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written by thingstodo March 27, 2006 - 12:24 PM PST
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful

The opening shot of the movie is probably the best one we have to even approximating the relevance of our existence in the universe: it starts out as any two-bit pic off the Net nowadays can give you--a relatively mundane view of planet Earth. Then it pulls back away from the planet and travels outward of our solar system and beyond, slowly at first, but in speeds that must've accelerated at some exponential level.

I don't think that was gratuitous; I think it's to put into one shot an idea that's been repeated several times in the movie: out of all these worlds, to assume that the only form of intelligent life resides only on Earth would suggest that it's just a terrible waste of space.

The movie also is done from the perspective of an intelligent no-nonsense scientist who sticks by her belief in no particular religion. And at times being honest about that penalized her whereas a more opportunistic person may pander to the religious in order to achieve an end. Hm.....

But what really makes this movie extraordinary to me is Ellie's testimony near the end. And if you're watching this movie, place yourself in her shoes at that moment, and consider if that position seems familiar to what the religious goes through when attempting to explain their faith to a world ruled by objective science. The story may have made a far better case for religion, ironically, than so many supposedly "religious" brochures and accounts that you read and hear everyday.

I would've liked a more thorough definition of the more minor characters, as I think each of them are presented as fascinating and intelligent above all else. Perhaps this is a price for framing the story to fit in a movie given its alloted time.

The movie has prompted me to seek out and read the book. And that's about the best service a movie can do to a book that it's based on.

too hollywood, or just enough?
written by alexjb March 29, 2005 - 6:07 PM PST
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful

i like this movie, but more for what it represents than for what it actually is. the book is well worth reading; the movie, unfortunately, is heavily adapted for a mainstream American audience.

on it's face, it's a decent film- jodie foster is solid, and portrays a great strong, independent, dedicated woman. angela basset is great as a member of the president's cabinet (condi rice anyone?). matthew mc-whatever is good as a Sensitive New Age Guy- not too smarmy. the supporting-cast blind guy does his bit pretty well without overdoing the "i'm blind" thing, and John Hurt is creepy as the beyond bill gates rich geek.

the visual effects are very cool- the opening shot alone is brilliant for using visuals to explain the concept of radio waves travelling through space. things like wormholes get great explanations and visual effects, and they even managed to make radio telescopes seem cool, by taking just a few liberties.

the thing is, they dumbed down all the pro-SETI/anti-SETI arguments for the masses, passing up an opportunity to dig into what i think are the fun aspects of the issue.

on the plus side, great graphics and a long-timeline story made succinct do make this a great way to explain to the clueless what SETI is and why it's cool.


(Average 6.24)
636 Votes
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