Soderbergh's star-studded viral thriller proves less infectious than expected on Blu-ray

A simple business trip to Hong Kong results in a global pandemic that threatens to wipe out a vast proportion of the human race in Steven Soderbergh’s medical thriller. But despite it’s all-star cast (including Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Laurence Fishburne), Contagion couldn’t be further removed from the likes of Outbreak.

Instead, Soderbergh’s film is content to follow various plot threads around the globe as humanity tries to comprehend what is happening and come to terms with it. Sadly, while the end result is forensically fascinating, it proves dramatically inert in terms of narrative. This leaves it feeling a lot like the BBC docu-drama Supervolcano and its ilk, only minus the voice-over narration.

Picture: Shot using the ubiquitous Red One digital camera, Contagion makes a seamless transition to Blu-ray. Surprisingly, the film’s AVC 1.85:1 1080p encode doesn’t even suffer from the hot whites and flat blacks that often typify material shot digitally. Much of this is undoubtedly down to the saturated colour palette used throughout the film, which brings to mind the director’s earlier hit Traffic. Thankfully, this excessive colour-grading doesn’t appear to have had any effect on image detail – with even the finest wrinkles and textures in evidence. Edge enhancement and artefacting are also nowhere to be seen.
Picture rating: 4/5

Audio: Contagion’s DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is unlikely to get you too excited (much like the movie) but it still strives to create a realistic and enveloping soundfield. The all-important science babble is clean, natural sounding and locked into the centre channel, and the rear soundstage is called upon more frequently than you might think. There’s also some effective and pervasive use of LFE in here, too.
Audio rating: 3/5

Extras: Despite the opportunity for some fascinating documentary material, Contagion’s extras are extremely thin on the ground.

The Reality of Contagion is a disappointingly brief 11-minute exploration of the threat of a genuine global pandemic, featuring the film’s scientific advisors and members of the cast. Many of the same faces also crop up in the five-minute The Contagion Detectives, which focuses on the film’s advisors and the training the actors received. Finally, Contagion: How a Virus Changes the World is a two-minute fake infomercial about the life cycle of the virus featured in the film. The disc also features a BD-Live link and comes accompanied by a DVD and UltraViolet Digital Copy of the film.
Extras rating: 1/5

We say: While no disaster, this thriller certainly disappoints – as do the Blu-ray extras

Warner Home Video, All-region BD/R2 DVD, £23 Approx, On sale now