Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America (Review)

Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America

Stacy Keach as Secretary Reed
Justina Machado as Nurse Alma
Joely Richardson as Dr. Iris Varnack
Scott Cohen as Virginia Governor Mike Newsome
Directed by Richard Pearce

OH MY GOD WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!! RUN!! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE! WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!! It’s the birds! Instead of killing us with their evil bird powers, they’re killing us with their evil bird diseases! The dastardly birds will not be stopped, as they give us a true-to-life Captain Tripps, the H5N1 Bird Flu mutated to human infectious! As the latest made for TV movie for ABC tells us, WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!! There is no escape….from birds!!!

Starting out with the opening of all openings, a warining informing us that bird flu from the H5N1 has already been found in 48 countries and killed 125 people. The film is careful to tell us that this is a “What if” scenario. Because anyone just tuning in might think a badly acted TV movie is in reality a real-time TV show called Survivor: Flu or something. Instead of conjuring up such images such as “What if the Punisher became Captain America?” or “What if Spiderman joined the Fantastic Four?” we get instead “What if everything bad happened, then suddenly everything good, because we’re America, and then suddenly WE ALL DIED??” The opening credits show Canadian geese-looking birds flying around and getting picked up on radar. Why on radar? Probably because several of them have computer graphics indicating that they are carriers of H5N1, which large size is easily picked up on radar. Scramble the fighters and shoot them all down! Come on, Iceman! Cowboy and Maverick got your back. We can’t have Goose on this mission, because we’re killing geese, and he’s dead.

China is sick of all these birgs with added computer graphics, so they send in the troops, and terrorize their civilians. Well, at least China is doing something, even if it’s what they always do, harm their own people. The troops are supposed to be seizing all the birds at the market, but they end up breaking everything, tossing people around, and then miss the most important bird of all, the infected one. But hey, enough of Asian people, they get weird diseases all the time. Let’s focus on a White Person. Namely, Ed “Patient” Zero, who is a hurried executive who goes to China all the time to complain that the Chinese are too efficient. His last name I didn’t catch, so we’ll just say it’s Zero. After telling the Chinese factory owners to slow down, he notices one of the workers is sick. It’s a fatal sickness, and Ed is now infected with bird flu. We know this, because suddenly the movie ZOOMS IN to get an extreme close-up of the H5N1 virus. Shaped like a WW2 water mine, or a sandbur, it quickly wiggles it’s spikes (uh?) and infects the White Guy, Patient Zero, Ed Zero. At the airport, we see him infect a Black Guy, and other people as well. Every time he touches something, we get a sound effect noise, just like in the Star Trek episodes The Naked Time and The Naked Now. Have I nerded this review up enough yet? The camera follows each victim and multiplies with 2, then four, than Brady Bunch cam mode, then even more divisions so it’s soon following like 50 people on the screen at the same time. At this point, I will give the movie credit that it tried to be visually interesting. Somehow, the rest of the film seems to ignore what happens at the beginning, with only a few instances of it getting back to neat visuals. You could say the visuals are yet another casualty of the bird flu. Damn bird flu!

Dr. Joely Richardson, flu doctor and sleeper with guys she won’t commit to! Sure, it’s an odd way to introduce her, but now you know she’s a strong, independent woman. The movie will no longer need to give her any more characterization until near the end of the film, so strong is this strong, independent woman stereotype. At least they don’t add an arrogant male character that she falls in love with and then becomes about as smart and strong willed as a wet marshmallow. She’s Dr. Iris Varnack, which is too annoying to type out so she’ll be Dr. Joely Richardson from now on. Dr. Joely is to meet with Secretary of Health and Human Services Reed, played by Stacy Keach, who took a break from telling his sons to not be a wussy. They give us some general information about the H5N1 virus at a preparation and information meeting, showing that whoever is president in this alternate universe actually has his staff do something before imminent crises besides pick their noses. We have nice shots of sick Chinese people, and then cut to our local Patient Zero, who is starting to get a cough, but isn’t sick enough to miss his son’s little league game. He also has a wife and a daughter who will be part of the plot in a bit. Back to the meeting, Virginia Governor Mike Newsome (who may or may not be named after San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom) is being a pain in the butt because we don’t have instant cures to diseases that mutate every year. Around this time we get the first of the countdown clock trackers, which informs us there are 158 dead and it’s week 2. What happened to week 1? Dr. Joely Richarson predicts 150-350 million people dead worldwide, and punctuates it as saying it’s like Hurricane Katrina hitting every city in every state at the same time. And rest assured, FEMA will do absolutely nothing for each and every one of those cities! Also, Dr. Joely predicts that they will have a mutation of H5N1 to airborn in a few weeks. I don’t know why she’s so sure of this, because we’ve been having doomsayers claim it’s eminent ever since SARS scared everyone into wearing masks.

