I’d been meaning to watch the 1971 film adaptation of The Andromeda Strain ever since I saw it was part of Netflix Canada‘s offerings when we signed up. I’d heard good things about it from various respected movie fans for a while, so finally, a few weeks ago, I started it.
And then, as with most movies I start after 10pm, I fell asleep. Usually, I cannot hold the movie accountable—it’s just what happens. With The Andromeda Strain, however, I’m willing to bet the film is at least somewhat to blame.
I finally finished the movie on the weekend, and if it’s one you’ve considered watching, here’s my advice: don’t start it late, don’t expect much action, and it’d help if you took one or two university science courses.
The Andromeda Strain is an adaptation of Michael Crichton’s novel of the same name. It’s considered a science fiction thriller, though would be better described as science fiction medical procedural.
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I like smart science fiction, and would rather watch a smart sci-fi flick than a mindless one any day of the week (except, maybe, Saturdays). In its time, perhaps The Andromeda Strain was considered a thriller. It does have a thrilling synopsis: a satellite crashes in a New Mexico town, and an extraterrestrial virus it contains wipes out an entire town, save for an old man and a baby. A team of scientists must then try to figure out how to stop it before it destroys all life on Earth.
The issue comes with the pacing of the film: it has none. The movie is easily 50-75% science experiments. Does something work like this in a book? It must have, otherwise it wouldn’t have been published. Did it translate when adapted for the screen? Nope.
The Andromeda Strain isn’t all bad. Like I said, I like the idea. The acting is sharp and the cinematography is clean and claustrophobic. And maybe, if I knew I was going to be watching an hour-long science experiment bookended with a couple of high-tension scenes, I likely would have enjoyed it a little more. But a conventional sci-fi thriller this is not.