Andromeda Strain, The (1971)

The Andromeda Strain (1971), produced and directed by Robert Wise.

A returning space probe brings back a deadly alien organism: it wipes out an entire desert town almost instantly, turning human blood into powder. Luckily the best and brightest have prepared for this and assemble a team of scientists in the usual super-secret underground base. Take care: a nuclear bomb is on hand to correct any mistakes they make. Meanwhile, out in the world, things are not going according to plan...

Michael Crichton's first book was phenomenally successful; it was serialized in my home town paper. That made sense at the time but I'm no longer sure why. Maybe the high-tech space race had prepared people for a science mystery procedural, or perhaps it was dark forebodings about biological warfare.

I remember this one fondly but it hasn't worn very well. As nostalgia, sure, but even as such the slow, deliberate pace is a problem. The scientists are methodical and that is part of the detection procedural, but we can take only so much of their obvious pride in new gadgetry: a CAT scanner! Light pen! Interactive computer with natural language expert system! It's not wrong to be dated (how could it be otherwise?) but a certain amount of "stuff" is enough.


Available on Blu-ray. My thumbnails are from an all-region German import. Black levels are poor.