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348 out of 399 people found the following review useful:

"For Carl"

10/10
Author: abettertomorrow from New Zealand
30 March 2000

Reading other peoples' reviews, I see a split 50/50 argument where one side loves the movie and the other hates it. I am not one bit surprised, due to the importance of the film, and I feel this is proof that Contact is one of the most powerful movies of the decade. Like the reaction from the civilians to the machine, a movie with this much heavy firepower is likely to get both loathing and praise from its viewers. I for one praise the film, for its toughness and sensitivity, symbolism and passion, and the fact that it is a rare science fiction film, a gem which was released in a time where scientific intelligence in film has become a nothing short of a joke as the wonder of the universe has been ignored and the mystery of alien life have become a neverending trail of movie villains.

The film of course centers around the science vs. religion theme, the oldest and most frightening of all school debates. Instead of taking the more independent path the book takes, the film takes the more sensitive on the science vs. religion argument throughout the film by telling us that science and religion points to the same direction (the "pursuit of truth") but are misunderstood when studying the nature of their WAY of finding the truth (science uses evidence and answers, religion uses love faith). At the end of it all, the film lets us know that if science and religion stops colliding with each other and starts to combine and compliment each other (listen to Ellie's final words in her testament) the human race might achieve things we can only dream about now.

A perfectly refreshing film, with lots to say, great acting and directing, sound and special effects. Robbed by the Academy.

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326 out of 384 people found the following review useful:

Absolutely brilliant; unequivocally, completely amazing in every way.

Author: Juzai from Australia
23 February 1999

N.B: This is a very long monologue because I adore CONTACT to bits.

I loved the irony present in Contact, as well as its religious imagery and its attention to fine detail. To see the universe in that opening scene was breath-taking, and the reason for it all coming out of Ellie's eye becomes blissfully apparent in light of the end, for her journey was just as much a physical as well as an emotional and spiritual one. The photography was superb, alternating between expansive sweeps of the landscape and the universe, and close, intimate shots of the characters, symbolising the potential for ‘the unknown' as well as an equally important knowledge of all that is familiar – contact with our own people.

The irony manifested itself in how Ellie, who denounced Palmer's ability to possess complete faith in God, ended up being the advocate of such a faith, though of a different strand; she could now appreciate Palmer's passion. Remember that Biblical verse that when paraphrased reads something like: `The man who is not willing to give up his life will lose it, but he who is willing will gain it'? This religious imagery correlates to how Drumlin lost his life in pursuit of personal acclaim, while Ellie, who admitted that she would freely give up her life in pursuit of life's tormenting questions, gained it in such a memorable and satisfying way. She found inner peace, having made contact with two intelligent races; one of the skies, and one of her own kind. The dried up cliché alluding to aliens: `We are not alone' begins to take on a new meaning in a multitude of dimensions in light of this brilliant movie.

I read this wonderful ‘blurb' about Contact, and I think this following line delineates the film, and why watching Contact became such a defining film for me: `[Ellie's] personal voyage will take her beyond theory, beyond knowledge , beyond experience, to the realization that true vision is ultimately the union of fact and faith.' This duality of life and true fulfilment which arises from the reconcilement of contrary beliefs is surely a theme of the film: evinced through the conflict created by science vs. religion, fact vs. faith, vision vs. reality.

Carl Sagan's novel was also a fulfilling pleasure to read. I thought that the message in pi was an absolutely crucial element of the book, the implications of such a message being that there is an all-powerful ‘force' behind the universe, which brings order to disorder, and such a ‘force' we might call God. So possibly, C.S's novel did prove the existence of God. Maybe the recurring ‘C' pattern in the film, (the ‘quadruple' system Ellie saw near Vega, the sands in her father's hands and that which she holds in the end), is indicative of such order – that no matter how large or small an event, i.e, whether a message is written in the sky or in the palm of one's hands, order is present, and implies a powerful force guiding the universe.

I am incapable of seeing many, if any, faults with this film – I truly cannot understand why anyone would think it contrived or the same as something as brain-numbing and gung-ho as `Armageddon'. It is truly an intellectual film with meanings at many levels – and so thought-provoking! Perhaps Matthew McConaughey's representation of Palmer Joss was a little unbelievable, and the thrice-repeated `It's an awful waste of space' phrase that connected Ellie to her father and Ellie to Palmer can be seen as a tad too sentimental on the one hand, but on the other, it serves to punctuate the potentiality of the physical universe, and the human mind, which, in C.S's case, conceived this book. Jodie Foster is magnificent, but then again, isn't she always? The extraordinary passion Ellie exhibited was admirable – her innate sense of wonder balanced by a stabbing loneliness, born out of the premature departure of a dear parent.

