2001: 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.
I 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.