Thursday, March 24, 2011

Film Review--Contact

starring Jodie Foster, Matthew McConhaughey, David Morse, James Woods, Tom Skerritt, Angela Bassett, Rob Lowe, Jake Busey, Jena Malone, and Seth Shostak as "The Beav."

A radio astronomer (Foster) catches a bona fide signal from an extraterrestrial civilization.  What's the message?  No message.  Just the blueprints to build a strange machine.

Admittedly, I have never read the Carl Sagan book that this film is based on.  This renders me unable to discern which aspects belonged to him and which belonged to director Robert Zemeckis.  That said, I shall persevere.
I'm not a big fan of SETI, the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence.  I prefer Stanton Friedman's definition, Silly Effort To Investigate.  But this story raises a number of challenging intellectual questions.  If it were announced that humanity has found a signal from aliens, what kinds of cultural changes would ensue?  As the film portrays, there would likely be political issues as national security types fear a threat.  There would be the question of "who speaks for Earth?" in sending a message back...or if we choose to send one back.  Most of all, there would probably be religious questions.  Little wonder then that Sagan chose the notion of faith to be such a strong theme in the narrative.
Even with all of that going for it, this film does falter in a few areas.  There's a deus ex machina regarding the fate of the machine, there are character connections that feel forced, and worst of all, Contact probably has one of the most anti-climatic endings I have ever seen.  I mean, the aliens show up and I waited two hours to see this???   Ugh.  Still, this is a film well worth watching.  All things considered, it's probably a very realistic look at what a first contact situation (public one, anyway) would end up being like.

UPDATE: Jena Malone, who plays the young Jodie Foster here, is all grown up now and playing one of the hotties in Sucker Punch.

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  1. Love the scene where James Woods says, "Or, Sieg Heil, you're our kind of people."

  2. Heh! And delivered in the way that only James Woods can.

  3. On Facebook, Smithy said: "Love this movie!"


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