Fri
May 9 2014 11:00am

Why I Love 2010 More Than 2001

2010 Peter Hyams

Everyone agrees that Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is a classic. But I’m here to praise the underrated, even abused sequel, Peter Hyams’ 2010.

There are similarities, of course, as you’d expect from an original and its sequel. The special effects in both films are spectacular, and fairly well grounded in the science of the time. The relevant designs of 2001 are accurately replicated in 2010, so that if you watch them back to back, the continuity is pretty seamless. Both begin in the past, and end with moments of transcendence.

But the tonal difference is total.

In many ways, 2010 is the total antithesis of Kubrick, and I think that accounts for part of its less-than-stellar (no pun intended) critical reputation. Kubrick’s film is all intellect, a cold and sterile depiction of Man (as opposed to a man) journeying into the future with the help of discreet alien intervention. To fully understand it, you have to read Arthur C. Clarke’s novel, which I suppose is one big indicator of its serious intellectualism.

2010, on the other hand, is all about emotions. Its primary focus is character relationships: Floyd and Kirbuk; Chandra and HAL; HAL and Bowman; Curnow and Max. The film filters everything through its people, whereas Kubrick filtered his people through their technology, thus equating them with their machines, whether a spaceship or an animal’s bone. Even the aliens, for Kubrick, are only known by their devices (the monoliths). In 2010, though, the aliens’ presence is demonstrated through their relationship with the humans (such as Bowman’s widow and mother), and the potential life on Europa.

The cast of 2001, while adequate, was kept functioning on such a bland level that no one registered as fully human. You have to be pretty dead-souled to call your four-year-old daughter on her birthday and make it sound like a business conference call, but that’s exactly what Heywood Floyd does: the fact that’s he’s calling her FROM SPACE is more important than the fact that he’s talking to his daughter on her birthday.

For 2010, only Keir Dullea (astronaut Dave Bowman) and the voice of Douglas Rain (as irreplaceable as the voice of HAL as Anthony Daniels is for C-3PO) returned. The other major returning character, Dr. Heywood Floyd, played in the original by William Sylvester, was now played by Roy Scheider.

Sylvester was perfectly fine for Kubrick, and has been solid in other genre films as well (Gorgo and The Devil Doll, for example). But by casting Roy Scheider, an actor known mainly for his tough, urban films like Marathon Man, The French Connection, and The Seven Ups, director Hyams deliberately gave us an actor, and character, with whom we immediately identified, who lacked both the plastic good looks of traditional leading men and the dead-eyed anti-presence of William Sylvester. Scheider came across fine as a scientist and academic, but he also seemed like a guy you might enjoy having a beer with. You can’t imagine having a beer with anyone in Kubrick’s film, with the slight possibility of HAL.

2010 Roy Scheider

Still, there’s no denying that 2001 was a game changer, while 2010 is simply (IMO) a very good film. From that perspective, the latter will always be in the literal and critical shadow of the former. But you know what? I enjoy watching 2010 more than I do 2001. I enjoy hanging out with Scheider, Helen Mirren, John Lithgow and Bob Balaban a lot more than watching William Sylvester sleep on his journey to the moon, or Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood dally around the Discovery.

And I bet secretly, you do, too.


Alex Bledsoe is author of the Eddie LaCrosse novels (The Sword-Edged Blonde, Burn Me Deadly, Dark Jenny, Wake of the Bloody Angel, and He Drank, and Saw the Spider), the novels of the Memphis vampires (Blood Groove and The Girls with Games of Blood) and the Tufa novels (The Hum and the Shiver and Wisp of a Thing).

38 comments
Paul Weimer
1. PrinceJvstin
I DO really like that scene at the radio telescope, early in the film.
Dean B.
2. Dean B.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
You know, I have a secret. I appreciate 2001...but I really don't like it.
But I LOVE 2010.
Andrija Popovic
3. Urdith
2010 was Clarke seen through the eyes of the post Alien dirty baseball cap, working class future. I always saw it as less of a sequel to 2001 than an adaptation of Clarke's novel.

