Ok. Here it is. The big one. Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 : A Space Odyssey. I’ve wanted to watch this for the last seven years of my life. Here I am, watching it. What do I think?
I want to get a few things clear with this, straight away. I liked the movie. Not a lot, but I liked it. Why? I don’t know. Why don’t I know? Because of all the crap.
The story is relatively simple. Apes find monolith, use bones as tools and begin evolutionary cycle into man. Man finds monolith and monolith makes annoying and loud noise. Man look for monolith, whilst computer tries to kill man, but man kills computer and continues search for monolith. Man finds monolith, grows old, then experiences pre-birth style life, whilst watching over the Earth. Simples!
I could demonstrate that entire story in, maybe, half an hour. Maybe drag it out to a full 45 minutes of Dr Who, but instead Kubrick has taken this story, twisted it, thrown in a shitload of un-needed motion or conversation and boosh! 2001 is the result.
Lets look, for example, at the scenes where Hal 9000 tries to kill Dave and everyone else. I watched for half an hour as Dave went out to save Frank’s dead body, turned around, had a quick chat with Hal, then used basic physics to outsmart the computer that has managed to convince the world that it is nigh-on-infallible. We don’t need all that. We can do without saving Frank (who, incidentally, was left floating in space in the end anyway) or doing the fiddly little turning sequences. Don’t get me started on the psychedelic nightmare of the pre-finale…
By far, my favourite scene has to be the one with the apes. The genuine joy I felt whilst suggesting that a particular monkey was called Jerry, along with other characters throughout, made it all worth watching. For example, there’s a part where Jerry walks through a pool of water which the monkey tribes fight over. I decided it was funny to put on a voice and reprimand him for doing such a thing as sullying their water with his feet.
If there’s one thing 2001 is famous for it, its one of two things. The soundtrack and the iconic scenes. Iconic scenes? Fools! I mean the whole ‘I’m sorry Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that’ and ‘Daisy, Daisy. Give me your answer do…’ both of which were said and made brilliant by Hal.
Musically, the film is astounding. I haven’t checked the names of the music, but BLOODY HELL! Right after the freaky ‘have I got the right codecs?’ start, there’s a well timed section where we hear the most famous piece of music in the film, to perfectly times words and imaging. We watch the Earth, over the moon, whilst the sun pokes out over the top. Perfection.
Not so well timed bits? Well, right at the end of the Ape scenes, we witness one throw a bone into the air, which flips and cuts to the space station or space ship, or something. The timing is completely off. However you look at it, it’s wrong. It shouldn’t have happened, but it did and I’m disappointed. The concept was good, but no. I’d seen it before, of course, in the form of a part-eaten donut in the intro for ‘Startopia’ (a decent game actually), but the timing there was great and well done. Not here. Not with Space Odyssey.
However, Kubrick’s understanding of space travel is brilliant. The use of a roatating ship to create gravity on it’s outer edge? Genius. How about when the hostess on the space ship uses her velcro shoes to walk up the wall and enter the cockpit? Again, genius. It’s the small things that make it so good. Like the Hilton. Like the fact that we were shown the way Dave would escape the pod safely (explosive bolts on the doors were a dead give-a-way and I’m ashamed to say that I only saw it as he was opening the emergency door on the ship – Admittedly, I did nearly fall asleep a few times.)
So, remember the little things. Makes a film like this much better to watch. Overall opinions? Great start, mediocre middle-start, prolonged middle-end and fucked-up end. It got worse as we went along. We could cut half of the film and it’d make sense. Maybe next time, ignore the crappy freak out sequence that looks like Dave’s on drugs. Maybe we can get rid of most of the introduction to Hal, Dave, Frank and the other three astronauts we get shown, who’s roles were so small, I don’t recall seeing any actors for them.
Score? Well, I’ve known for the last hour what I was going to choose. Sorry Kubrick. You may have been on the spot with Dr Strangelove, but not here.