New on DVD/Blu-ray: Contagion (2011)

Jude Law in Contagion (2011) Movie Image

Steven Soderbergh sure knows how to go big, and “Contagion” is certainly big. It’s the type of ensemble drama with International locations, a wide-ranging cast, and glossy production values that Hollywood used to do so well back in “the day” and sold the entire year around it. That doesn’t really work nowadays, but don’t tell Soderbergh that. His killer virus drama “Contagion”, a film that is sure to make you wash up more than usual after viewing it (and bark at those who don’t do the same), arrives on DVD and Blu-ray from Warner Home Video today.

Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Laurence Fishburne and Bryan Cranston, along with medical journalist Sanjay Gupta, explore the real science of global viruses and what they mean to the human race. The world is preparing for the next biological disaster…but is it too late?

Good question, plot synopsis. I’m going to guess … No. Or is it? Depends on who you ask (and who you are), as it turns out.

A cold has never looked more deadly than in Steven Soderbergh’s “Contagion”, an ensemble drama set in multiple locations, and featuring a cast of characters from all walks of life. Matt Damon is our Everyman entry into this deadly world, playing a suburban dad trying to keep his family together even as his wife (Gwyneth Paltrow) lays dying. Meanwhile, the trio of Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet, and Jennifer Ehle play doctors at the Centers for Disease Control investigating a quickly escalating killer virus that is spreading and, worse, mutating. Marion Cotillard is a doctor for the World Heath Organization, who spearheads the International effort against the deadly pandemic.

Directed by Soderbergh from a script by Scott Z. Burns, the scariest thing about “Contagion” is just how realistic it all is, and how possible it can all be if just the right strain of this did that and ended up there. While it’s not a horror movie, there are some haunting sequences in the film that will send chills running up your back. Mass graves, empty office buildings, and desperate looting are all shot with an almost detached, documentary feel that really increases that “Oh, hell, could it actually happen?” feeling. Of course, the film’s cold, methodical approach to the spread of the virus is also is undoing. Sometimes it feels a little too detached.

Still, “Contagion” is probably the scariest movie you’ll see all year. And it’s not even a horror movie.

Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburne, and Jennifer Ehle in Contagion (2011) Movie Image

The Blu-ray combo pack arrives with the movie on two discs, Blu-ray and standard DVD, plus a digital copy. You can also take advantage of the new Ultraviolet, streaming option.

As for special features, the film may be brimming with big names, but that’s apparently the full extent of its A-list offering. You get a trio of featurettes, including “The Reality of Contagion”, “The Contagion Detectives”, and “Contagion: How a Virus Changes the World”. All in all, about 20 extra minutes of how the world of “Contagion” can become very real. In case you still haven’t peed your pants yet, I mean.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go wash my hands. (Again…)

Buy “Contagion” on DVD and Blu-ray from Warner Home Video on January 3, 2012.

Contagion (2011) Movie Blu-ray Cover