Contact, directed by the great and powerful Robert Zemeckis, is the 1997 film adaptation of the novel Contact, written by Carl Sagan. Jodie Foster (Dr. Eleanor Ann Arroway) plays a radio astronomer, who has spent much of her life scouring the universe for signs of intelligent extra-terrestrial life. Her efforts seem to pay off one day, when she receives a mysterious radio signal from an unknown source, some 26 light years away. The source sends her a set of instructions to build a machine of unknown purpose.
Contact adheres to both science-fiction enthusiasts and academics. It frequently raises philosophical questions such as whether science and religion can be intertwined, or whether a higher power exists. This is complemented with a collection of scenes that lures the interest of science-fiction enthusiasts through discussing the implications of extra-terrestrial life. The plot itself felt very genuine, in the sense that if this scenario were to play out today, people would act in much of the same way as was shown on screen. Some members of the public would choose religion as a means of understanding and reaching out to this extra-terrestrial presence. Others would think this is a hoax, designed by the government to pump more taxpayer money into military programs. Some would even think that this event marks the end of the world, and would move to hoarding essential goods and sheltering (this was all shown in Contact).
Performances wise, everyone did a serviceable job. Jodie Fosters’ character was a bit short-tempered (which I didn’t really like), but was believable as an academic. Matthew McConaughey also makes an appearance. His character (Palmer Ross) is a bit tough to describe; he plays a sort of religious author trying to also make sense of the signals from outer space. I wasn’t too fond of his character as I felt he was just trying to get laid. The rest of the characters were pretty un-memorable. A major criticism of this movie would be its special effects and use of green-screen & CGI. This was prevalent and underwhelming near the end of its runtime. However, I guess I should cut this film some slack considering that it was released over 20 years ago.
In summary, Contact was a well put-together and interesting film with broad and far-reaching themes and discussions. The plot unravels slowly. The movie takes its sweet time to get going. Although there was nothing special about the way in this film was shot, edited, or scored, I would still classify it as a “B-grade” science fiction movie.