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Jodie Foster stars as a scientist who has devoted her life to scanning the stars for life... and finally finds it. What follows is a hard lesson in politics, as well as the trip of a lifetime.

Starring Jodie Foster, Matthew McConaughey, James Woods...  View more >

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Please Note: Reader Reviews are submitted by the readers of The BigScreen Cinema Guide and represent their own personal opinions regarding this movie, and do not represent the views of The BigScreen Cinema Guide, or any of its associated entities.

[--- See Now! ---]by  
Jan 25, 2000
You have GOT to see this movie! It has suspense, and humor, and awe inspiring special effects and is so well done and beautiful, it's almost spiritual! Maybe I loved it so much because it says exactly what I've always believed about life on other planets and in other galaxies, but even if I didn't feel that way, I think I'd still love it for its beauty. This was the only film I have ever liked more than the book. Carl Sagan would be proud!

[--- See Now! ---]by  
Jan 25, 2000
Having been a fan of Carl Sagan and finding a great interest in his speculations and philosophies of the universe, I found this movie incredibly satisfying. It held my interest all the way through and it pulled me into each of the characters, especially Ellie (Jodie Foster). I myself have intellectually been in a tug-of-war with scientific theory and my personal religious beliefs, therefore this movie explored questions I myself wonder about from time to time and gave perspective.

The special effects were dazzling and really enhanced the message being told.

I did see this movie with several other people. I thought it was one of the most thought provoking films I have seen in quite awhile, and truly enjoyed the "entire presentation" (characters, plot, special effects, etc.) But, I am sorry to say some of the people I attended the movie with missed the entire message and were only hoping to see 2 hours of expensive special effects.

I highly reccommend this movie to anyone who hopes to leave the theater with piqued interest and awareness, and with a desire to explore one's inner beliefs and thoughts.

[--- Good ---]by  
Jan 25, 2000
This movie features a brilliant performance by Jodie Foster. She has a real feel for this role and you can feel her passion for what she believes in. Some of the plot was a little unclear as it happened, but pay attention and you will understand what is really happening.

Occasionally, I feel that the movie got too technical with astronomical terms and procedures and made it somewhat difficult to follow. That kept it from being an excellent movie for me, but the story is wonderful so I definitely recommend seeing Contact.

[--- See Now! ---]by  
Jan 25, 2000
Based on the Carl Sagan book, "Contact" is a pleasent surprise to all the low-brow stupidity Hollywood has to offer this year. "Contact", directed by Robert Zemeckis, is a colorful, well-written and creative film that touches some good issues that other movies don't.

Here, we see Jodie Foster as Ellie Arroway an S.E.T.I. (Search for extra-terrestial-intelligence)searcher, studying and calling the vast universe in the hopes of proving we are not alone. Naturally, she has been making contact with people since she was a little girl; the film's many flashbacks help us understand Ellie's fascination. When millions and millions of dollars are spent on this, and when the project seems to be folding in, a signal is finally heard, signalled to Earth in prime numbers. The communication leads to the constructionof a machine, which in hopes will provide greater communication with the aliens.

"Contact" works so well because it goes on about topics such as God and relationships. Ellie falls for Palmer (Matthew McConaughey), who is a believer, and does not see why Ellie can believe in alien existence while she does not believe in god. While this, and a few other plot points aren't really fleshed out correctly and thoughtfully, this is a step away from other movies: we see a battle of believing in everything that can exist.

"Contact" sure hits a lot of "2001: A Space Odyssey", with very quiet moments. I'll name a few: the amazing pull-back shot of Earth, with all of its loud music, media and technological advances, right to the edge of the galaxy, and then even further. This shot lasts about four minutes, and I damn anyone to talk in a theatre or on TV during this shot: the silence means so much here, because it shows us not only how little we are, but how much our own sound can travel. Another is Ellie's journey, which slams like a rock through a few wormholes, and then ends up silent. There is too much talking in movie theatres today, and "Contact" seems to have been made for a smarter, thinking person's audience. When I saw a wasted print of "2001," there was a group of kids, aged 10 to 12, that non stopped talking through the film, but left. After that, you could hear a pin drop ten miles away: not a single sound. I felt, this was what the 60's and 70's audience responded to a film: by not talking out loud. Since the movies have gotten worse, since violence has grown on TV, more and more kids and adults have begun to respond to the screen. That is a problem, and "Contact" is sort of saying, shut up and listen.

