So we went to see Contagion this morning at Bluewater shopping mega-complex (east of London). Its a weird place in itself, being built in a huge disused chalk quarry – or something like that:

Bluewater – looks like a Dairylea triangle from above

Anway its got a good cinema there where if you pay double money you get leather sofas, tea, coffee, chocolates, muffins, Dorritos and dips. And relatively few irritating rustling people who are there to suck on boiled sweets rather than watch movies. (My wife takes a big pillow too in case the film we are watching is unbearably tedious – eg Tinker, Tailor…)

So we went to see Contagion on a spur of the moment thing. Within ten minutes or so we got the best line; something like ‘Blogging isn’t writing – it’s graffiti with punctuation’!

Its got a stellar cast including a pudgy Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow (nothing against her really but it was quite good when she got knocked out in the first twenty minutes), Jude Law doing a kind of Yorkshire/Australian accent, a blubbery looking Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet (who does a really good American accent) and that bird from the film about the French woman who used to sing.

I think this film’s premise was ‘what would most likely have happened if the Bird Flu Panic from a few years back had gone into worse case scenario mode?’ What if a virus that could kill really quickly had spread really quickly? And the film approaches this thought in a kind of real life, documentary fashion (even the voice over sounds more like a reality TV narrator than a news anchor).

Sounds good? It is kind of – but it isn’t very exciting. I can think of two virus/megadeath films Outbreak (1995) and The Andromeda Strain (1971) that do it better. Outbreak is all running around and action, whereas Andromeda Strain is all mystery and suspense.

Contagion doesn’t really do either – its pretty up front about what is going on (the only mystery is where did the virus originate) and because it seems to be focused on reality and ‘what would really happen’ stuff there isn’t much in the way of action – not even any really unpleasant deaths with vomit and seeping pustules and all that (although you do get to see Gwyneth having a brain examination).

All in all its worth a watch to see some of the stars getting whacked by the bug (and Matt Damon is good as always) but it drags a bit.

Slime – not much in Contagion

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