Combustible Celluloid
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With: Arthur Hill, David Wayne, James Olson, Kate Reid
Written by: Nelson Gidding, based on the novel by Michael Crichton
Directed by: Robert Wise
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 131
Date: 03/12/1971

The Andromeda Strain (1971)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Deep Space

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Director Robert Wise takes the empty, sterile widescreen frame that deadened his musicals West Side Story and The Sound of Music and applies it to this cold, futuristic science fiction story -- based on a novel by Michael Crichton -- and it works. When a satellite crashes to earth and brings with it a new form of life, a group of four scientists must figure out before it's too late what it is and why it's killing people.

Wise and screenwriter Nelson Gidding focus on the details and the science of the story, giving it a natural suspense that nearly holds up for the entire 131 minutes. As a director, Wise was clearly inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey and would go on to use a similar style in his under-appreciated Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The Andromeda Strain received Oscar nominations for Best Art Direction and Editing. Universal's good-looking DVD also comes with a new making-of featurette.

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