2010 - Worst Movie Ever Made That's Not Worth Seeing Anyway

2001 is a science-fiction movie based upon one great idea that over the next two and a half hours is played out in the most glacial, plodding, ascetic and inscrutable manner imaginable. So some people think it is long and dull and others think it is long, dull and great. I’m the latter: although 2001 is slow-moving and maddeningly ambiguous for first-time viewers, so is the Monolith, and I think in a lot of ways the film’s pacing and tension were plotted out by Kubrick to be cinematic grammar for the main symbol of his film. I’m not quite sure if my interpretation of what goes on in 2001 is the right one (I’ve never read anything about it), but after many viewings, it is pretty clear to me what is going on in 2001: the Monolith is a cosmic catalyst of the next stage of awareness in beings that come into contact with it. At the start of the film, the austropelithicae touch it, evolve into sentient creatures and consequently become murderous. Later in the film, HAL9000 comes into advance radio contact with the Monolith and the same thing happens. Ultimately, David Bowden also touches the Monolith and evolves to a terrifying new strata of human awareness. That’s basically the film - it is extremely self-contained with a bare minimum of plot points. It could probably be editted down to forty minutes. It is ultimately a horror film juxtaposing the claustrophobia of the human mind with the agoraphobia of an infinite universe we fear having a complete answer to. Some people don’t like it, but it is definitely a masterpiece.

So how in the name of Jumped Up Jesus did 2010 happen? What if HAL-9000’s killing spree at the end of 2001 - instead of being artificially evolved to the next murderous stage of evolution by coming into advanced radio contact with the Monolith - was a faultless casualty of US agression in the Cold War? What if David Bowden became an angel at the end of 2001? What if the Monolith was a benign cosmic force just trying to bring peace and love to human kind and ultimately stop the Cold War by inexplicably creating a second sun out of Jupiter? There’s probably more but I just seized up in a body-wide wince just remembering those “clarifications” on 2001’s premise. The one thing that really just kills me though is making the Monolith a benign entity: to swallow that, you have to have wandered into the sequel never even catching five minutes of the first film, where the Monolith is a palpable signal of cosmic dread.

God, this movie is just so retarded. It just cheapens every single thing that made 2001 great. Who the hell greenlighted this picture? I mean, it is all competently done: there’s a good cast, decent acting, excellent special effects. But riding Kubrick’s coat tails and following-up on a film that left plenty of questions but no unanswered plot points has to be one of the worst ideas in the history of cinema. Are the Arthur C. Clarke sequels so clueless about the philosophical motifs that made Kubrick’s film so appealing?

I won’t bother with a play-by-play of your post. You do know that both 2001 and 2010 were written by ACC, don’t you?

From http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/aclarke.htm:

Among Clarke’s best known work is the short story THE SENTINEL (1951) about man’s contact with sentient life. In the spring of 1964, Clarke retired to Hotel Chelsea in New York and started to write a novel about a space travel… Clarke’s work became the basis of the novel and film 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968), for which Clarke wrote the script with Stanley Kubrick. In the story a mysterious monolith is found buried beneath the surface of the moon. It send’s a signal towards Jupiter. To solve the mystery astronauts are sent to Jupiter with the help of the super-computer HAL 9000. With the amazing computer Clarke presents one of the basic philosophical questions: can there be intelligence without consciousness? After series of accident’s and HAL’s operations, one of the astronauts, David Bowman, is left alone as the ship reaches the planet. He embarks on the final step in humankind’s next developmental stage. Clarke continued the Odyssey Saga in three sequels, 2010: ODYSSEY TWO (1982), 2061: ODYSSEY THREE (1988), and 3001: THE FINAL ODYSSEY (1996).

qv http://www.kubrick2001.com for the ‘standard model’, if you like.

Pretty much correct. In the book, HAL’s murderous streak comes from contradictory programming–HAL knows what the real mission is, but has been told to lie about it to keep it secret. But HAL’s programming prevents him both from lying and from disobeying orders. He ends up going insane. It’s not that he comes into contact with the Monolith; he’s there more to serve as a counterpoint to the evolution of the human intellect.

I do agree that 2001 is a great, if slow-paced film, and that 2010 doesn’t even come close. Ditto for the books.

I agree with Ben’s assessment of both the books and the movies. Although ACC has the authorship credit on all the books, it’s important to note that the story (such as it is) of 2001 was very much a collaboration between Kubrick and Clarke. The book 2001 was Clarke’s novelization of the screenplay. The subsequent books are pure Clarke, and not very good Clarke at that.

I actually read 2001 before I saw the movie. Thus, the end made as much sense as that ending can when I saw it. The movie’s a lot better if you’ve read the book… The movie ending without the exposition in the book is just peculiar and confusing.

