Jen Re’s review published on Letterboxd:
Various groups throughout time encounter a mysterious object. Unsure of what it is or its purpose, a group of scientists and a very intelligent computer, H.A.L. 9000, set out on a quest to figure it out.
I really liked the concept for this film. The strong contrast of various small sectors of humanity trying to figure out the mysteries of a vast and ever growing space. And even more interesting was the fact that as humanity grew, discovered and learned, the more unclear and mysterious this object became. In addition, the use of very long shots and a slow tempo really helped to emphasize the time it takes to really see something, following this recurring theme of observation and discovery.
And although we only encounter a few leading characters at various time periods with no real character arcs, it again becomes more about the observation of humanity and their reactions in relation to this fantastical object. Not just discovering what this object is, but how it effects the evolution of man and it's technology. So, not so much a character driven story as it is a comment on humanity as a whole.
Now for my favorite part of the film, the visuals. I can't even imagine how audiences reacted to seeing this back in 1968. The visuals were so advanced for it's time, really spectacular. Even now, they didn't look cheesy or fake. I was blown away by how high quality they were. And the cinematography was simply beautiful, a given with Kubrick's films.
In conclusion, a visual and thoughtful masterpiece. A classic that has been a source of inspiration for many other films of its genre. A must watch.