This weekend I saw two movies, Contagion and Dolphin Tale. Sean and I went on Friday and I choose Contagion because I thought it would be something he would like – drama and suspense. Rosie and I went on Sunday and saw Dolphin Tale. Rosie had read the book and has a plush toy of Winter, the star of Dolphin Tale. Here’s a bit about each movie.
Main Storyline: A woman returns to Minnesota (via Chicago) from a business trip to China. She becomes ill with flu-like symptoms. When she convulses, her husband takes her to the hospital and is shocked when doctors tell him she has died. Similar cases start popping up in China and Chicago, alerting the Center for Disease Control. The movie follows the scientists trying to determine the cause and nature of the illness, and ultimately a vaccine.
Stars: Contagion had a star-studded cast. Gwyneth Paltrow, one of my all-time favorites, played Beth Emhoff, the woman who was the first case of the mysterious disease. Even though she dies early in the film, there are numerous flashbacks and she has a major role in the film. Matt Damon stars as Mitch Emhoff, her husband. Dr. Ellis Cheever, head of the Center for Disease Control was played by Laurence Fishburn. Jude Law, Kate Winslett, and Marion Cotillard also star. This film had an amazing cast, but as you’ll read further in the review, it was wasted!
Rotten Tomatoes score today: Critics-84% Fresh and Audiences-65% Fresh
Main Storyline: A young dolphin becomes caught in a crab trap and is washed up on a beach. A young boy, going through difficulties at home and school, finds her and frees her from the trap and ropes. A marine rescue group takes the dolphin to their hospital, where sadly, her tail must be amputated. While she can still swim the unnatural action required to swim without a tale is causing spinal damage that will kill her. The marine rescue organization is trying to find a way to save her but they are losing their funding and facing closure. Named Winter, this dolphin ultimately touches and changes the lives of many people who hear her story.
Stars: The boy, Sawyer, who rescues Winter is played by Nathan Gamble with a depth of emotion and natural talent that amazed me. He has appeared in The Dark Knight, Ghost Whisperer and Marley and Me. I think we will be seeing a lot more of Nathan Gamble! Cutie, Harry Connick Jr. (isn’t he a sweetheart?), plays the role of Dr. Clay Haskett, head of the Clearwater Marine Hospital and his adorable daughter, Hazel, is played by Cozi Zuehlsdorff. Sorry, that was a huge run-on sentence! As long as I’m going off topic, I know I will be mis-spelling Zuehlsdorff a bazillion times in the years ahead, she’s quite an actress, even if she has a difficult name! Ashley Judd, plays Sawyer’s mom, and Kris Kristofferson (looking pretty good, by the way) plays Hazel’s grandfather. Another family member with a big role is Sawyer’s cousin, played by Austin Stowell.
Rotten Tomatoes score today: Critics-83% Fresh and Audiences-85% Fresh
I fully expected to like Contagion better than Dolphin Tale. I love “end-of-the-world” type movies and medical dramas. Similar themed movies have been some of my favorites. After watching hours of Disney channel, I was looking forward to a movie for grown-ups. The cast was amazing. Whenever I’m asked, “What actress would you be, if you could choose anyone?” I often say Gwyneth Paltrow. I think she’s one of the best actors of our generation. Matt Damon looks like someone I dated in college, and I always like seeing him *wink*. So you know what I’m saying – expectations were high. And perhaps that’s why I was disappointed. I felt like I was watching the news or a documentary, there just wasn’t enough emotion in Contagion. A combination of the story and the directing, I think, resulted in a lack of intensity for this movie.
Dolphin Tale did exactly what Contagion missed doing. The director and writers of Dolphin Tale told a human story. I know it was about a “fish”, hehehe. But this movie was stories of human struggle, emotion, failure, and success. Contagion had the pieces to tell a similar story, but missed the mark. It was as if Dolphin Tale examined human feelings with a microscope and “Contagion” used a telescope that just couldn’t engage me in the story. I just didn’t care about the people in “Contagion”. Totally the opposite for the story of Winter. I’m a bit cold-blooded (hehehe, good pun) about Winter but the people in this movie pulled me in, squeezed my heart, and had my spirit soaring with their ultimate success. I loved this movie!
Spoiler Alert! The directors and writers of Dolphin Tale successfully built a story. They told the myth that in ancient times a goddess was watching children travel across a rainbow to go from an island to the mainland. Some of the children, playing joyfully, slipped off the rainbow. The goddess loved their playing so much that she saved them by turning them into dolphins just as they hit the water. As dolphins, they could play forever! Then, as the storyline continues, the marina loses funding and homes must be found for the animals at other facilities. No one wants Winter because they don’t want a dolphin with her disabilities. Then, then, then a car pulls up to the marine hospital – a woman and her daughter who came from 8 hours away to see Winter. The little girl gets out of the car and she only has one leg. *tears flowing freely now*. We’ve been set up masterfully! And love it.
There were many opportunities for the same emotion and even more suspense in Contagion but they were wasted. It wasn’t a bad movie, but could have been better. Bottom line? Dolphin Tale – must see (Rose loved the 3D, by the way)! Contagion – wait for TV.
Did you see either of these movies? What did you think?