And listen you should.

Grade: A

Technical ReviewPicture: 5/ Typical Warner film stock, with the same colors and clarity as Warner movies in the last ten years. However, that is a very good thing. Sound: 5+/ I hope this wins a best sound Oscar, at least. Absolutely amazing in 8-track SDDS; this is one of the most fluent and clear, and dynamic and compelling, soundtracks you will ever hear. Dialogue is crisp and focused. Bass is very strong, and the surround tracks are all independent, with sound effects radiating out of every channel. This is a soundtrack that has to be heard in an SDDS theatre to be believed. DTS and Dolby Digital can only cry in envy. Widescreen: 3/ Zemeckis' Panavision photography is a little wanting; shots are narrow and can easily be adjusted for TV. Perhaps if he start using a hand-held camera and started using close-ups more, it would help.

By Jason Whyte jwhyte2@ibm.net

[--- Good ---]by  
Jan 25, 2000
Very early into the flick I got the distinct impression that Jodie Foster was actually playing Carl Sagan.

So, in a nutshell, if you like/d him, either through his PBS series "Cosmos" or any of his written works, that's about the only reason you'll need to enjoy "Contact," and not be embarrassed in saying so publicly.

I've never been a great fan of Foster, but, considering what she has to work with here, she does one heckuva job.

The movie is otherwise "Forrest Gump: To Infinity and Beyond." And just about as long, so be well-rested when you see it, and lay off the carbonated beverages.

"2001: A Space Odyssey" remains without parallel.

[--- See Now! ---]by  
Jan 25, 2000
As a devotee of the late, great scientist Dr. Carl Sagan, I can say proudly that "Contact" is a fitting tribute to him. The film revolves around two major points; firstly, the personal tribulations of Dr. Ellie Arroway (played poignantly by Jodie Foster) after discovering a message from intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe, and secondly, the societal ramifications that message presents regarding science and faith. There are some hilarious moments in the film, satirizing our own culture and its stupidity and gullibility, as well as touching moments where we feel for Dr. Arroway and the other characters. Most importantly, "Contact" does what few films dare to do; present a relevant message. We must remain open-minded and independent, and think of our species before ourselves. By this, we shall survive.

[--- See Now! ---]by  
Jan 25, 2000
I loved this movie, because it was more thoughtful than the typical stuff coming out of Hollywood. Based on the book by the same name by the late Carl Sagan (the "billions and billions of stars" guy), this movie does a good job of honoring Carl Sagan's memory.

The main character is Ellie (played by Jodie Foster), an astronomer working with SETI, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. She and her small team of researchers hear an unmistakably artificial signal one day at the antenna array. They find that it originates from a star 26 light years away, and contains instructions for building some sort of transport device.

Ellie finds herself launched into a political battle with the 'big boys' as the implications of the discovery enter the public spotlight.

I like this movie because in addition to being a believable sci-fi movie, it is a great commentary on our society and how we'd react to a discovery like this. The way everyone distrusts Ellie because she is an atheist is a huge part of the plot, and I can empathise with her completely. The movie does leave the whole religion issue a little more vague and open-ended than the book did, however. I suspect that this 'fuzziness' was inserted to make the movie appeal to more people, but all in all, it was still a very good movie.

Jan 25, 2000
Simple words cannot describe my feelings about "Contact", Jodie Foster's latest film about an astronomer whose life's work is attempting to contact extra-terrestrial intelligence.

This movie is a breath of fresh air in an era of movies that are more concerned with using special effects to be the story, instead of using them to help support the story. If you look back at the really good films in recent history, special effects (if used) played a supportive role in telling the story, rather than a complete replacement for a good plot.

