on 27 November 2014
I'm torn between three and four stars for this film.
I'd give it three as an honest viewing experience at the time, but four out of amazement at it's vision and the technical and visual splendour on offer. I can't believe it was made in 1968, it must have been truly mind blowing at the time.
For those going in relatively cold, when playing the movie, you get an opening piece of music without any visual content for the first 2-3 minutes. This is kind of a good introduction to what's coming, and symptomatic of the issues I have with it, as the film is a kind of musical and visual suite with different acts, punctuated in the middle by scenes with dialogue that make the plot slightly more clear. The emphasis is very much on the artistic expression, and though the basic plot is clear and I had a sense of the effect of the alien monolyth, meaning is left to the interpretation of the viewer, especially in the final scenes.
Since watching the film, the effect of it lingered and I've read about some interpretations and found them really intriguing and this has enriched the experience. I'd recommend further reading on the film.
When the visuals kick in, and you hear the first notes of Strauss, it's hairs standing up on the back of the neck time! The music really does bring home the wonder of the shots of space and our planet for me. Being a Kubric film, these shots are all exquisitely realised and framed, rich in colour, and often a wonder to behold.
As the film progressed though, I couldn't help feeling like it really dragged in places. Perhaps it's because I'm used to watching more dialogue heavy films and I didn't have the patience or perception for this.
The acting is solid, though the astronauts are kind of cold and machine-like in their delivery. I got a sense that some of that was an accurate reflection of the nature of their work and the kind of clinical character it demands though, after further reading, it may be a reflection of a stage in the story being told of man's evolution.
By far and away the best and most effecting performance is that of the computer HAL. The sound of Douglas Rain's voice the most human thing in the scenes on board the spaceship, against the vast and terrifying void outside. This makes later scenes all the more haunting and memorable.
HAL's design and that of the spaceship itself and the pods used for maintenance, are masterpieces and still felt fresh and awe inspiring to watch for me, coming in fresh, after all these years. There are the odd scenes, such as the space travel lounge, that look dated but even then the design on view grabbed my attention in a stimulating way.
Overall I would say, like many others I guess, that I would recommend all lovers of film to watch this film. It isn't an easy watch, and may bore you in places, but as a unique event in film history, it feels monumental in ambition and will linger in your memory unlike many other films you will have watched.
on 11 July 2011
God, how this film's detractors depress me!
All this talk of boredom - and criticism of its special effects. My God, my God, my God............. How depressing that people can't cope with a slower pace, an unfolding story that you need to absorb visually (this is CINEMA), not just be spoonfed with an explicit, this-is-what's-happening-so-this-is-what-we-gotta-do... script, fast-cut visuals, and bloody CGI....
To throw age at this film as a reason for finding it wanting is dismally stupid. Countless "older" films ('68 isn't that old, actually), are brilliant - and influenced what came after - including all those films that some of these detractors probably think are better. And this is undoubtedly a brilliant film. 2001 is a CINEMATIC experience (like Lawrence of Arabia, and many others). Seeing them at home on a domestic screen can never be the same as that shared monster screen, wraparound sound, cinema experience, with it unfolding before you, and no-one to shatter the spell, with requests to walk the dog, or make a cup of tea....
The pace is slow, but inexorable: Hal's messages of antenna malfunctions, the space-walks, the realisation (by us - not the astronauts), that Hal is lip-reading their discussion of his failings, then the scenes when Hal prevents re-entry ("Open the pod doors, Hal!") are absolutely brilliant. And the later "star-gate" and the aging/dying/rebirth conclusion is a mind-blower.
A work of audacious genius. Those who don't get it are (in my unapologetic view) the lesser for it - but I acknowledge that their experience is not helped seeing this epic reduced to a small disc slipped casually into a small player (or even, God forbid, a 17" laptop). 2001 is cinema at its grandest. A DVD really isn't...
It was with a certain trepidation that I put this, my first blu-ray disk, into my new Panasonic blu-ray player. "2001: a space odyssey" has been my favourite film for as long as I can remember, and I've owned copies on a variety of VHS tapes and DVDs.
