The Andromeda Strain (TV remake)

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The Andromeda Strain (TV remake)

Unread post by tyen » Sat Dec 27, 2008 3:13 pm

Sometimes you happen upon a show so bad, you have to tell others about it.

First, the movie is about 3 hours long, and could have fit into a normal movie length. (It’s obvious this was a made for TV miniseries, and they stretched it out so that with commercials it would span 4 hours).

It's based on a book by Michael Crichton...

The book opens focused on the two military guys trying to recover a crashed satellite, it crashes in the middle of a small town. This movie opens with a twenty-something couple parked out in the desert and see the satellite crash. After a horrible cliché line and making it obvious this couple are “redneck” types, they decide to put the satellite in their truck and take it back to town (aren’t satellites… heavy?).

Soon after the town is dying; the army guys looking to retrieve the satellite die too.
Now we meet the rest of the characters… but they’ve added some things that the book did not have. Like the drug addicted nosy reporter… all of them have more backstory than the book provided (and apparently for good reason… none of it matters).

Anyway, there’s a team of 5 scientists gathered to research Andromeda. They conveniently have a super-secret military lab ready for this and as the story progresses, you’ll see the scientists know how to use everything in the lab even though none of them have been there before.

Two of them go out in environmental suits to investigate the town afflicted by the satellite and recover the satellite. They find one man alive and an infant baby (at least they didn’t change that part from the book). They changed the story so much though, that it’s lost that the reason the original two military guys did not show up in bio-suits is they didn’t expect anything like Andromeda. Instead this movie changes this all around: The military, the homeland security guy, advisors to the president are involved in (shocker!) a government conspiracy coverup!

Anyway, after collecting the satellite they all gather at the secret lab… which starts with a dumb slo-mo decontamination scene which seems to have no other purpose than to show shots of the actors with no shirts and a ¾ shot of the one female character…
In the original book, Crichton takes his time… discovering the virus itself is a huge part of the suspense and tension (they don’t know what they’re dealing with yet). In this movie they find it immediately. The questions instead focus on how it spreads, mutates, etc.

Now is where it really gets bizarre. I can get past the common theme of the big-bad-government conspiracy slant, but now while I was watching I really expected the credits to include Al Gore, Greenpeace and whatever other left-wing political organization you can imagine. I am convinced that adding this theme is the entire purpose of the reporter guy (who wasn’t in the book). He adds nothing to the story… at all. He’s busy trying to expose the cover up and eventually has this evil secret military guy (who we don’t know who he reports to) trying to kill him.

Summary of the political crap added:
- One scene has the reporter guy praying to God for a break, he promises to kick his drug habit. As soon as help arrives he says “I take it back…”
- It turns out the thing that will save humanity is some bizarre bacteria found at the bottom of the ocean (that they happen to be killing as a result of some sort of deep sea sulfur mining thing).
- The president has a noticeable Texan accent and is portrayed as not knowing what to do.
- The reporter asks the president in the press conference why the National Guard are deployed and for how long… he doesn’t get an answer so he climbs onto his soap box and says: “So they’re being deployed for some unknown reason for an unknown length of time… where have we heard that before?”
- One of the scientists is an immigrant from North Korea… who happens to be a specialist in bio hazardous material… but he has a back story that defends the North Koreans as “just as bad as the U.S. government”… when other characters guess about the origins of the satellite, one scenario brought up is whether it’s North Korean… (this happens multiple times).
- One of the scientists has an out of place scene where it’s entire purpose is just to let the audience know he’s gay (like that matters to the story).
- When Andromeda is spreading, it uses a river to move up to Las Vegas from Arizona (even though that’s the opposite direction of the river’s current) and also uses a weather system from Arizona that will carry it to Los Angeles (gotta threaten the movie actors I guess) even though weather patterns in this case move the opposite direction here too because of the mountain range and the ocean.
- There are a number of scenes where they are killing bird populations and rodent populations (trying to contain the disease and create a perimeter) and they feel it’s important to comment that XYZ animal rights organization is “gonna love this…”
- They had Andromeda activate a nuclear bomb over Arizona... while the military were drones carrying out their orders and of course the reporter was smart and knew better. The presidents quandary over whether to use a nuclear device to kill the disease was because it would look poor for his reelection bid.
- When the reporter is captured by the evil military guy, he’s threatened with being detained as a terrorist no questions asked… (wouldn’t be complete without a shot on the Patriot Act right?)

There’s more of this political nonsense, but I am done listing them.

So all the politics aside, they actually give us a purpose for the creation of Andromeda (unlike Crichton, who leaves its origin as a mystery for the reader to reflect on). Nope, the virus got to the satellite by coming through a wormhole (which also is a wormhole to the future)… apparently humanity in the future is being killed off by Andromeda and the bacteria they need to fight it we’ve killed off years ago (from the sulfur mining in the ocean). So instead of sending a message back in time through the wormhole that simply says: “Hey, don’t kill off this bacteria because we need it in the future” they decide to send Andromeda back in time inside a cryptic container that will obviously take time to decipher. And then it had some sort of logo for Andromeda in the message that seemed to have nothing to do with anything… I just don’t get this one?

Oh… and the movie concludes by showing a vile of Andromeda being put into some storage container on the Mir Space Station… which makes perfect sense right? No, I don’t know why they were doing that, but I certainly got the message that the space station is bad and the idea that NASA is dumb.

Even if you agree with the politics preached in this movie, you'll probably find it craptastic. Quite a shame too... Crichton is one of my favorite authors. It's like the director decided to take a dump on the story.

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