2010: the book is only marginally better than the movie. I have 2061 and 3001, but haven’t ever gotten around to reading them.

2061 is absolutely terrible. Don’t bother. I never read the one after that–I gave up on Clarke entirely by that point.

I’ve read the books and seen both movies. I know about HAL’s contradictory programming. But I like Dr. Crypt’s “HAL evolved because of the Monolith” theory better - so from now on I’m going to believe that. Anyway, I know Clarke is a visionary and all and I respect his contribution, but sort of like Copolla outdid the book with the Godfather, I think Kubrick outdid Clarke with the film 2001.

Yes, Kubrick really pushed Clarke in the direction that he (Kubrick) wanted to go. I’ve got an old paperback by Clarke called “The Worlds of 2001,” which contains the Clarke short story, “The Sentinnel,” that gave Kubrick the idea for the movie, and Clarke’s story treatments for the movie script. The initial treatment is a very conventional (and dull) humans meet alien story, in which the Discovery astronauts (all of whom survive, no HAL at this point) actually meet the Monolith creators face to face. With each subsequent treatment, you can see Kubrick pushing the story to greater and greater abstraction. And then, of course, you look at 2010, 2061, etc, there’s no Kubrick and no abstraction at all.

2001 the movie is a Kubrick movie, with ‘meaning’.
2001 the book, 2010 the book, and 2010 the movie are standard Clarke sci-fi.

Interesting random observations:

2001 the book had Bowman dealing with HAL around Jupiter, but the monolith was actually around Saturn. 2010 retconned that, figuring that people would have seen the movie, not read the book, so it all took place around Jupiter.

One thing I noticed about 2001, and I don’t know how this fits into the Cryptian analysis, is that all the human characters in the ‘modern age’ are sleeping with their eyes closed for most of the movie, even when they’re flying around in space. The only character that’s awake with his eye open is HAL – the machine.

The entire “Cold War” schtick of the 2010 movie was an addon. It wasn’t in the book at all. “All these worlds are yours except Europa, attempt no landing there” was all that there was in the book – none of the “use these world together in peace and plant flowers and make it safe for puppy dogs” addon text.

I actually rented 2010 on DVD the other day. There’s an old “making of” featurette which contained the hilarious info that Kubrick ordered the Discovery model destroyed after 2001 so that no one could make crappy sequels. They said “hahah! We’ll build another one!” and proceeded to make a crappy sequel.

I thought the 2010 movie did a poor job with the “find out there’s life on Europa” scene too. The book had these Chinese guys land on Europa, and had the destruction of their ship recounted by the sole survivor, who was outside the shpi and beaming, on his remaining air, the account of the destruction of the Tsien. The movie had this probe that went beep. Nowhere near as effective.

As for 2061, that was crap.
3001? For gods sake, the character they brought back was Frank Poole, and he went got a computer virus and turned off the monolith. I mean… whatever.

My understanding was that 2001 the movie, and 2001 the book were developed together. 2001 the book had Saturn as the setting, and that 2001 the movie was originally to use that setting, but they couldn’t get the rings right to Kubrick’s satisfaction so they changed the setting to Jupiter which had no rings (that they were aware of at that time).

That’s correct. The book was focused on Iapetus, a moon of Saturn, but Douglas Trumbull, who handled the special effects for the movie, couldn’t get the rings and their shadow to work right with the motion blur system they were using to create the planet, so they switched to Jupiter (which led to the follow up books and movies focusing on Europa).

Trumbull did figure out how to do Saturn later, and used it in his movie “Silent Running”.

Couldn’t help but notice Brian Minsker’s location in Champaign, which puts him right in the neighborhood of HAL’s birthplace. :)

Thanks for the siren’s shriek of pedantic hysteria, Larry Land. My point was - and is - that Clarke’s artistic grasp of 2001’s motifs is inferior to Kubrick’s. It is totally irrelevant who wrote the books (although, according to a lot of people in this thread, 2001 was more or less brainstromed by Kubrick) - a book is not the same as a movie. A good analogue to the entire Kubrick/Clarke relationship is probably the one David Fincher had with Chuck Palahniuk. Check out the commentary on the Fight Club DVD - at every turn, Fincher seems to have a better grasp on the material than Palahniuk does. Kubrick obviously had a grander vision of 2001 than Clarke did.

I really appreciate a lot of the commentary you other guys have put in fleshing out the details of the book. It is distressing to know that HAL 9000 was meant by Clarke to have gone on a killing spree because of contradictory programming… how the fuck does that even remotely fit in to what the main plot is about? It is just murderous sci-fi robot filler. Where as I’m not really sure what other interpretation of HAL’s killing spree on the Discovery is possible given the information presented in the film. The fact that his murder spree happens around Jupiter close to the Monolith and resembles the self-preservation savagery of the austropelithicus killing sprees at the beginning of the movie all lead to the conclusion that the Monolith has done something to him. Regardless of whatever Arthur Clarke’s incompetent mythos says, I think Kubrick clearly meant for HAL to have been evolved by the Monolith - if not, the entire HAL section of the plot makes no sense in the context of the film.

