Title: Andromeda Strain (remake)
Genre: Sci-fi, Drama, Thriller
Starring: Benjamin Bratt, Daniel Dae-Kim, Eric McCormack
Director: Ridley Scott, Tony Scott
A review I wasn't gonna write until I realised just how slow work was going to be; whether you want to call this a film or a mini-series is up to you. Certainly there are budgetary concerns with many of those involved more used to TV work over feature films, and the expected midpoint cliffhanger, but at just under 3 hours long, happily works as a long film. And it's not slow and drawn out like you may expect from a long film, rather it takes inspiration from the original, as well as the Michael Crichton book and tries to do them both justice in terms of tone and atmosphere, also taking liberties with the original story (a sure fire way to disgruntle many a fan of the original), asking questions around the subject and this mysterious disease and then consequently answering them (for better or for worse), and perhaps most importantly, carefully considers the role of technology - the lab taking a character of its own - and adapting and updating it for what we now know to exist.
On the surface it might seem a little simplistic; a foreign satellite crashing near Utah, taken to a small town and then unwittingly opened allowing for this disease, Andromeda, to spark a national threat, but this is only the skeleton of whats on display here. Killing all in its path in a matter of moments, its up to wildfire; a team of voluntary scientists sent off to a secret underground laboratory with the intent of preventing unknown biological threats, to try to kill it before its too late.
As you might expect, much of the script takes place in the lab which could easily get monotonous if not for the second story thread taking us to the action; a journalist fighting the government for any scrap of information he can glean from this deadly threat thats being swept under the carpet by the government. Yes, this does feel a little unnecessary, as if fearing all the science talk would offend viewers so decides to compensate by allowing for a man to run between various deadly situations and explosions when really what they needed was a scientist on the team to yell at the writers (using 'lightyears' as a measure of time, I mean really), and whilst it doesn't constitute a deal breaker, some of the constant 'government conspiracy' theories can sound like you're listening to the rants of a lone conspiracy nut claiming the president is an alien lizard man from the second moon of jupiter sent to infiltrate mankind or something.
It tries to do a lot with the subject matter, from the rather blunt moral of preserving natural resources to the ultimately subtler subplot surrounding the freedom of the press and the powers available to them in this power play between journalist and government, one trying to contain the secret and another trying to reveal it to the people. Both sides have their reasons for doing so, and so you never quite manage to figure out which one can lay claim to the moral high ground. The fact that it elaborates on the disease, constantly tossing up question after question and adding to the mystery of what andromeda truly is makes the whole piece so intensely enjoyable to watch and hence such a shame to see fall apart so completely at the last hurdle. Things I assume they couldn't explain got forgotten, subplots were ignored, killing people off for no apparent reason; its as though they forgot to include scenes explaining whats going on, like this was just a draft that needed editing for slip ups before being shown to the public. The final explanation for andromeda, too, feels like the writers were trying too hard to find a reason for its existence and results in a twist that feels too far fetched to maintain the illusion. Its just there to tie up some loose ends when it would be better to leave it unanswered as in the original, to let the audience think and decide for themselves. Its a solid remake with a strong cast and up to this point a well paced script. Its a shame that it all went tits up in the end.