Once you realize that Contact is brought to the big screen by some of the same people that brought us "Forrest Gump," you notice why you like it so much. The story is good, the main character is very interesting, and the music and the special effects wrap all the elements together into an enjoyable film.

I cannot think of another actress that could bring the main character of Ellie Arroway to life like Jodie Foster. She does an excellent job of making Ellie someone that you care about and that you want to succeed. There are no poor performances by any of the other members of the cast. With the likes of James Woods, Tom Skerritt, and Matthew McConaughey, it would have been easy for their characters to be overplayed, but the proper balance is maintained throughout the film.

Contact raises interesting questions, and also exposes many truisms about today's society and culture. Along with the standard credit-grabbing and government beauracracy cliches, the filmmakers also toss in a little commentary about the reactions of the public and the press to such an event as contacting intelligence from outer space.

The movie runs two and a half hours, but you won't notice the length. Being transported into a good film is like reading a good book. The truly good ones immerse you in the experience. Contact is one of those films.

I will see this movie again before it leaves the digital sound-equipped theaters, and Contact will become part of my home movie collection when it becomes available.

See this film soon (and in a good theater), you'll be glad you did!

This review is the property of Scott Jentsch, Copyright © 1997. This information cannot be reprinted without the permission of the author.

[--- See Now! ---]by  
Jan 25, 2000
Contact, is, without a doubt, one of the best (and I think THE best) movies I have ever seen. It's combination of a rock-solid plot, an excellent screenplay, great acting and an overall tight feel give this movie an air of respect I greatly admire.

Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey both give convincing, moving performances as the lead characters. The supporting cast, though my memory simply cannot recall all their names, ran like a well-oiled machine: smooth and consistent. I could spout more phrases of admiration, but I believe one sentence is more convincing : Their acting was so good that you quickly forgot that they -were- acting and then the full beauty of the plot came through.

The strength of the screenplay fufilled all my expectations for a movie. First, it was believable. The entire movie smacked of science fiction at it's best, that is, it seems as real as the chair you're sitting in. Second, it had a purpose beyond entertainment. It had strong, deep morals that struck a chord inside me. Finally, and most importantly, when I left the theater, there was no doubt in my mind about the sheer depth of power that this movie displayed. It was not the mere words and images that moved me, but the ideas that itawakened within me. It just felt -right-.

Everyone expects a movie to have flaws, and perhaps I may find a few in time. Yet even if I do, I remember that it is not the way I feel afterwards, but the way I feel in that theater that counts. Contact is $6.50 very, very well spent.

And I don't expect to feel any different later.

[--- Good ---]by  
Jan 25, 2000
What audacity! A science fiction without any bug-eyed alien critters, awesome scenes of civilization being destroyed, or macho-type heroes bristling with guns and high-tech armaments to battle the otherworldly foes. What we have here is, well, drama, a tussle between theology and pure science, a sense of wonder and, above all, entertainment. That's not a recipe for formula-loving, action-addicted moviegoers. Instead, it's a very unconventional and visually dazzling work by Robert Zemeckis and Warner Bros, and afitting cinematic salute to scientist-author-philosopher Carl Sagan.

This, indeed, is a multifaceted work, at the center of which is the story of a character driven by obsession and a childlike longing to find "truth." Not that such themes haven't been depicted in film before, usually with lame and insipid results (one recalls the original "Star Trek" a movie so philosophical that it checked "entertainment" at the door). But seldom has the exploration of truth, in essence, theological truth, been handled this well.

Instead of pontificating about the existence of God, Zemeckis has designed a mirror of sorts against which we can see a reflection of our own faith, or courage of faith,to believe (or not to believe) in something greater than ourselves. In this mirror we occasionally see less than benign manifestations of religious zeal out of control, of maniacal leaders barking dogma over loudspeakers in a carnival type atmosphere exactly as Carl Sagan depicted in the original novel on which the movie is based.

