The CoN Movie Review: Contact

Written by Peter Fung

Contact is definitely a refreshing change from the current "evil aliens" movies, Hollywood has been churning out recently. This time the focus is on what we would do if we made contact with aliens, and the ideological and spiritual ramifications from this "first contact." The story is based on a novel by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and noted astronomer Carl Sagan, the man who brought us that old PBS series, Cosmos. Contact was originally published about twelve years ago and was seen as movie material after the book was written, but was never set to be produced until director Robert Zemeckis, of Forrest Gump fame chose to do it. In fact, Carl Sagan actually helped co-write the story with wife, Ann Druyan, for the film subsequent to his death in 1996.

The film follows Jody Foster's character, Eleanor "Ellie" Arroway, an astronomer who's obsession with finding evidence of extra-terrestrial life comes true with a mysterious transmission from the constellation Vega. Kind of like Arthur C. Clarke's 20XX series, but minus the monoliths and the symphony orchestra. The story unfolds as "Ellie" tries to maintain her claim to the discovery that may in fact change human history. Her mission leads her on a fantastic journey to the source of the message.

The special effects were few but well done; being quite appropriate for some of the sequences for the movie. The design for the "machine," which appeared to represent the model of the atom, with the flight pod as the nucleus was neat. As well as the travel sequence from Earth to the constellation Vega which felt like a roller coaster ride at Wonderland. The only sfx sequence from the movie I felt was done to death, was the beginning. It was the part that showed the distance; radio waves traveled from earth, as the radio signals traveled further, passing planets and galaxies, it felt so much like the opening from Star Trek: The Next Generation. I almost expected Patrick Stewart's voice to break the silence with, "Space, the final frontier..." (Well, you get the idea.)

Anyway, Contact is one of the few movies I have seen this summer, that can be described as a "real" movie, that was good, not entertaining. It's quite the change from the bang-bang shoot'em up, man eating dino, bat & bird flicks, playing these days.