Jodie Foster, Matthew McConaughey, James Woods, John Hurt, Tom Skerrit, William Fichtner,
David Morse, Angela Bassett, Rob Lowe
1997, 150 Minutes, Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
The basic premise behind Contact
(based on the Carl Sagan novel of the same name) is simple.
What if the aliens don't come to us, but
instead sends us instructions on how to go to them? Surely with the gigantic
distances between planets and stars this is the best and most economical way
to get around making contact with other life forms and civilizations? So no zipping around from
star system to star system in your flying saucer searching for intelligent
life. If they can pick up your
radio signals and decipher the instructions on how to make this traveling
device, then they must surely be intelligent enough to make contact with?
Contact is a
rarity: it is a pure science fiction movie. It restores some of the sense of wonder one
gets from reading many novels in the genre, but finds so sadly lacking in its celluloid
sibling. Don't go see it expecting to see any giant Apple Mac compatible UFOs hovering
over Washington or vicious Martians with ray guns blasting away at herds of cattle.
of Contact's appeal is that it is fairly grounded in scientific fact. When last did
one get totally immersed in a science fiction film because you knew that all of what you
are seeing on screen could actually happen? Probably with Close
Encounters of the Third Kind and 2001: A Space Odyssey. If you saw any of the
abovementioned films and enjoyed them, then Contact is definitely worth checking
That is not to say that the film is without its flaws: in some instances it would
have done better to stick with the novel particularly regarding
skirts around some of the issues it raises (like the science versus religion debate) and
prefers to play it safe and not offend anyone. There're also some real schmaltzy Forrest
Gump-type flashback scenes (not surprising considering that it is directed by Robert
Zemeckis who also did Forrest Gump).
However, some special effects sequences are
spectacular (don't miss the opening scenes), Jodie Foster is great as the scientist who
discovers the alien radio signals and the film remains reasonably faithful to
All in all,
Contact restores one's faith in a genre that has dumbed down to
an incredible degree in the past two decades or so. If you want something
vaguely more intelligent from movies than the various idiocies of Independence
Day and The Lost World then I would recommend
that you dash off to your nearest cinema to catch what is probably the
best science fiction film of 1997.