Michael Crichton's classic novel is given a fresh new retelling in this excellent mini series produced by acclaimed directors Ridley and Tony Scott. Staying true to the basic premise of the novel, The Andromeda Strain is brought into the new millennium with allowances made for our present technology and our current understanding of biology, physics and nuclear sciences giving us a gripping and taut science fiction thriller.
When a satellite crashes outside of the town of Piedmont, two teenagers bring the device back to the local fire chief. Hours later and army bio-recovery unit is sent in to retrieve the satellite when they find that everyone in the town has died. Shocked by what they see the soldiers themselves die when a man rushes up to their humvee.
As military command becomes aware of the situation they order a lockdown quarantine and call in a team of specialists to deal with the problem.
Further complications arise when a series of psychotic murders and suicides take place far outside the contamination zone leading to the theory that the virus may be mutating into another form.
With reporter Jack Nash (Will & Grace's Eric McCormack) following leads from a source who leaked the video recording from the Piedmont bio-recovery team, he finds himself caught up in the complex conspiracy as the government try to keep the population unaware of the threat they face.
Benjamin Bratt (Law & Order) stars as Doctor Jeremy Stone, the leader of the Wildfire team that are gathered in a state of the art facility which he helped design in order to combat the Andromeda virus.
He is assisted by Dr Angela Noyce (Scrub's Christa Miller), Dr Charlene Barton (Viola Davis), Dr Tsi Chou (Lost's Daniel Dae Kim) and Major Bill Keene (Scrub's Ricky Shroeder). This elite team are specialists covering all medical and biological disciplines and with the clock running, it's only a matter of time before Andromeda mutates into something for which they have no defence.
The mini series is in two parts (one per disc) and has a dramatic cliff-hanger ending for part one which ensures that you will immediately want to play the second disc. The story is well scripted, the dialogue sharp, the effects are excellent and it builds progressively to dramatic and action packed finale. There are some truly shocking and graphic moments in the series, especially with regards to the suicides.
Sci-fi fans will be able to work out some elements of the plot about half way through the whole story and by the first act of part two, most will understand the twist that the writer has injected into the original plot. This doesn't detract from the adventure in any way and most will enjoy the payoff scene at the end.
Disc one also has a 26 minute documentary called Terra Incognita which goes into the making of the mini-series including interviews with most of the cast and production crew including Ridley Scott.
Disc two has a 110 image picture archive and a 15 minute run through of all the VFX shots in the whole story. This was really interesting as it shows some VFX shots that were so well done you had no idea that they were even in the frame, which just shows the level of quality that was given to the whole production.
An excellent retelling of a classic work of sci-fi and a very welcome addition to any sci-fi collection.
on 24 May 2008
Caught this on Sky Movies & watched the full 180 minutes in one session.
It's very well made despite being created for TV. Definite Feature Film
quality as would be expected by the presence of the Scott brothers as
producers. It's less claustrophobic than the 1971 feature (which I love for it's documentary style) with a lot more action outside the laboratory environment. As you'd expect, there is quite a bit of CGI work used to depict the effects of deadly micro-organism, Andromeda & mostly, it works.
The film is great to look at, using that bleached, washed out style so beloved of TV execs! Acting is decent, all the characters compliment each other well.
As in the '71 movie, there is the grimly atmospheric scene where the research team, fully kitted out in biosuits, descend on the Andromeda ravaged town of Piedmont to find 99.9'% of the locals dead. The organism
kills in the same way as before, coagulating the blood within seconds & is well depicted through realistic Special FX makeup. There's also a small nod to the 28 Days movies as in some cases, the infected become pschopathic prior to death; A self inflicted decapitation by chainsaw, a graphic burning and a multiple shooting in a diner are some of the setpieces.
There's a very high tech feel to the film, the laboratory scenes offer real cutting edge scientific equipment; robotic arms, computers etc. You do need to concentrate especially when the whys & whats of Andromeda are under discussion but this adds to the enjoyment!
There's more of a military presence to this version & plenty of shady politics going on at NSA/White House levels.