But Zemeckis, wisely, never strays from the core-- the journey of a character to find salvation in discovery, an obsession threatened by selfish or paranoid intentions by other characters in the play (most notably by Tom Skeritt); and also aided by others who have other quite eccentric obsessions (most notably John Hurt). It is a very engaging yarn whose resolution some may find so unconventional that they will dismiss the narrative as anticlimactic. After all, there are no bug-eyed monsters to reward movie-goers who are interested in visceral catharsis. "Men in Black" lovers, stay away from this one.

Nevertheless, what we have here is an entertaining and intellectually, no, make that philosophically, challenging film which works well. There have been many movies about "contact" with alien creatures before-- all of them driven by a plot that involved dealing with the aliens in one manner or another, either in befriending them or in destroying them. Not this one. The first pivotal point in "Contact" involves not a message from space but a cut off in scientific research funding, and the histrionic fireworks from Jodie Foster make the ensuing plot developments well worth watching. This is a very unconventional science fiction.

What Robert Zemeckis has wrought is an entertainment that, while not a masterpiece, is worthy of comparisons to "2001, A Space Odyssey" and far more accessible than thatformer film. Obsession, tempered with patience, is occasionally rewarded. Hope in the future and of the human race is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, just as Carl Sagan would have wished in this film adaptation. Audiences may find rewards in this film not unlike those cited by the apostle John in the New Testament--"Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

[--- See Now! ---]by  
Jan 25, 2000
This was one totally awesome movie. It was refreshing to have aliens who did not want to destroy the world, for a change. And even though the movie is longer than most, it at no time lost my interest. Besides the really cool special effects, it was a story that actually made you think. I think that's a good thing to have in this day and age.

[--- See Now! ---]by  
Jan 25, 2000
Finally I went to see a really good film, I think this movie should win some movie awards because it is so good and great acting and it can be a great family film too.This movie was the best since A Time to Kill. GO OUT AND SEE IT!!!!!

Rating:*****(5 Stars)

[--- Stay Away! ---]by  
Jan 25, 2000
Don't see this movie. It was a big waste of money and I would not reccomend this movie to anyone. If you want to see the stupidest movie this one is the one for you! The actors were awful and they suck!

[--- See Now! ---]by  
Jan 25, 2000
If I were Siskel and Ebert I would give this two thumbs up! If you liked Independence Day you will absolutely love this movie. The cast is great, the plot is excellent, and the special effects are outstanding! Overall this movie is a plus in all areas except for the understanding, I found it a little bit hard to understand. Even if it was a little hard to understand the context and effects were great! I give it four stars!

[--- See Now! ---]by  
Jan 25, 2000
This is a beautiful movie. I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in exploring their own beliefs in science, religion, etc. It will show you just how wonderful the universe is and how you can come to be at peace with it.

Not since "Jurassic Park" has so much good science been explained so well in a popular movie. This movie also marks the first time (that I know of) since "The Fountainhead" that an atheist was the lead character/hero in a major motion picture.

A truly wonderful experience.

Jan 25, 2000
At 2.5 hours in length, this is a movie where you will have to carefully plan your concession consumption, cause you certainly won't want to miss any part of the fantastic film by having to run to the restroom during the middle of it.

Starring Jodie Foster (The Silence of the Lambs) as Dr. Eleanor Arroway, Matthew McConaughey (A Time to Kill) as Palmer Joss, Tom Skerritt (Picket Fences (tv series)) as Dr. David Drumlin and David Morse (The Rock) as Eleanor's father, Ted.

This movie is based upon the Carl Sagan book of the same name. Mr. Sagan was even involved in the filming of this movie up until his death, and it shows. This is a great movie about what might happen if we (the human race) should ever receive a signal from space, indicating life on another planet.

I found the entire plot of this movie to be completely believable given today's society and current trends in technology. Basically, Dr. Arroway has been fascinated with hearing signals from far away places since her childhood years when she did so via ham radio. She graduated to bigger and betterthings, ending up with the SETI program and large dish arrays listening to the night sky for signs of life in the universe.

