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?