One MAJOR change here is Andromeda's origins - originally, simply a deadly, extra terrestrial life form, the update sees it still coming from space via a crashed satellite (great opening scene reminiscent of the 1950's Blob!) but we also enter into the realms of wormholes & coded messages from Space...
I still prefer the 70's movie, if only for nostalgia, but this was way better than I expected. Yes, you can nitpick at some things, and there are a few plotholes & glaring coincidences but it's still a decent, modern piece of Science Fiction/Horror.
on 30 December 2014
Horrid, horrid, horrid. The start is promising, but it rattles down hill fairly rapidly due to unwarranted dicking around with the source material.
Technology has moved on somewhat since Crichton wrote the book and references to Teletype bells aren't appropriate for a modern tale so some changes to the plot are inevitable, but the changes here go well beyond anything required to bring the story up-to-date with modern technology.
All the changes made don't add up to anything significant and actually contrive to make holes in what was originally a fairly well crafted and, more or less, watertight plot.
If you've read the book or seen the original film made from it, don't bother with this and, if you haven't then go and read/watch them.
This is not the film you are looking for...
Usually when any reviewer writes a critique of a remake they will often lambaste the new version because the newer product is no longer unique to them,it's 2nd hand and a copy or even counterfeit.
As a great admirer of the original The Andromeda Strain [DVD]  it is difficult not to compare this mini-series to that superb production.
I'm trying to see it as a stand-alone tv series.It has its merits---a broader story line which includes an investigative reporter,a cast that is much younger and attractive compared to the original,enhanced sfx(though the original was exemplary) and so on.
I can only conclude that if you have seen and enjoyed the original this new version is pale in comparison.
If you have not seen the original and watch the mini-series I think you will find it very entertaining,in my humble opinion its not that far off the mark of the 1971 film.Its probably more attuned to a modern audience.
And no subtitles once again---there is a lot of technical jargon spoken,subs would have been useful.
As someone with hearing difficulties, I was disappointed to find this DVD did not have any subtitles. As the dialogue is fast-paced and technical in places, I found that I often missed the subtleties of the plot.
Otherwise I thought this was a well-realised peice of sci fi with a few nice nods to the original movie, however I'm sure my neighbours (who had to put up with all 4.5 hours of it on maximum volume) may disagree.
on 31 August 2012
"The Andromeda Strain" is both a classic movie and an excellent book. A rare example- in this writer's view- of a film being slightly better than the book. Many later stories owe it a great debt. Like many older movies, it was always worthy of a remake, and should benefit from modern special effects and the use of some more modern technology in the storyline. The idea of a tight mini-series is quite enticing, but not fully realised.
Perhaps wisely, this version chooses not to focus on the claustrophobic environment of the scientists wrestling with the organism, but to concentrate on the political/ military situation surrounding it all, as well as Eric McCormack's reporter. I say wisely, because this makes it less a remake of the classic original, but an alternate telling of the overall story surrounding the Andromeda organism. There is less temptation to compare with the original because it is so different in its approach.
Unfortunately, Michael Crighton's original quite tight and generally sound science is replaced in this presentation by a concentration on buzz words and very weak understanding of technology in the normal modern manner. In a world where science and numeracy amongst the population is truly woeful (writing in the UK), it's frequently possible to get away with this, but to this writer it really jars, and actually it's rather lazy. Crighton's focus on convincing scientific procedures is lost to snap judgements in the attempt to keep the momentum going. Sadly, the claustrophobia of the scientists' situation is very diluted, and one wonders if over distinct episodes, a better result would have been obtained if we had separate episodes inside the facility and outside.
However, a slight gain here is that a real counter to the Andromeda Strain is found, which does overcome one of the disappointments in the original, where the climactic atomic explosion is avoided, but the end of Andromeda itself (or at least its threat) is hardly exciting-albeit perhaps the more realistic in the book and the movie.
