Watched Nov 24, 2011
Mackenzie Snow’s review:
I actually don't know about this movie. I mean, I'm on the fence about it. It's supposed to be something really awesome and there are twinges of greatness from it but it's so low-key even for a Steven Soderbergh creation that I was left with a feeling of mild dissatisfaction at the end.
The story and the premise is nothing new - it's about the outbreak of an epidemic and how various people, individuals and organizations alike, deal with it. It tries to suggest this disease, caused by a virus carried or caused by the unholy genetical matrimony of a bat and a pig, is "nothing like the world has ever seen before and people should be really, really worried about it because this could happen in real life!" I admit that, for a disaster movie, this one is above average and more intelligent than most, especially because there's an obvious lack of blockbuster-style action sequence, but the whole thing just fell rather flat for me. If it's mass panic that the story wants to generate after audiences walk out of the cinema, it fails to do so.
I think what made the movie so underwhelming for me is the fact that it takes itself too seriously. I do like it when Soderbergh makes movies based on true story, like Erin Brokovich, Che and The Informant. He makes these real people and real situations the people find themselves in accessible and sympathetic to the viewers. But with this movie, which contains a plausible premise but is still pretty much fiction, I didn't see Soderbergh's usual deft handling of the characters and the situations. True, they're still compelling enough to watch and the characters played by Kate Winslet, Matt Damon and Laurence Fishburn especially were able to draw sympathy from me as a viewer, but they still come across as generic compared to other characters in past Soderbergh films.
But allow me to mention here how amazing Jennifer Ehle is. For those who are not familiar with her, she played Lizzie Bennet in the BBC mini-series version of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush's on-screen wife in The King's Speech. Ehle is, for me, the best performer among the stellar ensemble cast. Her character is minor but quite prominent, strong and even gets a tender moment to show just how human she is. If there's one star turn in this movie that I greatly enjoyed, it was hers. She's so underrated it's sad, but I hope that she gets more exposure now that she's in a high-profile film. Ehle is brilliant and she deserves to be on the spotlight for once.
Another performance that I liked was, shockingly enough (because I'm not a huge fan of the actor), was Jude Law's dodgy blogger/conspiracy theorists who becomes the government's No. 1 Public Enemy. He does this exaggerated accent that, paired off with the general sleaziness of the character, makes for a grotesque picture of an Internet geek whom a lot of people might - quite sadly - be able to relate to. Unfortunately, he gets even less of a screen time than Ehle (don't take my word for it, though; I didn't exactly count how many minutes they were up on screen) so I was annoyed when there was more Matt Damon and not enough Jude Law. And trust me, coming from me (the non-Jude Law fan), this is a huge compliment.
Other than that, I'm not entirely impressed with it. It does make you think and probably make you want to carry hand sanitizer/sterilizer everywhere. But for the most part I just feel that the hype is bigger than the end result. It's a good solid effort from Soderbergh, if a little boring and draggy. Not the director's best work but it's watchable for when you want something more serious than your regular Hollywood disaster movie blockbuster.