The theme is just about as epic as it's possible to imagine: the evolution of man from ape through human to a completely new life form. It's a film which has sharply polarised views, with some people completely mystified or even bored by the presentation, whilst others are spellbound and deeply moved. Unsurprisingly, I am in the second category, and still find myself surprised that Kubrick managed to get a major motion picture company to finance such a bold and imaginative film.
The presentation on blu-ray is beyond my wildest dreams. I take the point of a previous viewer about the visible joins in the front-projection screens, which could no doubt have been digitally removed, but other than that the film is in appropriately pristine condition. I sat down to watch for a few minutes - just to check that the new blu-ray player was working - and found myself watching the whole way through to the end.
The special effects were always a highlight of the film, and they do not disappoint in this new transfer. My particular favourite comes at the end of the first section of The Blue Danube where the camera appears to sail straight through between the 'wheels' of the space station - absolutely marvellous!
This film easily holds its place amongst other great cinema masterworks; watch this blu-ray version and find out exactly why.
on 28 June 2015
This is a masterpiece of science fiction, although the ending of the film will always remain a mystery...how do you conclude a film about a journey into the unknown, especially when that unknown is a mixture of both time and space?!
To all the reviewers who gave this film one star and commented to the effect that it was tedious, boring, slow, or the worst film ever made, I suggest that you stick to 'fast and furious', 'transformers', 'thor', etc, etc, as you are obviously incapable of watching anything that doesn't contain constant car chases, machine gun battles, ridiculous martial arts fights, bullet time sequences, and explosions, due to the fact that all people seem to require these days is instant gratification in the form of massive over use of CGI, and to hell with any storyline or character building.
To anyone with a modicum of intelligence, it is easy to see that the movie is extremely well made, considering the year...the space ship doesn't appear to dangle on a piece of string, for example, like fireball XL5, and the lack of constant sound track adds to the tense atmosphere. It explores the interaction with humans and A.I, in a time before quad core processors and Windows 8, and has the extremely thought provoking, and emotional, docking sequence, accompanied by Strauss's waltz, The Blue Danube, which fits the docking process so perfectly, it could have been written specifically for the movie.
So, a brilliant film which should appeal to people who like to ponder the future and can watch a two and a half hour film without falling asleep, but not to people who like loads of explosions and slow motion sequences of hot women in lycra performing cartwheels whilst simultaneously and accurately blowing away vast numbers of heavily armed men with automatic pistols equipt with infinite capacity magazines.
Apologies to the second group of people if that sentence was a little too long, as it may have become potentially boring...
on 6 September 2012
After watching 2001 A Space Odyssey i'm left speech less. Stanely Kubrick is, in my eyes, the greatest director of all time. Its one of those films that comes along every so often and blows your mind. Its so ahead of its time, even compared to today it looks lightyears beyond anything else.
The film is split into four different sections and revolves around mysterious black monoliths. The main bulk is about the voyage of two astronaunts to Jupiter to find out more about these monoliths. Its hard to truely understand what Kubrick is trying to tell you, yet this leaves it open to your own opinion. Kubrick is taking us on an epic journey from the beginning of humanity to something even bigger. From caveman to spaceman to star-child.
Visually this the greatest film of all time. I was left in stunned by how amazing the visual images were, especially considering the films age. Space has never and will never look so glourious. While the 'star gate' sequence is unbelievably good. The soundtrack is breath taking. Just watch the scene were The Blue Danube plays as rockets float in space, it really is incredible. The visuals and music are key as there is very little dialogue (none at all in the opening and closing 25 minutes).
The cast is excellent. Keir Dullea is superb as the cold and intense David Bowman as is Gary Lockwood as the more relaxed Franke Poole. Dullea's strong personality and features help greatly with the lack of talk. While Dogulas Rain's eerie voice works wonders as intellegent computer HAL-9000.
2001 A Space Odyssey is one of the greatest films of all time and really needs to be seen just to believe how great it is.
on 19 February 2013
I watched this film for the first time a few days ago, and after the impact it has made on me, I felt compelled to do a review. What can I say about this movie? The music, visuals, and imagery are just perfect, (not to mention the chilling HAL 9000).
The visuals is the best aspect of the film. From the tranquil view of outer space, Planet Earth, the spaceship, the planets and the psychedelic colours towards the end, this really is visual film-making at its best, and it's mind-blowing, considering it was done in 1968! I still wonder how the team behind the visuals did those effects they're that good!!
