Add review


Ellie Arroway (Foster) has devoted her scientific career to scanning the cosmos for signs of life. One day she's rewarded with a radio transmission from a distant galaxy, and the world is transfixed. It's clear that the aliens have plans for us, but whether for good or ill defies human understanding. An intergalactic ambassador is called for, and Ellie wants the job. Zemeckis aims for spiritual reverence reminiscent of Close Encounters: the scope and scale of his picture are established by the first shot with a brilliantly sustained zoom through space and time. There are two more virtuoso sequences: a climactic space trip and a breathtakingly outrageous piece of post-modern appropriation with the first images broadcast from outer space. Regrettably, these visual coups only point up the inadequacy of a screenplay (from Carl Sagan's novel) which marries profound philosophical questions with hokey melodramatics, shallow characters and infantile conclusions. It's not just that it resorts to an albino Adventist to inject spurious suspense, nor that it foists McConaughey on us as a randy Luddite priest who is, coincidentally, the love interest (the pillow talk is physics vs metaphysics). It also features heavy-handed exposition, repetitive, maudlin flashbacks, uneven performances and endless sermonising.

Release details

Duration: 150 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Robert Zemeckis
Screenwriter: James V Hart, Michael Goldenberg
Cast: Jodie Foster
Matthew McConaughey
Tom Skerritt
Angela Bassett
John Hurt
David Morse
Rob Lowe
William Fichtner
James Woods

Average User Rating

2.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:0
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening

This movie is an even-handed presentation of the faith versus science debate, which is rare for Hollywood. The movie itself is engaging and interesting, although it would have even better if there were less ambiguity in the ending.

John Cooper

At the heart of this film is the `faith versus science`, argument, and one must salute this production for its ambitious concept. But as the Time Out review points out, you can mix `profound philosophical questions` with Hollywood blockbuster melodramatics. The result is therefore somewhat disappointing . . . but as Bjorn correctly points out, you can't help being `moved` by the wonderful graphics and the schmaltzy orchestra . . There are big questions in this film . . and there is a big budget . . . . . . but it doesn't really work despite Jodie Foster's valiant efforts . . . Three stars for trying . . .


It's so bad and kitschy, that you actually enjoy it for no need of commitment and getting a big laugh out of it. It's interesting as a proof of changing times. The backup space machine was built in Japan. Today it would have been China.