Andromeda Strain mini-series DVD

Monday, 18 May 2015 23:00 Written by 

The Andromeda Strain mini-series on DVDBased on the 1969 best-selling novel by Michael Crichton (he of “Jurassic Park” fame), a mysterious virus is brought to Earth by a returning US military satellite. This problem with Project Scoop is the cue for Wildfire, an elite team of scientists, to convene in a secure complex to attempt to stop the ever-mutating life form, before it ends life on Earth. And YOU had the chance to win one of three copies we had up for grabs in our prize competition.

This version of “The Andromeda Strain” was nominated for six Primetime Emmys – Best Miniseries, and within that description’s categories, cinematography, picture editing, sound editing, makeup, and sound mixing. Where the 1971 movie didn’t define what exactly the ‘Andromeda’ virus was, in this adaption we have a suitably 21st Century investigation, with wormholes and alien races being considered before a solution a lot closer to home is discovered.

Shown in the USA over two nights in May 2008, and subsequently given the all-star treatment this side of the Atlantic by Sky Television, Mikael Salomon directs this science-explanatory version – he has been nominated for two Oscars in his time – once in 1990 for cinematography on “The Abyss” and then for Best Visual Effects for “Backdraft” in 1992.

Benjamin Bratt leads the line as head of Wildfire, Jeremy Stone. Bratt had previously starred in the 2005-6 series E-Ring as Jim Tisnewski, was nominated for an Emmy for his role as Rey Curtis in Law & Order, and was one of the chief protagonists Steve Navarro in the recent UK-based 24: Live Another Day. Stone’s team has many a familiar face. Daniel Dae Kim plays Tsi Chou – he of course came to cult fandom via his role as Jin Kwon during the entire run of Lost, and is now seen as Chin Ho Kelly in the reimagined Hawaii 5-0.

Christa Miller plays the earnest Angela Noyce – she came to fame as Kate in 181 episodes of The Drew Carey Show, before moving on to Scrubs (as Jordan Sullivan), and Cougar Town (as Ellie Torres). Ricky Schroder, who came to acclaim as Danny Sorenson in NYPD Blue plays Major Bill Keane MD, and Viola Davis, currently playing Annalise Keating in How To Get Away With Murder (seen in the UK on the Universal Channel), is Charlene Barton.

Rounding out the headliners is Eric McCormack as investigative reporter Jack Nash. He previously starred as Will Truman in Will and Grace, and is currently headlining the series Perception, as Dr Daniel Pierce, an eccentric neuro-psychiatrist who uses his unique outlook to help the federal government solve complex criminal cases. The show is currently rounding off its third season, and can be seen in the UK on the Alibi channel.

When Jack Nash starts asking too many questions in all the wrong places, he’s put in a helicopter to be taken out of harm’s way. He’s suspicious of a holdall that’s put on the chopper that isn’t his, leading to him forcing the vehicle to land. He only just gets away in time, as the holdall detonates taking the crew with it. It’s a stark reminder in a fictional tale of what dark forces within the power structure will do to try and protect their secrets.

What seems like secondary plotline involves activists trying to close down a new form of drilling for energy reserves called ‘vent mining’, a variant of underwater strip mining. We find out, however, that this technology has a lot more to do with the origins of Andromeda than anyone could possibly imagine. And how exactly does all this fit in with the deciphered message “Bacillus Infernus 739528”?

And then there’s the fact that the troops being used on the covert operations are from Washington DC, as their badges denote. This is the incorporated military arm of the trinity of independent states not under the remit of the different countries they are within – in other words, the global privatised power structure that also includes the City of London  (controlling the financial remit) and Vatican City (the spiritual remit).

Straight away this signifies the ‘black ops’ present which are working against the centralised legitimate power structures. This becomes very important at the end of the story, which leaves us appreciating that despite the talk of wormholes and messages from the future, the timeline will still play out in the way that has been established in the plot.

The entire mini-series was filmed at various locations which were all within four hours of the production base in Vancouver, Canada. It’s a testament to the ecology within that geography that it can double for so many different areas across Planet Earth.

This epic was Executive Produced by three-time Academy Award® nominee Sir Ridley Scott (“Alien”, “Thelma & Louise”, “American Gangster”), the late Tony Scott (“Top Gun”, “True Romance”, “Enemy of the State”), David W Zucker (NOT the guy involved with “Airplane!” and “The Naked Gun” movies, but the Executive Producer of the TV series Numbers and The Good Wife) and Tom Thayer (a former President of Universal Television, who was aware of “The Andromeda Strain” being a project in need of a leg-up to get into production).

As with the Universal Pictures 2008 DVD release, the Extras with this DVD set are:

  • Terra Incognita: The Making of “The Andromeda Strain” (26 minutes) – Ridley Scott is amongst those detailing how long coming this mini-series had been – Universal retained rights from its original 1971 movie, meaning that what eventually emerged had to follow the rules of an independent production;
  • Visual Effects Breakdowns (15 minutes) – a study of what’s real and what’s CGI in many of the set-up shots – be prepared to be amazed at how little was actually real in what you saw right before your eyes;
  • Photo and Design Gallery – over 100 images lay out everything from concept sketches through to behind the scenes finished sets;
  • Feature Audio Commentary on both parts, with Director Mikael Salomon, Executive Producers David W Zucker and Tom Thayer, and Editor Scott Vickrey.

“The Andromeda Strain” is out now from Fabulous Films / Fremantle Media Enterprises. It is a ‘15’ certificate, a running time of 169 minutes approx, and a RRP of £29.99, or get it for less at www.culttvstore.com

Thanks to Fabulous Films / Fremantle Media Enterprises, you had the opportunity to put one of three copies available to win on to your mantelpiece, in our prize competition. All you had to do was tell us the answer to the following question: Which Andromeda Strain actor plays Chin Ho Kelly in the new Hawaii 5-0? The answer was DANIEL DAE KIM, and the three lucky winners were: Rebecca Murphy of Great Denham, Bedford; Susan Tuke of Bolton, Lancashire; and Geoff Hibbert of Paignton, Devon. Well done all, and thanks to everyone who took part.

 

Last modified on Wednesday, 27 May 2015 09:19

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