While it will never be the game-changer Kubrick created, it is still an excellent film with some great performances.
Dean B.
4. ScottDS
I consider Peter Hyams' Capricorn One, Outland, and 2010 as a perfect "sci-fi comfort food" trilogy and I mean that as a compliment. 2001 might be art but 2010 is the more watchable movie.

However, Scheider's voice-overs in this movie are a bit clunky and he says something to the effect of, "Something incredible is happening up/over/down there" at least three times. And he and Lithgow are a bit too snarky at times, but so are most characters in Hyams' movies.

I love David Shire's score and as much of an ILM fanboy as I am, this is one year where the non-ILM nominees - this and Ghostbusters, both supervised by Richard Edlund - could have and should have won the Oscar.
Paul McCall
5. PaulMcCall
I rewatch 2010 occcasionally of my own choice, I rarely rewatch 2001.
"Easy as cake!"
Christopher Bennett
6. ChristopherLBennett
I tend to agree, in many respects. 2001 is an Important Work of Cinema and all that, but it's not a movie I enjoy watching. In fact, I find it extremely boring and the only reason it's comprehensible to me at all is that I'd already read the book repeatedly by the time I finally saw the movie. 2010 is much more relatable as a story rather than a collection of visual tone poems. It also has an actual original score rather than just a bunch of clips from somebody's record collection. I've never liked the way Kubrick handled music in his films.

But 2010 is not without its problems, and the biggest one is how badly dated it is. The novel on which it's based portrayed the American and Soviet crews getting along splendidly, leaving politics back on Earth and cooperating in the name of science, reflecting Clarke's real-life experience with how the scientists and astro/cosmonauts from the respective nations tended to interact. But Hyams wanted to make the film "topical," so he threw in a bunch of Cold War tension that made the film seem laughably dated within six or seven years of its release, let alone by the time the real 2010 rolled around. That aspect does not hold up well at all.

But I think 2010 stacks up well compared to SF cinema as a whole, because it's one of the vanishingly few space movies that actually use good science. It's hard to think of many other examples of that beyond 2001 itself. Europa Report did pretty well except for the Earthlike gravity on Europa; Gravity did quite well in a lot of ways, but exaggerated the effects of space debris to a ludicrous and cartoony extreme. But then, 2010's scientific accuracy fails it occasionally as well, notably in the Discovery scenes where we see characters walking around in the pod bay as if they were under gravity. I wish Hyams's budget had allowed for rebuilding the centrifuge.
Dean B.
7. Russell H
@6 Given the current tensions between the US and Russia, and how this may or may not impact the future of the international space station (as well as future manned explorations to the Moon and Mars), that aspect of the film has suddenly become much more timely.
Luis Milan
8. LuisMilan
I'm waiting for someone to, one day, turn Arthur C. Clark's 2061 into a TV miniseries. It's got action, it's got intrigue, it's got alien lifeforms, it's got politics and terrorism.

But I hope that no one ever, EVER decides to film 3001.
Chris Palmer
9. cmpalmer
I've always loved 2010 as well. Maybe there should be a category of "Good sequels that are radically different from the original", but I think 2010 is one of the best "hard SF" movies ever made. Not perfect, but at least they tried really hard to get it right.
Christopher Bennett
10. ChristopherLBennett
@7: Maybe, but it's not the kind of tension that threatens global thermonuclear war, and of course Russia isn't the USSR.