It's a shame that the original Star Wars films always comes to people's minds when thinking about great visuals that came out a few decades ago, when in fact 2001: A Space Odyssey really should get the credit in my opinion, especially considering it came out 9 years before the first Star Wars film.
The music is also wonderful, creating a chilling, eerie and sometimes unsettling atmosphere to the film. It truly fits with the very serious tone of this film.
More can be said about this film, but I don't want to reveal too much information, so watch it with no interruptions or distractions, and just absorb everything that is shown in the film and enjoy it.
Unfortunately, as much as I love this film, I feel that it is not for everyone, as some people might get a little bit confused or even bored by the film, but, this is a film that doesn't have a coherent and easy- to-understand storyline that everyone can grasp, and it's not meant to, as Kubrick wants the viewer to think and contemplate on what he sees, and to come to his own interpretation of the film. In my opinion, the ambiguity and cryptic nature of the film makes it fascinating to watch. If you keep this in mind, I hope you will enjoy the movie immensely, as I did!
After watching this film and really thinking on it, this is my No. 1 favourite movie of all time. I'm 19 years old, so I believe even the younger generation can enjoy and appreciate this masterpiece.
"2001: A Space Odyssey" gets a perfect 10/10 rating from me!
on 28 September 2013
EFFECTS: It is amazing to think that the time this movie was produced man had not yet walked the moon, and man had not even yet seen earth from a distance. Yet the "future" pictured has such an immense reality to it, it is difficult to understand or even accept. Its effect rivals even the best movies of today.
THE STORY TELLING: The story is told in a profoundly downplayed style, which adds together in a symphony of..... I have no words really, except I have never seen such a complex story told so effortlessly. It is a thing of perfect beauty.
THE STORY: It has taken me many years to understand it. Maybe I still haven’t, but I can say this, it as relevant as ever, and I suspect it will always be.
THE BLUERAY EXTRAMATERIAL: Has much very interesting extra material, interviews, behind the scenes and even interviews of later dates. I haven’t seen them all, but there seems to be many additional hours of entertainment.
THE BLUERAY, TECHNICALLY: My blueray sort of strangelytake a long time to start, and it starts the movie directly (no menue)... at first i thought it was faulty, but it will eventually start and after (or during) I can go to the main menu, but not when it starts. I dont know if mine have peculiarity or if it is meant to be. Even the disk provokes ponder:-)
Obviously, I am a fan. But in my love for movies, and this is all sorts of movies from the plain stupid to the overly complicated, I find this to be the best ever told.
2001: A Space Odyssey is one of my all-time favourite films, I've seen it many times over the years but I still can't say I fully understand it - not that it matters, this isn't a film you expect outright entertainment from, instead it's more of a cinematic experience. Kubrick himself said that the film was designed to penetrate an inner level of consciousness and he goes beyond the simple use of music and visuals to create atmosphere (no pun intended). The film invokes a sense of wonder and appears to be beyond the scope of human understanding, it reaches beyond our species and spans humanity from its prehistoric beginnings to what may be the next stage of our development, the slow progress of evolution catalysed by an extra-terrestrial presence.
The film contains events which remain unexplained, the strange happenings are left open to interpretation and that makes 2001 unique for every viewer - as I've grown older (but not *that* old) my interpretation of the film has changed and I have my own views on any message it contains. The science-fiction element clearly benefits from the being co-written with Arthur C Clarke, a giant of the genre, and the Sci-Fi parts of the film look as incredible now as they did then. Although the film is undoubtedly challenging to watch, it remains realistic despite the more ethereal moments and this is mainly due to the realistic feel of the science behind the fiction. The vacuum of space, artificial gravity and the functional rather than futuristic look of the technology are among many other elements which make this stand out from other science-fiction films, making it easy to take events seriously and that helps to build any sense of peril. HAL 9000 is an incredible presence, the glowing 'eye' and the gentle voice are used to maximum effect; though only a computer behaving as per its coding you can't help but feel a cold menacing presence behind it, even more surprising is the tear HAL brings to your eye when going a bit "Daisy, Daisy". Never before has the deactivation of a computer felt so emotional, and as the circuits are switched off you almost can't bear to hear the childlike innocence of a pleading machine aware of its own death.