I love Contact because of its poignant humanity, the sense of wonder that resonates so strongly throughout the film and indicates the strength of that wonder which inspired C.S in the first place, and because it searches for meaning so idealistically, while still, necessarily, maintaining the sometimes harsh realities of life (personified by James Woods' unsympathetic and skeptical Kitz).

To those who hated the ending, you obviously missed a crucial component of the film, that of possibility and potentiality. To have Ellie return with tangible evidence of alien existence would demolish all the credibility that Robert Zemeckis attempted to create by showing the current American president referring generically to the event of the message being discovered, the decision to build the machine, etc. The ending was crafted in such a way as to enable a choice by the viewer/reader to be made – just like how C.S equally respected those in his book who chose to pursue a path of science or religion. We, the audience, are allowed to decide what really happened, and this makes Contact an almost interactive and therefore a more intimate experience.

Contact has something to say to everyone, and has real meaning that cannot help but whisk viewers and readers alike to some thrilling place. To those who thought the film predictable, and had not previously read the book, I would say that you must be VERY creative if you managed to anticipate all that Contact had to offer. But for everyone who was as much inspired by this magnificent film as I was, here's the most important lesson to be derived from both the book and the film: `For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.' This enlightened message, dreamt up by Carl Sagan, makes me even more convinced that a book critic who said of Carl Sagan: `with terrestrials like him, who needs extras?' is exactly right.

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288 out of 350 people found the following review useful:

No film has moved me more than this one, ever

10/10
Author: Steve H from Perth, Australia
5 November 2004

This, for me, is a masterpiece. I have enjoyed it more with each viewing.

Carl Sagan was a great man. He promoted science in the way it should be, portraying the profound mysteriousness of our universe with humility, and without dogma. In his book, the Demon-Haunted World, he quoted Einstein:

"All our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike -- and yet it is the most precious thing we have".

Contact conveys this simple message in a subtle yet immensely powerful way. The performances are some of the most compelling I have seen, particularly by Jodie Foster and David Morse.

Just magnificent.

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176 out of 214 people found the following review useful:

Diamond in the Rough

10/10
Author: ada-p from Australia
26 June 2003

So many movies out there are pure drivel. They use sex, or shock, or sex to sell two hours of something that in no way contributes to our existence; be it inspiration, knowledge or spiritual awakening.

Contact is an exceptional example of a movie that DESERVES to exist. From the spectactular beginning shot that shows us just how small we are in a world that once thought the universe was made for, and around, mankind; to its realistic conclusion that any X-Phile would expect to happen: this movie appeals to our humanity, intelligence and sense of adventure.

One of the greatest realisations that the movie will guide you to is that what we search for in outer space is actually in our own backyards. We are cut off from each other and sci-fi tries to quell our loneliness with ideas that we'll meet E.T. and wont feel so lonely in our existence. But were AREN'T alone... we have each other.

I never get tired of watching this movie, though I wish they brought out a packed special edition DVD full of behind the scene effects and the like.

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156 out of 213 people found the following review useful:

WOW!!!! There is Intelligence in Hollywood!

8/10
Author: Aaron Aleszczyk from Rochester, New York
24 December 1998

My only regret about CONTACT is that I didn't see it in a theater.

This movie works on so many levels. It is a fabulously balanced concoction of thrills, suspense, action, politics, acting & characterization, awe, and...(ahem)...INTELLIGENCE! (And not just the alien kind!)

Some have compared this movie to 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY...with, perhaps, some justification. There certainly are more than just passing similarities. However, whereas 2001 relied on hardware to (almost) the exclusion of all else and placed a greater emphasis on "spectacle", CONTACT strives for more substance on the human and sociological level. It touches one's emotions in a way that most movies never attempt to, much less succeed. In this, CONTACT could just as well be compared to Steven Spielberg's masterpiece, E.T. But whereas E.T. was meant to wake up the "child" in us, CONTACT succeeds in waking us to the next level! This most definitely is THE movie for BRAINIACS!

I rate CONTACT a STRONG 8 out of 10.

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95 out of 122 people found the following review useful:

Different from the book doesn't mean bad.

10/10
Author: jeeves-1 from Alexandria, Virginia
20 September 2002

I am used to hearing from just about everyone who has read a book that was made into a movie that the book is always better. I tend to agree with this opinion. Contact, however, shows that in the arts the norm is not always the truth; opinion, no matter how often it is backed up with evidence, can never break through the barrier into be a hardened and absolute truth.

I saw this movie first before I read the book. That is partly because I didn't know that there was the book until after the movie. So, a year or so after the viewing, I got the book. Of course, the movie, in general terms, follows the book fairly well. I have to say, the movie can easily stand on its own merits just as the book can also.

