M. SCOTT MORRIS: ‘Contagion’ full of talent, tries to tackle too much

By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

The new disaster movie “Contagion” is loaded with talented actors and story lines.
You can judge the glut of talent for yourself because Gwyneth Paltrow is the first to die of a mystery disease that sweeps the world.
She plays Beth Emhoff. We know she’s a businesswoman and that she’s cheating on her husband, Mitch Emhoff (Matt Damon). We also know she’s the one who brings a deadly illness to U.S. shores.
As deaths pile up, a team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention searches for a cure. They’re led by Dr. Cheever (Laurence Fishburne), who dispatches Dr. Meers (Kate Winslet) into the field.
At the World Health Organization, Dr. Orantes (Marion Cotillard) is sent to Asia to track down the disease’s origins at a casino that Beth Emhoff attended.
As the scope of the illness becomes clear, Orantes is kidnapped. Her ransom is a vaccine that hasn’t been developed yet.
Back in the U.S., Mitch is trying to keep his daughter safe by effectively locking her in the house.
That’s probably a good plan because there are riots across the country, as people seek a cure that’s been marketed on the Internet by Alan Krumwiede (Jude Law).
If you remove all of the A-list talent, you’ll get The Weather Channel show, “It Could Happen Tomorrow,” which chronicles different earth-shaking disasters.
“Contagion” is filled with moments that seem as though they actually could happen, but it’s difficult to get emotionally involved with the movie.
This is a strong cast, so there are tender, affecting scenes. At one point, I was disturbed to think one character might have the disease, and was relieved to find out it was another character.
So much happens, and you know the camera is about to take you somewhere else and someone’s likely to die. An intellectual distance is built into the film.
Some have referred to “Contagion” as a horror movie, but I don’t get that. Although I did wonder about the people who had sat in the theater before me. What bugs could they have left behind?
I give “Contagion” a C.
It’s showing at Malcos in Tupelo, Oxford, Corinth and Columbus, as well as Hollywood Premier Cinemas in Starkville.
Look for movie reviews in Scene on Thursdays, and listen each Tuesday morning on Wizard 106.7 between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m.

‘I had a good time watching Gwyneth Paltrow die.” – Kelli Karlson, Wizard 106.7. She gives “Contagion” a B plus.