That idiot Ed Zero is sick, and we find out that the bird flu will make you hate fake bats, reacting with rage like Ed does. Ed also hats the children hitting the fake bats, and all people in general. He hates them so much blood comes spewing out of his nose, and then he collapses. Poor Ed. Ed’s lame wife Mrs. Ed and her kids are at the hospital, and oddly enough, so is Dr. Joely, who must have had rotation that day because she didn’t need to be flown in or anything. We get a “I’m a loyal wife” subplot for a bit, but it won’t last long (thank God!) Before Ed is even dead, they have a news conference announcing he is the lucky winner of catching a horrible disease. The people at the news conference tell us that washing your hands is a good defense against bird flu. I guess this news conference is being run by EVERYONE’S MOTHER!!!

Ed’s dead, baby.

More accurately, Ed’s body ripped itself apart and he drowned in his own blood. Is this about the flu or some sci-fi disease? Es’s house is fenced off, actually the whole neighborhood is. Ed’s family happens to live in Virginia, which is for lovers and crazy governors. Now that Governor Newsome has locked himself in a secure underground bunker that you know will turn out to be not secure he’s safe to lock people up. And it turns out many of the people he’s fencing off are poor people in low-income housing. I’d saying something smart, but this is probably what would really happen in many states. Governor Newsome’s bunker is complete with a Hannibal Lector style glass cage for speaking with guests, such as Dr. Joely. Also, Son Newsome is a diabetic, so he’s dead soon.

At some point we got another character who is a nurse named Alma. We’ll just call her Nurse, even though she turns out to be a major character. Nurse has to deal with an increasing patient load. Back in the Quarantine Zone, the daughter of Ed is shunned by her neighbors, who are still letting their kids outside to play despite KILLER BIRD FLU in their neighborhood. Makes sense. Thanks to everything in the universe being made in China, nothing is being imported anymore, so the US has no supplies. OUTSOURCING! You screwed us over again! I guess the Anti-Globalists were right! Also, thanks to the wonders of people telling us instead of seeing in on camera, we’re told that criminal gangs are running wild looting, there is price gouging, suicides, and 25% of law enforcement has gone missing. Nurse herself even has to pay like $12 for coffee. The HORROR! Mom Zero has lapsed into her own crazy fantasy world ignoring everything, until Son Zero gets sick as well.

Nurse’s fellow nurses quit, and she becomes Lone Nurse. The H5N1 has now become immune to all antiviral, thanks to people popping them like random pills at a rave. China is burning bodies by the townload, and Nurse finds out her husband in Iraq was sick, but is now better. He’s sent home, it looks like the occupation of Iraq is over, on account of sickness. That would probably make occupying Iraq a bit easier, if everyone is sick, no one can blow up the roadside bombs. Oh, 350,000 are dead in the US. Rioters demand to be let out of the Quarantine Zones, and the French say they’ve gotten a vaccine to work on non-humans.

Week Seven, 4,230,198 dead. Drop in the bucket. I guess this is worldwide. So what I think is Grand Central Station in New York is full of sick people, and Nurse is leading in new volunteer nurses. Governor Newsome is starting to unravel, as the power goes out in his Fortress of Suckitude. He lifts the Quarantine Zones. People keep dying, supplies keep running out, and there are long lines at the supermarket for what little things do remain. Son Zero doesn’t die, so we have to put up with him for a while longer. Now it’s suddenly two months in and there are over 7 million dead. That’s like 3 million in a week. Make that 3 million and 1 as Governor Son goes into diabetic shock and dies, since there is no ambulance to come get him. Well, he didn’t die of the bird flu, so he’s just a secondary death. OK, back to just 3 million. I like round numbers, anyway.

