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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Andromeda Strain [Blu-ray]

 

(Robert Wise, 1971)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Universal

Video: Koch Media

 

Disc:

Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:10:37.454

Disc Size: 32,850,934,644 bytes

Feature Size: 28,163,776,512 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.99 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Steelbook Blu-ray case

Release date: April 17th, 2014

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DUB: DTS-HD Master Audio German 1063 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1063 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1058 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1058 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)

 

Subtitles:

German, English, none

 

Extras:

Making of... (30:04 in English with optional German subtitles)
• A Portrait of Michael Crichton (12:34 in English with optional German subtitles)
• German Trailer (3:01)
• English Trailer (3:17)
• Gallery (9:58)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: The "Andromeda Strain" is a deadly extraterrestrial virus. It is brought to Earth when a research satellite crashes near a tiny Arizona town. Everyone in the community dies within days, except for a baby and an "insulated" drunkard. Recruited from labs all over North America, doctors Charles Dutton (David Wayne), Jeremy Stone (Arthur Hill), Ruth Leavitt (Kate Reid), and Mark Hall (James Olson) don radiation suits and race against time to isolate and destroy the virus. The film is based on a novel by Michael Crichton.

 

 

The Film:

After a space satellite launched by the United States as part of a top-secret biological research project code-named SCOOP crashes near the small town of Piedmont, New Mexico, two military recovery technicians arrive. When the men report their discovery of two dead bodies to Vandenburg Air Force Base mission control, they are ordered to return immediately, but the controllers then lose contact with the men. A reconnaissance photography flight over Piedmont reveals dead bodies scattered throughout the small town, prompting duty officer Maj. Arthur Manchek to declare a state of emergency and summon a special scientific investigative team that includes pathologist Dr. Charles Dutton, microbiologist Dr. Ruth Leavitt and surgeon and blood chemistry expert Dr. Mark Hall, led by Nobel Prize-winning biologist Dr. Jeremy Stone. Stone is privately briefed on SCOOP, created by the army's Biological Research Division to collect organisms existing in outer space that could be used as potential biological weapons. The morning after the satellite crash, Stone and Hall, wearing protective gear, are flown by helicopter to Piedmont. Examining several bodies, they conclude that some victims died quickly while others appeared to have had mental breakdowns before dying. As the pair proceeds through the town, Hall notices a car accident victim whose injuries did not bleed. The men track the satellite to the town doctor's office, where Stone is indignant to find the capsule has been opened. Hall then inspects the dead physician and when he cuts the man's arm, powdered blood pours out, revealing clotting throughout the entire system.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

Amid this, Michael Crichton was a prophet of anti-science sounding single-note polemics about the dangers of rampant technology. A weird dichotomy runs through Michael Crichton’s work. He loves technology – his books come heavily researched and filled with graphs and diagrams. Indeed, the science and detail in Crichton’s books always eclipses his human characters, which are wooden. Yet for all his impressive flourishes of hard science, Michael Crichton is a rampant technological alarmist who fears that we have created systems that have become so sophisticated that they are going to go out of control and destroy us. For all the scientific detail that goes into The Andromeda Strain, it is also a very pessimistic film. The story is filled with dark ironies – like the amazing hi-tech biological containment bunker nearly being destroyed by something as small as a piece of ticker tape caught in the printer and then nearly blown up by its own safety procedures where a nuclear device cannot be turned off due to a lack of off-switch stations caused by uncompleted construction.

Excerpt from Moria  located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The Andromeda Strain makes it to 'Region FREE' Blu-ray from Koch Media in Germany. The image quality is very impressive from the bright, tight colors to the strong detail and frequent depth. It is neither glossy nor flat but shows some pleasant textures. Effects don't appear transparent or dated in any way via the higher resolution. The 2.35:1 aspect ratio, 1080P, transfer is a wonderful replication of the theatrical appearance some 44-years hence. This dual-layered Blu-ray has a solid bitrate for the 2 1/4 hour feature and looks consistent, clean and very adept in HD. I was surprised with the strong transfer appearance.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Koch offer the audio via a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel in original English at 1058 kbps, as well as a similarly robust, optional, German DUB. Effects have some buoyancy and depth. The electronic score is odd and memorable by Gil Melle (The Deliberate Stranger, 7 episodes of Kolchak the Night Stalker and Frankenstein: The True Story.) it was rooted in pitched radio and computers beeps, somewhat reminiscent of the film Forbidden Planet. I frequently thought of a Lava-Lamp. The lossless rendering adds an eerie intensity to the soundtrack giving the film a further sci-fi-creepy edge. There are fully optional English and German subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a Region Free playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

NOTE: The 'ticker-tape-style' location etc. in the beginning of the film (replaced by subtitles on the Euro DVD) is intact on this Blu-ray:

 

 

Extras :

Included in the supplements are a 1/2 hour Making of... (in English with optional German subtitles) and it is vintage - I think the same one on the 2003 DVD. It has Robert Wise and others including special F/X guru Douglas Trumbull discussing the production. There is also a 12-minute A Portrait of Michael Crichton - also in English with optional German subtitles. It was made in 2001 by Laurent Bouzereau. It chronicles his early career as a writer, leading up to his writing of the best-selling novel "The Andromeda Strain" and his involvement with the making of the film. NOTE: Michael Crichton makes a cameo appearance in a non-speaking role during the scene where Dr. Hall is told to break scrub because he has to report to the Wildfire research facility. There is also both German and English language trailers and a lengthy slideshow gallery.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
The Andromeda Strain received indifferent reviews upon release but its stature has grown into somewhat of a science-fiction classic. This is definitely a thinking man's feature with limited action/adventure development. I loved every minute of the Blu-ray. Something about Robert Wise's deliberate pace and style make this a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Brilliant. We embrace the region FREE'dom and strongly endorse! 

Gary Tooze

April 23rd, 2014

 


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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