This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Jacob Martin (formally known as The Movie King)’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Note: If you've never seen 2001 before, I advise you not to read this review as it will contain some spoilers. But when the spoilers do come, I will do my best to mention spoilers to those that have still not seen this before. Now, on with my review.
Stanley Kubrick has a very interesting reputation in the filmmaking community. While his films have greatly influenced a generation of Hollywood legends, such as James Cameron and George Lucas, and has been regarded as one of Hollywood's greatest directors, Kubrick's controversial material depicted in most of his films have still remained highly debated ever since the original release dates. So with most audiences, it seems that you either love Kubrick or you hate him.
June 6, 2014 will be a day I will never forget, as it marks my first ever experience with a Stanley Kubrick film. When looking at his library on what film to start, it seemed the most logic would be 2001: A Space Odyssey, as it has been heavily regarded as his masterwork and still remains a huge staple of the sci-fi genre. Many sci-fi greats, like Star Wars, ET, and Inception wouldn't have been made had it not been for the visual accomplishments of 2001. Had the film not have been made, sci-fi would still be classified as B-Movie territory. But alas, while I appreciate all the accomplishments 2001 has made in the world on sci-fi, there was very little for me to enjoy about it, and that's a massive disappointment, because I had extremely high expectations for this film.
What's the story? Honestly, that was what I was questioning the whole time I was watching! It starts out with apes going loco after discovering some weird object, then there's humans in space who discover something similar on the moon, then there's other humans who travel to Jupiter with some mad genius computer who wants to jeopardize the mission??? I'm sorry to offend any Kubrick fans who adore this movie, but I couldn't get it. For one thing, there was hardly any dialogue to explain the plot of the film, in favor of Kubrick and the crew to show off their state-of-the art visuals, which I might add is very, very impressive. But I've said this in the past, visuals should not be the star of the film, it should just enhance the plot. And 2001 had zero plotting, that's for sure.
Another thing, what was with all the plot holes? I could go on foe hours over what doesn't make sense at all in this film, but I just save your time and only mention the worst offenders, and yes, this is where the possible spoilers show up, so for newcomers, read at your own risk:
1. The ape scene had absolutely nothing to do with space travel at all. All I took out of it was for Kubrick to give millions of movie watchers massive headaches, as the apes yelled annoyingly loud. At least the creation of the apes were done well, more so than the original Planet of the Apes, which features very poor ape makeup,
2. The mysterious object is still left unexplained, leaving me very, very confused.
3. What was with the attendant woman with gravity-free shoes?
4. Why does the space crew bother with putting three of their crew members into hypersleep when they had virtually nothing to do with the storyline?
5. Surely you do not breathe super loud in outer space!
6. Why was the crew super stupid to trust a computer? Computers break down, carry viruses, and don't tell honest information! Kubrick kind of explains it with the fact that HAL 9000 and his other systems have perfect track records, but still, I was still baffled by the stupidity of the small plotting in the film.
7. Charging batteries in space? Nuff said.
8. And last, what was with the ending? It absolutely made no sense! From what I got out of it, the main astronaut goes to Jupiter, transports into some freaky psychedelic lightshow, and turns into some supernatural baby! NO I'M NOT JOKING! A SUPERNATURAL BABY! Again, I didn't get it, and I personally apologize for not enjoying it as the 89% of audience members do, but I was not very impressed. Spoilers are over.
2001 also suffers from some extremely bland acting. Keir Dullea plays the main astronaut Dave Bowman, and while he is not a terrible actor per se, he doesn't do a spectacular job doing it. Character development is 100% poor, and there was absolutely no reasoning why I shouldn't root for Dave, Frank, or whoever was on that dang ship! I do give Kubrick credit for creating one of the freakiest movie villains ever on screen, HAL 9000, who delighted me with his odd, freaky voice, but other than that, the characters and acting was very flat.
What I do give 2001 credit for is definitely the painstaking three years it took for Kubrick and his visual crew to create the visual effects. They are definitely some of the greatest visuals ever shot on film. It's amazing that the film even came out in 1968, when computers were still sci-fi! I was also impressed with the cinematography as well. Many of the shots were so good that it could have been placed on postcards and it would still have the same effect, such as the now-famous opening shot of the sun reflecting on Earth and the universe. Though that bizarre final act was extremely torturous to watch, I admit that Kubrick did a good job at making the transport scene a psychedelic freakshow! And again, the film came out in 1968, and we have this much dedication in making the film look good! To bad I didn't enjoy the film as I wanted to.
The other factor I liked about the film was it's revolutionary score, which comprises of classical music. As much of the film was filled with boredom of spaceships in orbit, uses of songs like "Blue Danube" and the extremely parodied "Also sprach Zarathustra", I admit that Kubrick's musical decisions decently paid off in getting me through this tedious and bizarre motion picture.
I say this one more time. I know that there's many fans of 2001 out there, and I apologize for tearing a beloved classic up, but this is my pure honest opinion of the film, and I feel that I'm entitled to it. While I understand the impact the film has on sci-fi, and still does today, and was impressed with Kubrick's dedicated musical and visual work, I was bored by most of what was going on, there was little actual story and almost no characterization, and a lot of the things going on made absolutely no sense. I may have missed the point on the film, though, and fans can yell at me all they want, but it's very unlikely that I'll want to rewatch this again. Hopefully if I ever watch another Stanley Kubrick film I'll hopefully agree with the majority. Odd thing is that Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the film that's been unfavorably criticized for being a ripoff of 2001, was a film I found to be far more spellbinding and thought-provoking despite it's flaws.
The more I think about it, the film should have just been called 2001: Space Torture.
"Open the pod bay doors please, HAL."