It seems every year one movie paints a grim depiction about how the world will end in some cataclysmic event. Whether it be by the hands of aliens like in War of the Worlds, asteroids and comets like in Deep Impact, or by natural disasters like in 2012 or The Day After Tomorrow – the world is always in some sort of impending doom.
While some of these occurrences could happen per-se, the chances they will happen are far from likely.
But alas, Hollywood has finally taken an old concept, reinvented it and made it believable. Last weekend saw the opening of now No. 1 film "Contagion," starring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Kate Winslet, and it has received rave reviews from critics and scientists alike.
"Contagion" uses the well worn story line of an Earth that has been infected by a deadly virus, and the epidemic is slowly affecting everyone. But hold the zombies, because there are no undead flesh seekers in this movie.
The filmmakers wanted to create the most authentic of film experiences for the audience and even wanted to impress the science world by being elaborate enough to incorporate actual science into the movie. They went as far as working with Dr. W. Ian Lipkin, Columbia University epidemiologist, creating the MEV-1 virus strand for the film.
The virus in "Contagion" spreads from animals to humans. Current animal to human epidemic scares most recently included the Swine and Bird Flu, which were luckily minimized to isolated cases due to quick responses from the government's safety precautions. In a statement to the Associated Press, Dr. Thomas Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, "It's very plausible."
"It was very accurate. It kind of made us all chuckle because there were things that we thought only at CDC might get," said foodborne illness expert, Laura Gieraltowski.
Of course the film has certain points of un-believability or doubt, but it wouldn't be a movie without a little flare for dramatic purposes. For instance, an actual epidemic at its worst can infect 1 in 100 people according to research, but in "Contagion" it is 1 in 5 people. Another of the big flaws in the movie is in the creation, testing, and methods of how the vaccination is used.
Other than some time continuity flaws, the film has support from the science and health communities as being well thought out and accurate based on their plot.