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Release Date(s)2011 (January 3, 2012)
Steven Soderbergh's Contagion is strictly middle-of-the-road in the realm of disaster films. As a Friday night stay-at-home or date flick, it's decent background fare, but won't make you forget the likes of vaguely similar films such as Outbreak (1995) and Virus (1980).
Of course its screenplay about the outbreak of a virus that spreads worldwide from Hong Kong is laced with current hot-button references to the likes of the Internet, Facebook, and herbal medicine, but it's simply an all-too-obvious effort to make us think that Contagion has something new to offer. Are you going to see the usual cast of well-known actors underused in stereotypical roles? Yes, how about Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Laurence Fishburne, Gwyneth Paltrow, etc. Will stupid decisions be constantly made by otherwise intelligent characters? Of course, how else do you drive the plot in some of these types of pictures. Will some intelligent government officials find themselves overbalanced by overly officious and self-important others? Of course. Will there be the inevitable breakdown of the social structure, with the trashing of private businesses, individuals running wild, and senseless murders/miscellaneous brutality. Again, of course. Contagion makes its way to a conclusion that has heartening aspects, but it disappointingly leaves many loose ends. On the positive side, the film is thought-provoking in terms of how much more prone to the worldwide spread of viruses the Earth now is. The recent SARS and H1N1 concerns have been several such real-life harbingers. Warner Bros.' 1.85:1 Blu-ray release shows the film in a good light. While looking generally sharp and finely detailed as one might expect from a digital image shot on Red One cameras, the video also accurately reflects the colour vibrancy of an increasingly desaturated image that mirrors the plot's deteriorating turns. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master audio is not particularly attention-drawing. Dialogue is clear and the music score suggests good fidelity. There is modest directionality and aggressive surround is minimal. English 2.0 and French and Spanish 5.1 tracks are also provided as are English SDH, French, and Spanish sub-titles. Supplements include three featurettes (The Reality of Contagion, The Contagion Detectives, Contagion: How a Virus Changes the World) and a separate DVD copy as well as digital copy of the film. Recommended as a timepasser rental.