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Old 1st Aug 2010, 23:35   #1
JunkMonkey
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Default The Andromeda Strain

The Andromeda Strain - it’s years since I saw the original, I remember it being an above average SF, race against time, thriller. Very 1960s All white and Kubricky with a serious attempt at scientific credibility which was the fashion at the time (1971) in SF films. Most of the action, I seem to recall, took place in an enclosed underground lab where a select team of experts had to come up with a cure for a deadly, instantly lethal virus from outer space that was threatening to wipe out all life on Earth before it spread. The film was directed by Robert Wise, who established his SF credentials with The Day the World Stood Still, his money making kudos with The Sound of Music, and his place in movie history by being the editor of Citzen Kane.* The film was 130 minutes long. It's one of those films that was part of the brief Golden Age of American SFs movies of the early 1970s

The 174 minute 2008 TV ‘miniseries’ remake is total, unmitigated garbage.

For some unfathomable reason the story breaks out of the enclosed technical world of the lab and brings in vast swathes of Government conspiracies, military black ops, wormholes from the future, eco-terrorists, a maverick reporter on the run from the Men in Black out to silence him, etc etc etc. and it’s all crap. None of it makes any sense and diffuses any tension that there is by constantly piling on more and more 'complexity'. Not that any tension really develops anyway because all the filmmakers are really interested in is throwing more and more techno-wank eye-candy at us in order to distract from the pure crappiness of the script. A ferinstance: when the team are first assembled they are all handed pieces of thumbprint coded ‘E-paper’. A thin, floppy piece of plastic-like material which, after they have each pressed their thumb to the special spot in the corner, instantly, in vibrant living moving colour, updates them with all the information available - oooohh cool! shiny! – and then is never seen again. After a couple of establishing shots this wonder of future-tech vanishes from the plot. It’s not even used as a prop after that. Pointless.

The show does have one moment though that I shall treasure forever. When I saw it I laughed so loudly that I woke up my kids. Here's the situation: Our scientists are in the lab and have worked out that radioactivity won’t kill the killer bug but will in fact make it grow and spread faster. There is a leak from the sealed containment area and the automatic destruct sequence starts. At the end of the destruct sequence the atomic pile under the base will explode. This, obviously, is not a good thing. Luckily there is an out. One of the team can override the destruct mechanism by pushinghis identity card into and putting his thumb on a special panel. There is a special panel on each of the several levels of the facility – all of the levels are instantly sealed off from one another if there is a breach. Guess what happens... Right. The panel on the level that the crew are all on get broken when someone accidentally knocks a chair into it. Oh em fucking gee! what are they going to do? – the central core! “If we can undo this panel…” we should be able to climb into the strangely well lit (for an area never intended to be visited) central core which, apart from having an excellent view of the reactor below (blue glow under water), also has a plethora of pipes and easy hand holds for our heroes to climb up and get to the emergency override panel on the floor above them! So far so good. Bog-standard Hollywood adventure movie bullshit. More bog-standard Hollywood adventure movie bullshit immediately follows when the only man who can stop the bomb going off grabs hold of the only pipe that hasn’t been glued to the wall properly. Damn cheap government underground facility real shoddy workmanship. First the emergency override facilities aren’t chairproof now pipes come off the wall as soon as you hang from them...

Hero (reaching out): “Grab hold of my hand!”
Only man who can stop etc.:”I’m not going to make it, take this…” Hands over card and falls three storeys into a radioactive swimming pool the government were too cheap to put a lid on and dies from instant movie hyper-radioactivity poisoning.
Girly hero (watching on monitor!):”Oh no the card is no use! You need his thumb too.!”
Enter disposable ethnic hero (redeeming himself for having knocked the chair into the panel and caused all these problems in the first place). He is holding a scalpel.: “Hang on…!” he shouts.
He dives into the pool, cuts off the vital thumb, and, as he too succumbs to instant movie hyper-radioactivity poisoning, throws the thumb at least three storeys straight up! where the hero, hanging from a pipe with all sorts of unexplained tension building crap falling all around him, catches it.

In slow motion.

And don’t get me started on the message from the future: atoms of metals embedded in buckyballs that, in ASCII code, spelt out a mysterious six digit number, a possibly soon to be extinct seabed micro-organism, and ‘an image’. but I'll just ask you: If you were sending a desperate message for help back to the past through a wormhole pleading for your ancesters not to accidentally destroy the only thing in the entire universe which can stop the killer virus about to destroy all life on the planet - would you bother including a huge metal shiny hi-res rotating 3D image of a mysterious company logo?














* The fact that he also directed Star Trek: the Motion Picture is unfortunate and easily relegated to footnotes.
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Old 2nd Aug 2010, 10:06   #2
amner
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Default Re: The Andromeda Strain

Is The Andromeda Strain the one where the blood in people dries out so that it's just powder? There's a scene where the main chap carves with some effort into a cadaver's wrists and deposits a small pile of the stuff on the sand...is that it?

Whatever that movie is, it's an image that's stayed with me for years.

This new version sounds cack.
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Old 2nd Aug 2010, 12:04   #3
JunkMonkey
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Default Re: The Andromeda Strain

That's the one.
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