This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
NothingRevealed’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
𝙎𝘾𝙊𝙋𝙀 𝙛𝙞𝙡𝙢 𝙘𝙡𝙪𝙗, 𝙛𝙞𝙡𝙢 1 | 𝘾𝙝𝙤𝙨𝙚𝙣 𝙗𝙮 𝙏𝙝𝙚𝙆𝙞𝙣𝙜0𝙛𝘾𝙤𝙢𝙚𝙙𝙮
This is my first Stanley Kubrick film!
It's been more than 24 hours. I'm still struggling to right a competent review of this film. I am in awe. I am shocked. I am thrilled. I am sad. I am having an existential crisis. Words cannot begin to describe my feelings.
This is a horrible start to a review. Excuse my incessant and disjointed attempt at conveying my thoughts.
Well. Stanley Kubrick's acclaimed, renowned, hated, loved, influential and entrancing science fiction epic 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) is a fascinating experience. It has a timeless, enticing feel to it despite being 52 years old.
As is often the case with these speculative science fiction films, which are simultaneously tackling spectacle, attempting to be grounded in realism and the surreal in equal measures, and studying our characters, they are very often polarising. Kubrick's 2001 is an utterly chaotic and entirely messy attempt at being both a film and an adaptation of a book which had yet to be published. The book was developed concurrently with the film and Kubrick's influence is very much present in the book as well as he helped conceive it from a concept to a reality, early on.
The way which one may perceive or grasp certain sequences or interpret them may result in exactly how much you'll like this film. There is certainly a sense of nostalgic familiarity which is present in every scene. I have read the book, seen the use of the score in Toy Story, have a basic idea of the plot, and have probably seen a countless number of media which has taken heavy influence/inspiration. Yet it still manages to shock me as the events unfold.
Once you see the final scene and the screen begins to fade to black as the credits roll, you feel almost a cathartic sense of relief, almost an eternity has passed since you laid eyes on the opening title sequence.
I can't say whether I liked this film. It held my interest, it intrigued me, it was engaging, captivating, marvelous. It didn't feel as conclusive or complete as the series of books were. I enjoyed most of it.
The movie doesn't feel as dated as you would expect it to be, and there is not a single second which you aren't left questioning what is actually going on. 2001 not only examines the future of space travel, it barely does. What it attempts to do is something more. This is much easier to digest and understand in the book series.
The portrayal of HAL is really phenomenal, and was a very unnerving example of what was, at the time, considered futuristic AI tech. Everything from its demeanour, his conscience, that absolutely majestic scene where he is shut down, and all is explained. The information HAL struggled to conceal in hopes of getting rid of our two astronauts in the name of convenience in the completion of the mission. The film never explicitly states it until the end, but they were merely there to handle things onboard and contact mission control before the hibernating crew members woke. The real purpose of the mission was the discovery of the monoliths and recurring obstacles which prevented every inquisitive earthling from discovering what it exactly was. HAL descends into a state which is far from functional due to conflicting orders provided to it regarding exactly what it has to do.
As for the monoliths which are left unexplained, in Arthur C. Clarke's fourth and final Odyssey, they are the product of an alien bioform which created them and planted them across the galaxy. Frank Poole, who is stranded, frozen, abandoned in the galaxy is found again in the year 3001 and works with researchers to shed light on exactly what the monoliths are. It is a fantastic read, I ask all of you to check it out, reminded me of Denis Villeneue's Arrival.
The score to this film accomplishes the building of suspense by blending classical and contemporary with a retro-futuristic twist. Unfortunately, the famed theme left me thinking of Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story 2. Curse you, Pixar!
And what was the purpose of this meaningless, endless rambling you ask? I attempted to assess this film, in the hopes of me figuring a fair but accurate rating for it. But, alas. I have failed. I'll have to think about it some more. Blame Kubrick and Clarke for this simplistic yet puzzling, absolute mindfudge of a film. Thank you for reading this far and accompanying me along this attempt at reviewing 2001: A Space Odyssey, I apologise for its length and unintentionally ostentatious nature.
Films like 2001 make me think, wow, we've come a long way. And what a long way we've come.