This Blu-Ray release is not a disappointment. I originally had this film on VHS and it was one of the first DVDs I ever bought. The DVD I had was a rushed release in the old Warner Home Video cardboard DVD case with no bonus features (a trailer and scene selection do not count!). Subsequent DVD releases treated this classic with the respect it deserves and the raft of bonus features we've come to enjoy are ported onto this Blu-Ray. It may initially seem disappointing to have no additional material over the special edition DVD - but the existing stuff is truly excellent and like the film itself covers a range of high-concept questions as well as looking at the actual feature. The transfer is beautiful, although it makes the flaws in the initial scene look more obvious (the painted landscape looks like a backdrop from a children's school play!) these are soon forgotten by showing incredible levels of detail. Skin textures, space ship panels, the cosmos and even the text on display screens are presented with a quality I've never seen before. This is an epic masterpiece and the Blu-Ray shows the film in its full glory.
In a nutshell: I'm a big Stanley Kubrick fan, I even had a cat called Kubrick (maybe I still do - he hasn't come home for months) and seeing what I consider to be the best Science Fiction film ever made with such an incredible picture quality is almost a meditative experience. It's amazing to think that this film is over 40 years old, sometimes I think we still haven't yet caught up with it. Oh, and without it the iPod would probably have a much more boring name.
on 29 April 2011
What I love about the reviews for this film is not what they say about the film, but what they say about the audience. Almost without exception, they are either five star or one star, hardly any in between. I always feel a film or book can be judged by this kind of reaction. Truly great and truly awful creations will always engender extreme reactions. One review I liked on the negative side was from the one person in the world who seems to have actually read the book on which this film was based, at least he has reasons to dislike the movie, and wasn't just bored or bemused. It is certainly true that Kubrick chose to remove a voice over from the last segment of the film, which would have explained the ideas behind the images, but for me that would have destroyed the effect.
This is undoubtedly Kubrick's masterpiece. It combines all his preoccupations with humanity and technology and is an epic, a huge visceral journey through time and space, and it has no equal. CGI would have sped up the filmaking process, and possibly Kubrick would have loved using it, but frankly, the film is more remarkable for being one of the few sci fi films that actually feel real and yet uses conventional movie making techniques. It has a hypnotic quality, its pacing is daringly slow, the story is teased out at a pace that makes demands on the viewer, and it repays concentrated viewing. The basic idea of the film isn't hard to understand, the message frankly isn't difficult, but on first viewing it is a little hard to fathom as the three acts of the film are so long and so far apart, and the missing voice over means you have make the conceptual leap at the end of the film. This though, is what makes it great, and what makes Kubrick (at this point in his career anyway) such a great director. You, the viewer, have to actually do some work to enjoy it. If you're bored, then go and watch Star Wars. I'll buy a blu-ray player simply to see this movie in HD, something no-one has been able to do up to now. Every print I've seen in the cinema has been poor, and normal DVD is good, but still not as a good as a fine-grain negative transfer.
There has to be in any medium, even a literal medium like cinema, room for metaphor and pure visual spectacle. In a world of puerile rom-coms and buddy movies, where even Steven Segal has a career, those of use that like a well crafted, thought provoking couple of hours are being badly served by cinema. Inception was a dumb travesty of a movie masquerading as an intelligent story, but is the nearest equivalent to 2001 in recent times. At least we have HBO. There was a time when films like 2001 actually got made, and thankfully, someone thinks it worth releasing. Those that enjoy it, relish it, those that don't can do what I do with Adam Sandler movies. Ignore it. No one is forcing you to watch it.
on 25 April 2012
I bought this on DVD because as much as I'd heard a lot about this film I had never seen it.
Believe me - the optical illusions created in this film would convince you it was made yesterday.
There is zero CGI in this film - it is all done with optical effects/props and camera trickery.
Considering everything is done on the cheap with CGI nowadays - it is needless to say that this film is something you must have.
It is films like these where the maker's put in the passionate effort to create as realistic and illusion as possible with real life people and real life sets, where you feel totally entertained.
Like you believed Christopher Reeve really could fly, you'll believe these guys really are in zero gravity.