Based on the book by Carl Sagan (famous atheist astronomer). Starring Jodi Foster as Dr. Eleanor (Ellie) Arroway and Matthew McConaughey as Palmer Joss.
Contact reminded me a lot of Abyss in it's attempt to extract morality from science. Both movies give the lesson: "It's gonna take aliens to show you silly humans how to co-exist." Also, both movies are relatively mundane until the last 15 minutes, when one daring person encounters the dazzling aliens.
Ellie learns from her hardships not to trust anything but science. Then she runs into a missionary/priest named Palmer Joss. She's hot for him and he's hot for her, so they decide to do each other. Eventually, though, her scientific convictions win her over and she leaves him in favor of listening for signals from space aliens.
After four years of listening to static Ellie's diligence pays finally off: She hears and records the first ever message from space aliens. Much to everyone's surprise, the message is a recording of the first television broadcast, which happens to be Hitler delivering an energetic speech to his fellow Nazis (you know, that same clip we always see on the History channel). This is less than ideal because people start thinking that maybe the aliens are Nazis. A few other things go wrong, but Ellie eventually gets to travel through a worm hole using a large "wormhole digging tool," (as translated directly from the alien blueprints). The wormhole digger works. She contacts the aliens and lives to tell about it. Unfortunately, no one back on earth believes her.
I think that Carl Sagan sees himself as a real-life Dr. Eleanor Arroway. He sees himself as one independent thinker amongst a sea of religious/militaristic/governmental zombies. He is Jodi Foster, sitting there in front of a board of interviewers, battling that scourge called "religion" that oppresses ninety-something percent of the world. Much like Jodi Foster, Sagan is determined to prove that wormholes and aliens exist, which will, in turn, prove that God does not exist. Step aside you bomb-strapped Jesus freaks! Step aside you closed minded military guys who wants to nuke the world... make way for progress! Make way for Science!
Seriously, though, Sagan must have had a few disenchanting experiences with religion, probably some sect of Christianity. The same is probably true of Jodi Foster as well, or else she would not have taken that role.
In light of this, Carl Sagan and anyone who hides behind religion to excuse their disbelief should know: God has between little and nothing to do with religion. For your own sakes, get over it.
Sagan does make a good point, albeit indirectly, about the majority of the world being religious. Carl Sagan, for example, is religious.
Being a fanatic can be a good thing... it just depends on what you're fanatical for. Carl Sagan, for example, is fanatical for atheistic science. The fruit of his dedication is: He can point out what he does not want to be (a religious fanatic), but he can't point out what he actually wants to be.
Note: The religious nut with the blond hair (pictured above) is not a Christ-follower. A true follower of Christ wouldn't be so insecure about scientific exploration because God is not insecure about scientific exploration. Why would God be insecure about exploring His own creation?
Of all the causes in the world, the one most worthy of fanaticism is Jesus Christ. Christ-followers (if they are for real) are fanatical about everything that is good, pure, admirable and praise-worthy. In short, they obey God.
The more Christ-followers there are in the world, the better off the world will be. For example, people who imitate Christ will sacrifice themselves for the good of others. They will do what's right even when no one is looking. They will excel at whatever they do. Such people will stick to their word, they will be unconditionally loving and they will rejoice to learn any truth, no matter where it comes from.