The Andromeda Strain Review
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A US military satellite crashes into the southern Utah desert, and two teenagers decide to take it home, thinking it might be something of value. Once it’s opened, it releases deadly bacteria that kill the entire town—except for a diabetic drunk and a baby with colic.

A group of soldiers move in to retrieve the object, but they succumb to the lethal virus within seconds. The military has something to hide, but it might not have anything to do with what’s happened in the Utah desert. General George Mancheck (Andre Braugher) is ordered to find out what happened, clear up the mess, and keep it from the public to avoid wide-spread panic.

Dr. Jeremy Stone (Benjamin Bratt) is called in to head up the Wildfire Team—a group of doctors who specialize in biological disease of epidemic proportions. They head deep under ground to study what they’re calling the Andromeda Strain. If it doesn’t kill its victims instantly, it turns them paranoid, homicidal, or suicidal.

Reporter Jack Nash (Eric McCormack) is in rehab when he gets a call from one of his sources about something going on in the desert. Jack convinces his boss to let him check it out. But Jack doesn’t have a clue what he’s headed into—because someone has a secret, and they’ll kill him to keep it.

As the doctors study Andromeda, they begin to realize they may be dealing with something that wasn’t created by man—something so fantastical it’s unbelievable.

This sci-fi adventure mini-series is based on the novel by Michael Crichton. And, true to most anything written by Crichton, it starts slow and builds to a crashing climax. In fact, I got a little bored and fidgety at the beginning, and I even turned the movie off to run to town for a few groceries. But I knew it would pick up later. And it does—but don’t expect anything as thrilling as Jurassic Park or The Lost World. In fact, I even liked Timeline more than The Andromeda Strain.

A lot of the movie focuses on the technical and biological aspects of the story, which can leave you cross-eyed, trying to understand it and take it all in. Very little is done to develop the characters; you’re aware the characters have conflicts and problems outside their jobs and among themselves in the lab, but none of those really get resolved by the end of the movie. You’re just left with a vague sense that…well, maybe things will work out for them. But the main focus is supposed to be about Andromeda, so characterization gets shuffled to the backseat, which is a pity—because I might have liked this movie better if the focus had been put more on the characters and less on the virus.

If you’re a huge sci-fi fan, you’ll love this movie. Since I’m not, I didn’t feel that it was anything to jump up and down about. I’d label it as an okay movie, but it’s not one I’d watch more than once. If you don’t care much about characterization, and you’re more interested in what makes a virus tick, you’ll enjoy it—especially if you like movies about epidemic viruses that threaten to wipe humanity off the planet.

The Andromeda Strain isn’t the best Michael Crichton adaptation, but the concept is interesting, the acting is good, and the filming quality is way above the usual made-for-TV movie. If you’re new to movies adapted from Michael Crichton novels, I wouldn’t start with this one, though, because you might just find yourself a bit disappointed in the end.

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