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The original Robert Wise movie version of the Michael Crichton novel has been a personal favorite, so I was more than interested in seeing what that passage of nearly four decades would bring to the table for the 2008 miniseries version THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN ($27). While not as entertaining a thriller as the original film, the miniseries update cleverly works new scientific concepts into the science fiction, while maintaining the basic premise of Crichtonís novel. The plot of THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN follows upon the crash landing of a military satellite in a small town, which results in a deadly extraterrestrial microorganism unleashed, when the local populace opens the satellite.

To contain the lethal biological hazard, the government calls upon their Project Wildfire Team to retrieve and examine the satellite. Along with the satellite, the Wildfire team also retrieves the only two human survivors of the initial outbreak. In the Wildfire lab, the contagion dubbed "Andromeda" proves to be unlike any biological entity ever encountered, in addition to being completely resistant at anything the scientists use to try and kill it. Of course, things take a turn for the worse when "Andromeda" begins to mutate into even more virulent and aggressive forms. The fine cast of THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN features Benjamin Bratt, Eric McCormack, Christa Miller, Daniel Dae Kim, Viola Davis, Justin Louis, Barry Flatman, Ted Whittall, Ted Atherton, Tom McBeath, Ricky Schroder and Andre Braugher.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. The miniseries look really terrific on DVD, easily besting a cable broadcast. Image quality is terrific, with everything looking sharp and well very defined for the SD level. There are some shots here and there that come across as mildly soft, but generally everything looks great. Colors are well saturated and stable. Blacks are deep, whites are crisp and contrast is quite good for a television level production. The elements from which the miniseries has been transferred are clean. Some mild grain/noise shows in places, but is never objectionable. Digital compression artifacts remain under the radar.

THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN features a wonderful television level Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. The sound mix is generally pretty darn strong, although no one will confuse this track with that of a theatrical production. Not surprisingly, the forward soundstage dominates. The rear channels do provide some active effects, but ambient sounds and musical fill is the mainstay. The bass channel delivers a surprising level of depth, but it isnít too ground shaking. Dialogue is cleanly reproduced and is always easy to understand. No other language tracks are provided, but English subtitles have been included.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as extra features. Director Mikael Salomon, executive producer David W. Zucker, executive producer Tom Thayer and editor Scott Vickrey are on hand to provide a running Audio Commentary. Terra Incognita: Making The Andromeda Strain is a twenty-six minute interview based program that looks at the production. Visual Effects Breakdowns provides fifteen minutes of compositing elements utilized for effects shots. An extensive Photo And Design Gallery closes out the extra features.

While the miniseries provides a good deal of entertainment value, Iím still a bigger fan of the original Robert Wise movie version THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN. The SD DVD looks and sounds good, but I would be interested to see what miniseries looks like in high definition.



The Andromeda Strain Miniseries (2008)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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