But, that's the future. For The Andromeda Strain, Wise pulled off a similar cinematic trick to keep it real—he didn't cast stars, just good character actors (and a couple of formidable stage actors) for the leads, filmed what was essentially a "bottle show" (mostly taking place in a contained space with few exteriors in an unfussy, clean style in wide panavision and split-screen, and included the first instance of on-screen date/time/location computer updates graphiced across the screen to orient ourselves. It's played out in as un-melodramatic a way as was possible with minimum effects.
|Arthur Hill, David Wayne, Kate Reid and James Olson:
just fine actors who could "sell" the impossible.
It's smart. And it assumes the viewer is smart enough to follow along, and that's refreshing (especially compared to its mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging remake—see below), and it's core cast (the irreplaceable Arthur Hill and Kate Reid, David Wayne and James Olsen) does a terrific job of underplaying the drama (the smaller, more bureaucratic roles have a tendency to drift towards melodrama and easy caricature), and it has a smashing pay-off with one of the best cliff-hangers in sci-fi history (as did the book, and you'd have to be pretty incompetent (see below) to keep it from being a nail-biter.
The central question—what does a baby have in common with a sterno-drinking bum—is tossed off, ignored, and rendered irrelevant (as are the survivors) in favor of new-science voodoo of worm-holes, time-discrepancies and other space-rot, that, if anybody actually sat down and thought about it, makes the Andromeda bacillus completely devoid of a point of origin. But hey, if you can combine the original with "CSI," and plot-elements of Contact, and, yes, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, it should be good enough for an unchoosy Sci-Fi Channel subscriber, one who's happy with the sub-par "original movies" along the lines of "T-REX Mutants!" Somewhere along the way, the broadcast channel got upped to A & E (that stands for "Arts and Entertainment"—it's where you can see such low-hanging fare as "Duck Dynasty" and "Storage War$")—and, still, they must feel snookered at the result.*
It's a nasty, stupid piece of work, done with little care for its viewers or source material. Hopefully, Crichton got some money out of it (he had nothing to do with it, not even producing).
With all this new technology why do these schmoes insist on re-making GOOD science fiction films (they also "updated" Wise's The Day The Earth Stood Still, which, when it was released, was, frankly, still-born)? Why don't they make a better version of Damnation Alley, or Saturn 3, or even Crichton's Terminal Man? Those might be worth a try, given their history. Maybe something good could actually come of it.
* Let's list them: Munro from "Congo", Norman Johnson from "Sphere," Alan Grant from "Jurassic Park," and, of course, John Connor from "Rising Sun."
** They didn't. Trade ads crowed that ten million souls watched this drek.