The characters are very consistent with any Crighton story, which is to say rather two-dimensional, as the science is the important part; however, with the weaker science here, the poor characterisation shows up more. The Stone character, rather than being cold, calculating and brilliant in the original, comes over as more smug in this incarnation; to every problem, he smiles and opens a door on the answer.
Acting can best be described as adequate, and special affects barely so.
However, carping aside, overall, this is an adequate retelling of the story. Three stars, but definitely no more. The book, four, the original movie a definite five.
My favourite sequence from the book and movie is lost; the hairs on the back of my neck always stand up on hearing-or reading- "There's a fire, sir."
on 21 November 2010
Unfortunately I must write a bad review about this mini-series. I confess I never read Crichton's 1969 novel, but the 1971 movie was, and still is, as thrilling as it is sensible and interesting. A bunch of credible, plausible, strong characters got shut away in the presence of the most dangerous "living" thing on Earth, and they fight for everyone's lives, but also for their lives as it later turns out. The whole design of the movie made total sense. The 1971 movie contained several high-impact scenes about dying animals (which easily convince you of the severity of the situation), interesting gadgets and methods, and interesting human characters.
In the mini-series, we get a generous serving of boring politics and politicians trying to save their chairs and feel necessary, the omnipresence of the press predictably struggling to unveil the secret, lots of helicopters flying all over the shop, rather flat characters with conversations we could easily skip, a politically-correct attitude everywhere... and very little of the story inside the lab and how it is critical to understand Andromeda and how to fight it. If we add the ridiculous addition of swollen face veins in the victims (I wonder whether I am watching Andromeda's effects or some chapter of "V"), the result is appalling.
As much as I enjoy good Sci-Fi, this mini-series made me fall asleep for three days in a row. I am struggling to be able to view the first disk! Will I need two jars of coffee just to make it to the end, I wonder?
Just sad that the makers of the series could not make it more condensed and interesting and had to fill it with buckets of useless, uninteresting stuff and rather old-fashioned correctness.
on 12 July 2016
No where near as good as the original, its too long, and leaves some of the characters in difficult positions, and you don't know what happens to them. The extras are not very interesting either There is not much build up of tension,. and it doesn't answer all the questions. Not one I would watch or buy again.
on 23 February 2015
Stumbled across this and didnt know it existed. Was very pleasently surprised to REALLY enjoy this - some good action, and a decent cast. You will need to suspend belief in places but that is some of the joy of Sci-fi. This has all of my favorite elements - action, race against time, deadly disease, and explored alien origins! I couldnt stop watching this as it was so gripping - would highly recommend this
on 8 May 2014
Okay - I bought this in Oxfam for £2.99 because I have a degree of affection for the 1971 film (I've not read the book. Reading 'Jurassic Park' was bad enough. Mr Crichton has terrific ideas but he's no stylist, cf. Isaac Asimov). It has a dreary and uninspiring cover and a crap tag-line: "It's a bad day to be human" but what the heck?
And it's good: exciting, involving, intelligently scripted and with excellent, i.e. discreet, special effects. There are familiar tropes from other shows: multi-cultural team, 'rogue' reporter and a slew of devious politicians. There's even a bit of rubbish romance tacked on but it's fortunately interrupted by 'another' emergency. The actings pretty good, though the lead actor, Benjamin Bratt, lacks charisma and looks 'odd' (I can talk). The female roles are underwritten. The 'heroic' stuff (much of which does not require superior upper body strength) is done by men - apart from a figher pilot but...oops, spoiler alert.
But it's an enjoyable show. The science may well be tosh (actually, I'm fairly sure that the 'worm hole' bit most certainly is) but it's engaging and thought-provoking. Another reviewer complained about 'boring' politics. Beg to differ. It's the usual lefty, paranoid, anti-capitalist stuff but dealt with effectively (and feeds my paranoia quite adequately). If you like playing 'Plague Inc.' or have a taste for 'Contagion' style movies, give this a watch.
P.S. "Series 1"? I wouldn't hold my breath for "Series 2". I'm still waiting for "Gandhi II". "He's back - and this time he's mad!"