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THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN
(2008)
Available on DVD

Andromeda Strain box cover





Jeremy Stone -
Benjamin Bratt

Jack Nash -
Eric McCormick

Angela Noyce -
Christa Miller

Bill Keene -
Ricky Schroder

Charlene Benton -
Viola Davis

Tsi Chou -
Daniel Dae Kim

General Mancheck -
Andre Braugher

President Scott -
Ted Whittall


Written by -
Robert Schenkkan

Directed by -
Mikael Salomon




OTHER ALIEN INVASIONS
UFO
Threshold
Invasion
Roswell
Dark Skies
The Uninvited





Episode 1

A secret satellite crashes to Earth outside a small town. Soon after, everyone is dead. A group of biologists specialising in germ warfare is assembled in the ultrasecret Wildfire underground laboratory. An alien infection known as Andromeda is discovered with nearly 100% fatality rates. As the team race to find out how to kill Andromeda, the President decides to limit the contagion by ordering a nuclear strike on his own nation.

Exactly why anyone would want to remake Robert Wise's excellent film version of Michael Crichton's gripping tale as a mini-series is not immediately apparent, but this production immediately earns credit by adopting a similar almost-documentary feel to it and by casting familiar faces instead of major stars, to bolster the credibility of the story. They all deliver solid performances with no grandstanding.

The direction is nicely understated and unfussy, allowing the strength of the story to carry things. The script sounds authentic (to the layperson's ear anyway) on scientific matters, though it does creak a bit when it comes to dealing with the interpersonal stuff. Everyone, it seems, in both the scientidfic and military teams has some past baggage that gives them reason to not get on with each other.

The creepiness of the dead town is never really exploited and the reveal of the coagulated blood (a real shock in the original) is completely fluffed. Andromeda now also causes murderous behaviour in some of its victims in order to up the body count.

Opening out the running time allows the production to bring in the political angle, military rivalries, a crusading journalist chasing the story and a mysterious assassin who might have been hired by global industries interested in undersea strip mining, but whose purpose is never quite explained.

The focus is taken off the Wildfire team to some extent, which is just as well as they do more talking than actual research.

This opening episode is a solid if somewhat redundant retelling of the story.

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Episode 2

Andromeda has mutated to crash an Air Force jet and cause a nuclear explosion. The disease is spreading. The Wildfire team make surprising discoveries about Andromeda's origins, but then their own nuclear self-destruct option kicks in.

The disarming of the nuclear failsafe in the Wildfire lab was the weakest part of the movie and here it serves up the unintentionally funny sight of a severed human thumb being thrown like an american football pass to save the day. Equally unbelievable are the shots of the landscape turning red under the effects of Andromeda (and then back again later). All of this pales into insignificance against the supposed origins of Andromeda, which destroy all suspension of disbelief.

The cast continue to do sterling work in the face of the escalating silliness of the script's plotting and they manage to keep things just the right side of ridiculousness, but as the political intrigue continues to get more and more absurd, the show gets harder and harder to stay with..

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