It's surprising how practically no SF writer during the time the USSR existed ever predicted that it would cease to exist -- short of global apocalypse, that is. There are plenty of works that assume the Soviet Union would still exist centuries in the future. Star Trek had Chekov name-drop Leningrad, and The Next Generation in 1987 had a starship Tsiolkovsky whose dedication plaque said it was built at Baikonur Cosmodrome, USSR.
Sean Tabor
11. wingracer
I've never understood the hate some people have for this film. No it's not perfect but compared to the rest of the SF film collective, it's one of the best ever. I'll take this over Gravity any day of the week.
Dean B.
12. Chris L
2010 has always been my favorite of the two, and was one of my go to movies as a kid when I needed a dose of good hard scifi.
Dean B.
13. JeffP
That's why it's a free country, brother.
Martin Cohn
14. arixan
Ummm, two words on why 2010 is the more watchable film... Helen ...Mirren.
Emmet O'Brien
15. EmmetAOBrien
Paragraphs 4 to 7 of this review are pretty much exactly how I would put the argument that 2001 is a uniquely brilliant masterpiece of genuine science fiction engaging with the sense of wonder, whereas 2010 is boringly generic and fuzzy in and of itself and a massive disappointment as a sequel, substituting lowest-common-denominator Feels in place of awe. (Also, reading Clarke's novel to understand the film of 2001 is missing the point because trying to understand the film of 2001 is missing the point.)

I don't think 2010 is particularly bad in and of itself or by comparison to a great deal of other mediocre filmed SF. I just think that comparing it positively to 2001 is like arguing for Highlander 2 as a better film than Highlander.
Sky Thibedeau
16. SkylarkThibedeau
2010 made sense even without LSD.

My only nitpick is Dr. Chandra should have been East Asian.

The end of the 75 Year's War in 1989 messed up Niven and Pournelle's Co Dominium Stories from the Mote in God's Eye universe.
Christopher Bennett
17. ChristopherLBennett
@15: "...a massive disappointment as a sequel, substituting lowest-common-denominator Feels in place of awe."

But that presupposes that it should've done the same things the original did. Is that really what a sequel should be? Isn't there value in a sequel that takes an entirely different and fresh approach to the material rather than simply trying to copy its predecessor? For instance, Alien is a claustrophobic haunted-house horror movie in space, while Aliens is a military action thriller instead. And the sequel is generally praised for taking the premise in a new direction. It's not about substitution, it's about taking a fresh approach.

After all, the movie 2001 was profoundly different in approach from the book of the same name, despite the fact that they were parallel and symbiotic projects. Kubrick went for mystery and ambiguity and sensory impression, while Clarke went more for his usual hard-SF clarity and rationality and detailed exposition. Also, Clarke's novel had Discovery encounter the Monolith at Saturn after a slingshot past Jupiter, something the movie simplified for clarity. (Probably the only thing the film did to increase clarity.) Hyams's 2010 is much closer to its book counterpart in tone and content, and where it differs, it goes in the opposite direction from Kubrick's film, toward a greater emphasis on human emotion and relationships rather than a diminished one.

"(Also, reading Clarke's novel to understand the film of 2001 is missing the point because trying to understand the film of 2001 is missing the point.)"

And I get so tired of people assuming that only the film matters. The book and film were simultaneous projects developed in close collaboration. Each one is as much the original as the other is; they just happen to approach the same material in entirely opposite ways. "The point" of the book is just as valid as "the point" of the film. The book is not just some irrelevant supplement, but an equal counterpart. I didn't read the book to understand the film; I read the book to read the book. So that when I finally did see the film, I saw it as a different interpretation of a story I already knew. The two approaches complement each other, and give a fuller experience together than either one does on its own. Which I imagine was the actual point of the collaboration.

It should be pointed out, though, that 2010, unlike its predecessor was a book first, and the film is simply an adaptation of that book rather than a parallel creation. So the "real" version of 2010 is the one printed on paper, and Hyams's film is an interpretation and distillation of that story, leaving out quite a bit of material and making some changes that didn't quite work. (In addition to the Cold War tensions I mentioned above, there's also the very problematical choice of turning Dr. Chandra into a white guy.) I'm actually disappointed that this thread is comparing only the movies and hardly mentioning the books.

