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Genius Products presents
Pandemic (2007)

"We have to quarantine Los Angeles and the surrounding area."
- Dr. Kayla Martin (Tiffani Thiessen)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: March 07, 2008

Stars: Tiffani Thiessen
Other Stars: Vincent Spano, Faye Dunaway, Eric Roberts, Bruce Boxleitner, Bob Gunton, French Stewart, Michael Masse
Director: Armand Mastroianni

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 02h:48m:30s
Release Date: August 14, 2007
UPC: 796019803748
Genre: suspense thriller

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C- DB-B- C-

DVD Review

Anytime a made-for-television mini is repackaged as a standalone feature on DVD, the result is typically abysmal. The biggest problem is that the wandering excess of time-filling storylines required to pad a usually already skimpy plot into the multi-night miniseries format rarely works when it all gets sandwiched together as a movie. We, the poor viewer, are generally left with a woefully overlong project that might have made a promising 90 minutes, but instead we're left to endure runtimes that hit the three-hour mark and beyond.

The virus-on-the-loose thriller Pandemic comes close to that dangerous three-hour mark, and that is easily its biggest liability. It's just too long, especially without enough substantive story to carry it properly. The perpetually adorable Tiffani Thiessen carries a perpetually furrowed brow as Dr. Kayla Martin of the CDC, burdened with the task of getting the skinny on what comes to be known as the Riptide virus, as Los Angeles becomes full of body bags, biohazard suits and a gaggle of stiff acting and pointless sidestories. The "all-star cast" (backcover words, not mine) includes French Stewart, Bruce Boxleitner and Eric Roberts, all of whom phone in one-note characterizations, while Faye Dunaway (she did win an Oscar, after all) is the biggest sandbagger in the group, churning out a bland rendering as California's governor.

Director Armand Mastroianni is no stranger to made-for-television movies, having helmed a number of them over the years, oddly enough including the 1995 Virus, based on the Robin Cook novel. There's a definite formula for minis-turned-movies like this, and Mastroianni has the chops to flit about the Bryce and Jackie Zabel screenplay with enough familiarity to piece it all together as comfortably as possible, even as the increasing dumbness and apparent time-filling subplots threatens to collapse the whole thing. Pandemic, unfortunately, is the equivalent of stretching a knock-knock joke into a 20-minute monologue, and that's just something that Mastroianni can't make right.

Thiessen is left to hang out there as the glue to make the butt-numbing length of Pandemic work, and pure cuteness and modest cleavage can only go so far. She does, however, make short order of "big" names like Dunaway and Roberts (who should just be ashamed of themselves), but that may be perceived as one of those backhanded compliments. I may not know much, but I do know that the required end-of-the-world bleakness needed to make a contagious deadly virus movie terrifying will not come from a made-for-cable feature that debuted on the Hallmark channel.

This much I know is true.

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: D


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Pandemic comes from Genius in a so-so 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Colors and fleshtones (and let's not forget all of that coughed-up blood) appear bright, though a bit too warm in spots. Some periodic grain is evident, as are moments when grain is evident. Edges don't have the sharpness to make the transfer really pop, but the overall viewing experience is acceptable without being anything but average.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Only one audio choice, and it's Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. Not an overly aggressive presentation, it does deliver clear voice quality with minimal surround activity.

Serviceable but unremarkable.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 17 cues
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Marco Polo, Son Of The Dragon
2 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray with slipcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Slipcover fans unite, as this release features one with an embossed title. The front cover artwork matches the inner case art, while the back images are dramatically different.

There's a pair of generic "making of" featurettes, beginning with Discovering Pandemic (10m:57s) and ending with Interviews With The Cast (13m:45s). Both feature clips from the film, intercut with the sort of congratulatory observations we've all heard countless times before. But darn if that Tiffani Thiessen ain't purty.

The disc is cut into a thin 17 chapters (a little light for a feature pushing the three-hour mark), with no subtitle options.

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

This made-for-television virus miniseries has the insurmountable task of surviving the weight of its own 02h:48m:30s runtime packaged now as a standalone feature. And that's all but impossible. An engaging plot concept is stretched too far, with too much unnecessary outbursts of lazy screenwriting.


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