I’m of two minds when it comes to 2001. Today was the first time I’ve seen this classic film. What do I think? Two things come to mind, first, this film was well beyond its time, technically, and is more a metaphor or poem than a story. Second, this film is overly long and could have been tightened up.
2001 is a brilliant film by all technical means. Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clark put together a film about space that was and still is very plausible. Unlike the other space classic, Star Wars, there are no laser blasters, bug-eyed aliens, or gravitational field generators in 2001. All of the technology of 2001 reflects what was current then, and could well possibly be current now. An example would be the gravity on a space station instead of putting a gravitational field generator in (the easy way), the design of the space station is in the form of double wheels that rotate in space, and using the centrifugal force, it is able to create gravity for those onboard the station. It is details like this that make 2001 a brilliant film by technical means, at no point during the film will you not believe that what is being done could possibly be some time in the near future.
The film is a bit overly long and could have been tightened up. Though I can see that the film is more of a metaphor for the future, it is somewhat sloppy to let some scenes run as long as they do. The opening sequence shows this off very well. Though it is an interesting opening to a film, it did not have to be thirty minutes in length to show what it did.
2001 is broken into three very distinct movements. The middle movement is the longest, and sets up for the most memorable and known character, HAL. This is a bit strange because the one character that is most memorable is not human. HAL is the famous machine that all of us know, and many movies have mentioned (take for instance Independence Day). The one real hero of the film would be Dave Bowman, but he is not as memorable as HAL.
The special effects in 2001 are amazing, even when looked at with today’s advancements in special effects. And most likely it is these special effects that keep the film interesting. Also interesting is the use of classical music in the film. Like most people I loved the use of the Blue Danube Waltz to set up the docking of the space shuttle and the space station. All other classical music is well picked and well used throughout the film.
2001 is a brilliant film ahead of its time, but it is a bit sloppy when it comes to length and pacing. Because it is to be viewed more as a metaphor or a reflection of how society is this is still no reason for the length and bad pacing. I recommend 2001:Space Odyssey because it is a classic film that set standards for films to follow, that is technically or via special effects. Its realistic rendition of space and space travel are well done. But, many people will be bored with the film. If you have three hours to spare and some patience, see 2001 for its special effects.