First full week of a brand new year? Do you guys know what that means?! OH YEAH. IT’S TIME FOR SOME RESOLUTIONS. This is a series I started last year to inspire myself and others to check some must-watch films off of those long, long lists we all have. It’s a great way to get yourself in gear for another year of movie reviews. Interested? Technically the deadline for entries was yesterday…but, hey, we just finished off a crazy busy month, so I will gladly accept stragglers. Just read the details for the series here and kindly let me know if you want in. Deal? Deal.
Anyway, today’s resolution film is actually making its second appearance in this series. My long lost bud Mr. JJames of JJames Reviews gave an absolutely glowing review of it last year (see that here), which made me think, “You know, I really need to watch that one, too.” So I did. And…well…let’s just say that JJames and I don’t exactly see eye-to-eye on this one. Heh. Some of you might hate me by the end of this. But let’s get right down to it and discuss Stanley’s Kubrick’s sci-fi classic, 2001: A Space Odyssey.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Synopsis: “Humanity finds a mysterious, obviously artificial object buried beneath the Lunar surface and, with the intelligent computer H.A.L. 9000, sets off on a quest.” –www.imdb.com
What I liked:
- The epic soundtrack. As soon as the sun peeks out from behind a planet (I’m not sure exactly what planet…maybe Earth) and Richard Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra” begins to play, it’s just amazing. That terrifying “Requiem” by György Ligeti that will give you the creeps long after you hear it, that perfect use of Johann Strauss II’s “The Blue Danube” as we sweep across the space scenery—it’s all just really memorable. Shame that so much of it has become so spoofed.
- The amazing visuals that are impressive even by today’s standards. Beautiful shots of space, lots of detail for the spaceships, a floating pen, people climbing up the wall with “grip shoes,” nifty spacesuits—it’s a thoroughly imagined setting and a true feast for the eyes. If I was impressed watching in 2015, I can’t imagine what folks thought of it in 1968.
- HAL the computer. I just loved everything about this clever, creepy, and surprisingly human machine. Shown as a dark little rectangle with a bright red light for an eye and heard as an eerily soft-spoken male voice, HAL is definitely more than a little menacing, but he also asks personal questions and is sensitive to the feelings of those around him, making him weirdly sympathetic. There’s also this scene toward the end involving HAL that’s actually incredibly sad. I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen this, but you will never think of the song “Daisy” the same way again.
- The tense shift in the middle of the film. One of the characters is out floating around in space, and all of the sudden, things change in a big way. It shocked me a little, but I was glad for it.
- Seeing all of the ways this film has influenced the sci-fi genre. The whirling space station made me think of Interstellar. The breathing in the spacesuit with silence all around made me think of Gravity. Heck, seeing HAL even made me think about AUTO the steering wheel from WALL-E. It’s probably possibe to trace influences from 2001: A Space Odyssey in every sci-fi film that has followed, and that’s impressive.
What I didn’t like:
- The “Dawn of Man” stuff. Ultimately, I get it…but I also don’t get it. It’s like watching a very, very dull version of Planet of the Apes for 15 minutes, complete with way too many lingering shots of landscapes and screaming ape-man creatures. The point here could’ve been made in about 5 minutes, but nope—let’s stretch it out and make Cara regret her film choice. Thank you, Stanley Kubrick.
- The abrupt shift to the future. A man-ape throws a bone in the air…and suddenly we’re in space. And there’s a space station?! Holy transitions, Batman—what the heck just happened?! I’m sure a lot of people think that shift is just brilliant, but it was just a little too jarring and strange for me.
- What the hell is this monolith?! Again, it’s a case of getting it, yet totally not getting it. I did some Googling, and, happily, that did give me more of a sense of its significance, but I really, really wouldn’t have minded if the film spelled it out a little more for idiots like moi.
- The fact that the intermission is included on the DVD. It’s a little thing, but, like…why? Staying true to the original film is kind of nice, I guess, but this is also why I have a pause button…so yeah.
- That ending. What. The. Actual. F*%#. I…I am just lost. It’s so long and trippy and weird…just not my thing. At all. Now that I’ve Googled it (seriously, thank God for Google), it makes a little more sense, but if I have to do this much research just to wrap my head around the basic ideas at play here, I consider that a big negative.
A Worthy Resolution? For the sheer sake of seeing such an influential piece of sci-fi cinema, I’ll say yes. But I won’t be watching this one again. I mean, I enjoyed the middle section well enough—it’s just that the beginning and the end pretty much ruined it. That might make me a pariah in the movie blogging community, but it is what it is. I feel the same way about this as I did last year about Taxi Driver and Blade Runner. That is, I appreciate it, but I don’t love it. Actually, I think I’d take Taxi Driver or Blade Runner over this in a heartbeat…
My Grade: B-
Well, there it is. Try not to throw TOO many rotten tomatoes at this review, okay? Haha. Anyway, one film resolution down! Fortunately, I have much higher hopes for what I’ve picked to follow. And I’ve already seen some guest resolutions that are much more positive, so that’s good! You’ll see a couple of those this week, so stay tuned! 🙂