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I have always been attracted by science, since my early childhood. I
remember seeing this movie and being fascinated by the science and
technology on display in it. Today, as a MSC EE, I can see that the science
in "Andromeda Strain" is accurate. In fact, it's the most accurate of all
Sci-Fi movies I have ever seen (and I have seen the great majority of Sci-Fi
That's one reason I love this movie.
But there are other, probably subjective reasosn for my adulation of "Andromeda Strain": believable people and believable situations (no "last microsecond decision/action/occurance", no over-the-top behaviour, just human quirkyness, no one-man-does-it-all but teamwork and birth of ideas) and the avoidance of the cliche of only-1-will-survive. So, yes, I liked the script a lot.
I also thought the actors were good and the setting was brilliant. I am not put off by dated computer technology: the film clearly illustrates the computing capabilities at the beginning of the '70, and I find something educative and strangely reassuring in that.
I give it 10/10, and am sad that nobody produced a Sci-Fi as scientificly accurate ever since.
And yet, you just can't help yourself. Under Robert Wise's direction, this
tale of microbiological Armageddon unfolds with such perfectly metered
suspense that by the 100th viewing, you STILL find yourself glued to your
couch. You HAVE to see how it turns out, even though you already know.
Although the film is well over 20 years old, and the computer equipment at the Wildfire laboratory shows its age, this is a perfect change-of-pace film for any movie monster fan. Heck, you've probably already let your kids see the bloody carnage in "Jurassic Park" anyway.
Instead of the usual radioactive mutated towering apparition that flattens cities and topples skyscrapers, the monster in "The Andromeda Strain" is so tiny, it takes powerful electron microscopes to see it. The average movie monster can only cause damage wherever he can stomp, smash or exhale a blast of fiery breath. Andromeda has the potential to be carried to every corner of the world by the winds, where it could conceivably wipe out all life. Try to top THAT, Godzilla!
The real star of the film is Wildfire itself. A government facility located (we thought) safely away from populated areas, it bristles with everything a microbiologist needs to avert a biological disaster. . .or does it?
Seeking an unprecedented realism, director Robert Wise insisted that everything on the set be real, from the computer terminals (with their quaint light pens) all the way to the electron microscopes. The Wildfire set is every microbiologist's dream come true and it's populated by a quartet of actors!
Since the presence of a big-name star might blunt the impact of this high-tech visual feast, Wise carefully assembled a cast of fine actors who just don't happen to be household names. Without rehashing the characterizations, we'll just say that Arthur Hill, David Wayne, James Olson and Kate Reid couldn't possibly have been more perfect for their roles. With a less competent cast, "The Andromeda Strain" could have degenerated into a parody of itself. This is gritty work, saving the world from biological annihilation. It takes real ACTORS, not just pretty-boy movie stars!
Go ahead. Be scared out of your wits by something so tiny, you can't even see it. I dare you to try and get up before it's over.
Robert Wise is an under rated director but in his body of work are such gems
as 'The Body Snatcher', 'The Set-Up', 'The Day the Earth Stood Still', 'Odds
Against Tomorrow', 'The Haunting', 'West Side Story', 'I Want to Live!' and
on its own terms, 'The Sound of Music'. He managed to make genre films more
interesting and watchable than other more celebrated directors.
'The Andromeda Strain' is an engrossing film from beginning to end. It is science fiction, alien virus comes to earth type thing, but has more depth than just that. The scientists, played very well by Arthur Hill, David Wayne, Kate Reid and James Olson, are fallible and have real emotions. Yet in them is a longing to know, to discover, to solve. Most popular cinema celebrate the fist or the gun but part of the excitement of this film is the use of the intellect to tackle the problem. Brains and not brawn is key.
The early scenes in the town of Piedmont are fascinating. Nothing dramatic, only small details adding up to a large tragedy. Restrained film making is not common but in this case it is really effective. After these scenes the film moves on as fear and wonder grip the scientists to a satisfying conclusion.
