The Andromeda Strain Review
The technology and money that is available to television production crews these days is phenomenal. Programmes like Star Trek: Enterprise had the luxury of a budget that only twenty years ago, major film production crews could only dream about.
However, as the technology to make the programmes grows, so does the technology on which to view the finished product. Today's display panels have the ability to show up major flaws in the production process - and as it gets better for us the viewer, it will only get worse for the programme maker.
So - what does a TV studio do to make their programmes look better? Answer - bring in two of the biggest film makers working in Hollywood today...who also happen to be brothers - and as British as a cup of tea and a Knighthood
Tony and Ridley Scott, or more likely their production company Scott Free have added the weight of their prestigious names to the new Universal made for TV production of Michael Crichtons The Andromeda Strain.
Priding itself on being more of a re-visualisation of Crichtons' novel and not a remake of the 1971 classic, it tells the story of a team of scientists and medical workers trying to combat a strange virus that was brought to Earth on board a rogue satellite. The satellite crash landed near a small town in Utah and was found by two teenagers who took it back to the local chief engineer.
They decide to open the downed craft - but this leads to sudden, violent and painful death for everyone who comes into contact with it. Furthermore, it seems to have the ability to send human beings mad - making them turn on each other and commit violent acts of murder and suicide.
NASA track down Dr. Jeremy Stone (played by Benjamin Bratt from Law And Order). His team consist of Dr Angela Noyce (played by Christina Miller of Scrubs fame), Dr. Tsi Chou (Daniel Dae Kim from Lost, and Dr Charlene Barton (played by Viola Davis). They are all employed by General George Mancheck (you know he's a baddie 'cos he's played by Andre Braugher - who does such a great job of playing them...). He hasn't been totally honest with the scientific team and it turns out that the satellite is one of his. It was engaged on a mission known as Project Scoop. It's primary task to collect particles from space and bring them to Earth. However, on it's journey, the bird encountered a wormhole in space that could well have gone all the way to another galaxy...
The medical team have 96 hours to contain the virus. They set out on the task of saving mankind from a deadly virus from outer space...
OK - the 1971 movie is an absolute classic and a firm favourite in my household. But remember, this isn't really a remake of that movie - but a re-visualisation of the novel.
Brought bang up to date, this version offers reasons why there were no weapons of mass destruction found during the second Gulf war (I would hope a totally fictitious reason as well...). It brings modern science into the equation - stuff that Crichton wouldn't have had access to when he wrote the book because most of it just didn't exist - and tries to solve his problems with it.
The thing is, it actually works. The script is strong and the film moves along at a right pace. I found it a little long - at 180 minutes, it's a bit of a chore to sit through in one go. But, take it as a two part mini series as it's meant to be viewed and it will be a lot easier to handle.
Lovers of the original film can rest assured that Universal have paid total respect to that version of Crichtons' cracking sci-fi classic and brought it bang up to date. State of the art (for TV) special effects, brilliant script, excellent direction Mikael Salomon (who cut his teeth as a cinematographer on films such as Backdraft all make for very good couple of nights in front of the box.