The 1969 novel established Michael Crichton’s name. Two years later, a suspenseful and generally faithful film adaptation appeared in theatres.
The 2008 made-for-television remake begins with Crichton’s premise, but this Andromeda develops in ways that may strain viewers’ credibility and patience.
Cast and Crew Information
Written by Michael Crichton and Robert Schenkkan
Directed by Mikael Salomon
Full cast and crew information may be found at the imdb.
You know you’re in for world-threatening horror when teenagers from a small town find a satellite.
A satellite crashes, carrying with it a mysterious pathogen that leaves death in its wake. A team of experts struggle against time to prevent the end of humanity, with hope residing in three disparate survivors of the initial outbreak.
Meanwhile, other sinister forces are at work in the background, forces which impede our heroes’ efforts to find a cure and the audience’s desire to enjoy the film.
The first half gives us a decent take on the novel’s opening, which has been relocated to Utah for reasons that actually make sense. The scenes in post-Andromeda Piedmont play effectively, and the film maintains a fair bit of suspense until the conclusion of the first two hours.
“This is too difficult to believe!”
This adaptation gives Andromeda a torturous backstory involving nanotechnology, a singularity, the War on Terror, and time travel. The second half buries Crichton’s premise beneath layers of trendy SF references (explained with painful expository dialogue) and enough government conspiracy to fill a season of X-Files, a Kennedy assassination tome, or an account of U.S. foreign policy in the early twenty-first century. Physics and plot logic in the second half come straight from a blockbuster action movie, without the same level of excitement.
The lowest point is the second-half odyssey of our intrepid conspiracy-sniffing reporter, who makes so many narrow and implausible escapes that I can only assume he’s a descendant of Indiana Jones. A less-interesting descendant of Indiana Jones.
It’s not just that this is an adaptation of a story that has been better-adapted before. Its new layers and scenes have all been stolen from elsewhere. I give it 2 out of 6.
These vary. Some of the incidental effects work well. The bird scenes, in places, look fake. 4 out of 6.
This mini-series takes a decent SF/Thriller premise and plagues it with excessive subplots and a conclusion that destroys the original suspense with a ridiculous, nick-of-time, action movie finish to which I cannot give a thumb’s up. In the final half-hour, my wife and I watched in full MST3K mode.
3 out of 6.
The acting can best be described as uneven. Benjamin Bratt does a reasonable job as the maverick scientist. Christa Miller is awful as his younger counterpart. Most acting is simply pedestrian. Ted Whittall does an interesting turn as President Stone, who looks and sounds like Al Gore, has a Kennedyesque family, and regularly makes deliberately un-Bush-like pronouncements. 4 out of 6.
I give it 5 out of 6.
The beginning was not great, but I found it promising. Like Andromeda, its unpleasant qualities grow, adapting to our lowered expectations.
I give it 3 out of 6.
This is literally half-good. I give it 3 out of 6.
In total, The Andromeda Strain receives 24 out of 42.
I’ve only watched the first half hour, as a regular group of us will watch it tomorrow night, and I could tell by then that I wasn’t going to want to watch it twice, if we even managed to finish it once. You know you’re in cliche hell when it starts out with:
1. teens making out, interrupted by something falling from the sky
2. main character fighting with ex-wife
3. angry teen son
4. "it’s always important" taking dad away when of course, this time it really is
5. investigative journalist gets whiff of a coverup
And this is just in the first half hour…
refuse to watch
I refuse to watch this in anyway. This review convinced me I was right in my decision.
Re: refuse to watch
I’m with you on this one. I thought the original was quite good. One of my favorite twists probably wouldn’t even survive in a modern adaptation (The character whose epilepsy made them miss the cure because the screen flashed red, if I remember correctly.) It’s been years since I watched the original. Perhaps it is time to watch it again, instead of watching this.
A&E and not SciFi
I think my real decision to not watch it had more to do with it being on A&E and not the SciFi channel. Yes, I realize SciFi has deteriorated into the "wrestling/things that go bump in the night" channel but this is a SciFi story.
Re: A&E and not SciFi
C’mon now. Sci-Fi has Battlestar Galactica, and it has Eureka returning in July. There’s as much of those shows are their is ghost hunters and wrestling. Now I’d be much more keen on the wrestling if they included some sci-fi elements.
Re: A&E and not SciFi
As noted below, I deleted TAS unwathced, but in today’s environment A&E is to be commended for trying to generate original dramatic programming even if they went overboard on this one.
Specifically, I report with GREAT JOY that A&E has picked up Breaking Bad for a second season of 13 episodes. This is a GREAT dramatic show with numerous serious science if not science fiction themes. If you passed by our very first glimpse of Walter White and Breaking Bad, be on the lookout for A&E to rerun the truncated 7 episode season 1 before showing Season 2. You heard it here first – Bryan Cranston WILL be nominated for a Golden Globe for his incredible scene at the end of Ep 6…
And speaking of offbeat original TV programming, season 1 of the COOL COOL COOL continuing-story-arc spy series Burn Notice is currently in reruns Thursday nights on USA leading up to the Season 2 opening July 10. Don’t miss the Season 1 cliffhanger, or the Lucy Lawless guest shot episode "False Flag" showing in about two weeks. And if you need any other reasons to start watching, Burn Notice is where Six is going after she leaves Galactica. Holy cow – could it be that she’s gonna be one who put Michael in the truck!?!
Re: A&E and not SciFi
Oops. It’s actually AMC, not A&E. My (breaking) bad.
Well this solves my problem
My DVR biffed on recording the first part of this. But judging from the review, I’ll just delete the last half too.
Here And Gone
I actually got both parts on my TiVo, read the review in USA Today, and deleted unwatched.