Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Andromeda Strain (1971)

Director: Robert Wise

Writers: Michael Crichton, Nelson Gidding

Composer: Gil Melle

Starring: Arthur Hill, David Wayne, James Olson, Kate Reid, Paula Kelly, George Mitchell, Ramon Bieri, Peter Hobbs, kermit Murdock, Richard O'Brien, Eric Christmas, Mark Jenkins, Peter Helm, Joe Di Reda, Carl Reindel, Ken Swofford, Frances Reid, Richard Bull, John Carter

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The picture runs 130 minutes!... The story covers 96 of the most critical hours in man's history!... The suspense will last through your lifetime!

Plot: When virtually all of the residents of Piedmont, New Mexico are found to have died after the return to Earth of a space satellite, the head of the US Air Force's Project Scoop declares an emergency. Many years prior to this incident, a group of eminent scientists led by Dr. Jeremy Stone advocated for the construction of a secure laboratory facility that would serve as a base in the event an alien biological life form was returned to Earth from a space mission. Stone and his team - Drs. Dutton, Leavitt and Hall - go to the facility, known as Wildfire and try to first isolate the life form and to determine why two people from Piedmont, an old wino and a months old baby, survived. The scientists methodically study the alien life form unaware that it has already mutated and presents a far greater danger in the lab, which is equipped with a nuclear self-destruct device should it manage to escape.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again? Maybe.

Man, this is a damn fine sci-fi thriller!  If you like hefty doses of science-based science fiction then check this out.  Yeah, it's 131 minutes long but it's taut and moves at a pretty brisk pace.  But what really makes it move is that it's so compelling. If you don't dig on science then stay away from this one because it will bore the pants off you.  There's a great scene where Dr. Ruth Leavitt is working with another Doctor (I forgot his name).  Everyone's exhausted and Ruth wants to take the shortcut into finding something while the other guy is insistent on taking the long way to be meticulous as possible.  Even though you know he's right, I loved how insistent he was and how strong his argument was to do it the proper, scientific way.  The film makers also go the long way to show what might be involved in solving a problem like this. The sets look fantastic and real.  I don't know how true to life the science is in the picture but it felt real and you didn't have young, attractive scientists (not one in the bunch) doing it, either.  This is great, intelligent sci-fi, from a decade that gave it to us in spades.  Loved it.

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