Well, I'm sure that everyone knows what happens next. Contact is made. Earth receives a signal from outer space. The progression of events from that point forward draws the viewer in, as we hang on every word and plot twist. You won't regret going to see this film.

It's easy to rate this movie as a "See Now", in my opinion, this movie is one of the best movies of this decade! The use of digital sound for this film is fantastic. The movie is so quiet in parts, the sense and feeling that the viewer gets from this silence would be ruined by analog hiss that normallywould be heard if it were not being played back with DTS or Dolby Digital technology. In addition to the quiet parts of the movie, the sound guys also make pretty good use of the separate surround speakers to provide an environment which wraps around the viewer and makes them feel as though theyare part of the film.

Go see this movie!

Copyright 1997 - Ron Higgins No unauthorized publication or distribution without the consent of Ron Higgins.

[--- Good ---]by  
Jan 25, 2000
Finally, a truly excellent movie with an excellent cast and spectacular effects. And imagine, a movie that doesn't water down the technical terms and treat you as if you were a moron. If you don't understand a word or concept here, you have no excuse for not looking into them on the Web (that is if you care of course). Things get complex in the real world, I am sick of movies where all they have to do is press the "BIG OBVIOUS RED BUTTON" and everything magically happens, or where the heroes can break into a secured computer system with a couple of key strokes. The science in Contact was well portrayed.

Also if any of you are interested, you and your PC can actually be involved with the really SETI work. Your computer will be used to process actual SETI data, looking for candidate signals. The program runs in the background as a screen saver. Look into it at the following web site:


Jodie FosterÂ’s performance was incredibly intense, along the lines of her work in the "Silence of the Lambs". You never for a second thought she was reading from a script.

At least in my opinion it was one of the best movies IÂ’ve seen in many years.

[--- Wait for Rental ---]by  
Jan 25, 2000
This is a tough movie to review. Jody Foster is very good as usual, but the script lets her down about half way through the movie. The first half sets the setting for her outer space compulsion very well. The second half becomes a poor copy of all the science fiction movies that have gone before. The time-space travel is totally derivative of star trek movies. I was entertained in the first half and almost fell asleep during the last half.

[--- See Now! ---]by  
Jan 25, 2000
I must say that considering that I went into the theatre with the pre-conceived impression that "Contact" was more than likely a fairly tame movie that was simply trying to pry a few dollars out of movie goers by riding on the back of other recent successful alien movies such as "ID4" and "MIB", I was forced to eat a rather large lump of humble pie!

This movie is science-fiction, it involves the contact between ourselves and alien intelligence, so if you are a person that is incapable of imagination or not even slightly intrigued by the unknown, do us all a favor and stay at home and read a book rather than going to see an entertaining movie and whinging about how the storyline which involves aliens is not plausable. PLEASE!!!

While I'm not a great fan of Jodie Foster I must admit that I was very impressed by her performance in the movie. The actual script for "Contact" was for me a breathe of fresh air in a time where huge money has been spent on special effects in an attempt to simply awe the viewers into submission. "Contact" takes a step back from the cutting edge of technology in special efffects and relies more on its story, acting and that little place in many peoples mind that says "is there anybody out there?"

It stays in my opinion within the relms of possibility in a universe where almost anything is possible and almost nothing certain, and provides good old fashioned entertainment for the viewer. It was a fitting tribute to Carl Sagan and one that I'm sure would meet his approval.

If you want to see a genuinely good movie then GO SEE IT!

Jul 22, 2003
Jodie Foster gave another good performance (am I shocked?) as a scientist who discovered another civilization and they instructed her to build another ship. Not you silly science fiction movie, but a film about the joys of discoverying another civilization. This film takes a serious look at aliens who are trying to contact us. The special effects worked very well, especially when they construct the ship that\'ll take Foster to another world. \"Contact\" doesn\'t dumb-down the audience.
Oct 31, 2005
“Close Encounters of the Third Kind” needed updating. “Contact” is that update. Though it may never attain the lofty heights of commercialism that “Close Encounters” enjoyed, “Contact” is, in fact, a more intelligent vision of extra-terrestrial communication with our outer-spiral-arm planet.

