Posted by: ckckred | July 10, 2012

2010: The Year We Make Contact is no 2001

The follow-up to 2001 feels too muddled and pales in comparison

I’ve never bared myself to watch 2010: The Year We Make Contact before, but since the only films I can watch while I’m away come from Netflix, I decided to give it a shot.  The reason being is because of my love for the original.  2001: A Space Odyssey was one of the first films that opened my eyes to cinema.  It’s the golden peak of awe that represents the hight in film.  It remains one of my favorite films of all time.

I’m guessing that Peter Hyams, who wrote, produced, and directed the film, wanted audiences to know what happened after 2001.  The movie is actually based on Arthur C. Clarke’s follow-up to 2001 entitled 2010: Odyssey Two (Hyams then wrote two other books).

The film takes place in 2010 (obviously).  The beginning of the movie recounts the mission of the Discovery in 2001, and how Heywood Floyd (Roy Scheider), who coordinated the mission, was fired for the failure.

In present day, Floyd is asked by some Soviet scientists to help them on a mission to get back to the Discovery and find out all of the unanswered questions: why did HAL malfunction, what’s the purpose of the monoliths, and what happened to Bowman?

Floyd agrees, and brings with him to fellow colleagues,Walter Curnow (John Lithgow), who designed the Discovery, and Dr. Chandra (Bob Balaban), who created HAL.

The movie’s subplot is about the growing tension between the United States and the Soviet Union.  This part was obviously added because it came out during the Reagan years and feels so forced into the plot that it badly hurts the movie.  The message of it is for both the US and UDDR to stop quibbling over small matters and make peace.  Though that’s a great thing to say, it feels awkward in the movie and has no place in it.

And there are far more problems with 2010.  The movie has way too much dialogue.  2001 was a film you had to see to understand, not listen.  2010 just wants to be an explanation for the original, and just keeps talking on and on and on.

But what’s wrong with unanswered questions?  Part of the greatness of 2001 are the open notes.  Stanley Kubrick made the ending so the film could have multiple interpretations.  That’s why the film’s regarded as a classic today.  But 2010 is an explanatory film, it tries tying up the loose knots and ruins the magic of the movie (for 2010, not 2001).

The film’s greatest flaw, however, is the fact Stanley Kubrick had no involvement in the film (except in a brief cameo as the Soviet premier).  Being the great director he is, Kubrick certainly knew that 2001 didn’t need a sequel.  Kubrick gave 2001 its visual awe, and supplied it with mystery and intrigue.  Though Hyams clearly likes Kubrick, his direction seems different and off.  Kubrick wanted audiences to remember the film, Hyams just wants to give his interpretation of the movie.

And most of the problems stem from this.  Kubrick chose classical music for 2001‘s soundtrack, which made the opening theme so memorable.  For 2010, the music sounds like a five-year old is strumming across an electrical synthesizer.  Kubrick also gave segments demonstrating his visual flare, like the opening sequence featuring the beginning of mankind.  Hyams gives none of that.  Kubrick displayed the future as an imaginative world.  Hyams shows the future as pretty much the same as it was back then, with the only major difference being that PanAm now travels in outer space.  Kubrick’s film felt exciting.  Hyams’ feels to slow and dull.

Yet there are some parts of the film that inspire the same intrigue the original did.  The scenes which feature the crew entering the old Discovery have almost the same awe the original did.  If the movie focused on this more, it could be a whole lot better.

Ultimately, I can’t say 2010 is a good film.  Though it isn’t terrible, its storyline is too slow and dull.  Maybe if there was no 2001, I would like it a whole lot more.  I guess if you were confused about 2001, you’d want to see it.  But stick to the far superior original.

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