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What I like about this movie is that it dares to bring to the big screen, with all the bells and whistles available from modern Hollywood, the age-old “conflict” between science and religion. And it does so in an intelligent, uplifting, and human manner.
Scientist-author Carl Sagan is to thank for the ideas. Director Robert Zemeckis uses the power of his big budget and eye-popping special effects wisely. But for me it is the sheer ferocious intelligence of Jodie Foster’s Ellie Arroway character that carries the movie. Socially inept, Arroway’s brilliance, stubbornness, and bravery, together with her honesty and humanity, produce one of the most unforgettable screen characterizations I have ever seen.
The extras on this DVD have been put together with intelligence and respect for the movie and the story. Foster’s commentary is riveting. Listening to her is at times exhausting when you hear how much she thinks about what she does on the screen. Details provided on the production, CGI work, and special effects are also illuminating, much more so than the typical “making of” documentaries we see on so many DVD’s. For demonstrating the earthshaking thunder possible from a surround sound set-up, this disc is still one of the best, too.
This is one of my all-time favorite DVD’s.
(Review originally published in 2002)