First Contact's the Deepest
There has been a surprising amount written about the movie "Contact" over the years, and in these various writings things such as that it focuses on the age old debate of science & religion is often mentioned, so is the fact that as a science fiction movie it is not complete science fantasy. There is also often mentioned that for a big budget movie, with a big cast and an abundance of special effects it doesn't just become an onslaught of fancy CGI effects. And I could go on because from the opening sequence as we sweep through the galaxy to the final words "Contact" is a movie which has been analyzed and examined in various ways. All of which is good but for me the best thing about "Contact" is that whether you just want entertainment, science vs religious debate or science fiction it provides it and does so in such a way that you want to watch it again and again.
Ever since she was a young girl Dr. Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster - Maverick) has always been fascinated by contacting far away places and the planets, it's what lead her to becoming a researcher looking for signs of extraterrestrial life on far away planets. Not everyone agrees with Ellie's research especially her boss at the National Science Foundation (NSF) David Drumlin (Tom Skerritt - Singles) who believing it is a waste of money and her talent cuts her funding. With the help of her fellow researches and 100% passion for what she does Ellie sets up on her own research with funding from a mysterious millionaire. But everything changes when Ellie discover a signal coming from a star called Vega which causes not only Drumlin to eat his words but everyone in the world to take an interest on what this message could be, with some excited whilst others fearing the worst.
"Contact" is a movie with a storyline but a storyline which grows and grows and grows as it takes us from Ellie as a child fascinated by CB radio to well I am not going to say because that would spoil things. But along the way we get various storylines we have Eleanor conducting her research into whether there are little green men and her battle with her superior who thinks she is not only wasting her talent but also money. And then when she does discover what could be a signal from outer space we have him hijacking the research and where all that leads.
But that is just the beginning of a story which then brings in the debate other science and religion and how some things can not be proved, you have to have faith. You also get a romantic subplot as well as how the public would react if there ever was contact from another planet. And I could go on because for 150 minutes "Contact" delivers story after story after story, personal relationships, fear, and mass hysteria. In fact there is so much going on in "Contact" that it is a movie which begs to be watched more than just the once so you can pick up on it all.
Now one thing is for sure and that is "Contact" is a big budget movie it has an impressive cast and equally impressive special effects. But this isn't a big budget movie which tries to please with just big names and big explosions, it is well though out. The special effects embellish the story whilst delivering excitement and each well know face has an important part to play be it Robe Lowe as a very conservative politician through to James Woods who harbours a fear of the unknown to the point that whilst others see this contact from another planet as exciting he sees it as a possible attack. It all combines to create a movie which sucks you in through a well told, well visualized story rather than just a big bang or a big star.
Having said that there are some stand out performances in "Contact" although to be honest I can't think of a single performance which disappointed. But it is Jodie Foster who makes the movie so engaging because in many ways we go on her journey of discovery. We watch as she passionately battles to keep her research going into little green men, her sheer excitement when she hears the message for the first time as well as the disappointment when her superior David Drumlin basically hijacks her discovery. And of course we watch as she has to deal with her own battle with science and the question of belief and faith.
All of which makes "Contact" a seriously good movie, one which is well thought out and manages to combines a lot of talents with big special effects without it becoming a distraction. But as already mentioned one of the best things about "Contact" is that if you just want to be entertained you will be entertained, if you want some depth you have the whole science Vs religion debate and if you want science fiction you've got it but not to the point of outrageous action science fantasy. Not many movies manage to appeal to so many people without disappointing some, but "Contact" achieves this and in such a way that you want to watch again.
What this all boils down to is that "Contact" is a very good movie which may have a huge cast, big special effects and a big budget but uses it all intelligently to create a story which has mass appeal. It is entertaining, exciting and also thought provoking whilst working on various levels so if all you want is to be entertained you will be but if you want to contemplate the age old debate between science and religion you can.