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 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...
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 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 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 20 March 2008
As has been reported this disc does have an FBI warning at the beginning but is otherwise a UK release. The packaging is for the UK. I love this film, have done for 35 years so I won't comment on the movie itself except to say that 95% of the visuals could have been made yesterday and that the story is fiercely intelligent. And so to the Blu-Ray disc:
The transfer is good. There are very few anomalies (and I don't mean Tycho Magnetic Anomalies), most of the anomalies that are present were built in, eg dirt on the rear projection screen in the Dawn of Man sequence. That brings me to my only real irritation with the film. If Stanley Kubrick was such a perfectionist (and he was) then why oh why did he allow the set designers to use a godawful backcloth screen to simulate the African terrain and sky? It's SO blaringly obvious that it's artificial because the viewer can see creases and imperfection in the fabric. It ruins the whole sequence. It was bad enough on DVD but with the extra resolution of Blu-ray it's just annoying. It's the one things that I wish someone would digitally correct.
After that all is well. Yes they got the Earth from space wrong (too washed out) but the SFX are stunningly good and look marvellous in HD. It amused me to read IBM-Tele-Pad on the Discovery crew's flat screen TV pads (whilst they're eating). There's a multitude of fine detail revealed: the ancillary rooms inside the lunar shuttle docking area reveal figures and screens that I'd not noticed before. The Star-Gate sequence looks a LOT better now. The finer detail and improved colour range of HD really adds some wow factor to it. I'm still not convinced by the colour filtered landscapes though: they could have tried harder there.
The audio is good. The soundtrack is good as it can be for a 40 year old film and despite being a little 'thin' is well within modern standards.
Frame judder is a slight problem as reported by another reviewer but I'm wondering whether that was a limitation of the original effects rather than the transfer to Blu-Ray because the same scenes in SD in the extras reveal the same judder.
The extras are many but none good. There's a very iffy Channel-4 documentary with some annoying talking heads discussing the film and various other small documentaries. None make the heart race. The best is a promotional film made for 'Look' Magazine in 1966 that was designed to interest potential advertisers in buying into a 'special' Space related supplement due to be published first quarter 68 on the back of the 2001 release. It shows some really interesting scenes of production, Kubrick on set etc and Clarke in the Grumman factory inspecting Lunar Modules.
There's something weird about this release. Amazon had a release date that has been a gone with no stock. The other Kubrick related releases appeared on time but not this one leading me to think there's been a production problem. It is possible to obtain a copy elsewhere and if you like 2001 it's worth doing so.
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.
If you're going to watch 2001: A Space Odyssey at home, start by obtaining the largest screen available. Connect to it the daddy of all home cinema sound systems and a first rate DVD player (all will be revealed below.) Find a comfortable chair at some distance from your mega screen, close the curtains and dowse the light. Sit, hit Play on the remote and prepre to be engaged and enraptured for 2 hours and more.
Regular review readers will know I'm a huge fan of Kubrick, but from his oeuvre this is arguably the masterpiece. Why? Well, to begin with, remember Kubrik made 2001 in 1968. In other words, his dazzling foray into space preceded Armstrong's first step on the moon. And the result has been the template for most space adventures made since. Even Alien makes nods to 2001. Only Tartakovsky's original Solaris (not the inferior Soderbergh remake) comes close in terms of the sheer grandeur, but that film was made in 1970 and is at least partially derivative.
Next, view the epic scale, grandeur and timelessness, a quality possessed by very few cinematic productions. Although you could hardly imagine anything more different to his works, I'm quite sure Cecil B DeMille would have been delighted by 2001. Consider too how Kubrick has adopted an unhurried pace, yet never the film never lags. For example, there are only two relatively brief recognisible conversations in the first 40 minutes of this film, yet so much more has been communicated to you in the meantime. Less truly is more, and you need a huge screen to appreciate how Kubrick's majestic spacescape. Visually, this is an awesome experience, but would never have achieved the same effect without the pioneering use of classical music, notably Strauss waltzes and, famously, Also Sprach Zarathustra, married to the elegaic pictures of space craft floating gracefully around the solar system.
Then, consider the plot, based on Arthur C Clarke's novel. It's remarkably simple, furnished with few characters and sparing dialogue by Kubrick and Clarke's screenplay, yet always intriguing and enigmatic. Somehow one needs no more, and the relative space (no pun intended) allows each character and their motivations to mature and reflect on the situation in which they find themselves. The anti-hero is of course HAL9000, the eerily voiced malfunctioning supercomputer, but ultimately it is Keir Dullea's Bowman who is reborn in a strange but comforting home environmet after enduring a hypnotic, if not hallucinogenic kaleidoscope of images on his journey to Jupiter.
Make no mistake, this is a film you could not forget in a hurry, and you'll need to watch several times to appreciate its art. Shame the DVD package doesn't include any documentaries about this historic achievement, but there are some around if you look - that's worth seeing in its own right.
on 7 November 2006
Has there ever been a film that has divided people so much as 2001? Some believe it to be the most important artistic achievement in history, and see it as an essential study of evolution, man's complex relationship with technology, and what the future holds for us. Some like it just for its stunning visuals and mind-bending ending. Others see it as a just a complete bore, and an excersise in pretension.
Truth is, 2001 is justifiably all of the above, and different people take away different things from a viewing of Kubrick's masterpiece. Firstly, there are the things we can't debate. On DVD, this film looks, and sounds INCREDIBLE. If you only have it on VHS, I must insist that you upgrade. Even in today's world of CGI, visually, 2001 has never been surpassed.
The film itself (adapted from Arthur. C. Clarke's novel) concerns a series of mysterious artefacts stumbled upon by mankind through the ages. It opens with man's prehistoric beginnings,and then skips forward to expeditions in space. There, men on a mission to Jupiter fight for their lives against rogue control computer H.A.L.
BUT, the plot of this film is not key to its magic. 2001's genius is its asking questions of its audience. It looks at evolution (Why do we evolve?) It looks at technology and creation; at which point does it become more (is H.A.L just a machine?). But most importantly it hints at the question of what the future holds for mankind.
If you've never seen this film before, that must all seem really heavy. But the beauty of 2001 is that it is all put together with a cinematic magic (of which only Stanley Kubrick was capable) that anyone will love. Seriously, even those who don't understand what's going on will be hyptnotised by the Haunting introduction (completley black), the Blue Danube Waltz section (an original score was rejected), or THAT ending.
To sum up, whether you are a 6-year old kid (you'll love the spaceships), a clueless film virgin, or a member of mensa, sit back, and take in as much or as little as you like.