Contact

Take a journey to the heart of the universe.

Drama Science Fiction Mystery
150 min     7.431     1997     USA

Overview

A radio astronomer receives the first extraterrestrial radio signal ever picked up on Earth. As the world powers scramble to decipher the message and decide upon a course of action, she must make some difficult decisions between her beliefs, the truth, and reality.

Reviews

talisencrw wrote:
I would readily admit this is one of my favourite science fiction films from the 90's. It's intelligent, well-acted and directed, and the special effects it has HELPS the story rather than IMPEDES it. Though she hasn't done much lately, either in the director's chair or acting, Jodie Foster is one of my favourite contemporary American actresses, and it's intriguing how her great talent's been utilized of late (ie., 'Elysium', and I'm still very mad at Spike Lee for having Christopher Plummer call her a 'cunt' in 'Inside Man'). Personally, I must admit that I myself have worried what other worlds' inhabitants would think of our civilization from the messages it might get from Earth. Though I thankfully haven't lost any sleep over it (I have 'Thumper' in the apartment above me to thank for that), as Led Zeppelin would say in the classic 'Stairway to Heaven', '...and it makes me wonder'. As what happens in most of these movies, it's rather anticlimactic once the different cultures meet. I'll say to my dying day that the most difficult thing to do in cinema is end a film. Here (unlike perfect sci-fi masterpieces, like '2001: A Space odyssey' or the more recent 'Children of Men') the decent but otherwise unspectacular ending makes me avoid a perfect rating here. But it's awfully close, worth both owning and rewatching, and provides fairly early evidence (which would come to bold fruition in 'Killer Joe') that Matthew McConaughey could actually act. It's also a tossup between this, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' and 'Back to the Future' for my favourite Zemeckis moment.
JPV852 wrote:
Random viewing but decided to finally watch after its been in my to-do bin for a while now. It didn't strike an emotional cord that I thought it would but Jodie Foster was quite good as were a respectable supporting cast. Never quite bought into the relationship between Foster and McConaughey though in fairness, probably due to the lack of screen time together (felt like maybe 15 minutes in a 2.5 hour movie). Some of the effects were alright for its time including integrating Clinton footage with the cast and the sci-fi specific visuals were alright. In the end, never was bored and found it to be entertaining. **4.0/5**
tmdb28039023 wrote:
Early on in Contact a character is introduced who goes by the name “Kent Clark,” and for the remainder of the film I simply could not get over the fact that no one ever even mentions that he is named after Bizarro’s alter ego. My theory is that this is a figurative wink to the audience, letting us know beforehand what we otherwise discover at long last: that the events that are about to unfold are nothing but an elaborate prank on the audience and, possibly, the cast. This movie exists in a limbo somewhere in between Close Encounters of the Third Kind’s unabashed childlike wonder and Ad Astra’s adult ‘we’re alone in the Universe’ pragmatism – which is a polite way of saying that Contact is neither fish nor fowl; the moral of the story, in a nutshell, is that there might be intelligent extraterrestrial life, but then again, there might not be. Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with some ambiguity, but let’s consider this: untold amounts of money, physical resources and manpower are spent in the movie (but not by the movie, which prefers to cut corners and follow the unconvincing route of CGI – technology which, by the way, has not aged well nor improved a lot ever since), while we spent two and half hours of our precious time, and it’s all only to learn that, maybe, aliens don’t exist except in overly complicated hoaxes and the minds of impressionable people. That’s a lot of work to do as well as a long way to go to arrive at a conclusion that for many, myself included, is of the foregone variety. And even if the extraterrestrials in the film were real, they’d still be rather disappointing – though I shouldn’t speak in plural, since we only see one in the form of Dr. Ellie Arroway’s (Jodie Foster) long deceased father. The good news is that Ellie’s dad is played by David Morse, and you could certainly do a lot worse than that (and that goes for the rest of the ensemble cast); the bad news is that Ellie’s close encounter takes places on a beach that is supposedly meant to mimic a drawing she made when she was nine years old. This is bad because the drawing, which looks like an actual preteen might have drawn it, is a veritable Monet compared with the computer-generated beach where Ellie has a very anticlimactic meeting with the alien, who tells her nothing she, or for that matter we, didn’t already know or believe – which in turn doesn’t mean that the place itself has to be equally underwhelming; why not a real beach? Or, perhaps even better, a set made to resemble a real beach? This would doubtless speak to either Ellie’s imagination or the aliens’ handicraft much more than what we end up getting.
Filipe Manuel Neto wrote:
**A film that gets more right than it gets wrong, in a friendly tribute to Carl Sagan.** The theme of extraterrestrial life will always be a big deal for cinema, and is one of the most solid subjects within sci-fi. On the one hand, it has already given us a series of gems, but it also occasionally gives us films so bad that they are not worth the price of the plastic DVD. This film, for me, stays on positive ground: it gives us a solid story, intelligent enough to be believable, but it completely loses its way when it tries to introduce some action and shake things up a bit. One of the most positive aspects of this film is the credible and understandable way in which it talks about complex scientific subjects and concepts. There are high doses of science and if we take into account that Carl Sagan was one of the consultants who worked here (he died in the middle of filming and the film is dedicated to his memory), we can easily understand why it seems so solid. This is what happens when you listen to competent people, who know and who truly study. On a technical level, the film is reasonably within the standards of a sci-fi film from the late 90s with an already generous budget. However, despite some innovations such as the green screen and CGI effects, which were beginning to be implemented in the industry, not everything is really effective. Despite some high quality effects, the cinematography doesn't keep up, being excessively bland and uninteresting. I liked the focus on radio telescopes (we are more used to seeing optical telescopes, but listening to space is equally important) and it is incredible to see Arecibo again, one of the most cinematic and which very recently ceased to exist (which I greatly regret, by the way). Jodie Foster is a highly competent actress who deserves to be congratulated for all her effort. She is charismatic and strong enough to guarantee the leading role and the quality of her work only decreases towards the end, when she had to interact with the green screen, something that was not usual for actors at this time. We can still see the quite satisfactory work of actors such as John Hurt, David Morse, Tom Skerritt or James Woods. None of them have material capable of giving them substantial time or impact, but they all did the most they could with what they were given. Despite the relevance given, probably justified by the wage received, it was sad to see Matthew McConaughey in such a dull work, devoid of any substantial value. It seems that he was just making his money and wasn't interested in the project. The script has clearly positive points and others that, honestly, should have been eliminated. On the one hand, the scientific discussion and the theme of sending data through signals that can be captured by sound is highly relevant and looks good. I also liked seeing the difficulties that the main character experiences in obtaining financial and practical support for her research and overcoming the prejudices and lack of interest of her patrons. This is a picture of how much scientific research is currently going. From a certain point onwards, the film seeks to involve the Government and NASA, and things move towards a kind of bloated and histrionic action that is at odds with what had been done before. That was a mistake, but director Robert Zemeckis doesn't seem to learn from his mistakes, since it's not the first time it's happened in his films. Another error was the religious debate over alien life. This film did not call for this, the topic is left and should have been cut outright.

Cast

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