The electronic music is just right, the sets are atmospheric, the hard ware plausible and the photography simple and effective. A mention should be made of Paula Kelly as a nurse, an excellent actor and shamefully under used in films. (She is great in 'Sweet Charity' too.)In a supporting role she gives an intelligent, spirited performance.
A near perfect film. Hopefully no one will re-make it.
The Andromeda Strain is virtually perfect. And it doesn't need the special
effects of Alien to succeed in telling the similar story of alien life and
our contact with it. The movie is captivating right from the starting
credits that introduce us to story. Of course, the director had a
novel of Michael Crichton, but he also did his best to bring this novel to
the screen sacrificing neither the main idea, nor the minor details.
Actually, all the details that mark every scientific thriller by Crichton
are there in the film. The Andromeda Strain doesn't have any dinosaurs, it
only has a small virus, but overall it is a much better film than any of
Jurassic Parks. And it succeeds in telling us a great story about science
much better than some modern CGI-filled movies like Invisible
Finally, the acting is flawless, the actors are great, sets are excellent. If you want to see a great sci-fi movie, choose this one and you want be disappointed.
From the day I first saw this movie back when it first came out, it has
stuck in my mind for over 30 odd years. Kind of makes you think about
how many of the same facilities the government has and has had in
operation doing the same functions. New military toys, area 51 and on
A very well made movie that has etched itself into my mind. keeps you thinking and watching the movie keeps you glued to your seat.
I would advice anyone that has not viewed this movie to give it a shot. These same type of facilities are all over the world, the question is how many are really as secure as they were designed to be.
Just like in the movie there always could be some unknown or alien substances that cannot be contained, or might just feed on the materials used to restrain them.
I really love this film, and its funny because most people Complain
about its slow pace, but I believe that this is one of the reasons that
the film is so good, and pace does build up towards the end.
I understand that this film isn't for everybody, but I am a Michael Crichton fan, and I enjoy the way he introduces his sci-fi characters into his novels.
I agree with other user comments that this film was way before its time, and disagree with others who don't seem to be able to differentiate between the music and the sounds in the film.
The film has so many qualities, and is a must see for any sci-fi fan.
Easily - EASILY - the best film Michael Crichton has had anything to do
with. (That is, of the ones I've seen. For the record, the rest are:
`Westworld', `The First Great Train Robbery', `Disclosure', `Jurassic Park',
`Twister', and `Congo', although I've never made it to the end of `Congo'.)
Does this say something about Crichton's career, or the state of
film-making, or neither? Can't say.
Whatever - this is pretty darned good science fiction. Sure, it has the vices we've come to expect: scientists with a tendency to act like the crew of the Enterprise, and central protagonists who begin the film by swimming through treacle and end it by leaping tall buildings in a single bound. As for the former problem, well, it's not so bad here as it usually is. As for the latter, well, it's easy to forgive, because we're put through a very tense ride before our heroes crawl out of the treacle - even afterwards. They don't make films this tense these days. Or at least, this particular film would have been less tense if it had been made these days. I don't think a modern director would have resisted the temptation to goof off at some point.
THAT'S part of the charm. The film's idea of how scientists behave is rather a silly one, but at least the scientists aren't forced to act GOOFY in order to show that scientists are really human, after all - as if there was any need to show this. And I'll say this: whatever the scientists were like, the SCIENCE is much more intelligent than a modern public has any right to expect. So far as I could tell (not that I'm an expert in anything) it only stretches into fantasy when it needs to. Wise gives us information, and plenty of it - not techno-babble.
I've heard people snicker at the thirty-year-old look of the film, but I think they're nuts. The art direction is wonderful. In a way it does the same thing as the original Star Trek: it creates a coherent, claustrophobic world by force of sheer simplicity. But to see `The Andromeda Strain' is to see it done WELL.
I saw this movie quite a while ago, but it made a cracking impression on
Really if you like 60/70 sci-fi movies this is definitely the movie youve
been searching for. Brilliant camerawork ,acting, scenary. And the story
so *****in good. Its too bad they dont make these anymore nowadays.
