Posted: 05/17/2008


The Andromeda Strain


by Lauren Sepanski

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Memorial day weekend is huge for movie releases. It kickstarts the whole summer to come. If you’re too hungover from the excitement of the thought of a long weekend, there will be some interesting things on television that may help you recover rather than the piercing screams of children at your local AMC, or even the thought of attempting to drive anywhere. While loafing on your couch, digesting hot dogs and beer from the baseball game, festival, parade, or barbecue you attended, you could watch the NHL playoffs, or you could watch the Andromeda Strain miniseries on A&E.

If you have seen the 1971 version of Andromeda Strain, then you have essentially seen the miniseries, only less sexed up. A town is completely taken out by a mysterious alien organism that was attached to a fallen satellite. The two survivors, a baby and an old man, are taken from the town and used to research the virus and prevent any further infections by a team of scientists in an underground laboratory. The clock is ticking and they have little time to find a cure before it takes over the world.

I am a bit of a sci-fi fan, and I’m going to say right off: this is a great movie to watch on that lazy extra day during the upcoming long weekend. It’s fun and goes so slow you don’t have to pay attention every second. That can also be a horrible thing, but luckily, this isn’t going to be in the theater. Christa Miller, whose claim to fame was “the chick on The Drew Carey Show” and more recently “the chick who plays the bitch ex-wife on Scrubs,” plays a scientist in the miniseries. Miller, although a wonderful comedic actress, doesn’t help bring the illusion of fear or even mild concern to Andromeda Strain. Even in the very intense decontamination scene, which felt like it was ripped from an episode of CSI, made me laugh inappropriately as the characters go through a moving walkway or cleansing procedures, and a topless Christa Miller is hosed down with chemical suds. That’s right, boys, this movie contains frothy boobs. Also, Eric McCormack, known as the straight guy who played a gay guy on Will & Grace, did and excellent job as the lead character, Jack Nash (is that a lead character name or what?!), by saying over-the-top dramatic lines and looking hot. Other than that, the acting felt phoned in by the rest of the cast.

The idea had to be pitched by saying “Outbreak meets Independence Day,” because no one would have ever given them money to make this on “It’s a remake of the 1970s one. Is that cool?” Issues with the plot are 1) the foreshadowing felt forced, like in an Adam Sandler movie, 2) The president character was portrayed very close to Clinton and I just wanted to know, why Clinton? 3) There were awkward moments galore, like they were going for a The Office type laugh, but it fell flat. 4) Is it the future? Everyone was on a video phone. Where’s my video phone, rocket boots, and flying Delorean that folds up into a briefcase so you don’t have to park ever again?

On IMDb, in the “goofs” section for Andromeda Strain, someone wrote, “At one point, Stone instructs the computer to try ‘all known bacteriophages.’ The computer then confirms that it is exposing Andromeda to ‘multiple strains of bacteria.’ But bacteriophages are not bacteria; rather, they are viruses that prey on bacteria.” If you’re the type of person who understands that, you better tune in to A&E on Memorial Day weekend. (Or, if you want to pass out on the couch drunk. Give these good people some much deserved ratings. It is just as hard to make a bad movie as it is to make a good one.)

Lauren Sepanski is a writer and film critic living in Los Angeles.

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