Movie Review: No 93. 2001: A Space Odyssey

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Movie Review: No 93. 2001: A Space Odyssey

Picture this: It’s 1968, I’m Stanley Kubrik and I’ve got the grooviest of ideas. I’m gonna make a movie about space, man. Man hasn’t even landed on the moon yet, man, but I’m gonna do it.

And I’m gonna start this movie… about space… with the dawn of man…

Man.

Just to make matters even more confusing, I’m gonna assemble a rabble of actors in questionable monkey costumes and get them to dance around a giant iPad.

Because it’s the sixties and they hand LSD around at parties like it’s going out of fashion.

Which it kinda is.

I found this movie almost unbearable at times. This probably had something to do with my issues with sci-fi/fantasy films, but surely I can lay at least some of the blame on the self-indulgent director? When it takes your film about space 30 minutes to even mention the topic of space, you need editing lessons. Sure, I appreciate the ‘Planet-of-the-Apes’ themes, but ‘Planet of the Apes’ did it much better the very same year.

What the film does do well, in a George Orwell 1983 sort of way, is accurately predict the future. It features ideas such as voice print identification and “skyping”, not to mention traipsing about on the moon (which, at that stage, was still a year away from happening for the first time). If these trends continue… Next stop? A mission to Jupiter in short shorts!

What the film doesn’t do well, however, is hold my interest. I watched the whole thing. In fact, I was held in captive audience on the plane on my way to India. I’ve even watched parts of it twice, after first attempting to watch it at my Brother and Sister-in-Law’s house a few months ago (although I confess I fast-forwarded through the monkeys the second time). Despite all this I still have no idea what the movie was on about!

I turned to imdb to help decipher the mystery:

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.

That’s pretty much what I took from the movie too, but it still doesn’t make sense.

Dr Floyd: Is there anything else special that you would like for your birthday?
Floyd’s Daughter: A bush baby.
Dr Floyd: A bush baby? Well, we’ll have to see about that.

Let me break it down for you: A bunch of monkeys find a giant iPad and beat each other to death. Suddenly, we’re launched into space, where there is a mission to somewhere for something. There are a couple of seriously groovy dudes getting about in short shorts, and a sixties-style “air hostess” walking around upside down for no apparent reason. Controlling the whole thing is ‘HAL’, a sophisticated autopilot with a creepy “heavy-breathing mystery caller” voice, with a penchant for awkward silences and staring into souls. Hal chucks a wobbly, Officer Ripley and the rest of the Matrix crew get their plugs pulled, and next thing you know we’re transported to a highly “futuristic” space-home complete with brocade bedspreads and another giant iPad.

Whaaaaaat?!

I’m sure the special effects were impressive for their time, and I’m sure that if you gave it the kind of mental energy that Citizen Kane required, you’d probably enjoy it. Personally, I’ve got a thousand and one other things I’d prefer to be doing than sitting down for 3 hours in a moody, eerily-silent state and pondering the evolution of the human race.

Someone give me an animal bone so I can bonk Kubrik on the head with it.

4 pumpkins.

Have you seen ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’? Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments below.

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9 responses »

  1. I saw Raging Bull. Wait… Raging Bull? I did sit through the entire 2001 once. If only to prove to myself that I really am stubborn enough to see something through. Even if such a task bores me to boredom. Or was it just the sucker in me that quietly but incessantly insists that things must surely get better? Whatever the reason That sucker was denied totally once the end credits had rolled through. Raging Bull on the other hand I watched as a virile 16 year old. Full of hormones & aggression, I thought it was awesome. I saw it again just recently & shrugged “meh, It’s okay”.

  2. Actually, I LOVED this movie. I really loved Kubrick’s use of metaphor. The monkeys are representations of the civil rights movement of the day and HAL is Kennedy. The apes as you will recall, are standing on a grassy knoll when they make their assault on space by thrusting (or shooting if you will) their fists and hambones towards the heavens.

    Pass me another blue pill.

    • D’oh! I’ve been caught copy/pasting! I’ve corrected myself now though 🙂

      I love your interpretation of the film. Where does Marilyn Munroe feature?

  3. I really loved the Australopithecus (or other early hominid) intro. a metaphor of however consciousness began. The Blue Danube as shuttle approaches the space station is one of my fave movie scenes ever. Still not dated. . . .the moon landings were done with computers less powerful than in 10 yrs ago’s mobile fones. Yes, it is a bit long, but back in the late 60’s things were slower.

    “A bunch of monkeys find a giant iPad and beat each other to death” (a funny, maybe apt, synopsis)

    Well our species has only been around maybe a million years or so, takes a while, but we are getting there.

    But we don’t really need outside intervention.

    • It seems all the Kelly’s enjoyed this film! Perhaps ill have a sudden change of heart this September 😛

      I probably should have mentioned the score because the Blue Danube helps make for a memorable scene. And if it weren’t for the fashion I’d agreed that the film has dated very little!

  4. I saw this movie years ago, Amanda, and I still don’t know what it’s about (thank you for the explanation) I think I fell asleep about 10 minutes in. But that’s not unusual for me 😉

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