Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The 100 Greatest Movies - #22: 2001: A Space Odyssey

I am in the process of watching all of the Top 10 Science Fiction movies according to AFI and reviewing them for my list (http://www.dinojim.com/Cultural/Movies/10Top10.html#SciFi).

The current film I just watched is 2001: A Space Odyssey, which is #1

This movie is also on the 100 Greatest Movies list (#22), the 10th Anniversary List (#15), the 100 Greatest Thrillers list (#40), and the 100 Most Inspirational Movies (#47).

Having never seen 2001: A Space Odyssey before, I wasn't sure exactly what I was getting myself into. I had known only a few scant details of the plot and/or images of the movie but in reality I knew nothing. I'll probably spoil the plot going over the details, so if you wish to go in spoiler free, I wouldn't read any further. We start off in the distant past, when hominids first started tool use. These hominids are "visited (?)" by a monolith (one of the few things I knew about the movie was the presence of these monoliths). The monolith appears to have jump started mankind into tool use. We flash forward to the distant future (2000 or 2001) where a scientist is heading out to a dig site on the moon. Within a pit on the moon another monolith has been uncovered (I have no idea what happened to the first one on Earth). The moon monolith transmits a signal to Jupiter upon being discovered but other than that is silent. This prompts an expedition to Jupiter 18 months later (maybe this is 2001?) with one of the most well known sci-fi computers in history, HAL, leading the way (I love his unsettling design and voice). Upon arrival at Jupiter we find another monolith and all hell breaks loose because I don't have a clue as to what is going on. There's a baby and...the end. 

For the most part this movie is visually breathtaking, but ploddingly slow. My wife would look up at the screen every couple of minutes to see if anything new had happened. It didn't. The visuals could almost make up for it, but I feel that Kubrick purposely drug out the scenes to emphasize the slowness (much to the detriment of the modern audience I am sure). The entire movie is rather slow up until the end, when everything kicks into psychedelic. Truthfully, I was rather interested in the movie, wondering from the get go if would we get a reason for the monoliths. My feelings wavered throughout the movie, sometimes thinking we were going to get no answers at all and sometimes thinking we would get answers to everything. However, at the end of everything, I have no clue what we got, besides a WTF. The ending definitely felt like something pulled straight from Contact (or I guess vice versa based on creation dates). But no, I don't think we got an answer. This is the type of movie that film schools thrive on I'm sure, trying to piece out the meaning behind everything. I prefer an answer though. Overall my thoughts on the movie were that, besides the slowness, I was in for most of it. The monolith music was suitably unsettling, and everything about the movie from the sound design to the visuals had me. But my big problem with the movie was that I wanted to know what was going on. I needed to know. Unfortunately, I never found out. I feel like I should watch this movie again to possibly discover an answer hidden in it, however I don't think I can do it.

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