@16: Don't you mean South Asian? Dr. Chandra's full name in the novel is Sivasubramanian Chandrasegarampillai -- clearly based on India-born physicist Subramanyan Chandrasekhar, who won the Nobel Prize for his pivotal work on black hole theory.
Mike Redlan
18. Redlander
A case of apples and oranges, I enjoy both films; 2001 for its bold avant-garde take on the future and the evolution of man and machine, unusually coming off just as anti-technological as pro; 2010 for its somewhat old-fashioned adventure coupled with a timeless message of cooperation between nations (the current situation with Russia and the ISS is an eerie callback. "Just because our governments are behaving like asses doesn't mean we have to." Yes indeed.).
William S. Higgins
19. higgins
In #6 ChristopherLBennett writes:

But I think 2010 stacks up well compared to SF cinema as a whole, because it's one of the vanishingly few space movies that actually use good science.

In particular, it develops a few interesting ideas that came along after 2001 was made. Aerocapture. Life beneath Europa's ice. Sulfur from Io's volcanoes, staining spacecraft yellow.

The novel is Clarke's love letter to the Voyager spacecraft, which made Jupiter and its neighborhood unprecedentedly real.

And something new was happening in filmmaking. In 2010, Io and Europa are big miniatures. The ever-changing cloudscape of Jupiter, however, emerges from a computer, the same machine that had given us The Last Starfighter. (With an assist from NASA's Voyager data.)

Finally, another technical novelty. Peter Hyams sought Clarke's help when writing the screenplay.

They bought identical Kaypro II portable computers. Awkwardly they kluged up methods for flashing text from Los Angeles in the U.S. to Colombo in Sri Lanka, exchanging drafts and personal messages across 15,000 kilometers of phone lines at 300 baud.

Imagine collaborating with someone on another continent-- electronically! It seemed like all Clarke's telecommunications prophecies from the Fifties and Sixties were about to come true. Truly we were living in an age of wonders.
Alan Brown
20. AlanBrown
Alex, I am so glad you wrote this article, because I have thought this for years, but thought I was alone in my opinions.
The film 2001 is like a fancy wine. Complain you don't get it, and people tell you that you are a barbarian with an uneducated palate. Like the statement made @15, "...trying to understand the film of 2001 is missing the point." What does that mean? Why would anyone want to see a film they don't understand?
The film 2010, on the other hand, is like a well-poured pint of Guiness. Good, solid, well crafted entertainment, with real people, a plot that makes sense, but at the same time, the mind boggling premise of rebuilding a planet. The cold, impersonal sterility of 2001 has been replaced by people with emotions and passion, and clashing personalities and aims. It feels far more real to me, which makes the gigantic events at the end all the more thrilling because the movie has done so much to convince me that this is a world rooted in reality.
Give me a good pint any day of the week!
Christopher Bennett
21. ChristopherLBennett
@19: Oh, yes. I'm well aware of the Clarke-Hyams collaboration, since I own the book about it, The Odyssey File, which collects a great deal of their e-mail correspondence. And e-mail really was pioneering technology at the time.

@20: The book versions of the two tales are a lot closer to each other in tone and style -- despite 2010: Odyssey Two being a sequel to the movie 2001 rather than the book. (Clarke never really wrote a sequel to anything as a solo author, except for his "White Hart" series of short stories. Even his four novels in the 2001 series were in four different variant realities.)
Mike Redlan
22. Redlander
I think the cold sterility of 2001's future humans may have been intentional. Perhaps it was a statement of technology's double-edged effect on humanity as we become more evolved and "civilized." By bringing us closer it also pushes us farther apart. Dr. Floyd wishes his daughter happy birthday from orbit. Frank Poole's parents wish him a happy birthday from an even greater distance.

