Contagion

September 9, 2011

Arriving to provoke a mid-morning panic attack in even the most casual of germophobes, here’s your first look at Steven Soderbergh’s all-star ensemble piece Contagion, a cavalcade of familiar faces that’s like It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World if everyone started collapsing into seizures. And adding fuel to your vaguely defined dislike of her, this time the global epidemic is all Gwyneth Paltrow’s fault, as she returns from an overseas jaunt carrying avian flu in her appropriately birdlike frame. Thanks a lot, Gwyneth Paltrow! Maybe if you’d skipped those 21-day detox cleanses and occasionally ate something besides lukewarm lemon water, you’d have the proper bacteria to fight the disease. Instead, now we’re all going to die.

At least humanity’s impending extinction begins with Paltrow—which sounds like a spoiler but isn’t, as her death arrives midway through this trailer to catch both the audience and husband Matt Damon completely off guard. Announcing that you plan to kill off one of your major stars before the movie has sold its first ticket normally would be a risky move if there weren’t so many other recognizable names to toy with, including Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard (who seems to be playing some sort of sneezing forensics expert), Bryan Cranston, and Laurence Fishburne. Of course, as telegraphed by Paltrow’s early demise, this seems to be the sort of movie where absolutely none of them are safe, so don’t get too attached. After all, when the birds find a way to weaponize (as Fishburne hypothesizes), even the famous are totally screwed.

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