the andromeda strainUniversal Pictures
1971
PG

“Fools!  They refuse to believe life exists in meteorites.  I showed them at the astrophysics conference what I just showed you.  But no!  Even with a microscope they are blind!  What do I have to do?  Hit them over the head?”

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 alien illness that sprang from the probe has already killed most of those living near the crash site, and now it’s up to a team of scientists to stop it.

Working through the list of movies that I could never seem to get around to watching, The Andromeda Strain was one in a list of highly recommended sci-fi movies I’ve always been meaning to check out, but held back mainly because it was released at a time when sci-fi movies were all serious and bleak, before Star Wars came and made it fun and exciting again.

Based on a novel by Michael Crichton, a man whose novels I can never seem to make past the halfway point, The Andromeda Strain was not what I expected it to be.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing in this instance; but initially, going by the movie info blurb gleaned from the Net Flix, I was expecting the standard Plague From Beyond The Stars thriller kinda sci-fi thing. Eh, blame it on the era I grew up in, where sci-fi movies were barely more than action movies set in space / in the future / an alternate dimension / shrunken down inside some guy’s circulatory system.

The Andromeda Strain is really what you would call Hard Sci-Fi, which essentially means it’s less whimsical and more science fact.  It’s science fiction by and for those who aren’t too keen on the “fiction” aspect.

So, what we have with The Andromeda Strain is a 2+ hour movie that is mostly spent watching and listening to scientists study and theorize as to the nature of this deadly disease that literally fell from the sky.  There’s approximately ten minutes or so of actual thrilling moments; the rest of the time, we’re following around the scientists checking out this thing.

On the outset, yes, this does sound as interesting as a 4-hour lecture on the sexual reproductive habits of the common household dust mite, but what keeps this from becoming…well, that, is the chemistry between the scientists stuck in the underground government lab studying this thing.  They all are from different ages, backgrounds and ideologies in their chosen field, which does tend to make the dynamics rather interesting.  The pacing didn’t seem to drag too much, and it also helps that I am rather a bit fascinated by technical aspects of…stuff.  Yeah.

In the end, I did enjoy The Andromeda Strain.  From what I understand, there’s mention of a remake floating around that is more or less a redundant update.  Eh, don’t think I need to watch that one any time soon.  By the way, don’t let the PG rating fool you, there is a bit of non-sexual nudity, and some disturbing images that would land an easy PG-13 had it been released a bit more recently or so.  Otherwise, The Andromeda Strain is a pretty good piece of old school sci-fi, and comes recommended by your ol’ Uncle NecRo.

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