Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Chris 2010 Viewings #2: 2010

Sure, it's lame to watch this movie now, but it was on TCM in HD. So what the hell, you know?

2010 was made in 1984, before moviemakers realized that just because a film has some ambiguous backstory doesn't mean that they need to make mundane sequels in order to fill in all the blanks. That way the originals can still be discussed, analyzed, hated, and loved passionately years later. Wait... they still haven't figured that out and now we have Star Wars prequels and Terminator: Salvation.

Actually, scratch all that. 2001: A Space Odyssey is still discussed, analyzed, hated, and loved passionately because 2010 and its ilk aren't on an artistic plain that is even visible from that on which Kubrick's work is ensconced. So honestly, if I hadn't watched 2010 (the movie) because it was on TCM, where it was programmed solely because it was early 2010 (the year), I never would have watched it. Because it doesn't matter; it's an artistic afterthought, one that didn't move people, inspire people, or really even interest them all that much.

Roy Scheider plays Dr. Heywood Floyd, who is in 2001 but not as played by Roy Scheider. One day a Soviet scientist played by an American doing an off-and-on Boris Badanov voice puts it to him that a joint US-Soviet team should travel to Jupiter and get on board the spaceship Discovery and find out what the hell really happened back in 2001 (the year) in 2001 (the movie). See, this is the 1984 version of 2010 (the year) so the cold war is still raging, reaching a major confrontation.

It is weird that 2001, with its lounge music album cover stewardesses and 115 year old Strauss music still looks and sounds futuristic, while 2010 feels like a shitty Charles Band production a lot of the time, thanks to long-defunct regimes and bad synth music stings. It's not 2010's fault that the cold war is over, but over it is, and thus the whole movie now has a vaguely pointless air about it. And yet if you read the Watchmen comic the cold war is vivid and gut-churning, so it's not just the subject matter, it's how it's being handled. Uultimately all of the genuinely haunting Jupiter mission material set up so beautifully by Kubrick is, in the end, just some aliens saying to the US/Soviet empires that all they are saying is give peace a chance.

But all is not lost! There is HAL. HAL 9000 gets reactivated by his creator, Bob Balaban, and their last scene is enormously moving. More conventional-movie-moving than HAL's final meltdown in 2001, but you take what you can get.

Mostly I am angry at this movie because we never find out if Dr. Floyd ever did get his daughter a Bush Baby. I didn't need to know why HAL went nuts, but some kinds of closure I can't live without!


MLClark said...

This was just hilarious to read. I remember watching 2010, which I'm sure is more than most can say. I love when you write "before moviemakers realized that it is better to leave some ambiguous backstory in films": Sad to say, I don't even think alien intervention could get that revelation to sink in.

In any case, thanks for shouldering the load of watching this film, so the rest of us might be spared!

madkevin said...

But Yakov Smirnoff is in it! "In Mother Russia, Star Gate stars YOU!"