60/60 Review #29: 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Let me begin by taking you back to the beginning of this project. 2001: A Space Odyssey was originally in my first month--"Space/Sci-Fi"--but it didn't arrive in time from Netflix. Because of this, I had to switch it out with the only other film that made sense to switch it with. Invasion of the Body Snatchers was originally, obviously, in the "What A Twist!" Month, but it also worked with the first month of the project. That being said, 2001 came in from Netflix immediately after I originally needed it... and I've had it ever since. That's right, this little piece of work has been sitting on my coffee table for 6 months, relatively untouched, waiting for this moment. And now that moment has arrived.

Troll 2, which I'll be reviewing later this year, is known for being the "Best Worst Movie." I can honestly say, even by the time I was less than an hour into 2001, that this is the "Worst Best Movie." After 3 minutes of blackness and music, about 7 more minutes of landscapes and music, another 15 minutes of monkeys (and/or early human species) and music, a random monolith (which shows back up later) and music, and another 35 minutes of random space travel and boring talkie stuff (sometimes with music), we reach the hour mark of the movie when the "story" picks up. Humankind is studying this strange monolith thing, along with a computer system HAL. And other really boring crap happens, too.

There are 2 things this movie excels at: Visuals and Music. Let me start with the visuals. The visual effects are mindblowing, and I found myself questioning how Kubrick pulled off a lot of stuff. But everything visually--practical and otherwise--definitely holds up. The soundtrack, of course, is fantastic, as well. But with its reliance on such a classical track and minimal talking, there are some obvious issues that arise. The movie is awfully dull, despite some fascination on how things were pulled off. There's only so much you can take with almost nothing going on for 2.5 hours.

The HAL stuff is definitely interesting. But, of course, that's the part that is most famous. It's the most quoted or referenced bit. It's mysterious and creepy. It also leads into the movie's "twist," which is why it fits into this month. But at the same time, it's still pretty dry and not supremely fascinating. Still, it's the best part of the movie (once things start going bonkers).

On the other hand, there's absolutely no reason to show us every single second of movement and whatnot. There's a reason movies and books tend to skip over scenes of the eventless, menial tasks of everyday life--sleeping (that's not horror or romantic), going to the bathroom (that's not a comedy), quiet meal times (that aren't filled with dramatic tension). I've always dreamed about going into space. But if there were a movie that could possibly make space travel unexciting and actually stop the child-like wonderment of being an astronaut, it's this one. Congratulations, Kubrick. You've made the "eventless scene" movie and killed my childhood dreams in the process.

So this is my summation of the film: The first hour of the movie is a dry Sci-Fi Fantasia with "talkie" interludes and without the charm of Mickey Mouse and dancing hippos. The second hour of the movie is like taking the music out of a techno song, leaving only the monotone, pointless, repetitive babbling. And the last 20 minutes? Um... God had an orgasm, ejaculated Tron, got pissed at how crappy it looked, destroyed the universe in an effort to get rid of the evidence, took some LSD, and remade everything--though with a slight uncertainty on what to do with Dave. That's about the best I can explain it (sorry if you found that offensive). You want to see what a more entertaining (and sensical) version of this movie would be like? You're in luck. It's called WALL-E. Check it out.


(P.S. I've since looked up information on what even Kubrick said was going on in the film. I figured aliens and evolutionary jumps and all that while watching... but I like my silly interpretation better.)


  1. I hate to say I told you so, but.....

  2. You can only say "I told you so" when you tell me so and I still don't believe you :P

  3. Or I can say "I told you so" when i warned you that it was going to test your attention span and that I wagered you weren't gonna dig it.

    To be clear though, I know where you're at. It took me four or five watches to really start to enjoy it.

  4. Yeah, that ain't gonna happen. Maybe one more... with friends... to do a riff session on it (which I already did in my head the first time--the only way I got through it).

  5. C'mon man - it's not nearly that bad. It's a complexed film, don't write it off after one go.

  6. Nick, while I don't want to sound too 'I know how you feel,' this is almost exactly - word for word - my reaction to the first time I watched this movie. And while I also don't want to bandwagon hop Mad Hatter's 'watch it again' train. It took me three years, and massive bribery from friends, before I finally did so.

    Now it's on my top 100 films and a movie I've watched a dozen odd times.

    I won't say, OMG GO WATCH IT AGAIN NOW! I will say, however, keep an open mind to doing so. It may surprise you one day.

  7. Exactly why I refuse to watch it.

  8. Dude, seriously, I watched this movie THREE times, at different periods in my life (once when I was 16, once when I was 19, and once when I was 21 or so) and every time I wanted to murder somebody.

