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.

Premise

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.

High Point

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.

Low Point

“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.

The Review

Originality

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.

Effects

These vary. Some of the incidental effects work well. The bird scenes, in places, look fake. 4 out of 6.

Story

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.

Acting

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.

Production

I give it 5 out of 6.

Emotional response

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.

Overall

This is literally half-good. I give it 3 out of 6.

In total, The Andromeda Strain receives 24 out of 42.