From outer space has come a disease, a germ attached to a satellite, which has killed nearly every person in a tiny American town. The satellite is removed to a laboratory where the brainy scientists in The Andromeda Strain (1971) speedily learn about it and naturally hope to neutralize it. The film, by Robert Wise, suggests that without scientific development we go nowhere but, as well, we don’t always need it for the survival of humanity. (It can ensure something altogether different.)
Based on a Michael Crichton novel, Andromeda is obsessed with laboratory technology and carries dramatic punch. Thus, to me, it is engrossing. The trauma and contingency that James Wood says exist in Ian McEwan’s fiction are here in full force. I disagree with Pauline Kael that the chief characters are “dull” but, like her, I frown on the fact that the melodramatic climax has nothing to do with the central dilemma. Also, the government germ warfare stuff is a fatuous bore. Still, the film can be recommended.