Maybe I need to read it, but I just can’t believe Sones’ description of the real reason HAL went insane adding a single thing to the plot (although thanks for explaining it, Ben… you explained it better than 2010).

Absolutely. Clark’s 2001 is a decent sci-fi book, but Kubrick’s film is seminal.

It is distressing to know that HAL 9000 was meant by Clarke to have gone on a killing spree because of contradictory programming… how the fuck does that even remotely fit in to what the main plot is about?

It doesn’t have a lot to do with what the main plot in the film is about, but as you pointed out, Kubrick’s film and Clark’s book differ on a number of key points. It works okay as a subplot in the book (it’s a huge part of the story in the movie, less so in the book), but I agree that Kubrick handled it better in the film.

Regardless of whatever Arthur Clarke’s incompetent mythos says, I think Kubrick clearly meant for HAL to have been evolved by the Monolith - if not, the entire HAL section of the plot makes no sense in the context of the film.

Sort of. I’m not sure that “evolved” is the right word. I always interpreted HAL’s behavior as aberrant rather than intentional–the Monolith tries to “evolve” him, but it doesn’t work quite right because he’s really just a machine and lacks the capability to grow in that fashion. I mean, the point of the “austropelithicus killing spree” was not that violence makes you more evolved, but rather that they had evolved (with the help of the Monolith) to understand the concept of tools. I don’t think HAL’s behavior is analogous–he starts killing people, but only because he is malfunctioning, not because he has discovered some new level of understanding analogous to the austropelithicus’ discovery of tools that makes it all possible.

The manner in which the austropelithicus use the bone just underscores how primitive they still are, in spite of their newfound knowledge. I think Bowman’s experience at the end of the film is meant to be a sort of bookend to that theme, demonstrating how primitive we still are, in evolutionary terms, in spite of how advanced we like to think that we are.

Although I agree that Kubrick handled this aspect of the story in the film better than Clarke did in the 2001 books, this is one of the grand themes that pervade all of Clarke’s novels, along with the theme, also in 2001, that humanity won’t evolve to the next level without the intervention of an alien super race. Better handling of these themes can certainly be found in other Clarke novels, such as Childhood’s End (although Tom Chick wouldn’t agree) and Rendezvous with Rama.

See, I always had a slightly different interpretation of 2001. I read it as something that was put in place by an alien civilization to push us to the next stage of evolution- that much we agree on. First, it inspires tool-use, and we evolve to a form that is approprate to them. That is what sets the surviving froup of apes from the defeated, not their newfound capacity for murder. We come to rely on our tools, almost not being able to exist in the next environment without them running our lives. Then it forces us to discard them (Dave has to turn HAL off to get to Jupiter), and evolves Dave to a point where he is suited to space without the need for tools. In this vien, also remember the scene with the apes again- the last image of them, he casts the bone away, which fades into the satalite orbiting the earth…

HAL was never in contact with the Monolith, insofar as it set HAL up in a situation where Dave would have to turn the computer off.

EDIT:Damn. Ben beat me to the tool-use bit. :\

DrCrypt seems to be suggesting not that the Monolith grants the capacity to murder, but that the monolith evolves (makes greater) and thus forces the necessity of murder as an environmental improvement, or more likely from DrCrypt’s point of view an individual cleanliness.

I disagree with this, since murder, especially intentional murder, is always between peers and thus has little to do with evolutionary differences. Also, the sign of an emergent “greater power” is not marked by murder… its marked by separation and pathos, and finally by complete discommunication. Killing might be a byproduct, but its a casual, irrelevant killing, certain not termed “murder”.

Yep. I even have a couple of the special cancellations the post office did on HAL’s actual birth date a few years ago.

Thanks for the siren’s shriek of pedantic hysteria, Larry Land.[/quote]

Hey, no problem.

Incidentally, http://www.kubrick2001.com focuses very much on the tool-use idea discussed in this thread; it’s a Flash thingy, which is a pain, but basically the story goes that with HAL turning murderous, Man’s tools have finally failed him, so he is ready for the next step.

What a great thread!

That tool thing is excellent, particularly the point that Bowden evolves into a form that makes him suited for space. The one thing I don’t like about that theory is that HAL is, again, given the short shrift: he just goes crazy. That just doesn’t jive with me. However, I think I really like the compromise between my initial interpretation and the tool interpretation. I believe the cavement and HAL evolution is one of sentience, which leads them to both use tools and kill for self-preservation. David Bowden evolves to the next stage of human awareness which also allows him to exist in space without the use of tools.