Joshua Kent’s review published on Letterboxd:
Before watching this, I had never seen a Stanley Kubrick film, and after watching this, I probably never will again. This film tells me that Kubrick is a self-important pretentious prick who pats himself on his back at his perceived genius.
Do you know how long it takes for visuals to even appear in this MOTION PICTURE? FIVE entire minutes. Do you know how long it takes for the first line of dialogue to be spoken? TWENTY-FIVE entire minutes. Do you know how long it takes for the MAIN CHARACTER to appear on screen? FIFTY ENTIRE MINUTES! I could have watched two whole episodes of Doctor Who in the time it takes for this film to introduce its main conflict.
Speaking of plot, there is basically nothing. HAL 9000 is the only good part of this film, but his presence in the film serves no purpose at all, and it makes me mad that such a good character was thrown into this pretentious pile of garbage.
I don't mind slow paced films, but there is a difference between slow paced and nothing happening. You could go take a shit, leave this film running, come back twenty minutes later and not miss a single thing. Not to mention that the fact this is three vignettes of growing length and "intensity" show this film has no idea what it wants to be. It doesn't string any of its three stories together at all, it doesn't answer (or even ask) any questions. I know exactly why, its because its too busy spending five minutes of a spaceship docking into another spaceship.
Yes, I will admit that there are some cool shots and excellent use of sound in this film. But I don't give a rat's ass what your film looks like if there is nothing entertaining about it. This film is essentially a glorified tech demo, and receives none of the praise it somehow baffingly got. Perhaps the bar for good film making was so much lower in 1968.