The Andromeda Strain on Blu-ray Special Edition – The DVDfever Review

The Andromeda Strain
The Andromeda Strain is yet another one of those classics from yesteryear which has completely passed me by until its seen the light of day as a Special Edition Blu-ray, so it’s always pleasing to see such a movie for the first time in that form.

A satellite has crashed down and a team have to retrieve it, but the town where its landed is eerily quiet… and things don’t go too well. That’s because there’s a mysterious virus which is causing a bit of bother… it’s killed a lot of people, and led to the blood of the dead all clotting to sand, and could the situation be due to our desire, at the time, to explore space? (which seems to have been abandoned for some time)

However, at around 22:18, when the camera focuses on a priest who has collapsed on the church steps, the actor actually opens his eyes JUST at the wrong moment. Was that left in for a bet? 😀

An odd-man hypothesis has been formed, where the place itself can automatically self-destruct if it thinks infection has got out, but it would give one individual the chance to call it off in the event that was necessary, and he’ll have just five minutes to do so, by inserting his key, although given how complex it looks to arm the machine in the first place – as is shown with turning a dial back and forth, and then twisting the key a few times – you’d have thought they’d give the guy a trial run so he’s not floundering at the critical moment…. and I wrote those words BEFORE I realised quite how much floundering can occur!

Oh, and the man was picked because he’s single, and single men were chosen above women and anyone who’s married, presumably because they have a lot less to lose.

When the future looks like both the past AND the future…

In The Andromedia Strain, this is a world where all documents are top secret, and going by the close-ups, they can only be read by men who haven’t cut their fingernails for some time, nor cleaned under them… ewww…

There’s also lots of Brian De Palma-style shots where faces are close-up to the camera with a split shot showing both the face in the foreground, and whatever else is in the background, but both in focus.

It’s a very slow-moving film, since up to the halfway point, the analysis of what’s caused the virus hasn’t begun – there’s a ton of time spent simply with the team being disinfected over several storeys in the building they’re descending, and a building where proper food is replaced by space-age liquids which supply all of your daily dietary requirements. However, when they do start the analysis, the film feels like it goes at a snail’s pace, as they get right into the nitty gritty and it becomes as complex to grasp how David Attenborough keeps banging on about “man-made global warming” when his carbon footprint is bigger than anyone else’s.

Since I hadn’t seen this before, I assumed we’d get part-scientific analysis, and part-everything kicking off big-time, since you usually get the latter in a lot of films like this, but… not at all, here.

As this was released in 1971, it looks BOTH futuristic AND dated. There’s a palm print analyser which allows you to gain entry into a top secret agricultural station named Wildfire, where all the samples of toxic gubbins are also analysed, and in a building which has curved walls, but given that it’s a government building, they’ll have spent the minimum amount possible on the construction, so the walls would normally be traditionally straight and vertical.

On the downside, pretty much everyone in this film seems to now be dead in real life, but on the plus side, I love Dr Ruth’s (Kate Reid, see top pic) endless sarcasm.

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When it comes to the picture, outdoor shots leave a fair bit to be desired as there’s grain on the print which Arrow won’t have been able to shift. This happens fairly often with old films. Indoor shots tend to look better, but, you can’t go back and redo on digital film.

The sound is in mono and is fine without any issues, but as it’s mono, nothing’s going to pop out at you.

I’ll go into more detail about the extras very soon, but in the meantime, here’s a brief run-down of what’s on the disc:

  • Audio commentary by critic Bryan Reesman
  • A New Strain of Science Fiction, a newly-filmed appreciation by critic Kim Newman
  • The Andromeda Strain: Making The Film, an archive featurette from 2001 directed by Laurent Bouzereau and featuring interviews with director Robert Wise and screenwriter Nelson Gidding
  • A Portrait of Michael Crichton, an archive featurette from 2001 directed by Laurent Bouzereau and featuring an interview with author Michael Crichton
  • Cinescript Gallery, highlights from the annotated and illustrated shooting script by Nelson Gidding
  • Theatrical trailer, TV spots and radio spots
  • Image gallery
  • BD-ROM: PDF of the 192-page cinescript with diagrams and production designs
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Corey Brickley
  • FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Peter Tonguette and archive publicity materials

The menu features a piece of the theme mixed with clips from the film, there are subtitles in English and the bog-standard 12 chapters.

The Andromeda Strain is released today on Blu-ray Special Edition.

The Andromeda Strain – Theatrical Trailer

coming soon
OVERALL coming soon

Detailed specs:

Running time: 131 minutes
Year: 1971
Distributor: Arrow Films
Released: June 3rd 2019
Chapters: 12 FCD1905
Sound: DTS 1.0 HD Master Audio (Mono)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Panavision)
Disc Format: BD50

Director: Robert Wise
Producer: Robert Wise
Novel: Michael Crichton
Screenplay: Nelson Gidding
Music: Gil Mellé

Dr. Jeremy Stone: Arthur Hill
Dr. Charles Dutton: David Wayne
Dr. Mark Hall: James Olson
Dr. Ruth Leavitt: Kate Reid
Karen Anson: Paula Kelly
Jackson: George Mitchell
Major Manchek: Ramon Bieri
Dr. Robertson: Kermit Murdock
Grimes: Richard O’Brien
General Sparks: Peter Hobbs