I remember as a little kid reading The Andromeda Strain. I was pretty young when I read it, and it took me a long time to get through it, but I recollect liking it. The ending was intense, and you didn’t know what was going to happen. The book was written by Michael Crichton in 1969 and Crichton used his educational knowledge of medical science to write a powerful and terrifying novel about a deadly strain that could conceivably end humankind and the scientists who try to figure out how to stop it. Only a few years later, director Robert Wise (The Body Snatcher) adapted Crichton’s novel to the big screen and the result is a stunning and riveting tale that doesn’t deviate too far from the source material, yet still manages to leave even the people that read the book on the edge of their seats.
A quick synopsis: a satellite carrying an alien matter crash lands near a town, and everyone around the area suddenly drops dead. Scientists are called in to collect the satellite and research the alien substance to find out what transpired and how they can stop it.
The Andromeda Strain clocks in at 131mins and not one of those minutes is wasted time. Robert Wise shoots the film at a quick pace, utilizing split-screen scenes brilliantly to move the film along so you never become bored. Because the film focuses so much on the scientists and the technology they use to figure out the alien bacteria, there is a possibility of science gobbledygook to overwhelm the audience, bringing you out of the story. Thankfully, the film cuts through all of that nonsense and serves up stuff that won’t have you scratching your head or laughing at “fake science.” Everything feels real, and there isn’t one time where you think something seems farfetched. This allows the tension to be ratcheted up quite high as we near the pulse-pounding ending.
My only critique of The Andromeda Strain comes into play during a scene that was left unexplained. A pilot crashes his plane after the rubber on his face mask disintegrates due to the andromeda virus. The military discovers the crash and only finds bones stripped of flesh. It is assumed the virus ate through his flesh as well, but when events transpire later, the virus no longer eats through human flesh, yet still can eat through the rubber seals. This leaves a gaping plothole. Maybe I missed something. Nevertheless, that is the only complaint I have with this fantastic flick.
I am so happy that Arrow Video has released The Andromeda Strain on Blu-ray. They usually do a wonderful job and this time around is no different. Arrow Video has restored the film by scanning the original camera negative at 4K and the results are phenomenal. Comparing this release against previous Blu-ray releases shows a vast improvement in colour, film grain, shadows, and details which pop. The original uncompressed mono audio has also been newly restored and I noticed zero issues. Optional English subtitles have been provided.
The Andromeda Strain has been exclusively restored by Arrow Films and is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with mono audio.
The original 35mm camera negative was scanned in 4K resolution on a Lasergraphics Director at EFilm, Burbank. The film was graded on Digital Vision’s Nucoda Film Master and restored at R3Store Studios in London.
The original mono mix was remastered from the optical negatives at Deluxe Audio Services, Hollywood.
All materials for this restoration were made available by NBC Universal.
A new extra feature included on the disc is a 28-minute appreciation of the film by Kim Newman. He talks about other similar films in the genre but does spend a good portion talking about The Andromeda Strain. It’s an entertaining sitdown. Another neat addition is the Cinescript Gallery which shows highlights from the shooting script with illustrations. We also get a newly recorded audio commentary with Bryan Reesman, who provides an enlightening and highly informative look at the film.
NEW Restoration from a 4k scan of the original camera negative
NEW Audio Commentary by Bryan Reesman
NEW A New Strain of Science Fiction, a newly-filmed appreciation by critic Kim Newman (28:02)
NEW Cinescript Gallery, highlights from the annotated and illustrated shooting script by Nelson Gidding
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 (30:08)
A Portrait of Michael Crichton, an archive featurette from 2001 directed by Laurent Bouzereau and featuring an interview with author Michael Crichton (12:33)
NEW BD-ROM: PDF of the 192-page “cinescript” with diagrams and production designs
NEW Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Corey Brickley
NEW, FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Peter Tonguette and archive publicity materials
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Peter Tonguette and archive publicity materials
The Andromeda Strain gives viewers an intense and highly enjoyable movie-watching experience. If you haven’t seen the film yet, your best bet is picking up the stellar looking Blu-ray from Arrow Video.