The immediate impression of the film after the book is that there is a great emphasis on faith, proof, truth and opinion. These themes are not much brought up in the book - at least not with the same impact nor in the same way as in the film. Of course, the field of Astrophysics, of which Carl Sagan was a practitioner, lends itself very easily to ultimate questions such as God, faith, truth etc. The vastness of space and complexity of reality, viewed through the scrutiny of the scientific eye, is mind-boggling. As was repeated in the movie several times: "if we're all that there is, "its an awful waste of space." Personally, I think that the book relates these notions of vastness and complexity much better than the movie. But, the audience of the book was certainly not necessarily the same audience as the movie.

To be more fair, the vastness which was expressed in the book was demonstrated to an equal degree, but differed in quality, by the "aloneness" of Dr. Arroway as she scuttles across the universe. In the book, Dr. Arroway is not alone but go with a team of scientists, all of whom make their appearance in the movie. There is much more detail given in the book of the trip through the device than in the movie. In fact, there are very deliberate omissions made which eliminate the technological bent of the book. Yet, the focus of the movie does not allow the movie to be diminished by these omissions in the same way that the book would unavoidably be lacking without those details.

One final aspect of the movie which is relevant with respect to the book is time. Of course, in physics, time has its leading role so it must make at least a cameo in a movie which relies on physics. Astrophysics is tied inextricably to relativity which is likewise tied to time. The timelessness of the device design sent via radio signals and the instantaneous trip Dr. Arroway seemed to put relativity into perfect perspective. The book takes a slightly different view by using distance and the experience of each traveler of moving fast distances with no other apparent sensations of motion. It all adds up to different but equal expressions of the science which Carl Sagan had mastered.

Both the book and the movie are simply fantastic, one not outshining the other as regards their scope and vision. Watch the film, it is a beautiful one. Read the book, it is equally beautiful.

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98 out of 129 people found the following review useful:

Foster Makes "Contact"

10/10
Author: jhclues from Salem, Oregon
25 June 2001

All of the greatest work by the greatest scientists has been done while they were very young, when they were stupid enough to believe that two-plus-two-equals-five, and pursued it instead of listening to all of those who were much older and wiser who said Don't Waste Your Time. Einstein, it has been said, asked all of his important questions before the age of twenty-five, then spent the rest of his life working on them. `Contact,' directed by Robert Zemeckis, is the story of a young scientist, Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster), who like Einstein and all the greats before her, has been asking questions and seeking answers since she was very young. And now, as a member of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) team, she is able to pursue her obsession with the mysteries of the galaxies and the infinite universe that surrounds us. Her job is to sweep the skies, using the most sophisticated equipment available, for a signal from deepest space. It may be her job, but for Ellie it's a labor of love, for she is convinced that there is something, or someone, out there somewhere, because otherwise, she reasons, what a terrible waste of space it would be. Ellie may be a dreamer, but she knows in her heart that it is the dreamers who over the years have been responsible for making us evolve, making us learn and grow because they are the ones who take insane, foolish ideas and pursue them. And to her, two-plus-two will always be five.

Ellie loves her job and believes in what she is doing, but it's been a struggle over the years, as she and others have had to constantly fight for the funding necessary to keep the project alive, begging for dollars from short-sighted, unimaginative people with vision that goes only as far as the bottom line of their budget book. It's been a tough row to hoe, and she's had to swallow a lot of pride over the years, but then one day it all pays off, when in one magic moment she hears what she's been waiting for all her life: A signal from a distant end of the galaxy-- someone attempting to communicate, to make contact, with the people of the Earth.

Ellie and her team soon realize that, whomever it is, they are using the universal language of prime numbers in their attempts at making contact; and when Ellie deciphers the code, she discovers something monumental in the bargain. But it's a message of global importance, something much bigger than she and her team alone, and she soon find herself fighting to remain a part of the drama that is only beginning to unfold-- the first interaction between human beings and an alien life form. And it's only the beginning of the adventure and the wondrous places this film is about to take you.

Jodie Foster gives a performance here that demonstrates what a gifted, talented actor she is. Her Ellie is convincing and believable, and someone to whom you can genuinely relate, no matter who you are or where you're from, because there is something universal in Ellie's passion and longing to discover the truth and to see beyond the veil of our limited mortal capacities. There's a strength to Ellie, born of a combination of intelligence and innocence, as well as tenacity and faith, and Foster manifests all of these complexities of her character beautifully, with a performance that should've landed her an Oscar nomination. In this role, she is simply as good as it gets.

As the young Ellie, Jenna Malone gives a terrific performance, also, which certainly captures the same spirit that we find in the adult Ellie. And there's a maturity she brings to the character that far exceeds her years. She was a perfect choice for the part, and if this is any indication of what she is capable of, Malone has a successful career ahead of her.

