Friday, February 24, 2017

Sci Fi Top 100, #47: "Contact" (1997)

Movie Stats:
Released 1997 (USA)
American, in English (multiple non-translated other languages unimportant to the plot)
Director - Robert Zemeckis
Stars - Jodie Foster, Tom Skerritt, Matthew McConaughey, and many, many others

Plot Summary:
Dr. Eleanor Arroway (Foster), having spent most of her life searching for intelligent life in the universe, receives a message from deep space. Skerritt co-stars as David Drumlin, Arroway’s nemesis, and McConaughey as Palmer Joss, a spiritual guru who is also Arroway’s love interest.

Very minor violence; minor blue language; implied sexy times.

Bad Stuff:
S.R. Hadden (John Hurt) was a little too convenient as a character. He was mostly a plot device, there to rescue Arroway every time she got stuck so the story could move forward to the desired conclusion.

I kind of hate how a lot of science fiction feels the need to address questions about religion. It comes across as defensive. IMO, not everything we don’t understand has to be mystical.

There were too many secondary characters. Although most of them get relatively little screen time, the sheer number of them was distracting.

Good Stuff:
Oh hey, a female as the lead character. And she’s smart, strong, and interesting. In short, she’s well-written. I hardly know what to say.

Actual science! That was neat.

The acting is really good. Foster does most of the heavy lifting, but I quite enjoyed Skerritt as well. I hated his character so much (same goes for James Woods as NSA guy Michael Kitz). Gotta love an actor who can make you loathe their character.

The Verdict:
About a year or two ago, my husband watched this movie while I was in the same room. I didn’t pay much attention to it. Every now and then, I looked up from what I was doing to ask, “Is that movie still on?” It seemed really, really long to me. So I have to admit that I wasn’t looking forward to my own viewing. I expected to be bored.

Much to my surprise, it was a lot more interesting than expected. I never felt bored. I think that this is due to good pacing. The story flows easily. There weren’t any parts that dragged. I cared about the characters. I cared about the mystery. I wanted to see how it all played out. Also, I enjoyed the cinematography and most of the special effects have held up well. It’s a very solid film elevated by great acting.

I give it 4 stars.


Patricia said...

I saw this when it came out, but haven't seen it since. I tend to enjoy Jody Foster in movies. She's masterful, especially for someone who doesn't work constantly. (True, she was making more movies in the 90s than she is now, but I feel like she's pretty choosy about her projects.)

Your comment about "actual science" has me wanting to see a graph of these sci-fi movies that breaks down the actual science movies vs. the made-up science movies.

balyien said...

I have a feeling that a "actual science vs. made-up science" graph would be very depressing.

I agree about Jodie Foster. She's always really solid. Never once have I thought, "man, she was bad (or even mediocre) in that."