Luke Thorne’s review published on Letterboxd:
Without any doubt, this is Stanley Kubrick’s best film of the 60s and it was ground-breaking at the time because it set a huge standard for visual effects.
Not only this, but it definitely changed the way visual effects are now presented on screen, because they dazzle every year. It is also not a surprise that this managed to become the highest-grossing film at the box office in 1968 and it is for a very good and very understandable reason.
Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood and William Sylvester give respectable performances in their roles as David Bowman, Frank Poole and Heywood R. Floyd, three astronauts that are sent on a mission and they apparently discover an intelligent monolith is on the moon.
But a tense showdown between man and machine is about to happen when their computer system, HAL, begins to behave in a very strange way. The three actors suit their roles very well and make the most of the time they have on the screen, whether they are talking or not.
The scene after the opening credits features Apes – yes – Apes. It feels like you are kind of watching the original, best and classic version of Planet of the Apes, another classic science-fiction film released in the same year as 2001: A Space Odyssey.
However, if Planet of the Apes had opened with the scene here that involves those apes, then I don’t reckon Planet of the Apes would have been successful as it was, so I am glad that Planet of the Apes has a very different opening. With the apes scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey, the camera makes very good use of the sunny weather and this is not the only good thing the camera does.
The direction from Kubrick is excellent because he allows the facial expressions to be seen to a strong effect throughout, while the script is well written by the director and Arthur C. Clarke.
While the major aspects of the film are good, it’s the technical elements of the film are the most impressive, but this is not really a surprise considering the genre of the movie.
The set and camerawork are very decent at all times, with the camera capturing the mood and atmosphere really well, while the music is absolutely amazing to listen to from start to finish.
However, the best thing about the technical elements are the visual effects and these are absolutely outstanding from start to finish. They really do dazzle throughout.
Done by Stanley Kubrick, they managed to win him his only Academy Award. Kubrick did receive other nominations for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay (along with Arthur C. Clarke in the latter category), while the Art Direction was also nominated.
The Art Direction, Cinematography and Music all managed to win British Academy Film Awards and they definitely deserved the awards, while the movie also got a nomination for Best Film.
This is one film that you have to watch very carefully, because there is not much dialogue to be had throughout this film. But this does not matter because the excellent music along with the good facial expressions seen by the cast means you know exactly what they are thinking.
Overall this is one superb movie that set the standard not just for its effects but also the science-fiction genre as a whole. Many consider this to be Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece and it is very easy to understand why – though this is not my personal favourite Stanley Kubrick movie – in fact, it is my second favourite. At least there is nothing controversial about this film.