Pandemic Film Review: “Contagion”, and How Do I Rip Contagion and Other DVDs

Starring: Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Bryan Cranston, Jennifer Ehle, Sanaa Lathan

Directed by: Steven Soderbergh

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 106 minutes

The COVID-19 is raging around the world, which has stimulated people’s interest in pandemic movies. As a result, some pandemic-themed movies, such as “Contagion”, make them back into the top movie charts of iTunes and other streaming services. “Contagion” is a 2011 release directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Steven Soderbergh and it gets a strong cast including Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Matt Damonm, Kate Winslet, and more.

Years ago I’ve already watched this film on DVD. Since it offers a parallel to current coronavirus outbreak, our family decides to watch it again. My DVD player cannot function properly, so I digitized my “Contagion” DVD to MP4 with a DVD ripper. I’ve attached the guide on how to rip a movie DVD to digital file after my movie review part, in case someone also needs to rip or backup his/her own DVD collection for fair use. I saved the digital copy to my USB flash drive and then watched it on my TV with my family. 

My review of “Contagion”

In the current context of the noval coronavirus epidemic, “Contagion” is like a documentary. The film depicts a virus called MEV-1, transmitted from bat to pig to human. It spreads around the world and destroys tens of millions of humans in a very short time.

This movie shows multiple story lines, but the main line is clear. The director uses very precise details and deliberate control, and a very restrained lens language to describe a very real end-time scene. Humanity is vulnerable and very real. There are no lone heroes or government conspiracy theories which we always see in American movies. Everyone is an ordinary person. This constitutes a world that is not dramatic, but is also most dramatic and close to the real world.

The film doesn’t make people feel too long. Instead, there are too many parts that are just mentioned briefly yet appropriately, such as the betrayal of the dead wife, the bureaucracy of Chinese officials trying to hide the truth, the game between the U.S. government and the media, the sacrifice of political struggle, the real address of Hong Kong street, and the most popular mobile phone in Japan, etc. The CDC official played by Kate Winslet has no special ups and downs, and dies. The human body is extremely fragile in front of the mysterious nature.

As the story unfolds, the director takes us peeling off both the truths of the virus and human nature. Some people seem to be an apathetic government mouthpiece, but they will become ordinary people with blood and flesh in the face of their families. Some people show up in masks of heroes and are eventually found despicable like villains. All characters in the film are vivid and real.

There are no earth-shattering stories in this movie, no heroes born out of nowhere, no sensational screams, no heartbreaking separation. There is no miracle. There is no compassion. Everything is carried out in order, as indifferent as this plague that it comes with no reason and will eventually leave.

How to Rip a DVD?

First of all, we need to download a piece of DVD ripping software, because it is almost impossible to rip a commercial DVD simply by copying and pasting. There are many choices. After reading so many reviews and comparisons, I choose cost-effective WinX DVD Ripper Platinum and it doesn’t disappoint me.

Why I choose WinX DVD Ripper Platinum?

1. It supports different kinds of video DVDs, including old and new movies, TV shows, fitness videos, and more DVDs. It even helps me handle a scratched DVD successfully.

2. It allows me to make 1:1 DVD backup (DVD to ISO file/DVD folder) as well as movie-only ripping (DVD to MP4, H.264, AVI, WMV, iPhone, iPad, Android device, game console…).

3. It can maintain the original image and audio quality while compressing a few gigabytes data to around 1GB only.

4. It works fast, probably taking a few minutes only to rip a DVD, by taking the advantage of multi-core processors, hardware acceleration, and other technologies.

So my guide is based on WinX DVD Ripper Platinum.  

Step 1. Insert your DVD into DVD drive. After that, open the DVD ripper and click DVD Disc button to import the DVD. I really love the feature that it can detect the correct main movie title automatically, even if there are some fake titles in a 99-title DVD.

Step 2. Choose an output format according to your own needs from the Output Profile panel where over 350 profiles are provided.

