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Film Fans Are Infected With 'Contagion'

EDITOR'S NOTE: Film Fans features local residents reviewing the film of the week: "Contagion." Want to be a film fan? Email features@gwinnettdailypost.com.

3 out of 4 stars

Because of their similar story lines, the obvious temptation here would be to compare this movie to "Outbreak," but any attempt to compare this masterfully crafted effort by veteran film maker Steven Soderberg to "Outbreak" would be like comparing checkers to chess.

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With lots of underlying story lines that move in several different directions, the main story here never loses stride. Add to that the outstanding acting by the talented, veteran ensemble cast, and this movie is more exciting, captivating and downright frightening than a majority of Hollywood's recent remakes and overdone CG offerings.

The basis of the story is actually almost too real, telling the story of how a malicious virus can endanger the entire planet and motivate even the most peaceful people to resort to their most basic animal instincts to survive by any means, and at any cost. There is also a suggestion that the virus may be the result of a terrorist plot, making it that much more realistic in light of the anniversary of 9/11.

Extremely entertaining and thought-provoking, this movie will likely be responsible for a huge increase in the sale of hand sanitizers. Too complex and intricate for kids.

-- Steve Kalberg, Lawrenceville

3 1/2 out of 4 Stars

It began with a handshake on the other side of the world and ended in a packed theater in Buford when the reality of a "Contagion" scenario hit home.

Director Steven Soderbergh, known for his great action movies, guides the audience on a global pandemic spread of a fatal bacteria that's spread by contact from doorknobs, public transportation, handshakes, drinking glasses, even BlackBerries and cellphones. The disease threatens humanity's very existence and very few have natural immunities; nearly everyone is at risk for the fatal infection. Scientists from every part of the world work in earnest to isolate the bacteria, so that a vaccine can be found.

Will the cure be found before humanity implodes on itself? It's literally a race against time (apparently money is no object) and people are forced to live on rations and remain isolated in their homes, which, of course, only brings out the worst in people. The terrific Oscar-worthy cast includes Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Gwyneth Paltrow, Elliott Gould, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, John Hawkes and Jude Law (complete with a Cockney accent and some really bad teeth).

My movie buddy and I predict hand sanitizer will be sold in record-breaking volumes as the news of this movie travels worldwide.

-- Myra Simons, Buford

3 out of 4 Stars

"Contagion" is a very interesting movie about the outbreak of a contagious disease. It features a multitude of actors but fortunately for the story development, no one "star" hogs the screen. It is a well-rounded story that has a defined beginning, middle and end. It seems realistic without relying on too many scenes of mass panic and may make you think twice about touching an elevator button or taking a sip of your drink in a restaurant.

The characters are portrayed as human, as opposed to super-human as is the case in so many films. There is a definite realism to each person's situation, i.e., the losses that Matt Damon faces and his reaction to them, Laurence Fishburne's advance notice to his wife and Kate Winslet's illness. Jude Law's character is unique in this film and I like the challenging element that he brings to the story.

The ending brings the story full circle, which is satisfying.

-- Francine Benoit, Lawrenceville