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What’s it About?

A satellite crashes in New Mexico, prompting scientists to race against the clock to stop a deadly virus from spreading in this Oscar-nominated sci-fi classic based on Michael Crichton’s novel of the same name.

“The Andromeda Strain”

Directed by Robert Wise

8 out of 10

By Vic

When I reviewed “Somebody Up There Likes Me”  I lauded director Robert Wise for his phenomenal diversity in tackling the many genres that make up the pantheon of Hollywood films. I applaud Robert Wise once more for taking on what Stanley Kubrick had only done until “The Andromeda Strain.” The cerebral sci-fi film was released in 1971 and is based on the gripping novel of the same name by the late Michael Crichton. Wise proves that when he is at the reins, whatever the genre is, he can diligently and capably handle the material. Wise has been known to be a perfectionist like Kubrick and with “Strain” he proves that he can go toe to toe with Stanley himself with heady sci fi themes and story. The result is a solid, smart and satisfying movie with a very real premise that chills and terrifies.

In fact it seems as if 2001 and Strain are almost polar opposites in design. 2001 is about mankind’s expansion and Strain is about the demise of man from a strong, super-bad virus from outer space. It comes piggy backed via a satellite that crashes and wipes out an entire town, save but only an infant and an old man. The film follows the book closely and Robert Wise allows no pretention. There is a race on to catch a super germ from outer space and the feds need the scientists to catch it. We get very straight talking scientists and straight talking G-men in this cold and calculating geek-fest.

There are many great elements, such as the art direction, which was nominated for an Oscar. Like MGM’s “Forbidden Planet” (soon to be reviewed), it has a complete electronic score by Gil Melle that is very cold and eerie. Composition and color stand out amazingly much like his work on Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Andromeda Strain is a great sci fi medical thriller but it’s possible scenario is what makes it so real and threatening. It hits home with many fans of the virus outbreak thrillers. Full of suspense and surprise I highly recommend “The Andromeda Strain.”

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