Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Our Heroine Does Not Approve of Having a Very Special Message Hijack Her Movie About A Killer Virus

Y’all, I’m sorry. I got really excited about The Andromeda Strain remake on A&E, so I forgot my critical-thinking hat and blindly assumed it would be awesome. How could anything based on that book not turn out to be solid gold awesome? Even when I saw they had added a scrappy journalist to the plot, I remained hopeful. I like a good scrappy journalist! I do!

However, you may have noticed I never mentioned The Andromeda Strain again. And that was because Your Heroine was deeply ashamed, because it was awful. It was so awful I couldn’t finish watching it. It made a fine gray dust of despair settle on my soul for days, which only an intense regimen of cupcakes and shimmery lipgloss eventually cured. I was so depressed about it I could not even summon the energy to tell you all how much I hated it.

But I’m better now, and ready to thank Jonah Goldberg for doing what I could not. (Side note to Jonah: I hope you have cut your hair. It was looking a bit insane the last time I saw you on TV.)

The Paranoid Style -- From Outer Space!

...a couple months ago Ross [Douthat] had a very good piece in the Atlantic about how 70's paranoia is fashionable in film again. Unfortunately, the piece came out before the remake of The Andromeda Strain ran on A&E. My wife and I caught it the other night. Wow, what a horrible concatenation of clichés, plot holes, absurdities, and all around groan-inducing inanity (See the comments at IMDB for a taste). The casting has a real Love Boat feel, piling up out-of-work or between-gig fading TV stars, including some very talented ones (like Andre Braugher, who plays the Army General with his heart in the right place). Will from "Will and Grace" plays the heroic journalist. Imagine Rick Berke from the New York Times fighting off special-ops assassins in the desert...

Anyway, amidst all of the other cliches, it turns out that the real villain isn't the killer space bug, but the evil land-rapers, henchmen and dirty tricksters swirling around an unpopular president. Without spoiling too much, it turns out that there's a Very Important Environmental Message at the heart of the movie which falls on deaf ears in the corridors of the Military Industrial Complex but hopefully not on the rest of us.

That’s it in a nutshell. Of all the problems Jonah listed, what bothered me the most was the “very special message.” There is no special message in The Andromeda Strain. It is anti-special message, unless that message is, “It is bad, VERY BAD, to pry open military satellites that crash in your backyard. So, don’t do it!” But that’s not really a special message, that's just plain common sense.

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