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|S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r|
The Andromeda Strain [Blu-ray]
(Robert Wise, 1971)
Review by Gary Tooze / Colin Zavitz
Video: Koch Media / Universal Video / Arrow
Region: FREE (both) / FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Runtime: 2:10:37.454 / 2:10:44.211 / 2:10:38.205
Disc Size: 32,850,934,644 bytes / 38,969,456,361 bytes / 49,126,617,127 bytes
Feature Size: 28,163,776,512 bytes / 36,031,156,224 bytes / 38,364,545,472 bytes
Video Bitrate: 24.99 Mbps / 32.98 Mbps / 34.82 Mbps
Chapters: 12 / 20 / 14
Case: Steelbook Blu-ray case / Standard Blu-ray case / Transparent case
Release date: April 17th, 2014 / July 14th, 2015 / June 3rd, 2019
Video (all three):
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
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)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1830 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1830 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps /
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
German, English, none
English (SDH), French, none
• Making of... (30:04 in English with optional German
The Andromeda Strain: Making the Film (30:08)
Audio commentary by critic
A Portrait of Michael Crichton,
an archive featurette from 2001 directed by Laurent
Bouzereau and featuring an interview with author Michael
Crichton. Focuses on author michael c and how he came to
write the original 1969 novel (12:33)
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.
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.
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.
The new Universal is a tad more robust than the Koch - a shade darker, with richer colors (reds) but aside from that it is very similar. Discerning fans will notice - most buyers won't. I believe the Universal to be the superior and most accurate image - but not by a lot.
Arrow present "The Andromeda Strain" on a dual-layered, Region FREE, Blu-ray. This is an all new restoration by Arrow Films from a 4K scan of the original camera negative, with a maxed out bitrate. The 2.35:1 1080p Arrow image certainly bests the Koch and Universal Blu-rays with this new restoration. Right off the bat, there is a noticeable increase in the amount of discernible details within the image, enhancing the split focus diopter shots. There is slightly less information on all sides of the frame, though the Arrow seems to be more correctly framed to my eyes. Skintones gain a natural warmth, where they were once yellow/orange and less authentic. Black levels are also much deeper, showing a richer color spectrum amidst a consistent amount of film-like grain.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
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.
Like the video, the Universal audio is more, slightly, robust - Gil Melle's score is intense. It is the same DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel lossless choice. The Universal is also region FREE - and offers optional English (SDH) and French subtitles.
Arrow have featured the original uncompressed mono audio, newly remastered for this release in 24-bit linear PCM 1.0 mono. Gil Melle's score sounds better than ever here, especially when compared to the Koch and Universal Blu-ray's lossless tracks. There are optional English SDH subtitles on this Region FREE Blu-ray from Arrow Video.
NOTE: The 'ticker-tape-style' location etc. in the beginning of the film (replaced by subtitles on the Euro DVD) is intact on all three Blu-rays:
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.
The same extras as on the German Blu-ray (Making of..., Portrait of Michael Crichton) - but the Euro Blu-ray also includes a superfluous gallery and German trailer.
Stacked. There is an optional audio commentary by critic Bryan Reesman. "A New Strain of Science Fiction" is a 28-minute newly-filmed appreciation by critic Kim Newman. "The Andromeda Strain: Making The Film" and "A Portrait of Michael Crichton" are the same featurettes that appeared on the 2 previous Blu-rays, same with the trailer. Also included here are TV and radio spots and an image gallery featuring promotional and behind the scenes material. Definitely one of the most innovative bonus features that I have seen in a while is the "Cinescript Gallery", where you can read the original shooting script by Nelson Gidding, illustrated with diagrams and production designs to form a "cinescript". The full 192-page document as a PDF file on the BD-ROM folder of this disc, and also accessible through the extras menu, using your next chapter button to scroll through the pages. There is also an illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Peter Tonguette and archive publicity materials. The Blu-ray packaging also holds a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Corey Brickley.
Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Technically, Universal win, but not by a significant margin. For those that love the steel book cases - the Koch Blu-ray is still a viable option. I might even put this Universal Blu-ray IN the Koch case. :)The film gets better each time I see it - measured, intelligent and scary. A strong part of any sci-fi lovers home theater library.
If you patiently waited for a complete Blu-ray of "The Andromeda Strain" then consider yourself fortunate as the the Arrow is the definitive edition. The image and audio quality is significantly better here. And I look forward to diving into the commentary from Bryan Reesman plus the other extensive supplements.
April 23rd, 2014
July 7th, 2015
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.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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