Contact (1997)

(In theaters, July 1997) A better movie than the book. A smart summer flick. A motion picture where the science at least tries to be exact. A smart, beautiful, atheist heroine. The good news are that Contact is the purest, hardest science-fiction movie… ever. The bad news is that it’s very good, but not great. As much as I wanted to love the movie, at best I could only really like it. As expected, there was too much of a senseless debate on science versus religion. (With no clear winner according to the movie… but it had to cheat badly to do so: The senate hearing scene at the end is completely boffo. I was busy coming up with hard arguments against the “theory” while Ellie’s character simply followed the screenwriter’s direction to play dumb as not to ruin the movie’s point.) It’s no 2001: A Space Odyssey, but 2001 is the only motion picture it can be compared to. But never mind what the movie does wrong. What’s more important is what the movie does right. An exceptional female protagonist. A blind astronomer. Savvy movie-making. Stunning “invisible” digital effects. A solid grasp of science. Effortless scientific vulgarization. In short, smart (if misguided) SF. Zemeckis has managed the proverbial good science-fiction movie. For this only, I am in awe. Contact is a solid contender for the Oscars. While I would have rather have had seen The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, it is comforting to think that at least, Contact has been made.

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