2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey ★★★★

Smiler Grogan told me to watch this film, and good thing too. I've been wanting to revisit 2001 for the longest time. Mainly because in the three years since I last saw the film, my film maturity levels have grown drastically, and if you've looked at my prior review, you can see how poor my opinions of movies were back then. Very painful rereading it honestly. Here, take a look back at that review and yell at me for being stupid back then: letterboxd.com/martinjacob49/film/2001-a-space-odyssey/

OK, have you had your laughs in yet? Have you?

Here we go.

I will safely say that it was a huge mistake in being introduced to the world of Stanley Kubrick through 2001. It is such an utterly complex and confusing film throughout that it requires massive brain power to analyze such a work. As I recall from my first viewing, I came home from my part-time job stocking produce tired and with a massive headache, and had no idea what I was getting into at the time, not realizing how complex the themes were and not going the traditional story structure. If you read the review just now, you already know that 2001 was a film I despised for a while. I thought the story didn't make any sense, the characters were underwhelming, and the pacing is an extreme chore.

Thankfully, in the three years sense, I've been impressed by Kubrick's other mesmerizing works (such as Dr. Strangelove, Spartacus, and The Shining), and was interesting in giving this film the proper rewatch it deserves.

And...... well, let's just say I don't hate it anymore.

I still don't think 2001 is flawless though, so please, please don't chew me out on it just because I didn't enjoy it as you did.

First off, the positives. Like before, this film looks visually amazing. Every shot and frame could have been its own postcard, and without the groundbreaking achievements of this film, sci-fi could not have been taken seriously. So I definitely respect it for that. I also love the usage of classical music to tell its story, showcasing the awe of space flight and the terror that surrounds it. I respect the ambiguity the film has in letting the audience think about what goes on throughout, and the computer HAL 9000 is by far one of cinema's terrifying baddies. I dig what the film was trying to convey in the flaws of technology and how it shouldn't overpower the human race, something that's more relevant in the present age. The space time jump sequence near the end is also mesmerizing; definitely one of the most psychedelically trippy sequences ever conceived, and I loved it for that.

Now, the negatives. Some of you probably enjoy the slower pace of the film, but for me, it's still a drag. It didn't annoy me to the point where I despised the film for it, but I still think some of the slower moving ship shots could have been trimmed to flow the pacing better. Also, some of the themes I can't get on board with mainly due to my beliefs. I'm not an evolutionist, so the opening with the ape-man tribe was something I couldn't get into, even though the ape makeup is still amazing and it's still a visual accomplishment. Not a fan of the ending either, as in the end (without ruining it for the few who still haven't seen it), I don't really see how such a bound in evolution could ever happen in real-life. I can still admire it as science fiction though, kind of like the finale in Interstellar was, but I don't really think whatever Kubrick tried to conceive would ever happen in reality. I might be debunked by scientists for that, but I'll just stick to Jesus.

Also, despite getting more on board with the human characters this go round, I still think some of the acting is rather wooden and emotionless. Dave in particular could have reacted better when HAL was starting to go all nuts rather than looking blank at the screen. I was still floored by what was going on, but compared to something like Interstellar, in that film, even with its ambiguous storytelling, there, I was also invested in what was going on character-wise. Nolan knew that even with the top-notch visual, he had to get the audience into the characters and their drive to explore the ventures of space. Here, I think 2001 is more worried about the visuals, the music, all the technical specs, and the themes more than the characters. The only character I loved really well was HAL, and that's only because he descent into madness was explored with ambiguity and precise care. The other characters are just there in the moment just for Kubrick to show off his passionate groundbreaking visuals. Not that that's a bad thing, but if Kubrick gave more investment into Dave, Frank, the other three crew members, and Heywood, then it'd be a five-star masterpiece for me like every other review on Letterboxd.

It sounds like I'm still bashing the film because of personal reasons, but nonetheless, I'm glad I did revisit the film. I don't think it's the greatest movie of all-time, nor do I think I'll rate it any higher than what I'm now rating it, but I do highly respect Kubrick for bringing a genre that originally was not taken any seriously and inspiring sci-fi in tackling amazing ventures into space and challenging the audience with compelling themes. 2001: A Space Odyssey does that, maybe not in the ways other films in the genre would later tackle, like some of the Star Trek films, Planet of the Apes, Source Code, and Interstellar, but still succeeds for the most part in creating an unforgettable experience.

"Look Dave, I can see you're really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over."


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