2001: A Space Odyssey
So when it comes to 2001 you're looking at technology that was dreamed about in the 60's (yes that long ago) and a movie long before "pretentious" was ever used to describe a film. Now that might be starting off the review a little harsh, but lets take a bit of a closer look at this production to see where it really shows and where it really falls.
So this story isn't so much the story about primitive man, about outer space businessmen, or even the AI putting the hurt down on its crew in order to make sure that the mission succeeds. No, this movie follows the life and course of a little black box known as the monolyth. What's so special about this extra shiny black rectangle? This single item, no matter how many exist, is responsible for single act of jump starting humans on the evolutionary track that raised us up from the dirt and bones, and into space ships, Velcro shoes, and orbiting satellites specifically used by business owners. That's right, everything we actually have now, but used for practical reasons and human advancement.
The movie starts off in the prehistoric times, before man was man. The primitive minds of our ancestors trying their hardest to function under the harsh environment and constant threat of predators and rival tribes. That all changed when the monolyth comes onto the scene. A touch with a hand and never thing you know the apes are learning to the value of tools to get what they want. So whats the first thing that man does with this knowledge of tools? Kills another man to take over his tribes watering hole. Yeah that sounds about accurate, I'd believe it.
What we have next is a jump all the way to 2001 where space satellites look like bones, and everything is symbolism for sperm and eggs. You think you can get away from it, but there is no escape from the blatantly obvious penetration set to classical music. Whatever could it mean? What could this completely obvious perspective symbolize that... yeah its sex, it means sex. The cinematics are very well established, though. The timing of the music met with the quiet scenes help to create a feel when you should be paying attention to everything and when you should just sit back listen to great classical music and just absorb the entire scene to see how everything works together at once. Really the music itself helps to signal when progression is being made to the film, when you're moving from one scene to the next, when things are tying together to actually push the story forward. Unfortunately, the quiet scenes outweigh the musical scenes by quite a bit and you're left scratching your head to try and wonder when the next progressive scene will come along.
Now it's not until the final act that this movie shines. You get the two main stars of the film very late in as well as the AI known to them as HAL. Everything starts off peaceful between the three until close to the end of their travel when the computer decides that the humans are a threat to the mission and decides that the only way to deal with them efficiently would be to murder them outright. While I do agree that a good killing can be beneficial to a plan, it doesn't help when the AI is dodging all of the more efficient ways to terminate them and instead going for vastly more subtle approaches in it. In the time it takes to kill the first human HAL could have achieved his goal with both of them at once about four times. A real shame and missed opportunity to show some interesting creativity, but instead we get one run over by a space pod, and the other simply getting locked out of the ship. Of course the humans win out in the end and Dave must make the sacrifice to the release his friend into the cold depths in order to get back on board and shut down HAL once and for all.
Once HAL is gone you'd think that would be the end of the movie, but unfortunately it continues and Dave arrives at Jupiter in order to retrieve the monolyth and head home. Of course this also is a terrible mistake where he's sucked into the black rectangle to live out his days once again until he is able to evolve once more into a Starchild. What wonders does this new form have for the man? What does the Starchild grow into? Well hopefully they'll answer those questions in 2010 because this movie ends right here.
A long drawn out film that does little answer half of the questions it raises and fills those spaces with musical scenes, over elaborated details that simply don't need to be there. Is it a boring film? Yes, very much so. Does that make it a bad film? Absolutely not. If you're watching it for the first time make sure to have a pillow because you are going to find yourself confused and bored all at once, but if you've seen it already and you're watching it a second time then you are likely going to enjoy it because you know where the boring parts are and your attention can go where the director wanted it to go. If you had to watch it four times for a review, like i did, then monolyth help your soul. All Hail Monolyth!
Watch this movie, if you want to hate it. If you want to learn to love it, then watch it a second time. It's the kind of movie that you have to watch more than once because you'll want to take note of the perfect cinematics. The quiet scenes are quiet, and the orchestra scenes are very musical and it all works together perfectly in a very tight mesh. There's no doubt that serious sci-fi and parody's alike all take notes from this film. If greek mythology is the grandfather of superheroes today, then 2001: A Space Odyssey holds the same honor for any and all space movies for the last 40 years. If you've never seen it, take a chance to do so, and if you have seen it, then do again. This film is well worth it.
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