I would have liked Contact
more if it had just decided to let its premise of realistic first contact play out by itself. And for the first half of the film it did. But gradually the story's fascinating exploration of the science became overshadowed by its unnecessary moral about "faith" and feelings, misunderstanding both and then claiming false reconciliation.
's great points are the development of the discovery of an extraterrestrial message, naturally separated by their distance and language, but using other ways to respond to humanity, such as encoded television broadcasts, or mathematical plans of a portal device. The fact that it's happening in such a way makes it feel more real, knowing it's being done as best as we predict it'd happen. A film like this would not leave us with a "all's back to normal now ending", I thought.
Then the nagging flaws took over. The film over relies on caricatures; attractive good guys with all the right answers, ugly guys who are obstructive, smug bureaucrats. Matthew McConaughey's character I hated the most, at first expecting him to be a bad guy thanks to his sudden romancing of Dr. Calloway
, then getting further annoyed when the film upheld him as a paragon of faith for his incredibly vague religion. As for Drumlin and Kitz, they could have been reasonable balanced characters but were forced to embrace their role as villains.
And the faith-science conflict, which the film misunderstands and mistakes as its own purpose. Faith isn't "blind" wandering based on just what you wish will happen, it's believing something you did not see was true BASED ON THE EVIDENCE
. We have faith we were born on a certain day, and we don't doubt it since we trust that our parents are truthful. But a need for "blind faith" is forced into the film's latter half. Why make the aliens contact us then leave humanity alone? Why not run the machine again? Why doubt it happened when the capacity to fake a signal would take far more than ever deceivable (you would need HUNDREDS
of satellites!) Why would the religious world freak out? The Catholic Church has announced it has no problem with extraterrestrial life, & there was a time when saints like Augustine said there could not be people living on other continents. They Wasted A Perfectly Good Plot