin with Damon, Soderbergh, Fishburne, Jennifer Ehle, Law and Winslet. Is it a best picture contender? Time will tell how the fall films land. As Movie Fanatic heads to the Toronto Film Festival to see the best that film has to offer in 2011, that “one of the best of the year” moniker possibly will multiply.

In the shadow of the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, one point to Contagion resonates. A decade after terrorists unleashed fear in the United States unlike this country has ever seen — even fictionally — it is good for us to witness a “how would we react to an international disaster” film in order to get a gut check as to where we stand on the important anniversary of the very real disaster.

Laurence Fishburne and Kate Winslet in Contagion

Soderbergh has often turned his camera into a mirror on society and Contagion is no different. Movie Fanatic believes it is reflective of how the United States would react to a threat that is of human or biological means. Contagion’s weapon of mass destruction is not man made, yet its fictional powers are spot-on in the catastrophe code of conduct as to how the human race would react to such a disaster.

DVD Release: Hanna sizzles, Will Ferrell Gets Serious

The DVD and Blu-Ray new releases this September 6 feature quite the drama from Will Ferrell’s dramatic turn in Everything Must Go to Saoirse Ronan establishing herself as a star in Hanna.

Hanna: A little girl (Saoirse Ronan) is brought up by her father (Eric Bana) in the middle of a desolate European forest. Near her sixteenth birthday, she decides it’s time for her to re-enter the world. This isn’t simply a story of an overprotective father not wanting his teenage girl to feel the world’s harshness. This sixteen-year-old girl is a trained assassin being pursued by a government henchwoman (Cate Blanchett) bent on her destruction before exposing some kill or be killed secret. Hanna pulsates with action, intrigue and firmly places Ronan on the A-list of talented young actresses we want to see more from.

Hanna Blu-Ray.

Everything Must Go: Will Ferrell turns in a dramatic performance as a man who loses everything in one day. He is fired. His wife leaves him and he is locked out of his house with all his possessions strewn across the front yard. Instead of taking stock of his life immediately, he goes on a bender. The drama is top notch and Ferrell does get to be funny on occasion, but overall his dramatic chops are on full display in this sensitive and powerful film.

Everything Must Go Blu-Ray
Vidal Sassoon The Movie: This documentary looks at the first hairstylist celebrity, Vidal Sassoon. Sassoon took the fashion world by storm in the 1960s and Vidal Sassoon: The Movie takes audiences on the most unlikely journey of a man who rose from squalor to splendor while changing how we as a society think of hairstyles.

Vidal Sassoon: The Movie Blu-Ray

The Help Scores Box Office Win for Third Straight Week

The Help earned a title for itself that no other summer release can hold. The movie took the top spot at the box office for the third week in a row, the first film of summer 2011 to achieve such a feat. Kathryn Stockett’s film version of her bestselling book earned $14.2 million over the last weekend of summer.

Emma Stone Viola Davis The Help
It was a grown-up weekend at the box office as The Debt arrived in second place. The film about Nazi hunters from post-World War II Israel starring Helen Mirren, Jessica Chastain and Sam Worthington nabbed over $9 million in ticket sales bringing its total since it opened August 31 to $11.6 million.

The third and fourth place finishers were new releases, Apollo 18 and Shark Night 3D. Both bucked bad reviews to sell $8.7 and $8.6 million in tickets respectively. The fifth most popular movie this Labor Day weekend was the film that hasn’t left the top five since its premiere, The Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

The biggest news to arrive out of this weekend’s box office numbers was that Hollywood could pat itself on the back for out-grossing the summer of 2010.

Stay with Movie Fanatic for our Top 10 Movies of the year (so far) arriving later this week, sure to include some summer sizzlers.

Box office:
1. The Help, $14.2 million
2. The Debt, $9.7 million
3. Apollo 18, $8.7 million
4. Shark Night 3D, $8.6 million
5. Rise of the Planet of the Apes, $7.8 million
6. Colombiana, $7.4 million
7. Our Idiot Brother, $5.2 million
8. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, $4.9 million
9. Spy Kids 4, $4.6 million
10. The Smurfs, $4.0 million

Why Is Steven Soderbergh Working on Hunger Games?

Director Steven Soderbergh’s latest work, Contagion, spellbounds its way into theaters September 9. While Soderbergh was visiting with the press to promote the film — and stay with Movie Fanatic for our chat with the esteemed helmer this week — word arose that he had served as a Second Unit Director for The Hunger Games.

Steven Soderbergh Picture

Seems Soderbergh and Hunger Games director Gary Ross are old pals. According to reports, Ross needed help in August for a few days with his second unit. Contagion was in the can, the Channing Tatum male stripper movie Magic Mike was nowhere near cameras rolling, so Soderbergh took his friend’s request and flew to the East Coast to be a Second Unit Director — one the Hunger Games director could trust to score movie gold.

“If I’ve done my job properly, I hope I did — by design, you won’t be able to tell what I did,” he said. “Because it’s supposed to cut seamlessly into what they’re doing, that’s the whole point. That’s why he asked me to come down, because he knew that I would be rigorous about matching what they were doing.”

Apparently the effort took Soderbergh back to the beginning, an exploratory experience like film school. “I was really back to that situation of being the person who has to please someone else — as opposed to pleasing myself. That made me really anxious. You know, I wanted to do a good job… Gary is a friend of mine.”

Warrior Trailer Shows Why Movie Inspires

Warrior arrives in theaters September 9 with an incredible amount of buzz, many critics comparing it to a modern day Rocky.

Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy in Warrior

In Warrior, Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton portray brothers who are Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters. Both are incredibly talented and are on a collision course to an enormous fight that will pit brother against brother.

Nick Nolte plays the fighters’ father, a former boxer who fell into a pool of alcohol and self pity that tore apart their family bond. Now, with the brothers on the verge of fighting greatness, will what ripped their family keep them from their destiny? Or perhaps, could it be possible that the brothers’ father will find it in his soul to pull himself together and become a part of the triumphant story instead of the reason for its failure?

Warrior Trailer