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The Andromeda Strain
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Andromeda Strain More at IMDbPro »

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109 out of 125 people found the following review useful:

A Sci-Fi with a capital "S".

10/10
Author: haggar
22 May 2004

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 cinema).

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.

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82 out of 92 people found the following review useful:

You alread know how it ends

Author: Joe Ekaitis from From Television City in Hollywood!, no, uh, Rialto, California
13 December 1999

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.

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74 out of 82 people found the following review useful:

Near Perfect

9/10
Author: henry-girling from London, England
20 March 2003

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.

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70 out of 79 people found the following review useful:

The finest example of how to make science-fiction movies

8/10
Author: Danila Medvedev
23 December 2002

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 brilliant 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 the Jurassic Parks. And it succeeds in telling us a great story about science much better than some modern CGI-filled movies like Invisible Man.

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.

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50 out of 65 people found the following review useful:

Gripping

9/10
Author: Spleen from Canberra, Australia
19 May 2000

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.

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52 out of 69 people found the following review useful:

Excellent, and ahead of its time.

10/10
Author: ptmail (ptmail@msn.com) from Beaverton, Oregon
22 September 2004

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 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.

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42 out of 50 people found the following review useful:

Love this film

10/10
Author: mentalist from London, England
28 September 2004

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.

9/10

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46 out of 63 people found the following review useful:

well what a surprise this is!

Author: gerrit-jan (gerritjankoster@hotmail.com) from Amsterdam
18 January 2004

I saw this movie quite a while ago, but it made a cracking impression on me. 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 is 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

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28 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

Great hardcore sci-fi. Crichton's best

9/10
Author: mstomaso from Vulcan
3 July 2005

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.

Highly recommended.

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30 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

They wouldn't make it today

Author: Robert J. Maxwell (rmax304823@yahoo.com) from Deming, New Mexico, USA
7 May 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It reminds me a bit of "The Forbin Project" in that it presents us with a puzzle that needs solving by intellectual means, and with a problem that has momentous overtones. They wouldn't make it today. Look at the cast. Arthur HILL? Kate REID? They'd need DeCaprio and Roberts at least. And "angstrom units"? And not a single gun or punch in the mouth? And the bomb doesn't EXPLODE? No, no, no -- all wrong.

Well, the movie IS dated, true, but not in ways that count. I can handle the fact that clerks still use typewriters instead of PCs. I can live with the awe that is supposed to be instilled in us when we watch somebody use the mechanical hands. And the references to "love ins", and "SDS", and "protest marches," and the notion that the collection of deadly organisms from space may have been deliberately carried out by the DOD. (I forget who objected to that implication but I don't find it the least implausible, not anymore.)

The story proceeds logically, step by step, through the introduction of the characters (with Kate Reid providing some welcome Thelma-Ritter-type comic relief), the introduction of the organism (if that's the proper word), and the identification of its nature. Never for a moment does the script lapse into mumbo-jumbo. We're never lost. We always know who's doing what, and why.

And in the age of ebola, AIDS, and SARS, I think we can forget about the fact that some of the technology is dated, because the issue certainly isn't.

On the other hand, I wish the end had never come, because the movie completely implodes during its last ten minutes or so, by deus ex machina. I mean, here these guys are, working like hell to solve a problem, and when they're just about to do it, the problem goes away by itself and is completely forgotten. Instead we have a conventional chase scene. Can James Olsen stop the nuclear device from detonating, while alarm bells ring and a recorded voice counts down the minutes and seconds, and automatic lasers are shooting at him? Are you kidding? The Wildfire station may not be destroyed but the heretofor well-constructed story is.

Still, this is worth seeing, for a number of different reasons. One of the main ones is that they so rarely make 'em like this anymore.

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