The most charismatic characters in the film, the apes and HAL, are at the beginning of their respective journeys on the evolutionary path. They're curious, confused, and dangerous, and ironically more human than the men in business suits and spacesuits. When an ape is killed, it has emotion. When HAL is "killed," it has emotion. But when the astronauts are killed, it's as cold as space.
Dean B.
23. Atlas
Wonderful! Apparently I'm the only one who loves 2001. Don't get me wrong, I like 2010 as well, love Roy Scheider as Dr. Floyd, the optimism (I think we really need a new injection of optimism in sci-fi, to tell you the truth, grimdark is too pervasive nowadays), the FX, HAL as a sympathetic character, Helen Mirren, the friendly banter between John Voight and Elya Baskin's characters... But 2001 is in another level. I think it could be one of my favourite movies of all time. Without doubt, it is the best, even though the second half slogs a little bit. But the first hour... I've watched it lots of time and it doesn't cease to leave me amazed.
Dean B.
24. Jer9
Interesting article.
I always wondered why I resonated with 2001 more than other films, including 2010: the higher intellectual (read: non-emotional) plane. Everything that i felt was mediocre and pedestrian in 2010, that seemed unfaithful to the original intent, was simply that it transcended mere individuals and their trite emotions - such is the Hollywood staple (for better or worse). When I look to a movie, I want to strive to understand and be challenged by it. I am not interested in flawed characters, sympathetic voices, amusing references, and personal attachment. I am most interested in a movie that takes on an animal documentary type of bizzarre 'other culture'. Some movies are not meant to be your friends, providing comfort or connection, but to be an alien emotional or unemotional front to be either met with impersonal analysis or startled noncomprehension. It cares not whether you can suspend disbelief, but pulls you out of your social context to really feel the impersonal culture that really exists beyond. Further, it is not memorable due to any particular shocking incident, though there certainly were pivotal points, but to its entire 'humanity as non-sacred cog witnessing a true universe event'. It did not try to contrast our feelings of awe with the great unknown, but used our least feeling characters and technology to try to bridge that gap - showing that we can meet that cold impersonal universe in a cold impersonal way, though tragically - but tragedy is the default mode of the universe. Do we need to be 'that way' to really deal with the universe and its ongoing destruction and creation? I would like to think that some of us can and that we can suspend hubris to really appreciate and unemotionally accept our role in this universe.
alastair chadwin
25. a-j
Atlas@23
No, you are not alone. I also love 2001 and watch it more often than 2010. I believe it to be the better film.
But I do rate 2010 very highly and always have. It's trying to tell a very different story than 2001 does and it succeeds in doing so. Certain sequences, specifically John Lithgow's panicky EVA and the first time we hear HAL's voice again are excellent pieces of cinema. I also greatly appreciate it that the film does not patronise me when it comes to the science. It's the only film I know of that assumes that the viewer knows what a lagrange point is and why an object placed there subsequently moving is worthy of note and interest. No a great film and an excellent SF one and I can't be doing with the cinéaste snobs who condemn it for daring to be a sequel to a Kubrick film.
Oh, and Outland's great fun as well.
Dean B.
26. Eric Saveau
I'll echo some other comenters in saying that while I greatly appreciate 2001, it is 2010 that I love. 2010 made me fell the epic quality of a scientifically ambitious crewed deep space mission in a way that 2001 never attempted to convey. In 2001 Jupiter and its moons were a mysterious backdrop for something inexplicabel, but in 2010 they were real places that you felt you could almost touch. I rewatch it on occasion and I always applaud when Chandra makes his speech in defense of HAL. And I get teary when HAL, needing only to have been told the truth, chooses to save the crew at what he can reasonably estimate will be the cost of his existence. I think it's a film that has aged better than many other science fiction films, and better than many give it credit for.
Alan Brown
27. AlanBrown
At the time 2010 came out, I remember it being panned by a reviewer in the Washington Post, who didn't like the scene where they are aerobraking around Jupiter. They said that was stupid, because everyone knows there is no air in outer space. I wish I could find a copy of that review, as often I think that my memory is playing tricks on me. But then I remember the famous editorial in the New York Times that said that rockets wouldn't work in space because there would be nothing to push against.
Not everyone appreciates scientific accuracy...
Shelly wb
28. shellywb
Nah, you didn't have to read the book to understand 2001. The first time I saw it I was 13, and watched it with some like-aged friends and one of their moms. We had a great discussion about it afterwards, and we all knew what it was saying.