Oh, look, Week 12 brings us 12 million dead. I guess that 3 million dead was just catch up so the bird flu could keep the 1 million a week dead thing going. That’s awfully neurotic of the bird flu. Maybe it has OCD or something. Now we know what the N in H5N1 stands for: Neurotic! Thanks to some imagery of Governor Newsome in a field of bodies, we start seeing piles of dead that begin matching the numbers counted to us on the screen. A vaccine is released to the US, and trucks of it drive through the burnt out ruins of the city streets. They get ambushed, and the army guarding it guns down the desperate citizens, with Nurse’s husband as one of the guards. The ambushers’ plan was pretty amateurish, you’d think Iraqi Vets would have caught on quicker. I don’t think it’s the French vaccine, but a different one. It must not work much, because:

Week 14, 18.5 million dead! You’re getting ahead of yourself, bird flu! The TV movie has now slowed down for a while, story wise. They don’t have the money to show off more rioters or looters or any fun stuff, so instead we get Nurse celebrating her birthday via phone with her family. Also, Mrs. Zero becomes an organizer of a local effort to help the community get supplies. Soon everyone is looking after everyone else, sort of what the government should have been doing. Governor Newsome suddenly isn’t an evil jerk anymore, and steals their plan, causing the president to praise his leadership. Leadership is just ripping off the wife of the man responsible for infecting America. What a disgusting display. Plus it’s badly written. Also in the badly written department, the storeowner who exploited Nurse’s love for coffee by selling it at a high price dies in what’s supposed to be a sad scene, but just shows the movie writer’s sense of vengeance. Evil characters die, such as the complaining father or price gouging immigrant store owner; or else they must redeem themselves somehow. Mrs. Zero organizes the community efforts to clear the Zero name. Governor steals their idea to use so he can get reelected and not rioted to death. Well, it almost holds like this. As the Immigrant Merchant lays dying, we get a sad song playing that sounds like the artist was attempting Randy Newman by way of microwaving the CD after dipping it in raspberry jam, the playing it on the soundtrack. It sucked, I hate it, and taped over the TV movie out of spite of this song alone.

Plot points to remember: Nurse becomes pregnant. The French nationalize their vaccine and are the only people making it, due to the US not knowing how to slap together a few test tubes at the local university lab.

Week 16 – 20 million dead, that’s back to 1 million a week, the H5N1 is falling into it’s old habits again. They say it’s weakening and looking like hope will return (um, the body count is almost the same rate, what is the good news?) Wait…you forget…WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!! New mutation in Angola that kills everyone! Remote villages wiped out, yet somehow it spread despite killing way to fast to possibly be able to. The only way to be sure is to send in a team to get infected themselves to help the Angola mutation destroy mankind. France finally agrees to share the vaccine after the threat of economic sanctions. I could talk about the ludicricy of economic sanctions in a time of international crises with severed shipping lanes and the lack of US pharmaceutical manufacturing and how many sites could easily replicate the vaccine, but instead I’ll just make a “France Surrenders again!” joke. Finally, Secretary Stacy Keach gets sick and is dying, his talk with Dr. Joely causes her to cry, as the writer wants us to know she’s not all hard scientist girl. Actually, so many characters have made 180 degree turns, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a different writer, but only one was listed. So his imaginary twin brother wrote the second half of the script, except he dulled it up instead of making it exciting.

A relief fund is named after Ed Zero, but called the Ed Connelly releif fund, because that’s the actual character’s last name. I guess I did write it down somewhere. We’re told that we will “Never Forget!” RAARGH!! What is this, 9-11 theft zone? With all this stuff I’m supposed to “never forget” I’m surprised I remember my freaking name. I’d forget that, but it’s written on my underwear. “Calvin Klein!”

Week 17, deaths rising 1 million a second, from 23 million to 25 million in the time it’s onscreen. With that many dying, one would think remote Angolan villages have the fasted subway system in the known universe. Well, it’s actually only the second fastest. Shows what you know. The medical team lead by Dr. Joely reaches the site of the dead, and there are a lot of dead. Someone says about the new Super Killer Bird Flu: “it’s already out there!” You know what that means….WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!! RUN!!! RUUUUUN!!! RUUUUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNN!! If you see a bird, kill it, because it’s infected with deadly flu, looking for someone to transmit it to. Especially if it’s a Chinese bird!

At the end of the movie, we’re told to go to pandemicflu.gov for more information. That information is: WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!!

And now a special interview with Big Bird, spokesman for the Society for the Prevention of Cruety to Birds.

Hello, and welcome to TarsTarkas.NET
Thank You! I’d just like to say I love the site…
OH MY GOD! You’re a bird!
Uh, yeah, that’s what I’m here to talk about-

Rated 4/10 aka H5-N1 (H5N1? We’re All Gonna Die!!!!!)

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