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The Andromeda Strain Blu-ray Review

Written by ZigZag

Blu-ray released by Arrow Video

The Andromeda Strain Blu Ray Large

Directed by Robert Wise
Written by Nelson Gidding (based on the novel by Michael Crichton)
1971, 131 minutes, Rated G
Released on June 4th, 2019

Starring:
Arthur Hill as Dr. Jeremy Stone
David Wayne as Dr. Charles Dutton
James Olson as Dr. Mark Hall
Kate Reid as Dr. Ruth Leavitt
Paula Kelly as Karen Anson
George Mitchell as Jackson
Richard O’Brien as Grimes

The Andromeda Strain 01 The Andromeda Strain 02

Review:

In the small desert community of Piedmont, New Mexico, a government satellite falls to earth, killing everyone in town instantly – except for a crying baby and an elderly man. The satellite and the two survivors are transported for study to a Top Secret underground facility known as Project Wildfire. A team of scientists is assembled, including pathologist Dr. Charles Dutton; grumpy microbiologist Dr. Ruth Leavitt; surgeon and blood chemistry expert Dr. Mark Hall and the team’s leader, Nobel Prize-winning biologist Dr. Jeremy Stone. Stone is briefed by the government on the presence of an alien microbe code-named Andromeda, that contaminated the satellite. Their job is to study the deadly bacterium, isolate it and find a cure and also find out why the survivors are unaffected. As an added fail-safe, the lab contains a nuclear self-destruct mechanism to prevent the spread of infection in case of an outbreak.

What follows is a meticulous look at the scientific process as the team spends the next four days analyzing both Andromeda and the survivors. They painstakingly follow the clues, studying endless amounts of data to find a solution. Outside the lab, the threat of the contagion spreading grows while the government delays the order to burn the infected town until the team reports its results. Our scientists work around the clock looking for answers as the pressure mounts with every passing hour. The lab is 1970s state-of-the-art with its computer systems, robotic arms, sterile clean rooms and added levels of security. Technology is not always reliable, however, and a single error may cost us more than we can afford. Pray the team gets this right and figures out what the hell is going on in time.

Science fiction films of the 1950s spotlighted the idea of aliens coming to Earth to wipe out the human race. Many terrestrial threats were embodied by radiation and the nuclear era, but the threat from outer space was equally popular. Jump ahead twenty years and there’s more science fact than fiction at play here. The Andromeda Strain marks the beginning of a new wave of pandemic outbreak pictures with a lot of emphasis on math and science. The film is stunning visually but plays like a documentary until the final moments. Director Robert Wise (The Body Snatcher) knows how to build suspense and stretches the tension to its breaking point many times over. In addition to being a stellar director, Wise is also an accomplished editor (Citizen Kane) who is a master of timing. Andromeda is a slow-boil story that steadily builds until it explodes with a high-stakes ending that stands up against most contemporary thrillers.

The Andromeda Strain 03 The Andromeda Strain 04

Based on the bestselling novel by Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park), this is a well-realized character study of people working together under extreme circumstances. The details can be a bit overwhelming, but audience patience will be rewarded before the credits roll. Both the book and the film open with a title card claiming this to be a true story carefully transcribed from government records. This is of course all bullshit, but it sets the mood straightaway. The screenplay written by Nelson Gidding (The Haunting) is faithful to the book and improves upon the original ending. Wise thoughtfully cast unfamiliar names and faces in the roles to keep events grounded without a clear hero or survivor in the mix. The sets designed by Boris Leven (West Side Story) are futuristic and clean and visually dazzling. Cinematographer Richard H. Kline (Star Trek: The Motion Picture) fills the widescreen frame with stunning compositions and creative lighting.

The Andromeda Strain is a study of the process of how things work, laying out the details in full, coaxing audience trust before ripping away their safety net. The picture went on to influence countless successors in the outbreak/pandemic subgenre and its style remains relevant today. Sure the equipment is outdated and there’s too much exposition getting the scientists into the sterile lab environment, but everything else works. As intense as this movie is, I have no idea how it got a G rating release, but trust me when I say it left me haunted.

The Andromeda Strain 05 The Andromeda Strain 06

Video and Audio:

The original camera negative has received a 4K scan and has been meticulously restored and the results are gorgeous. This new transfer, presented in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio is vastly superior to Universal’s 2015 Blu-ray release, with strong colors, rich black levels and plenty of small object detail.

A remastered LPCM 1.0 mono track gets the job done with well-balanced music and effects cues. This is a dialogue-heavy film and levels are clean and free from hiss or other distortion.

Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.

The Andromeda Strain 07 The Andromeda Strain 08

Special Features:

Film critic Bryan Reesman provides a thoughtful audio commentary filled with facts and trivia that seldom let up. He shares a lot of personal asides that make the track more engaging and has a lot to say about this production.

Critic/historian Kim Newman provides a video appreciation in A New Strain of Science Fiction (28 minutes), in which he reflects on the history of viral outbreak films. He discusses the origins of the plague story in cinema citing numerous works dating back to the 1950s, including his affinity for some guilty pleasure made-for-TV exploitation contagion pictures of the 1980s and ‘90s. He talks about Michael Crichton’s writing and Robert Wise’s directing style and injects his opinion of the entire pandemic subgenre. Newman is always engaging and his presence here is most welcome.

The Andromeda Strain: Making the Film (30 minutes) is an archival featurette from 2001featuring interviews with Robert Wise, screenwriter Nelson Gidding, special effects artist Douglas Trumbull and author Michael Crichton. This documentary gets into the nuts and bolts behind bringing the novel to the big screen and is definitely worth checking out.

Author Michael Crichton sits down for the vintage interview segment A Portrait of Michael Crichton (13 minutes). He reflects on his early days as a medical student writing novels under an alias before deciding to pen Andromeda under his own name. He reveals how the book came together and what it was like watching it turn into a best seller with critical acclaim.

The Cinescript Gallery is a collection of highlights from the annotated and illustrated shooting script by Nelson Gidding featuring diagrams and production designs for added insight. This feature is also included as a PDF file for your BD-ROM.

Marketing materials include the theatrical trailer, TV spots and radio spots.

There are two image galleries, the first featuring production stills (119 images) and the second showcasing publicity artwork (56 images).

The Andromeda Strain 09 The Andromeda Strain 10

Grades:

Movie: Fourstars The Andromeda Strain Blu Ray Small
Buy Amazon Us
The Andromeda Strain Blu Ray Small
Buy Amazon Uk
Video: Fourandahalfstars
Audio: Fourstars
Features: Fourstars
Overall: Fourstars

About The Author
ZigZag
Author: ZigZag
Staff Writer
ZigZag's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
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