Blu-ray Commentary: “The Andromeda Strain”

One of my newest gigs is doing Blu-ray commentaries for a variety of films. I was privileged to record one for the classic 1971 sci-fi film The Andromeda Strain, which was the big screen adaptation of Michael Crichton’s first official novel. He had a done a few prior under a pseudonym.

Directed by Oscar winner Robert Wise (The Haunting, Star Trek: The Motion Picture), this is an intense look into a group of scientists trying to unlock the secrets of a plague brought to earth from a satellite that has returned from space. It was cutting edge for the time, and despite looking dated (it is 48 years old), remains compelling today because the concept of controlling a contagion before it spreads out of control is a major public fear. It follows the methodical process of its protagonists rather than speeding us through a fast-paced and unrealistic series of montages, and I appreciate that.

I garnered some good reviews for my contribution to this Arrow Video reissue, and I thought I would share them here. Commentary tracks are a lot of work — I usually have 30 or more pages of notes in front of me to make sure I touch upon everything I need to — so it’s to get accolades for your hard work.

Cinema’s Fringes:
“The New York entertainment journalist gabs along enthusiastically here… As well as going through the usual resumes for cast and crew, Reesman provides us with plentiful background details about the production.”

Cine Outsider:
“He’s really done his homework and clearly admires the hell out of the film, about which he has a lot to say and it’s all worth hearing… It’s also here that I learned there were a staggering 206 split-dioptre shots in the film, which surely has to be some sort of record. A useful and enjoyable extra.”

Horror Cult Films:
“The audio commentary is non-stop with Bryan Reesman jamming in as much stuff about the film as he can – and he even finishes the track by saying that he could have gone more into the science. Maybe he should write a book about it. Cast and crew biographies [one of my commentary bugbears] are concise and to the point, and discussion is well balanced between the film making aspects and the story ones. Crichton’s sole screen cameo is pointed out. Perhaps there’s slightly less production info than I expected, but on the other hand there’s even the odd personal element. A strong track, and one which may leave you appreciating the film more if you didn’t initially very much.”

Horror Fuel:
“This is a fascinating listen and runs through the film’s themes and production in a scholarly yet engaging fashion.”
“Pop culture writer Bryan Reesman heads into the booth for a pleasing commentary track.”

Frame Rated:
“His commentary does what a commentary is expected to do, shares info and helps a deeper appreciation of what you’re watching.”

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