With the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the alleged alien crash at Roswell and the nightly news flashes from the surface of Mars, "Contact" is right on top of what is happening today and what concerns people at the moment. And what would happen if we did receive a message from another intelligent life form? Would we actually question whether or not we are the center of the universe? What should be the most compelling portion of "Contact" is a barrage of news clips that detract from, rather than add to, the drama, as does director Robert Zemeckis' use of his now famous "Forest Gump" technique of inserting actors into actual press footage. What I did like were the performances of each and every actor. Jodie Foster is the consummate professional who actually makes it believable that any woman would neglect to call Matthew McConaughey. And McConaughey, the man most likely to succeed in following Paul Newman's footsteps, is the perfect seeker of truth. I was intrigued by William Fichtner, who portrays Kent Clark, the blind astronomer who listens for patterns in the stars, and astounded by Tom Skerritt who can just as easily model Guess? Jeans, as he can betray a colleague convincingly. James Woods sneers less dramatically than in his role as Hades in "Hercules", but still manages to give us all a reason to despise him. And just lovable is David Morse as Foster's inspirational father.
So what went wrong? The problem is explained in a few lines from the press kit.
"If you read the novel," says Zemeckis, "it spans years and countries, vast distances with hundreds of characters. The biggest challenge to me was to condense all of that into a clear and compelling story." Zemeckis worked with Sagan on striking the balance between human interest and science. Even though the filmmaker and scientist did not always see eye to eye, the partnership proved effective - just the right chemical equilibrium.
Well, maybe not. movies can be about compromise and I imagine
that Sagan and then his widow, Ann Druyan, were just about as
compromising as their prime scientist, Ellen Arroway. Movies are
about storytelling, not informing the public. Movies are about
entertainment. And at two and a half hours, "Contact" was too long
of a sermon. Rated PG, Warner Bros.
Back to the Press Room
Suggestions? Comments? Fill out our Feedback Form.