Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 22
  2. Negative: 0 out of 22
  1. 100
    Contact is that rare big-budget motion picture that places ideas, characters, and plot above everything else.
  2. Contact is superior popular filmmaking, both polished and effective. But despite its success and its serious intentions, it's finally a movie where the storytelling makes more of an impact than the story.
  3. 88
    Sagan's novel Contact provides the inspiration for Robert Zemeckis' new film, which tells the smartest and most absorbing story about extraterrestrial intelligence since "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."
  4. If you sign on, disarmed of irony, for her trip -- I did -- you'll be rewarded with a rare thing that may in itself prove the existence of a Higher Power: a Hollywood entertainment that makes you consider deep thoughts.
  5. Reviewed by: Neil Jeffries
    Contact delivers on more than a pure visual level, reiterating the idea that greatest progress is made taking "small steps" towards enlightenment.
  6. Its discussions don't go very deep, and moviegoers with strong religious values may wonder why it comes down for humanism over spirituality.
  7. Reviewed by: Robin Dougherty
    Faithful to Sagan's brand of popularized science, the film never reaches beyond Hollywood spectacle and sentimentality.
  8. The movie, adapted from a novel by Carl Sagan, presents one long chain of teasingly open-ended questions about reason versus faith and technology versus religion, and ends up tentatively embracing mysticism over rationality.
  9. Reviewed by: Sarah Kerr
    When Contact finally comes alive, it leaves you frightened and thrilled and emotionally overwrought, as only a child can be. The rest is pandering.
  10. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Beautifully crafted and legitimately involving once it locks onto a dramatic track, film benefits from remaining mysterious about how far it intends to go in pursuing its themes, but also suffers from long-windedness and preachy final-reel explicitness as to its message.
  11. Contact is so burdened with social, political, and religious issues that they infect and ultimately overwhelm much of the philosophical content.
  12. Little effort is made to churn up romantic chemistry between Foster and McConaughey. For better or worse, director Robert Zemeckis sticks to Sagan's original vision for these characters, in which they're basically totems embodying both sides of a philosophical dialectic.
  13. 60
    What's most frustrating about the movie isn't that it thinks so little of its heroine that it can't let her figure out the moral of her own story, but that it thinks so little of us as to suggest that, after a couple millennia of human struggle, it's indeed possible to answer the unanswerable.
  14. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    Robert Zemeckis's movie is frustratingly uneven. When it's good, it's very good. And when it's not, it can be as silly and self-important as bad '50s sci-fi.
  15. 50
    Contact aims to be a film of ideas but serves too many of them half-baked.
  16. Contact, directed by Robert Zemeckis, may be too long, too self-important and too "Gump"-like to be completely satisfying. But it contains elements that are so striking they pretty much redeem the film.
  17. This bloated, self-important and logically absurd movie, made by the director of the equally historically hysterical "Forrest Gump," pretends to the thrones of Serious Thinking, of Important Messages and of Intellectual Provocation. If there were truly anything serious, important or intellectual about this movie, this planet would be in big trouble.
  18. There's a big budget, big cast and big themes about religion, science and life on other planets. But Contact, which aims for awe, ends up with piffle.
  19. 50
    This film is no exception to the rule that philosophical debate seldom spawns compelling cinema.
  20. 50
    Contact sure is pretentious. It doesn't deliver on the deepthink, and it lacks the charge of good, honest pulp. It's schlock without the schlock.
  21. The best moments occur when -- as in reality -- we're still in the dark. As soon as the movie gets to its version of a punch line, it turns into another Hollywood vehicle spinning aimlessly in space.
  22. 40
    In some ways, Contact is just like the universe: big, star-bright and seemingly endless. Not to mention that it begins with a big bang, gradually falls into a lull and finally succumbs to entropy.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 64 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 17
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 17
  3. Negative: 1 out of 17
  1. Apr 7, 2012
    This movie hit pretty close to home in a lot of different parts. Great acting, good cast, and excellent CG, especially for the time. Was in awe the entire time, now one of my favorite movies ever. Full Review »
  2. Sep 28, 2011
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. On an impulse, I went and rewatched Contact, the 1997 film starring Jodie Foster. Man, what a great **** movie. Zemeckis did a lot of good work with Roger Rabbit, Back to the Future, and Forrest Gump, but Contact seems a bit more serious and mature, while still retaining that special magic that made those previous films successful.

