- Movie Rating -

2010 (1984)

| December 7, 1984

I had a kneejerk reaction to this movie.  It is a sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey so my immediate instinct was to approach it in the same way that I approached Psycho II.  ‘What is the point?’, I had to ask.  What is to be expanded and explored that wasn’t covered in the original, particularly since the original director is not involved.  Kubrick made 2001 in 1968 at a moment in history when America was wrapped up in a revolution on a racial and social and sexual level.  Here it is 16-years later and the revolution has quieted but not resolved.  The lingering tiff with the Soviet Union continues and according to this movie will continue well into the 21st century.

But let’s get back to my rejection.  Kubrick’s original was a meditation on the nature of mankind as a fleeting and almost pointlet speck in a universe that is evolving beyond his understanding.  In the year just before man first walked on the moon, it left us with a message of hope, that we can aspire to a greater evolution if we only reach higher and farther.  In that spirit, 2010 wants to be the movie that answers the questions left by the original, to bring about the mysteries of the previous film in a much more literal sense.  It can’t, and on the level of trying to give us answers it fails.

And that’s the problem.  This is not a terrible movie.  It’s a terrific space adventure that gives audiences who were frustrated by Kubrick’s film some kind of closure.  Those who complained that 2001 was self-indulgent and meaningless and empty may find an answer at the end of this movie that brings things around, that gives a message of peace from the monolith that is supposed to match the ending of 2001 with narration and soft music.  I didn’t buy it, but still I enjoyed myself.

2010 is very much a movie of the moment, less inspired by the 2001 and more in the spirit of Star Wars and Outland and Alien.  The dreamy qualities of its processor have given over to bulky machines and grounded techno-speak.  It stars Roy Scheider as Dr. Heywood Floyd who agrees to become part of a joint Soviet-American expedition to the moons of Jupiter to figure out what happened to Discovery, her crew and the onboard computer HAL-9000.  Needless-to-say, things are tense between Floyd and the Soviet Captain Kirbuk (Helen Mirren) mostly because the superpowers back on Earth are on the brink of World War III down in Central America.  By focusing on the characters, director Peter Hyams (who directed Outland) tries to give the movie a pulse but I much preferred Kubrick’s idea that human beings are vacuous functionaries who are is desperate need of a upgrade.

I was trying to find fault all through this movie, and my grievances are mainly listed above, but I will say that I got involved in this movie.  I was surprised how intelligent and thoughtful the characters were.  I was surprised at how well-produced this movie.  The special effects are not only awe-inspiring but have a sense of wonder and logic perhaps borrowed from the films of George Lucas.  But the ending left me cold.  I didn’t want answers to my questions like what happened to HAL, or what does the Monolith have to tell us.  The ending of this movie offers a message of peace and tranquility that, to be honest, I found kind of childish when viewed through the grander scale of how we were left at the end of 2001.  I will never have the experience again of that star child regarding me, asking questions, challenging me to be more than the parochial little creature defined by my narrow horizons.  Movies have grown too expensive and too risky to offer such poetry.  2010 reaches for a much more pragmatic and satisfying end and misses.  It’s not a bad movie, but you can’t escape the fact that it seems to be missing the point.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1984) View IMDB Filed in: Sci-Fi/Fantasty