The supporting cast includes David Morse (Ted Arroway), Matthew McConaughey (Palmer), Geoffrey Blake (Fisher), William Fichtner (Kent), Tom Skerritt (David), James Woods (Kitz) and Angela Bassett (Rachel). Zemeckis did a brilliant job of bringing this film to fruition, especially in the way he allowed Foster the time to really develop her character, by giving her that extra moment at just the right time that ultimately meant so much in the final analysis. Too often it's those few minutes that wind up on the cutting room floor that make the difference between a good film and an exceptional one; and between Zemeckis and Foster, they took it to the edge by taking some chances to realize that combined vision, which in the end made this a great film. Thoroughly engrossing and entertaining, `Contact' will transport you to places you can only imagine, and it's all done with style and in a way that makes this a truly memorable cinematic journey. It's what the magic of the movies is all about. I rate this one 10/10.

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90 out of 118 people found the following review useful:

Films are rarely as good as the book…but there are exceptions to the rule…

8/10
Author: gingerkris (gingerkris@yahoo.co.uk) from London, England
22 October 2004

This remains true for this very good adaptation of the classic book by Carl Sagan. Sagans' idea was to make science and the elite commandeering of information available to the majority, he wrote his books for a wide audience and I think the film shows this as was intended by its author.

The Film is roughly about Dr Arroway, Ellie, and how she handles being alone in a world without family or close friends. It is metaphorically able to make us all think about how isolated we as a race, and as people can feel.

Ellie, a brilliant young scientist working on the mistrusted SETI program discovers a message sent to earth from distant star system Vega. On its discovery Ellie must battle with the Military, Pentagon, and Male Dominated scientific world to keep her cards on the table and her discovery that of her team. Ellie is constantly kept in the game by he benefactor, a rich technological industrialist mogul who has a vested interest in her participation of the programme to reach this alien culture.

I don't wish to go on any further and spoil this movie as I rate it as a fantastic exploration of Science Vs Religion and the entire subsequent human spectrum in between. As a film there were several alterations from the book that I felt could have been included, for example not just one traveler but a range of them, philosophers, theologists, scientists, poets and Dr Arroway.

I have watched this film a number of times and still find it a joy to watch the fifth, eighth and tenth time. Jody foster playing a not so dissimilar to her role in Silence of the lambs (attractive, clever, young, successful woman battling in a male world) is exceptional and delivers feeling and intellect alongside an impressive script.

I would give this film an 8.5 and recommend it to anybody, but if you are a sci-fi fan and haven't seen this film then you're in for a treat.

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91 out of 121 people found the following review useful:

An excellent, thoughtful movie

9/10
Author: vtancredi from United States
7 March 2005

This movie examines the premise of what would actually happen if we were to make first contact with aliens, and how that contact would logically happen.

The protagonist is loosely based on an actual astronomer named Jill Tartar. She is focused on finding other life almost to the exclusion of all else in her life. When aliens respond to the Earth's first interstellar broadcast, she is caught up in the hysteria.

What follows is an interesting observation of humanity rather than any aliens. We learn very little about aliens throughout the movie. Rather, we see how people react to knowledge of this magnitude. The movie examines religious, scientific, military and international reactions to the idea of humanity not being alone. I thought they did a fantastic job of representing the scale of reaction, from the fanatic to the skeptic, within the confines of a 2 hour movie. The movie mixes a thoughtful, sentimental tone with a good pace for action and excellent characterization. There is a somewhat arbitrary love story thrown in, but it is tolerable based on how it helps the protagonist's long-delayed progress towards a deeper understanding of her own humanity.

The movie ends in a poignant yet hopeful tone, understanding our human problems but accepting them. I think the message is that the alien contact is the catalyst that will help humanity mature and grow past our more dark halves.

If you like the movie I'd recommend the book. It gives much more insight on the aliens, and expands the scope as there are a number of scientists that participate rather than just one from America, and goes more in depth into the science. It also attempts to show that religion and science can get along. My favorite part is at the very end of the book where Sagan shows how God hid a message in the very fabric of the cosmos, that we could only read when we were ready. Be prepared however, the book is quite a bit drier than the movie and those who don't enjoy reading Discover magazine may have to dig in to get through the slower, more scientific parts.

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87 out of 123 people found the following review useful:

the 2001 for the nineties

10/10
Author: Chris-105 from Vancouver, Canada
7 August 1998

Brilliant movie. Contact is based on the breathtaking novel written by the late Carl Sagan. It stars Jodie Foster as Ellie Arroway, a girl obsessed by what's out there. She intercepts an alien message, after which a mission is set up to go and meet the extra-terrestrials. But make no mistake, this is no Star Trek. This is a very pensive, intelligent movie that is times heartbreakingly sad. It is the 2001 for the nineties, since that movie was obviously somewhat of an inspiration. The ending may disappoint somewhat at first view, but actually turns out to be quite haunting if you give it a chance. Enjoy wonderful acting, great direction and amazing special effects. Read the book first though. You won't regret it.

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