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(For Day 13 of NaPoWriMo, the prompt was for a poem that was “a news article you wish would come out tomorrow.” I think everyone would like this one to come true.)

This just in: the virus is gone!
The patients who were sick with it recovered right at dawn.
No one’s coughing; no one’s sore.
The doctors have confirmed what we have all been waiting for.

None seem certain how this came about.
Perhaps an undiscovered expiration date ran out.
Prayers are answered; hopes are met.
The boogeyman of 2020’s no longer a threat.

Stores are open; crowds are no concern.
Masks are being set ablaze to herald their return.
All bad things also have an end.
At last, the fire’s smothered; the wound’s begun to mend.

MPA rating: R (mainly for language)

This film and 2011’s Contagion were suddenly extremely popular about a year ago, thanks to a certain virus and shutdowns sparking the need to escape into fiction. I don’t exactly understand why you would distract yourself from a pandemic with a movie about a pandemic, but oh well. Seeing Outbreak after over a year of witnessing how our world has responded to a sudden virus originating from an animal was still fascinating, though, and fairly entertaining too, through that ‘90s disaster movie lens.

Colonel Sam Daniels (Dustin Hoffman) is an army virologist who develops a growing unease after visiting a disease site in Zaire where a 100% death rate has wiped out a village. While his superior (Morgan Freeman) assumes that there is no immediate danger, no one realizes that a monkey carrying the virus has been captured and shipped to the U.S., where infections spread like wildfire (since, like in The Stand, people can’t seem to cover their mouths when they cough), and a California town is quarantined by the military. It’s actually quite a scary scenario with a far worse virus than COVID-19 ever was, and, though it doesn’t probe very deeply into the political side of things, it’s almost as scary to see how the government might crack down, perhaps justifiably, where an extreme national hazard is recognized.

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Star-studded with the likes of Cuba Gooding, Jr., Donald Sutherland, Kevin Spacey, Rene Russo, and a young Patrick Dempsey, Outbreak starts out compelling in how it traces the spread of the disease while the scientists then do the same in reverse. However, the latter half devolves into action movie theatrics that extend the runtime, pad plot holes, and compress travel and actions that would likely take days into mere hours for the sake of deadline tension. Entertaining and hitting a bit close to home after a pandemic of our own, Outbreak showcases a disaster extreme that I pray never becomes more real.

Best line: (Sam, using panic to his advantage) “We need all the bills of landing from ships arriving from Africa in the last 3 months. George, shall I cough on you?  (George) “NO!”

Rank:  List Runner-Up

© 2021 S.G. Liput
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