    I'm only glad I watched it to get all the references that were made on MST3K, and most sci-fi spoofs.

  9. "It took me four or five watches to really start to enjoy it."

    This is bullshit.

    For the record, I don't feel like Nick does on 2001. However, those words should never be uttered. I'm not against giving a film a second go after a break, but if you have to watch a film four times to merely start to enjoy it, there's something wrong either with you (glutton for punishment trying too hard) or the film (inaccessible mumbo jumbo). The film in question may be great, but there are a lot of fish in the cinematic sea, and no one should have to spend 10 hours trying to convince themselves that this one is enjoyable.

    Along the same lines, this is probably why I haven't watched Mulholland Dr. yet. And why I'd never watch Eraserhead again.

  10. @ Dylan... Yeah, you're right. I should have just called it a day after 18-year-old me watched it on a 13" TV when he was half awake anyway.

    That guy who thought "this sucks" was way smarter than he is now.

  11. I have a good appreication for the film - I enjoy mocking it, and the fact that it's so tied to my college experience (graduated in 2001) I have trouble hating it, but man is it dull.

    Great discussion guys - Fletch, I'm with you, fool me once and all that.

  12. @ Jess... I'm starting to think that some of y'all say things just because they know they'll get a rise out of me.

  13. Hatter - baiting you is my reason for living.

  14. @ Jess... Isn't it everybody's? 'Sides, a responsitory post on The Matinee is already in the works.

  15. I wasn't gonna say anything, but since Dylan brought it up... yeah, having to see a movie 4-5 times in order to just start liking it is ridiculous. There are movies I own and actually like that I haven't watched that many times yet. I agree, like Dylan, that some should be watched again (on of my favorites--Repo! The Genetic Opera--I didn't start truly liking until a second viewing). But 4-5 is too much. Though since Dylan really said this already, I'm being a bit redundant... so I'll just stop.

  16. Alright.

    Y'all are right, I'm wrong. This movie sucks and there's no point in watching any film more than once.

  17. Giving a movie a second chance is totally fine, if you've had time to change your mind and learn to appreciate film more.

    For example, I watched 12 Monkeys upon its initial release when I was 14 and hated it. A good decade later, I watched it again and realized that it was a pretty damn good film.

    However, I saw Donnie Darko when I was 24 and rewatched it five years later. I still don't like the movie at all and won't give it a third chance. I officially do not like it.

  18. Hatter: No need to be like that. There is a huge difference between giving a film a second chance (which we all agree on) and giving it 4-5 chances when you don't like it the first 1-3.

  19. I started liking it after time number two, it was around time number four that I started to actively love it.

    But again - what do I know?

  20. OK, I've tried to be nice. The two of has have managed to be civil for a good few weeks now, and it was going well. But I have to say this: Dude, stop acting like a baby. You act like everybody has your exact taste in movies. This is a controversial film. Some people like it, some people don't. Not everyone has the same taste. It's just fine that you like and/or love it. It's just fine that some of us don't. Just because I didn't like this and some others didn't like it (even after seeing it 2-3 times) doesn't mean that you're wrong or that you fail at life. It just means you have a different taste in film. Which is normal. Go with it. Stop whining.

  21. Simmer down, everybody.
    They all make a damn good point. And I just want to add this. I've seen 2001 4 times. On top of multiple partial cable viewings. While I think it was visionary in scope and a beautiful film to look at, I still don't get it and it does get dull in parts. I'd much rather watch Full Metal Jacket or Clockwork Orange.
    And while I understand your points, Everybody is right. You shouldn't have to read an essay or watch something like it's part of a college cirriculum to get it unless you want to. Let's be honest, if this was an Adam Sandler film, we wouldn't have this discussion. It's only cuz it's a Kubrick film that people deem it worthy of further inspection.
    But who cares?
    You like it. Happy for you.
    I think it's pretty to look at. I'm good.
    Nick doesn't care for it. Next movie.
    Quite honestly, the bigger discussion here should be Nick's love of Repo the Genetic Opera! Which I haven't seen so it may be awesome but it's still funny that that came up in here! :P

  22. I can see how people might find this boring, but I love the way Kubrick synthesizes music and motion in this film. The spaceship sequence is like a ballet, while the Dawn of Man sequence feels like a strange sort of meditative piece.

    Yes, part of it clearly caters to my more cinematic sensibilities, but I found myself grinning and in awe for a lot of these sequences. A lot of the special effects in this film simply baffle my mind.

    But yes, it's a very challenging film and I completely understand the people who find it frustrating.


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