2010 was a good movie, very good even. It had a great cast. But 2001 is a great movie. Whenever 2010 is on TV I don't pause to look, but when my husband or I scroll down the listings and see 2001, we always stop there. And we even have it on DVD and BD. It's not about identifying with it so much as going with it to another level.
Christopher Bennett
29. ChristopherLBennett
@28: No, you don't need to read the book 2001 to understand the movie. But it's entirely worth reading for the sake of reading the book. Books do not exist merely as supplements to movies. Especially not this book. 2001 was both a book project and a movie project, the two developed simultaneously and in parallel through the collaboration of Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick. So the book of 2001 is of equal importance to the movie. Different, of course -- profoundly so -- but hardly disposable or irrelevant.

As for 2010, again, the book was written first and the movie was simply an adaptation of it. In that case, if you want the full, complete story as its creator intended, you should absolutely read the book. Books are worth reading in their own right. Whether there's a movie involved should have nothing to do with that.
Dean B.
30. Eugene R.
Curiously, where I have any disappointment is with Clarke's novelization. I read it when it first came out and enjoyed it. But, trying it again in the titular year of 2001 (hard for a sf/f reading group to ignore), I found myself waist-deep in exposition and wound up thinking that Clarke was aiming at a non-sf audience. Which does not make it a bad book, just not one written for me.

As for the movies, well, 2001 is a rare vintage, indeed. And as Mark Twain put it, "High & fine literature is wine, & mine is only water; but everybody likes water."
Alan Brown
31. AlanBrown
Clarke was a brilliant futurist, and created fascinating settings, but I always thought his characters, prose and exposition were a bit clunky. Not terrible, but not his strong suit. 2001 was one of the books where those weaknesses were most evident. And, in my opinion, 2010 was one of the few books where I felt like his characters really came to life. That, and Songs of a Distant Earth.
Christopher Bennett
32. ChristopherLBennett
@30: Clarke's 2001 is not a "novelization." A novelization is a prose adaptation of a pre-existing movie. As I've already explained, the book and the movie of 2001 were simultaneous, parallel projects that Clarke and Kubrick developed in full collaboration. Each of them is equally the original work, and each of them is equally an adaptation of the other. If anything, Clarke's side of the equation deserves a bit more weighting for originality, since the book and movie were both loosely based on Clarke's earlier story "The Sentinel."

And heavy exposition is just Clarke's style. It's the kind of SF writer he was, a style that was not uncommon for his generation of SF writers.

@31: I think I'd agree -- Clarke's books from the late '70s and '80s tended to be somewhat richer in their character writing than his earlier stuff. Still very Clarkean, not as strongly character-driven as most of the prose SF from that period, but more so than he'd been in the past. Although I haven't really revisited any of his books in rather a long while, so I'm going from distant memory.
Mike Conley
33. NomadUK
I only saw 2010 once, when it first came out, and, though I thought it was a reasonably entertaining film, I remember being bitterly disappointed. If it had been a film on its own, with no antecedant, it would have been fine, maybe even excellent; but you can't view 2010 without comparing it to 2001, and, when you do so, it just falls flat. It simply doesn't have the imagination or the visual aesthetic of the first film. It really does suffice to list a few of the surface details, which lept out at me when I saw the film and completely ruined it for me:

Roy Scheider is not Heywood Floyd; he simply is not. He's some other character, but not Heywood Floyd.

As pointed out, Dr Chandra is completely ethnically miscast, and it's horribly jarring.

The attention to detail in the set construction is appalling: wood grain is clearly visible in the surface of one of the pods (it certainly was in the cinema release; whether that's true in the digitised versions everyon is watching now, I have no idea), and all of the computer technology looks more primitive than that in the original film.

