CONTACT (1997) 

Jodie Foster
Matthew McConaughey
Angela Bassett
James Woods
Tom Skerritt
David Morse
Geoffrey Blake
William Fichtner
Sami Chester
Timothy McNeil
Jena Malone

Robert Zemeckis



The Novel

Time: 150 mins.
Rating: PG
Genre: Science Fiction/Drama

Academy Award nomination for Best Sound.

It's rare to see an intelligent sci-fi movie anymore. I was beginning to think the two would never meet again. Since we can't make anyone on Earth the bad guy anymore (everyone complains about it), we have turned to space for our man vs. man conflicts to be resolved. Ever since E.T. came to visit, all other extra-terrestrials have been out to get us. CONTACT shows a distinctly different side – that they're just like us, good and bad. A concept that's more than a little scary.

I truly love watching Jodie Foster act and wish she did more of it. However, since she only plays intelligently written roles, it's no wonder she only works every couple of years. Here she plays Ellie, a scientist working for the S.E.T.I. program, searching for intelligent life in other galaxies. It's a thankless job, that she's about to lose after years of research, when one night her team receives a message from a small planet called Vega. This sends everyone into a tizzy, causing the government to take over the project. At first they think the message is just a "hello we know you're out there" return of our first transmission into space – Hitler's speech at the opening of the 1938 Olympics.

But Ellie's team soon discovers, hidden in the return message, a schematic blueprint of some sort of ship to transport a human to Vega. The middle of the film concentrates on the various religious and philosophical questions about who should represent our planet or if anyone should even be sent at all. In spite of dissent from many factions around the world, the governments band together to build the transport. After the first launch ends in disaster, Ellie is chosen for a second and last attempt at "contact." This is the moment everyone who sits through the first 2 hours of the movie is waiting for – what will the "aliens" and their planet look like?

The special effects of the "transport" are amazing. And since it would ruin the movie to actually tell you what happens once she reaches Vega, you'll just have to wait and see. I was worried that it would be stupid and hokey, but was pleasantly surprised by how it was handled. Since no time passed here on Earth (what a surprise) and Ellie can't really explain what happened, no one believes her. But that doesn't stop them from continuing her research. Who knows? She could be right.

CONTACT is a film that really takes the time to explore not only the possibility that we are not alone in the universe, but what it might do to us as human beings to actually find out. This is a great film with amazing performances and a story that really sticks with you long after the lights come up.

"I don't know, Sparks. But I guess I'd say if it is just us... seems like an awful waste of space."

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