[SPOILER WARNING: I’m going to be blunt. I’m pretty much going to explain what happens throughout the entire movie bit by bit, so if you haven’t seen this film and are worried about spoilers on movies that are more than 40 years old, then look away]
Being an impressionable youth, I was introduced to the world of “2001: A Space Odyssey” as an example of good filmmaking. The problem was one, I was in school, so already I was upset at having been forced to watch a movie. Two, I was too young to understand the movie…..if it could be understood at all. I remember distinctively that the movie was boring, weird, made no sense, and didn’t seem to be going anywhere. Looking over to RottenTomatoes, you will see that it has passed the 95% stage. So before I review this, I want to make sure that you understand where I am coming from with good ratings for older films.
Okay, back in the day, people really didn’t have anything to compare these movies to. The older films didn’t have the same benefits as we do now. So back then, I can understand, and actually agree with saying this could be the best movie…..then. There should, however, be a statute of limitations in regards to ratings towards movies. Sometimes they maintain their level of entertainment and professionalism, while at other times, they turn out looking like your neighbor Jim’s home video he shot when he was bored last Thanksgiving. Basically what I am saying is this…if this film came out today rather than so many years ago, how would it measure up?
SECTION 1: The Dawn of Man
Alright, out somewhere in Africa, a bunch of ape’s are met with an alien…thing (monolith). This alien thing is a black block that seemingly does nothing more than make the apes go insane. What follows is an ape hitting a bunch of bones, synchronized to some truly epic music. It has something to do with the ape’s learning how to use a weapon and begin their evolutionary step towards control and assertiveness, but it just looks like apes going crazy to me. On to the next section.
SECTION 2: TMA-1
Fast-forward in time to outer-space, where a space plane transports its passengers to a nearby space station. On the space station, Dr. Heywood R. Floyd (William Sylvester) makes a video phone call to his daughter. After which, he is met with a few colleagues who ask him about an epidemic, and if it has broken out on the Clavius. Dr. Floyd then told them he was not at liberty to discuss the situation. The epidemic, in reality was a cover story to hide the fact that he was investigating an artifact that was buried 4 million years ago, the artifact in question was yet another monolith, which begins to initiate a sound from within.
SECTION 3: Jupiter Mission
18 months later, we skip over to what I remember most out of the movie, the story which I call the David and HAL story. This is where the spinning ship is found, where David is found exercising in, and surprisingly to me, it isn’t until the movie is almost half over. That’s not how I remember it. Anyways, David, HAL, and the rest of the crew are on a spaceship heading towards Jupiter. While the mission does revolve somewhat around the monolith, and the never-ending quest to find out the truth behind it, this section of the film focused more on the quick decline of HAL’s obedience.
SECTION 4: Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite
You wanna get high with me, man? Obviously, that is the only thing that will go through your head if this is your first time watching the film. View an endless arrangement of a vibrant sea of colors as David escapes the ship he was on in Section 3, and proceeds to go hyper speed through space and time, getting older, and getting younger when going through the different loopholes. When David finally finds the monolith, it transforms him into a giant floating baby in space, looking down at earth. END MOVIE
Overall, the movie maintained its level of strangeness that I remembered, but one thing has changed. It does make sense, you just really have to pay attention. It’s easy enough to tell you the whole thing is based around the monolith, but in some sections, it is harder to catch than others. You see, when watching, you get the overall feeling that each section seems to be a random story all on its own. In a way it is, but they are all connected by the overall monolith story arc. You have to listen closely with the Dave/HAL story to catch them mentioning the monolith, but it is there. It’s the underlining reason why they are going to Jupiter in the first place. So with something tying each story together, it got a whole lot more interesting.
Visually, you can tell when they use technical effects. Clearly, the apes in the beginning of the film are humans in costume, much like those in “Planet of the Apes”. When in space, the things that float are clearly hung up by string. Yes, at the same time, it is pretty clear that at its time, this was at the top of the charts for beautiful films without a shadow of a doubt, but remember my earlier question, can people who have never seen it enjoy it the same? Probably not. Most won’t be able to appreciate the artistry of the film’s concept. I do, but at the same time, that isn’t part of my routine. My routine is unique by reviewing any movie as it would be seen for the first time today. Some older movies can actually do an impeccable job being equally entertaining, I’ve seen it. “2001: A Space Odyssey”, however, could have benefitted greatly from futuristic technology. I will say, however, that anyone watching it will enjoy the music.
If nothing else, Stanley Kubrick was decades before his time. First of all, just the fact that he implemented the idea of video calls is nothing less than awesome. He was able to nitpick at little details of his time and predict where we were heading better than a lot of other people in his time. That is an interesting thing to note, but it really is irrelevant to what I’m trying to convey. However, new viewers should pay attention to those things, and how it is interesting that they were put in a 1968 movie.
In the end, I still felt as though this film was all over the place. Kubrick knew what he was doing, I’m sure, but it was presented in such a way that confused the heck out of me. Maybe that was the point, maybe it wasn’t. I just like knowing for certain what I’m watching. I even understood “Inception” perfectly. The problem here was too many sections and sub-stories and failing to get to the point. I am not going to complain that they never explained the monolith because I understand that it is supposed to be confusing thing, and you aren’t supposed to understand its origins or purpose.
I will say one final thing before ending this review. I enjoyed this a lot more than I did the last time I watched it. It might take a few viewings to truly get used to, but it is boring. My first review probably wouldn’t have even reached 20%, but as it is, I’ve looked at every possible angle, and from a modern viewer’s perspective, the highest rating I could give this was 66%