The Andromeda Strain (2008) (DVD)

They blew it up! Damn you! Damn you all to hell! Ah, Nuclear warheads, will we never learn? Shortly after “The Andromeda Strain” arrived to the A&E Networks last month, here we have the Special Edition DVD which is a shockingly great treatment for a television mini-series that just arrived. I know it’s not the first time a mini series gets a huge treatment, but you should see this. The casing is magnificent with a fold out front that allows you to read some of the content about it, and then there’s the DVD set which are two discs. I still don’t know why they split up the movie with two DVD’s bearing parts one and two, instead of just presenting the entire production as movie, I mean, that would make much more sense.

The DVD face is silver with a Biohazard sign, a cheesy cliché, but nonetheless effective for what occurs. “The Andromeda Strain” is a strong science fiction thriller, and remembering that I have yet to read the novel, I think its worthy apocalyptic entertainment with that old chestnut: Biological terror. The virus that begins to spread and mutate across the world brings the planet’s best minds at a stand still as they struggle to discover why the disease (known as The Andromeda Strain) is mutating and learning to communicate. “The Andromeda Strain” is a strong and intelligent science fiction thriller with rousing performances from an all star cast (granted, they’re mostly TV Stars, but who cares?), and not only does Salomon and co. accomplish characterization of their heroes, but in characterization of the virus itself.

And the inevitable twist in the second part where we begin to slow unfold the layers of this virus and its origins are quite fantastic. Though some will likely hate that it takes a fantastical turn in second half, I really did love the attempts at social commentary and our inherent destruction of the environment that may likely trigger our own destruction through an alien source. Movies like “Night of the Living Dead” were looks at the dangers of space exploration, and “The Andromeda Strain” is a very fascinating look at the dangers of destroying the very thing that may save us in the long run. I really enjoyed what Salomon and crew bring to audiences here, and the DVD makes up some damn fine material for fans.

On the “Part One” DVD, there’s the audio commentary with the Executive Producers, and Director Salomon, on the “Part Two” DVD, we have “Terra Incognita” is a twenty six minute “Making of” featurette that’s basically a standard operating procedure DVD Extra. It’s stale, but may have some value to a few. “Visual Effects Breakdown” is the fifteen minute look at all the special effects for “The Andromeda Strain” from the digital touch pads, to the vulture attack. Its fun, but not something we haven’t already seen before. There’s also Part 2 Audio Commentary with the Executive Producers and Director Salomon, as well as the basic Photo Galleries concerning the designs. For a mini series that’s been so hyped up, so juiced, and so counted on as a source of big time holiday ratings, it’s surprising to see that the special effects are horribly sub-par.

During the scene of the crashing jet, you can see the air tube is quite obviously computer generated, and the whole infection spreading across the landscape is an effect that I also found rather obvious and bland with the tension failing to grab me. And then there are some instances that made no sense. Why did we have such a lengthy look at Schroeder, Miller, and Bratt going through the shower systems in slow motion with German pop music? I mean we get that this system zaps all the germs away, but I don’t want to see every single second of the process.

Also, what was with the terrible drawn out climax with the automatic self-destruct computer? Not only is the scene rather predictable, but it’s clear the writers attempt to draw out suspense, which comes off as limp and forced when all things are said and done. Right now the heavy fans of Michael Crichton are saying “Well that’s because you didn’t read the book, jerk,” but who cares? I review an adaptation based on what’s in front of me, not on where it came from and how far it deviated from the source material. “The Andromeda Strain” (as a remake, adaptation or whatever you want to call it) is very good. It’s very tough for me to not enjoy apocalypse films, and this was time well spent.

By the way, the tagline: “It’s A Bad Day To Be Human.” is stupid.