Sunday, April 5, 2009

Day Eighty-Four: 2010 (1984) - Rank 4/5


When Stanley Kubrick made "2001: a Space Odyssey," he created, in my opinion, a masterpiece. It was a methodically brooding piece of work that focused on the loneliness of space travel, filled with amazing visuals and a great score. To try and follow that up is no easy task, and for some time, I was hesitant to watch "2010" for fear that it would fail to live up to the Kurbick's film so badly that it would be unwatchable. The interesting approach that director Peter Hyams (whose filmography is not the most impressive) is he didn't try to incorporate any of Kubrick's influence into his film. He simply made a follow-up to "2001" and chose to give it its own sense of style and tone.

The film picks up where "2001" left off - a mission is being sent to Jupiter to figure out what happened to Bowman and the Jupiter II. Along the way, strange discoveries of life are found on one of Jupiter's moons and it soon appears that Bowman is not dead at all (though the term "alive" might be a gross error). The cast is great, with Roy Schieder, John Lithgow, Helen Mirren and teen heartthrob Bob Balaban making up the primary crew members. The special effects are pretty impressive for the era as well.

While the sequel could never compare with Kubrick's film, it stands excellently on it's own and still works when compared with the realm created in "2001." Many aspects of the plot from the first film are clarified, though there was one sticking point for me: the humanization of HAL. Initial examination of his circuits leads the crew to conclude that he was not entirely responsible for his actions against Bowman, Poole and the rest of the original crew on the Jupiter II. To me, one of the most unsettling elements of the first film was HAL's cold, logical elimination of the crew as a result of valuing the mission over human life. To try and rationalize his actions further make him seem more harmless and less villainous, a clarification I could have done without. All in all, a respectable sequel to a film that could be viewed as impossible to follow.

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