I saw this Trailer for Contagion a couple of days ago and the cast list and Steven Soderbergh made it quite interesting at first sight. The editor Stephen Mirrione is also quite famous as he was nominated for best editor at the Academy Awards in 2000 for Traffic and in 2006 for Babel. He's got a list of amazing and to me very influential movies like 21 Grams (2003), Biutiful (2010) and the Ocean's 11/12/13 series with George Clooney. He's got a very unique style of quick jump cuts and it almost reminds you of a Jean-Luc Godard Film.
Now the problem is, that Contagion doesn't have an original story. It's a mix between Outbreak which might have been a good movie back when it came out, and 28 days later which I enjoyed but it's a different genre. The approach to get people into the movie theaters nowadays seems to be quite simple. Either you get a great cast and team to do the movie or you do it like James Cameron and just push the technical limits and create amazing special effects. Now don't get me wrong I loved Avatar for what it's done with 3D Animation and stereoscopic cinema. It really brought movies to another level of realism. But the story crisis in Hollywood is getting more serious with each remake, sequel or remix they're putting out there. I'm not saying 28 days later or Outbreak were the first movies of their kind but it was still somewhat of a new approach to tell a story.
I haven't seen Contagion yet obviously and I will have to before making any more statements about it but watching this trailer made me think of so many other bad movies over the last years. James Cameron himself admitted that there is a crisis even though his film Avatar has almost the exact same story as Pocahontas. You can read the article with James Cameron here. But what he is basically saying is that movies like Battleship, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Tron:Legacy are not carrying and storyline at all. Just because there are a lot of special effects and events happening after another it doesn't mean that there is a story. The characters of those movies are just an outline of they should be. Rebellious boy, Hero saving the world...but it feels like there is no thought about who they really are except your teenage guy/girl with their normal problems while saving the world.
We all love our summer no brain blockbusters but the movies that really move us aren't about special effects they are about story. I was lucky enough to get to listened to a John Lasseter (one of the co-founders of Pixar) presentation this friday in the Apple Store Munich, Germany and he was talking about the opportunity to make every movie perfect and how to achieve that goal during the whole time of production. I'm not a huge fan of Pixar but I enjoyed Ratatouille, Up and Wall-E and they have the kind of emotional storytelling that I'm looking for in a film. I just wish that other studios would feel this urge to produce good stories on film.
I really hope that there will be an awakening of the audience at one point. There are more great short films out there in the web than crappy major motion pictures. How about people don't support the new Spiderman or the next horrible Michael Bay movie.
It's not just the studios that make the decision to show us all these meaningless special effects stuff. It's us who pay the money and support those kind of films by buying the merchandise, the DVD's and going to these movies.