Movie "Contagion" spreads in theaters

The very first thing you hear is on-screen is coughing. Then it hits you that this is much more serious as an illness begins to develop at an alarming rate.The contagion is an unrelenting and deadly virus called MEV-1 that emerges in one corner of the world, and in a matter of weeks sweeps over the earth killing millions. These initial scenes manage to successfully instill fear within the first 10 minutes. From this point, no cure can be found and everyone must try to keep from dying while the CDC and WHO attempt to track it down in order to create a vaccine in time. In spite of the riveting beginning, the film slows down halfway through and progresses into lengthy conversations and explanations that start to detract from the initial fear felt early on. You can’t help but think that the main cast seems to be reacting to the epidemic a little too nonchalantly. Chaos and panic does ensue following the outbreak, but it appears to be coming from the outside world and not from the main characters. This results in a lack of suspense and thrill replaced by a strange icy calm. Despite a few loose ends with unfinished storylines, the truth of how the first person became infected is eventually revealed. By that time the answer has been so tiredly pursued with boring dialogue that it seems to have little to no effect on the viewer. Although it does lack some of the melodrama you would anticipate from an epidemic film, "Contagion" works nonetheless for the most part because of a fear formula. "Contagion" plays on the fear that another epidemic could be yet to come from diseases such as SARS and H1N1. The film also displays different perspectives of the disease from the around the world intertwining the characters' experiences. Strong performances Kate Winslet and Jude Law drive the film forward by displaying their passion for humanity. The bleak truth is presented in a straightforward manner unlike the nearly identical film “Outbreak” (1995) which works in its favor. Even with the overall cool tone, it is worth watching just to see how the world could fare in the face of a true epidemic. “Contagion,” is directed by Steven Soderbergh and boasts an all-star cast including stars Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, and Gwyneth Paltrow. Rated PG-13, it opened on Fri. Sept, 9, 2011 grossing $8 million and is poised to take the top spot. My Grade: B-