Resolutions 2015: 2001: A Space Odyssey

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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)

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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

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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.

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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! 🙂

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56 thoughts on “Resolutions 2015: 2001: A Space Odyssey

  1. I think it’s cool that you’re talking about this movie right now. I plan on revisiting it tomorrow night, something I’ve been planning on doing for several years now. Why? Because just like you I didn’t find it to be a masterpiece like others have. Yet it’s one of the most highly esteemed films of the last 50 years.

    So for me it’s definitely time to give it another shot.

  2. It’s honestly refreshing to read something not totally gushing about 2001, Cara. I need to really go back and revisit this because it has been so long for me that reading your comments bout the way this film opens and especially the way Kubrick ends it has gotten me really really curious. I can’t remember those sequences at all, but the vague memories I do have of this were being mostly confused and kind of alienated by it. It’s supposed to be a classic but I recall not being too too impressed myself. Again, that was a while ago.

    Nice write-up my friend. I totally did not know the deadline was yesterday. 😦 I haven’t thought of the film I want to discuss yet, so I’m going to be pretty late. Wah-wah. . . .

    • Yeah I think you might’ve blocked out that ending for a reason…lol. It’s trippy to the max. If you do end up revisiting it, you’ll have to let me know–I’d be very interested in your response. As for a late entry, no worries! I’ve actually got stuff lined up for this month, so if you still want to get something in, you’d have some time. Haha. No pressure if you’re too busy though.

  3. yea, there were some really boring parts in this. Glad u finally saw it, but I also disagreed with James as to this being one of the best movies ever. I can appreciate it for what it is, and what it has influenced, but it’s not easy to get thru and coulda been even better if it was shorter

  4. I’ll divert some rotten tomatoes my way (not related to this movie) by saying that I never actually managed to finish Blade Runner and probably won’t attempt to….much to my boyfriend’s disapproval. Haha! Now, with those commonalities, I wonder if I should check this one out 😉 The thought has been floating around in my head a little…

    • Yeah Blade Runner is…meh. Haha. You’re thinking about checking out 2001? Well, maybe if you know what you’re getting into you’ll enjoy it more…maybe. Lol.

  5. Hey Cara! Cool that you got around to watching this. I saw it at the cinema recently and it’s definitely not a perfect film. That dawn of man stuff does last for way too long but that transition from bone to spacecraft is brilliant! It’s utterly bonkers by the end and it does make your head hurt a bit!

    • Oh I bet it would be cool to see on the big screen! That might be the only way to convince me to see it again. Haha. I’m glad you enjoyed that bone transition more than I did. DEF hurt my head. :/

  6. haha… YES!! So glad to see others not liking this film all that much. Saw and wrote about it months ago, but it definitely wasn’t a pretty write up. Come to think of it, it wasn’t so much a write up, but quick thoughts, that would’ve been better suited for a live tweet session, but it’s how I saw things. Dreadful film. Great choice to start with! Fine points on the positive and negative too.

  7. What a great idea!! And I wasn’t a huge fan of this film either, especially the beginning parts. I get the cinematic art behind the film, but that doesn’t always make for an entertaining movie, lol!

    • Hmm. Y’know, I’d be very curious to see if you like this more than I did. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, I have allowed certain individuals to take on more than one resolution…but you can also just save it for next year. Totes up to you. 🙂

  8. Hey, Cara! Thanks for the shout out even when I haven’t been around for, like, five months. (Why haven’t I? I haven’t seen a flick since August – outside of those I reviewed for Flixchatter’s coverage of the Twin City’s film fest).

    Shame you didn’t love 2001 the way I do. But, honestly, I’m not stunned – the ending and opening are trippy. They’re about setting tone and ideas, not showing story, and that isn’t something to which everyone will respond positively.

    Even if you didn’t love it, I’m glad you gave it a shot. It’s worth seeing just to notice how influential it is (as you said).

    • Hey, Josh! Yeah I noticed you hadn’t been around lately! Come baaaaack! You are missed!

      I definitely don’t regret watching 2001–I guess I just went in expecting a different experience. And, yeah, not expecting all that trippy stuff. Lol.

      Good to hear from you, my friend! Hope you’re well! 🙂

      • If ever I find time for movies, I will return. But it’s harder to justify my movie obsession now that I’m working and see so much less of my kids.

        How are you?

        • Fair enough. It can definitely be hard to maintain stuff around here. I can say that even without having any kids. Lol.

          I’m good! Changed jobs twice since I last talked to you, which has been crazy, but good. And, of course, it was pretty busy with the holidays. But good!! Haha. How are things on your end?

        • Overall good. I have adjusted to not being home with the kids anymore, finally, but I miss my movies. 😃

          And two job changes in the span of five-ish months? Wow. What are you doing now?

        • I would miss them, too! Are you back to teaching? Or something else?

          Actually, it was more like two job changes in the span of less than two months…I had a crazy October. Hahaha. I guess too many opportunities isn’t a bad thing, huh? Lol. I now work in the appeals department of the county assessor’s department. Translation: I deal with a lot of angry old people. It’s a living. 🙂

  9. Nice post, glad you finally saw this, you ripped the band aid off and you can move on with your life. This is one of those weird Kubrick-y movies, the ones that people study in film school and become total snobs about and the rest of the world doesn’t really care for it. I think it is pretty cool, but I can understand why it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. For me it is one of those movies, I have seen at the most two times and that is it, not a fun one you can rewatch over and over again.

  10. Pingback: Resolutions 2015: O Brother, Where Art Thou? | Snap Crackle Watch!

  11. Aww Cara. We’ll forgive you because you’re actually open-minded about movies unlike a lot of people. I do like this one a lot (it poops all over Interstellar) but admit it’s veeeeeeeeery slow in places. It’s more a piece of art than an enjoyable movie but I do love that sometimes (yes, such as with Daft Punk’s Electroma). To each their own! 🙂 The review I had wanted to do for your Resolutions thing is a classic you loved but I, well, didn’t… We all like different stuff! 🙂

    • Haha well I’m glad I’m forgiven. I really wanted it to be my thing, but it just…was not. Oh well. Now I’m veeeeery curious about the film you wanted to do. Are you still planning to do it? No pressure–just curious. 🙂

  12. I haven’t seen this movie since I was a kid. I’ll have to check it out again. I would probably appreciate it more now that I’m older. I hardly remember any of the movie. I do remember the beginning, and I remember having the same reaction – it felt like a very boring version of The Planet of the Apes. And I remember a bone being thrown in the air, then it transitioned into the ship.

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