Step 3. Hit RUN to begin ripping DVD.

Blu-ray Review “Contagion”

Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 106 minutes

Film: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

With a stellar cast including Matt Damon, Jude Law, Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet and Gwyneth Paltrow and a scary yet intriguing story, this film should have delivered but it didn’t.  The acting is definitely fantastic and is the only redeeming factor in this film.  The story was unable to connect all of its intertwining stories into one decent paced story.  The story moves very slow and doesn’t express the thriller aspect of the events happening.  When you have a film about global epidemic, I just would expect it to be a little more exciting. Unfortunately this  film drags and is not exciting at all.

The special features includes in this set are good but not great.  The first is called “Contagion: How A Virus Changes The World” is a decent featurette about the effects of the virus. “The Reality of Contagion” delves into the truth behind the films events and the cast talk about the reality.  It is an interesting feature.  “The Contagion Detectives” talk about how the cast was prepared for their roles and the people that helped them get ready. Lastly included is the UltraViolet Digital Copy for instant streaming, which is a great feature just too bad I am not looking forward to watching this film anytime again soon.

Synopsis: 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 the human race. The world is preparing for the next biological disaster…but is it too late?

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Film Review “Contagion”

Starring: Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne and Jude Law
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 1 hour 45 mins
Warner Brothers

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

There’s a great scene in “Along Came Polly” where Ben Stiller discusses the danger of eating from a bowl of mixed nuts at a bar. It goes something like this:

“Let’s say, conservatively, I don’t know, 17 people eat these nuts on a given night. Okay? If they’ve been here for even two weeks, we’re talking about 238 people who dipped their dirty hands into that bowl. On average, only one out of every six people wash their hands when they go to the bathroom. Yeah, so when you think you’re innocently eating a little bar snack, you’re actually ingesting potentially deadly bacteria from about 39 soil-handed strangers. I mean, people wonder why they get E. Coli poisoning or salmonella or hepatitis, when all they gotta do is look at the snack bowl at their local watering hole. I’m not being neurotic. It’s an absolute hot zone in there.”

Believe me, after seeing “Contagion,” you’ll take Ben Stiller much seriously.

Chicago. Business traveler Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow), just arrived from Hong Kong and on her way home to Minneapolis, chats with a friend before boarding her plane. When she gets home she finds she’s not feeling well. When she goes into convulsions her husband, Mitch (Damon) has her rushed to the hospital. Minutes later he’s informed that Beth is dead. Unbelieving, Mitch returns home where more tragedy awaits him. Within days, the world is caught up in a catastrophe that threatens to dwarf the greatest plagues of the past.

Directed with a skilled eye, “Contagion” is a film that plays off of our worse fears. What with the recent SARS and H1M1 Flu scares, the plot suggested by the film is really only one bad cold away. With a cast boasting as many Oscar winners as “The Towering Inferno” (I was going to say “The Poseidon Adventure” but Gene Hackman won his Oscar while filming the movie. “Inferno” alums Paul Newman and Faye Dunnaway also won theirs after that film was released). “Contagion” is a tight thriller that allows us to observe how the world might act if suddenly 25% of its inhabitants took ill. The cast, which besides Paltrow and Damon boasts award winners Marion Cotilliard and Kate Winslet. As a vaccine is being sought the world as a whole goes into anarchy. Taking advantage is a blogger (Law) who claims to have cured himself with a medication he has acquired a piece of financially. People avoid others like…well, like the plague.

The story moves quickly as the illness spreads, only slowing down some in what felt to me like an ending stretched out for time purposes. The musical score, by frequent Soderbergh collaborator Cliff Martinez is chillingly perfect, reminding me of some of the great scores by Tangerine Dream. The bleak landscapes of major cities deserted by the frightened are well depicted courtesy of production designer Howard Cummings. “Contagion” is a strong film to kick off the end of summer…just make sure you know who you’re sharing your popcorn with!