Contagion (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

I don’t think anyone could have imagined how cathartic a movie like Contagion could be before Covid.  The film is a creepy reminder of 2020 now, and even if our pandemic ended up being nothing like the one in the film, to a point anyway, it’s a look into what might have been. Take an in-depth look at Contagion below and see if my thoughts are shared with yours.  As a surprising choice to make the jump the UHD Blu-ray, it may be a prime time to revisit the film.


After the sudden, shocking death of Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) and her 6-year old son, a mysterious virus begins a worldwide spread. The CDC and WHO work to find where it began but as things worsen, the mystery grows in depth.  The spread is unstoppable, with people dying left and right. There are sections of the world being abandoned. The virus begins to mutate and there is no vaccine.  The statistics grow further into terrible territory.  Paranoia begins to set in. There’s an overwhelming hopelessness in the world as people begin to hope for any sort of positive answer or solution.

All of this tragedy happens within the span of a month.  Dr. Cheever of the CDC (Lawrence Fishburne) sends Dr. Mears (Kate Winslet) to Minneapolis to trace the sickness. There she falls ill and struggles to get well and find a way out of Minnesota. As the spread continues, Beth’s husband Mitch (Matt Damon) learns he is immune to the disease and quarantines his daughter to avoid losing her.  We also meet Alan Krumwiede (Jude Law) who spreads his own information, denouncing the CDC and any of its work. An epidemiologist, Dr. Orantes (Marion Cotillard) travels to Macau, the place Beth got sick, and finds herself a captive of some people demanding she give them answers.

As you can see there are a lot of moving parts to Contagion. There are tons of characters too. But nothing feels confusing or inauthentic. I spent a great majority of my time with my jaw dropped, surprised at the twists and turns the film takes.  I was also pleasantly surprised with the frank nature of the film. There is nothing held back during the runtime.  Things are scary, creepy, fast paced and in 2024, the actions in the film feel very possible. By the time we get to point where a vaccine is being made, the world has lost 26 million lives.  Could you imagine? We lost 3 million lives due to Covid and that is catastrophic.  26 million. The film does not pull punches and for that I am grateful. The fact that Steven Soderbergh and his writers and cast happened to make a film that is more relevant now than it was in 2011, and that is somehow reprehensible in its reality, yet also quick in pace and entertaining is astonishing.


NOTE: Stills are provided for promotional use only and are not from the 4K Blu-ray

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 2160p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 (original aspect ratio is 1.85:1)


Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Contagion is a typical Soderbergh film in terms of it’s overall look.  The transfer is a bit on the dark side, but not wholly flawed. Clarity is sound throughout with many details peppering the image as you watch the film. The movie was shot on film but has had a 4K Digital Intermediate since release, so there’s not a lot of softness, save for a couple of shots.

Depth:  Depth is also very sound here.  Outdoor scenes benefit in foreground and background shots with lots of attention paid to keeping things in focus very clear.

Black Levels: Since Contagion is on the dark side, I was happy to see there was not any crush happening. Blacks are solid and don’t diminish any viewing pleasure.

Color Reproduction: The color palette here is mostly muted or flat with purpose.  Definitely an artistic intent going on.  Blue and grey hues dominate with scenes in Macau giving us some more rich tones of red and orange.

Flesh Tones: With the color palette leaning towards blue and grey most of the time, flesh tones also lean towards that look, but again, this is definite artistic intent.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean


Audio Format(s): English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)

Subtitles: English, French, Deutsch, Spanish, Italian, Nederlands, Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, Dansk, Nordic, Czech, Swedish

DynamicsContagion is a dialogue heavy film. There are not many moments where sound needs to be hugely dynamic and the sound design reflects that.

Height: N/A

Low-Frequency Extension: LFE is complimentary to score, and not much else.

Surround Sound Presentation: Surrounds come out in outdoor scenes, scenes in crowded places and during “angry mob” moments.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue levels are excellent.


Contagion comes to UHD Blu-ray in what looks like an MOD fashion.  Thankfully Warner does an exceptional job with their MOD discs. Just like recent 4K releases for Don’t Worry Darling, Giant, The Outsiders and East Of Eden, this disc comes with a 4K UHD Blu-ray disc, with legacy features and a digital code. No slipcover ships with this edition of the film.

Special Features:

The Reality of Contagion (HD, 11 Min.)

The Contagion Detectives (HD, 5 Min.)

How A Virus Changes The World (HD, 2 Min.)


I doubt anyone who made this film knew how it would “hit different” during and after our own very real pandemic.  Watching it for the first time for this review did not stop me from the shocking feeling I had watching it, or the creeped-out way I felt as the credits rolled.  Even hearing terms like “social distancing” being uttered in a film 9 years before that became a “new normal” thing is surprising.  If you like your thrillers with a level of reality like Contagion has, then this is certainly for you.  I was personally blown away by this film. It crushed me emotionally, and I don’t know if I will revisit it often or even at all, but I do know I will never forget it.  The 4K image on the disc is first rate, even if moments of it are on the darker side, and the ported over 5.1 audio and features still work perfectly to compliment the feature.  A great pickup for fans and of course the best way to see the film if you haven’t before.

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