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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Contagion (4K UHD Review)


The Film
The Video (Overall)
HDR Effect
The Audio
The Supplements


Amidst a global pandemic, society begins to breakdown as scientists rush to find a cure for the deadly new disease.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Here is a film that found itself gaining a resurgence in popularity a few years ago during the global lockdowns, with good reason. Director Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion is a suspenseful thriller that focuses on the threat of a new deadly super-virus outbreak that has quickly spread around the world and the breakdown of society the fear of the virus itself causes.

Shortly after arriving home from a trip to China, Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) takes ill with what she first suspects is simply jet lag, but quickly turns serious and deadly. Her son soon takes ill and dies as well and her husband (Matt Damon) is brought into the hospital and put under quarantine. Perplexed, doctors soon realize she is part of a pattern of deaths sweeping across the globe. It is a deadly virus they have never seen before, and Beth is believed to be patient X.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), headed by Dr. Ellis Cheever (Laurence Fishburne) are called in to act quickly to contain the virus and work with pharmaceutical companies and health departments around the world to come up with a vaccine, but it is not quickly enough as millions begin to die.

Meanwhile, the internet blogger Alan Krumwiede (Jude Law) has begun to report on his blog that the government is lying to the public about the deadliness of the virus and their intentions on finding a cure, quickly spreading a panic throughout the population that begins to lead to a breakdown in societal rules. Can a cure be found in time to save society from falling into complete chaos?

With its numerous interconnected story lines and underlying theme about a deadly virus, Contagion is like Outbreak meets Crash. It is a compelling film with fine acting all around, but where Soderbergh and the screenplay fail is the desire to quickly tie up all the loose ends in the latter third of the film, which is where Contagion begins to lose its cohesiveness and become a bit “Friday Night Freak Show.”

Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20, and Soderbergh’s film has aged remarkably well given its almost clairvoyant plotline that nearly mirrors the Covid pandemic and the world’s governments’ response to it. Soderbergh’s research, the scientists who consulted, and the screenplay was very accurate and apposite to recent events, allowing the film to age better than one could have anticipated. For this reason I have raised by initial rating from 2011 slightly.

Purchase Contagion 4K Ultra HD + Digital on Amazon.com

Jennifer Ehle and Demetri Martin in Contagion (2011)
  • Matt Damon in Contagion (2011)
  • Marion Cotillard in Contagion (2011)
  • Matt Damon and Anna Jacoby-Heron in Contagion (2011)
  • Jude Law in Contagion (2011)
  • Marion Cotillard and Chin Han in Contagion (2011)
  • Jennifer Ehle, Laurence Fishburne, Marion Cotillard, and Bryan Cranston in Contagion (2011)
  • Jennifer Ehle and Laurence Fishburne in Contagion (2011)
  • Contagion 4K Ultra HD (Warner Bros.)

The Video

Contagion was originally captured digitally with the RED One MX at 4.5K resolution and used a 4K digital intermediate. The 4K restoration was undertaken at Warner Bros. Discovery’s Motion Picture Imaging (MPI) and sourced from the “original camera negative” according to Warner Bros., to which I assume they mean they went back to the Redcode RAW files and did a new 4K DI with HDR. Contagion arrives on 4K Ultra HD in a 1.78:1 HEVC 2160p (4K UHD) HDR10 encodement. What was a strong Blu-ray release for many years has now been stepped up with even better contrast, excellent pop in the highlights, and more vivid and vibrant colors in the scenes that have that pop of primaries. Mostly, this is a film that varies between a cool and desaturated palette and warmer, glowing, almost amber-colored palette. In certain scenes there are floods of red or yellow lights that now look brilliant. The detail comes out even more in this 4K release and the black levels, sometimes a little too inky, still yield solid details in shadows.

The Audio

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is quite good as well, with beefy if not staggering or bombastic low frequencies and an abundance of atmospheric sounds in the surround channels and good mixing of the electronic, agitated score from Cliff Martinez. It is an engaging and well-balanced mix with dialogue that is clean and clear as well and natural dynamics.

The Supplements

Contagion comes with all the previously released bonus features from the 2011 Blu-ray and a Movies Anywhere digital code.

Bonus Features:

  • Movies Anywhere Digital Code
  • The Reality of Contagion (1080p; 00:11:29) — 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 humans.
  • The Contagion Detectives (1080p; 00:04:57) — Meet the greatest minds in the world and how they helped prepare Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, and the rest of the cat in the fight against deadly viruses.
  • Contagion: How a Virus Changes the World (1080p; 00:01:59)

The Final Assessment

A fascinating look at how humanity responds to a global pandemic of a novel virus that predicted the 2020 corona virus outbreak, now looking better than ever on 4K.

Contagion is out on 4K Ultra HD + Digital February 27, 2024 from Warner Bros. Discovery Home Theater

Purchase Contagion 4K Ultra HD + Digital on Amazon.com

  • Rating Certificate: PG-13 (for disturbing content and some language)
  • Studios & Distributors: Warner Bros. | Participant | Imagenation Abu Dhabi FZ | Double Feature Films | Digital Image Associates | Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment
  • Director: Steven Soderbergh
  • Written By: Scott Z. Burns
  • Run Time: 106 Mins.
  • Street Date: 27 February 2024
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Format: HEVC 2160p (4K UHD)
  • HDR Format: HDR10
    • MaxLL: 994 nits
    • MaxFALL: 118 nits
    • Max. Luminance: 1000 nits
    • Min. Luminance: 0.0001 nits
  • Primary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1
  • Secondary Audio: French (Quebecois) DD 5.1 | French DD 5.1 | German DD 5.1 | Italian DD 5.1 | Spanish (Castilian) DD 5.1 | Spanish (Latino) DD 5.1 | Czech DD 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH | German SDH | Spanish (Castilian) | Spanish (Latino) | French | Italian SDH | Dutch | Chinese (Traditional) | Chinese (Simplified) | Korean | Czech | Danish | Finnish | Norwegian | Swedish

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Amidst a global pandemic, society begins to breakdown as scientists rush to find a cure for the deadly new disease.Contagion (4K UHD Review)