    As the star of the film, Jodie Foster was amazing as Dr. Arroway. Maybe this is going out on a limb here, but I think she should've been nominated for an Oscar for her performance. Unlike a lot of females in big Hollywood movies, the best quality of her character is how driven and intelligent she is, instead of how big her boobs are. And really, how many times have we had a main female lead in a big blockbuster spectacle? Outside of Contact, there's... well, the Tomb Raider films... and Elektra... and Catwoman. It's just sad when you contrast any of those with Contact, isn't it? Is there anything about Lara Croft that's intellectual? She's treated solely as a sex object, right? And that is something that never ever happens with Arroway. Don't get me wrong, Jodie Foster is absolutely gorgeous in this film and looks breath-taking in many scenes, absolutely, but... she never becomes a sex object, she is always shown as a highly capable scientist and intellectual, first and foremost. This is so refreshing and it's a shame that it continues to be such a rarity in Hollywood today.

    In a lot of films, you also run the risk of an intelligent and highly motivated and aggressive female character being seen by the audience as... well, frankly, as a **** But that never ever comes close to happening in Contact. Arroway is simply this incredibly intelligent, yet dynamic and interesting character, who you empathize with and want to see succeed, and no small part of that is due to Foster's electrifying performance. When Palmer Joss falls for her and decides to vote against her because he doesn't want to lose her, we as the audience are right there with him because we've all fallen for her as well. I actually thought everyone in the cast did a great job. Matthew McConaughey usually just phones it in on those rom coms he tends to do these days, but I thought he was really good as Joss, the religious love interest. I totally bought their romance. Lot of chemistry there between them.

    Going back down memory lane, I read the novel back... in high school. Right after I watched the film for the first time, in fact. So, it's all a bit hazy, but I thought the book was really good as well. Generally quite similar to the film, but the ending is noticeably different. Both the film and the novel have the same central theme, which is a debate between religion and science. Instead of building one up while tearing the other down, as a lot of films are wont to do in this arena, the film takes us between the positions of one and the other until eventually, the accommodation we arrive at in the end is both thoughtful, respectful, and nuanced.

    The ending of the novel has the alien giving Arroway information on a signature of sorts for a universal creator. So she goes back, gets on this big supercomputer that calculates pi, and finds that after a really long time, the seemingly random numbers of pi actually form a pattern, which translates into a visual image of a circle. So that's the proof that God exists, because he planted this signature into pi. You can kinda see why they didn't go with this ending for the film. A scientist at a computer, watching a bunch of numbers being crunched is... not particularly cinematic.

    Oh, and as far as the ending goes, with the alien being her father... hey, I thought the wormhole ride was enough of a payoff, visually. That was already pretty mindblowing, with all the special effects, so I didn't really care that we didn't see any wacky alien lifeforms. And they explained it well enough in the story. I think the weakest storypoint is actually how at the end, they just keep grilling her and not believing her story, when all they had to do was send another person through.

    In a lot of ways, I find Contact very similar to the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, except I think it succeeds where 2001 failed. There's the wonder and majesty of the universe, and it poses the same questions; who are we, why are we here, where are we going as a species... but unlike 2001, it's actually got interesting and engaging characters, a great narrative, a far better wormhole sequence, and really tight pacing throughout. 2001 is an emotionally cold film, yet I find just the opposite with Contact. There's so much emotion and richness to the main character, especially with her connection with her father, which we gradually find out with flashbacks.
    Full Review »
  3. Aug 17, 2010
    Once of my favorite films of all time. Contact makes you think and wonder about the universe around you differently and is a very good movie to boot.