2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) is overrated and self indulgent

2001 space odyssey2001: A Space Odyssey is often considered a sci-fi masterpiece. Praised by many as the greatest sci-fi film of all time. Even praised by some as the greatest film of all time… Which is why many people will want to tear me apart when I say that it is not a good film.

The movie has some good elements, but is completely over run by the bad. I thought I would like this film. I wanted to like this film. I watched the film and was amazed that one of the most highly praised films of all time, was terrible. It’s not that the film was built up too much and was disappointing. It’s that the film was just awful. So what did I do? I watched the film again. I thought that something must have been wrong for me to not like such a highly praised movie. Was it any better on the 2nd time? No. It was worse.

People always say that the special effects are great. That is one place that I agree with the general consensus. The special effects continue to look great today, which is very impressive considering the year that this film was made. Some of the cinematography can be good at times, and the sets are well designed. But those things are not enough to carry a movie. Special effects are supposed to enhance a movie, not be the movie. The special effects are showcased past the point of self indulgence. No movie should be this self indulgent.

Speaking of self indulgent. Stanley Kubrick can be a good director. He has made some really good films, which is why I was so surprised to see such bad directing. Kubrick’s films tend to have slow pacing, but 2001’s pacing fell asleep before the film even started. The pacing is absolutely horrendous from start to end.

The film begins at the dawn of man. We see monkeys. We see monkeys. We see monkeys. We see monkeys. Non stop monkeys for much longer than is necessary. Now don’t say that I don’t get it. That is a line that I constantly hear people use when defending the film. I most certainly do “get it”. With the movie left up to interpretation, I “get it” as much as anyone could.

Now here is one of my biggest problems with the film. I don’t think that Kubrick himself “Got it”. The movie is a tightly wound ball of pretentiousness that encourages philosophical analization on topics not worthy of being discussed. The movie is really conceited. It has such an undeservedly high opinion of itself. It thinks that it is this philosophical journey to enlightenment, when really it’s just a self serving journey to mediocrity.

There are multiple 25 minute sequences in the film where absolutely nothing happens to progress the plot.  These long sequences serve no purpose, other than showcasing visuals that don’t have a great deal of relevance to the story. The sequence where the astronaut flies to Jupiter is one of the most pointless sequences I have ever seen in a film. We see bright flashing colored lights and landscape shots with weird filters. This is an incredibly long sequence of absolutely nothing. It takes more than flashing colors and filters to make compelling film and I am shocked that I am in the minority on this. This is not an acceptable form of story telling, because you’re not telling a story. You’re trying to be artsy with no real meaning other than to be enigmatic just for the sake of false intelligence. So in the end it is just wasting time.

Trying to talk about the plot of 2001: A Space Odyssey is like trying to talk about the robot in Pulp Fiction. There isn’t one. There is no plot throughout most of 2001: A space Odyssey. The only resemblance of a plot comes in when HAL 9000 appears. I always thought that HAL 9000 was the focus of the film, but it is actually a very small part of the films overall running time.

2001 space odyssey halI actually do think that HAL 9000 is an interesting character. This portion of the film is good, I would even call it great. If the Hal 9000 plot line were separated from the rest of the movie and being judged as a short film, then maybe the praise this film receives would be more reasonable, but this one good segment is so small and insignificant in the scope of 2001: A Space Odyssey. This film would have been much better suited to a 10-15 minute short film, rather than the droning self indulgent 2 hour and 21 minute pretentious film that exisits.

I am not someone who gets bored by film. But when a film is so utterly pointless, I don’t understand how it can remain interesting, aside from the visuals.

While I believe that most of the film is meaningless, I do believe that the last scene has some meaning. I do however feel that people drastically over analyze it. It’s not as deep as people think. I could be wrong about this, but I think Kubrick didn’t know what it really meant, he just knew that it could mean something, and that people would try to figure it.

If you agree with me then leave a comment because I’d like to know that there are some others who see past the pretension.

If you disagree with me and actually have a legitimate response to the question: Why is 2001: A Space Odyssey a good film? Beyond the point of “You don’t get it.”, “Because it just is.”, or “It’s a brilliant piece of art” Then I’d like to hear it.

People are blinded by the fame of this film and will defend it blindly without reason. I believe that many people consider the film to be great because they think that it means more than it actually does.

To me 2001: A Space Odyssey is one of those paintings where the artist paints just a red stripe and says that it has some deeper convoluted reason. Is that stupid? Yes. Do people consider it to be high quality art? Unfortunately yes.


7 Comments Add yours

  1. haibane13 says:

    The fact that people add interpretations, theories, ideas, to the film in a vain effort to make it good shows just how much of a void this movie is. If the film can’t stand on its own feet, it failed to do anything at all as a film. If you judge this film based on what you get from the film and not what you add to it, its a terrible film. This is my same complaint with other movies like Blade Runner, which admittedly has more going on than 2001 but suffers from the same problems. The only people who like 2001 seem to be those who like to pretend to be smart (just like the morons who argue the blank canvas with a red stripe is a masterpiece), but are to dumb to see its a void of a film.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice to meet another member of the minority who can see past the prestigious persona this film inexplicable holds.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. SP says:

        I watched this movie after being told that it’s even better than Interstellar. I was utterly disappointed to have watched this movie wherein there is no dialogue approx for the first 20 minutes. This movie focuses more on astonishing audience with its special effects, which actually are commendable for a 68 movie. I was on the verge of losing my mind during the last 15 minutes. Just not worth the praises at least in this era.


  2. NS says:

    I watched this movie just now and was going through all the articles about it. I seriously cannot understand what is so good about the movie. I was searching for someone who is not just following the herd and sees the movie for what it is. When I came across this article, i thought “finally”! I agree with all the points stated. Apart from visual effects, there is nothing good about the movie.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. JJWhack says:

    I recently tried to watch this movie with my son who wanted to know what the big deal was. The opening scenes with the monkeys dragged on so long that we were both beginning to regret pushing play before the film even made it to outer space. The equally long establishing scenes with the oddly dressed stewardesses also tested our willingness to endure any more tedious pretentiousness. I will agree that the only positive thing about the film is the impressive special effects. The film is far too interested in being ‘philosophical’ and as a result it fails to engage or entertain. It’s a snoozefest that garners far too much praise. I think a lot of people say it’s a great film simply because others have been saying it’s great for so long. I would rather watch golf and fall asleep rather than sit through it again.


  4. Reanne says:

    Trying to watch this movie now. So boring I likely won’t finish and have already fast-forwarded through more than I’ve watched. Self-indulgent is right. Two and a half minutes of black screen and music to start off with, followed by the most epic “here’s the title and director’s name” music/reveal ever. Then like half an hour before there’s a single line of dialogue. Long, endless sequences that do nothing but linger lovingly over a prop/set piece, and overt, heavy-handed info-dumping. This movie is terrible.


  5. Andrei says:

    I love Kubrick’s films, but this one is awful. I believe people say its “great” or “brilliant”, because they do not get it either and they are afraid of appearing dumb. Some critic gave it a high praise and other just agreed without giving it any thought. I bet none of them watched it twice. “I don’t know what i just watched, but everyone says its great, so I’m gonna say it’s great.” It’s boring, it’s waaaay too long and it’s not engaging on any level.


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