The Andromeda Strain, compared

In case you didn’t know, there was a 4-hour remake of “The Andromeda Strain” on A&E Memorial Day weekend. This was of interest to me because it starred Benjamin Bratt. (I was such a fan at one time, I created a web site for him. I maintained it for nearly 10 years, but found my interest waning, so just this summer relinquished it to someone else, who is taking good care of it.)

When I first heard the news of the remake, I checked the book from the library and read it. While I enjoyed the book, I thought the ending was a major cop-out. In retrospect (and after watching the original movie), I think the way Michael Crichton wrote the book, looking at it from the mistakes that were made, made it sound more interesting and suspenseful than it really was.

Speaking of the original movie, the one with Arther Hill, it showed up on Encore last month. So of course watched it. It followed the book very closely. But, oh my God! The “music” in the opening credits was the most painful thing I’ve ever heard. And it went on & on (this being made during the time when all credits were shown in the beginning of the movie, rather than the end). And the movie itself? It was like watching paint dry. No, wait. Watching paint dry would have been more enjoyable. The female character (who had been male in the book) was given the most grating personality. I don’t recall the book character having been annoying. I suppose they felt they had to make her so gruff in order to explain how she got to such a high level.

Surprisingly, there was brief nudity in the original movie, including a gratuitous and totally unnecessary shot of a woman’s breasts. *roll my eyes moment*

I finally finished watching “The Andromeda Strain” remake in its entirety last night. I was surprised that A&E allowed the characters to say “shit” and its derivatives. Perhaps the rules for A&E as a cable station are more lenient than broadcast networks. (But when they aired the show in the 7-9 pm time-slot, the “bad words” were blanked out.)

So, what did I think? Of the three versions, this latest was by far the most interesting. Of course, the story was beefed up to fill 4 hours, but even the portion that dealt with the Wildfire team was changed enough to make it interesting, and yet it was fun to see what portions of the original story were kept. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but I don’t think it was a bad as many of the critics thought.

The critics really disliked the addition of the story of the reporter played by Eric McCormack. The character didn’t bother me, and his insertion with the National Guard troops could have made for an interesting story. But instead, he got mixed up in a conspiracy perpetrated by the sinister NSA director that was a little way over the top.

The ending of the mini-series veered from that of the book and movie. And while I thought those endings were a cop-out, the final scenes in the mini-series really pissed me off. No one in the book or movie died.  Not so with the mini-series.  The conspiracy story got way out of hand.  The President, who up until then had been admirable, gave the impression he didn’t care about Wildfire’s findings. And Benjamin Bratt, er, Dr. Jeremy Stone, gave an interview to Eric McCormack’s reported that made absolutely no sense at all.  And worst of all, it gave the impression that all the work done was for naught.  Highly dissatisfying.

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