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Film Review: 2001: A Space Odyssey

Posted on the 31 May 2013 by Donnambr @_mrs_b

Summary:

2001: A Space Odyssey is an amazing experience

More DetailsAbout 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)2001 - A Space OdysseyConfirming that art and commerce can co-exist, 2001: A Space Odyssey was the biggest box-office hit of 1968, remains the greatest science fiction film yet made and is among the most revolutionary, challenging and debated work of the 20th century. It begins within a pre-historic age. A black monolith uplifts the intelligence of a group of apes on the African plains. The most famous edit in cinema introduces the 21st century, and after a second monolith is found on the moon a mission is launched to Jupiter. On the spacecraft are Bowman (Keir Dullea) and Poole (Gary Lockwood), along with the most famous computer in fiction, HAL. Their adventure will be, as per the original title, a “journey beyond the stars”. Written by science fiction visionary Arthur C Clarke and Stanley Kubrick, 2001 elevated the SF film to entirely new levels, being rigorously constructed with a story on the most epic of scales. Four years in the making and filmed in 70 mm, the attention to detail is staggering and four decades later barely any aspect of the film looks dated, the visual richness and elegant pacing creating the sense of actually being in space more convincingly than any other film. A sequel, 2010: Odyssey Two (1984) followed, while Solaris (1972), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), The Abyss (1989) and A.I. (2001) are all indebted to this absolute classic which towers monolithically over them all.

 

Starring: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, Daniel Richter, Leonard Rossiter

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick

Runtime: 139 minutes

Studio: Warner Home Video

 

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Review: 2001: A Space Odyssey

Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 epic is regarded by many as the finest sci-fi film of all time and sitting through its 2+ hours you can understand the claims. This is a visual extravaganza that holds up well today given the many advances in special effects that the film world has come to know. The film is divided into four sections beginning with the Dawn of Man when a group of ape men lose control of a water hole that is a vital resource for their future. One day they encounter a strange black monolith that somehow enhances them. In an iconic scene most people will be familiar with, an ape picks up a bone and begins to use it as a club. The group of apes then reclaim the water hole, armed with bones as weapons and in victory the next iconic scene is of a bone hurled into the air, descending through the skies before taking us into the future of a ship in outer space. A black monolith has been discovered on the moon and is sending a signal out to Jupiter.

18 months after this discovery Discovery One is on a mission to Jupiter. Dr David Bowman (Keir Dullea) and Dr Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood) are manning the spaceship and they are ably supported by the ship’s computer HAL 9000 (voiced by Douglas Rain), which is referred to simply as Hal. Despite having a record of no faults or issues, Hal appears to develop some kind of fault which puts the crew in danger. Will they make it to Jupiter? What is the secret behind the black monoliths? What is Hal really up to?

 

2001: A Space Odyssey is a fabulous sci-fi spectacle with the visuals simply tremendous. A close-up shot of Hal is enough to convey the sinister turn the computer has taken and it’s quite chilling as Bowman and Poole try to survive. This is a unique experience but at the same time it is a challenging one. The script isn’t heavy with dialogue, a large chunk of the film is taken up by the visuals alone, with long shots of spaceships manoeuvring through the galaxy to sit through, which won’t suit everyone. At more than two hours many people will think that this could have been condensed down somewhat. I was in two minds. I enjoyed the film overall but some elements did feel too ponderous.

 

2001: A Space Odyssey is an amazing experience. While I don’t believe it’s the greatest sci-fi film of all time, it is still a film that many people should consider. The visuals still stand up well today and though some scenes may seem overlong it doesn’t diminish one of the great film epics.

Verdict: 4/5

(Film source: reviewer’s own copy)

 


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