Believe me if i tell you that im a very critical moviefanatic but this movie is really the best sci-fi movie after A space Odyssey 2001.
9+ / 10 GREAT!!!!
Well on second hand 10 / 10
The 1970s were a time before some of the "intelligentsia" of American
culture began to abandon rationality and reject science on
pseudo-ethical grounds. Unsurprisingly, then, 1970s sci-fi is often
better informed by science than the sci-fi of later decades, and it is
also often more thoughtful and intelligently written. The Andromeda
Strain is one of the best hardcore sci fi epics from a decade which
brought us such genre classics as 2001, Solyaris, Silent Running, and
the original Rollerball. Unlike most of these films, however, Andromeda
Strain does not strain believability beyond its bounds, nor does it
indulge in metaphysical tangentializing or philosophical moralizing.
Developed from what I consider to be Michael Crichton's best book, the Andromeda Strain takes its cue directly from the hard realism of that book, along with its documentary style and scientific background research. Though aspects of the plot defy biological probability, if not law, almost the entire film is plausible. Also borrowed from Crichton's writing is the general point the film attempts to make - one which is present in nearly all of Crichton's work - that along with technological advance comes risk. Fortunately, however, this story does not reach the near-paranoid levels of technophobia which sometimes appear in later works.
A great ensemble cast full of not easily recognized character actors represent a team of scientists called together to contain and manage a deadly virus-like organism which has arrived on a crashed space research probe. The virus has already wiped out an entire town, and now the scientists must work at a breakneck, sleepless, pace to determine what the organism is, how it spreads and grows, and how it can be killed or contained. Their only major clues, it seems, are an old man and a baby who survived the initial outbreak. To avoid spoilers, I will avoid any further details regarding the plot.
The only aspect of the film which really seems dated is the strange electronic soundtrack, which, at times, seems more derivative of 1950s sci-fi than more modern stuff. Suffice to say that this is one of the best uses of the 'as-it-happens' documentary film-making style. The entire film is delivered in a very refreshingly straightforward manner, with believable dialog, actors that look like real people, and a pace that builds constantly from start to finish.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Based on Michael Crichton's first novel, THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN, released in
1971, is a long but constantly intriguing science fiction drama whose
concerns verge very close to science fact.
The movie concerns a satellite that crashes back to Earth, carrying with it an unknown but deadly organism. All but two (a drunk, and an infant) of the sixty-eight residents of the tiny town of Piedmont, New Mexico have been killed by the organism. It is up to a team of scientists working at an underground lab in the Nevada desert known as Wildfire to study and, if possible, eliminate the bug.
Arthur Hill, David Wayne, James Olson, and Kate Reid are the quartet of scientists who are given the task to learn more about this space organism. At Wildfire, they have all the equipment they could possibly need, including a nuclear device that is set to go off should the lab become contaminated. They learn, however, that the bug, code-named Andromeda, actually works like a reactor, changing matter into energy and vice versa. This means that the nuclear device meant to destroy it would only enhance it and spread it all over so that the human race will never be rid of it.
The nightmare they feared comes true, as Wildfire becomes contaminated. With only a five-minute delay between activation and self-destruction, Olson is given the task to get to a shutoff switch. He struggles but manages to prevent the unthinkable...with eight seconds to spare.
Brilliantly directed by Robert Wise, whose 1951 film THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL is one of the genre's all time greats, THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN is highly entertaining and strikingly intelligent, with a suspenseful climax. The four lead actors, neither of whom were big names, do extremely good work, giving this film a realism not found in many other films of the genre. The Wildfire lab is as accurate and realistic as anything today's production designers could come up with. Furthermore, the technology doesn't seem too terribly dated despite the film's obvious age. This is because of the innovative special effects work of Douglas Trumbull (2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY), James Shourt, and Albert Whitlock (THE BIRDS).
Rated 'G', though 'PG' would be more accurate (some scenes are frightening), THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN remains a significant film of the sci-fi genre as it confronts the increasing realities about biological war and contamination. Dated or not, it is a very prescient piece.
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