From science maven Carl Sagan’s optimistic novel of the same name, the movie is based on the ideology of the Drake Equation (the speculative theory postulating multitudes of Life-harboring planets in this galaxy, given the sheer quantity of possibly habitable worlds), defined in the movie by the almost-too-cute syllogism: “If we are alone in the Universe, it sure seems like an awful waste of space.”

Whereas “Close Encounters”’ method of alien contact played on the age-worn industrial-era concept of aliens physically visiting Earth, an infinitely more efficient manner is effected in “Contact” by means of radio waves. SETI astronomers, headed by Ellie Arroway (perfect-featured Jodie Foster in sensual, leonine mane), stumble upon distinctly intelligent radio signals originating near the star Vega. In decoding The Message, they are astonished to find it is not merely a rudimentary greeting, but rather a technologically-superior detailed schematic for a Machine, to transport US to THEM.

The concept of “aliens” has matured in this film, from simple benign or malignant humanoids (treating Earth as the retarded child of the galaxy), to ambiguous “intelligences”, regarding us as near-equals, in placing the ball in our court.

This maturity is due in great part to the inexhaustible efforts of the late Dr. Sagan, whose quest to bestow a sense of cerebral wonder in a generation jaded by laser-wielding aliens and detestably non-scientific “science fiction” found a culminating point in this movie.

As with all major-studio releases, the screen story tampers with the novel’s finer details, slotting it squarely within motion picture dramatic parameters - most notably modifying the overweight evangelist of the book, Palmer Joss, to that of Hollywood man-toy, Mathew McConaghey, to give Ellie that seemingly necessary “love-interest”. Thankfully, the broad strokes retain enough of Sagan’s driving pursuit of knowledge, elevating it above mere whizbang alien-invasion fare.

That being said, the movie does not lack for effects – stunning, thought-provoking effects, rather than “be-still-my-pants” jaw-droppers. The opening sequence sees a camera panning backwards through space away from earth, beyond the edge of the Milky Way, outracing a jumble of radio static, which we hear getting progressively “older”, the farther out we go (as indicated by familiar tunes, news snippets and cultural signpost sounds - i.e. the farther out in space you get, the farther back in time you hear; in essence, time-traveling backwards - faster than light, no less, if you are outpacing radio waves!). Herein lies the foreshadowing of the whole plot. For those unfamiliar with the physics concept that underlines this sequence, the movie will make no sense.

One can only hope that viewers can delve through the flummery (which must necessarily blossom during the latter stages of the movie, as The Machine traverses worm-holes) to The REAL Message from Sagan: that the questioning and scientific mind is infinitely more precious to our species and creates more impetus for launching Mankind to the stars than the stagnating minds of the pseudo-science shamsters, which includes fanatical christian contingents.

One of the best arguments against *religionistas* – played out in the movie by the ever-psycho Jake Busey - is that no scientist has yet strapped himself with explosives and taken innocent lives in his quest to force an opinionated Physics viewpoint on other people, whom he believes he will “save” by blowing them up.

The incomparably-reliable David Morse is Ellie’s encouraging father, while William Fichtner poignantly plays a blind astronomer colleague. A stoic Tom Skerritt is simultaneously Ellie’s supervisor and adversary, although thankfully does not come across as “villainous”, even though cast as the obvious antagonist; an intelligent rendering, keeping his interests “scientific” rather than petty. Although he does prevaricate to score his Machine seat, he is noble enough to admit to Ellie, “I wish we lived in a world which rewarded honesty like yours”, to which Ellie replies, “I thought the world is what we make of it.”

Carl Sagan died before production was completed on “Contact”, making it one of his last gifts to a blinkered world. The film’s dedication read simply: “For Carl”. I wept. Without him, the Universe seems like an awful waste of space.
Jul 19, 2012

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