When an alien monolith is discovered on the moon, an expedition is
sent to Jupiter to discover its source and possibly make first contact.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Written by Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke
Starring Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester,
Douglas Rain, Leonard Rossiter, Margaret Tyzack
Based on the novel by Arthur C. Clarke
Oscar Wins - Best Visual Effects
Oscar Nominations - Best Director, Best Original Screenplay,
Best Art Direction
Visually speaking, 2001: A Space Odyssey is an essential cog in the science fiction machine. Its iconic imagery and gorgeous sense of isolation in the dark void of space is unrivaled and will forever stand the test of time. But that's about it. Speaking as a moviegoer, 2001 is one of the dullest films I've ever seen. It feels more like Stanley Kubrick stroking his own ego for two and a half hours than it does a science fiction movie. Granted, it has its moments, but they are few and far between. It's remained relevant for all these years because of the talent behind it and the iconic scenes it produced.
It's nonexistent story (which somehow managed to score an Oscar nom for screenwriting) revolves around the finding of a monolith buried on the moon. This is of course revealed after the first half hour of the movie, which focuses on prehistoric man being influenced by a similar monolith and learning how to use weapons. On the whole, 2001 feels like a half-hour movie sandwiched between two overly long art films. The only interesting chunk of this pretentious yarn is the segment that features HAL 9000. I'll give credit where it's due. Douglas Rain was absolutely phenomenal as the voice of HAL. He delivered a powerhouse performance that cemented HAL as one of the best villains in cinematic history, which is some feat considering he's just an unblinking red eye attached to a computer. He goes a long way towards injecting some life into this thing, but he doesn't come close to saving it, especially after the incredibly unhinged third act.
Calling 2001: A Space Odyssey a sci-fi classic is like calling Citizen Kane the best movie ever made. It isn't necessarily true, but nobody will say otherwise for fear of sounding stupid. At the risk of sounding stupid myself, I will say that 2001 is a boring trek through several seemingly unconnected chunks that tries way too hard to be uninteresting. I understand that Kubrick didn't care if people enjoyed his films, but at some point, you've got to look at yourself in the mirror and wonder if maybe you're the problem and people just want to watch something entertaining.