Dialogue: banal, adolescent, excessive. It sounds like a bad Alan Dean Foster novelisation. Actually, come to think of it, I rate it about at the level of the dialogue in Prometheus.

SFX: It's been, what, fifty years? And still the special effects of 2001 are at least as good — if not better than — almost anything out there. 2010 looks like Star Wars; 2001 looks like — 2001.

Kubrick's genius was in an obsessive attention to detail, and in the ability to shear away the excess and show you what's important, to leave you with a visceral sense of the vastness of space and the insignificance of Man in the grand scheme of things. Hyam's version is just another sci-fi flick — with better than average science. But, to be honest, I'll take Silent Running, which I think does ships bouncing around the solar system a lot better, and with a greater depth of feeling.

P.S. It's probably just as well nobody ever managed to turn any of Clarke's other works, such as Childhood's End or The City and the Stars, into films; they would just screw it up.
Steven Lyle Jordan
34. Futurisk
Although I unabashedly adore 2001, I'm also of the opinion that 2010, as a movie, was "something wonderful."

It could have been better: I really wasn't fond of the "imminent war with Russia" setup (it just seemed so needlessly cliche and contrived, especially as it was so easily disrupted by a celestial event that did not directly impact anyone on Earth); the reasoning behind the Americans having to travel with the Russians (Discovery had accumulated so much sulfur from Io that it was about to deorbit and be destroyed) was somehow lost in the editing room somewhere; and the astronauts and cosmonauts may have been just a bit too unprofessional for my tastes.

Also, the very different looks of the movies is a bit jarring,
especially as 2010 sadly brought back sound effects in vaccuum... but at least they try to portray the same understanding of physics in space.

But the now-more-active role of the monolith, coupled with the reveal of what it was doing for Europa, were worth the price of admission.
Matthew Glover
35. themightysven
2001 is all about bowman's removal from humanity. Everything is science and robots and computers until he goes through the monolith and appears in a world that starts to make sense to him, but never makes sense to anyone else. 2010 is how real people interact with each other.
Dean B.
36. 2nihon
Thank you for writing this! I used to feel intimidated by Kubrick's legacy. It's kind of like Shakespeare--don't you DARE say ANYTHING bad about Shakespeare or you're in big trouble.

I watched both movies over and over as a kid (what that says about me as an adult, I don't know, but it's true), but my brother and I watched 2010 more often. I recently picked up the Blu-rays, and I still marvel at the visuals and atmosphere of 2001. I appreciate Kubrick's vision, but if I want to watch an enjoyable sci-fi movie with characters I genuinely care about, 2010 is a good fit.
Dean B.
37. troydawg
I've always had a soft spot for 2010, but I've discovered that in the era of BluRay, the visual effects don't hold up nearly as well as Kubrick's visuals for 2001: A Space Odyssey. Edlund's composites suffer the most, leaving some of the elements washed out and some shadows unnaturally gray or sepia (I saw the same things on another Edlund project: Alien 3). Certain shots are true stunners, like the view of the surface of Io far beneath Curnow's feet on the initial spacewalk sequence, or several of the shots of Max's ill-fated exploration of the monolith's surface. Perhaps sometime soon, the studio will allow Hyams to do a restoration (including recomposites) that will eventually fix those shortcomings.

Also unfortunate was that Hyams was forced to use glossy, curved CRT screens instead of the markedly more futuristic flat/matte readouts on Kubrick's Discovery sets.

I don't have a problem that the two movies are different in tone. Hyams' 2010 is a straightforward narrative with philosophical overtones, whereas Kubrick deliberately created a sprawling free-interpretation art film, with a loose narrative, that leaves questions in the laps of the viewers and expects that they will examine what they saw and come up with answers of their own. In that respect, I like that Kubrick trusted his audience enough to give them something pretty esoteric and believed they could handle it. The box office—and the culture—has surely borne that out.
Dean B.
38. IllyriaOne
Best line from 2010: "Look behind you." Just the look on Floyd's face...

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