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12/30/2012 19:05:43 •••

A great concept spoiled by a shoehorned moral

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.

Contact'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.

12/27/2012 00:00:00

I don't know if the film mangled it, but I'd say having a message about faith was the books primary goal and the alien thing a vehicle, so I don't know if 'unnecessary' is quite right (but thats judging the film as an adaptation rather than by itself)

12/27/2012 00:00:00

Hm. Then I suppose I was hoping for a different film (I was unaware when I watched it that it was an adaptation), since it's rare that a movie comes along that's actually dedicated to demonstrating science right. I suppose a movie about a scientist learning to respect religion could also be interesting, and even useful, but that's not what I had come for, nor did I think that was done well.

12/29/2012 00:00:00

Well Carl Sagan wrote it, so I think he at least knows what science is =D

12/30/2012 00:00:00

Stephen Hawking and his daughter wrote a children's book series once. I'd be amused to see what the movie of those would look like.

12/30/2012 00:00:00

They wrote a children's book series? I'm going to have to hunt that down

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