Nine years after the original Discovery's disastrous
mission in "2001", a joint Russian/American team is
sent to Jupiter to check out Discovery and determine why HAL 9000,
When they arrive at Jupiter, it's determined that something, perhaps
a life form, is moving on Io, one of it's moons. On Earth, the
U.S. and Russia approach war over a Central American issue.
Long missing astronaut, Dave Bowan, mysteriously appears on Earth,
to his wife and dying mother. He also appears on the Discovery
to Heywood Gould. Many mini-monoliths appear on Jupiter. Following
a warning from Bowan, the Russian ship and the Discovery are lashed
together and blast off, headed for Earth. The mini-monoliths turn
Jupiter into a new sun.
With 2010, a worthy successor to the enigmatic "2001",
Director/Writer, Peter Hyams ("Outland", "Capricorn
One"), has created a nearly perfect Sci-Fi/adventure movie.
Roy Scheider is Heywood Gould, the former chairman of the National
Council of Astronauts. He organized the original Discovery mission
to Jupiter in "2001," (William Sylvester played Gould
in that movie), but hasn't been in space in years. He's content
to run a ground based, space tracking facility. Then a Russian
official (Dana Elcar, who was also in "The Sting"),
makes him an offer he can't refuse: hitch a ride with the
Russians to Jupiter, board the Discovery, and determine why HAL
9000 malfunctioned, and maybe unravel the mystery of the black
monoliths as well.
Scheider ("Sea Quest"), gets together a team to go with
him: the engineer who designed the Discovery, (John Lithgow of
"Buckaroo Banzai"), and Dr. Chandra (Bob Balaban also
in "Altered States"), who designed HAL In the meantime,
things are heating up between the U.S. and Russia, concerning
a conflict in Central America. The mysteries and wonders that
they, and their Russian traveling companions, encounter near Jupiter,
make this a space journey well worth taking.
Scheider, as directed by Peter Hyams, brings a great deal of credibility,
and humanity, to his role. With his tanned, lined face, world
weary eyes, and broken nose, he is an audience-friendly every
man, taking the journey for us, so we can stay comfortably home
To Hyams' credit, (he wrote the Screenplay, based on Arthur C.
Clarke's fascinating novel), some matters from "2001"
are resolved, some are expanded upon, and some are left to ponder
about. We learn why HAL the computer went berserk: he was asked
by his original programmers to lie, and it caused him to freak
out. We see astronaut, Dave Bowman, (Keir Dullea), again. Last
time we saw him, he was a star child, floating in space. This
time, he appears as his old astronaut self, an old man, and the
star child. The fact that Dullea has aged amazingly well since
1968 helps make the magic of his astronaut scenes work. Perhaps
it's just great makeup.
As far as what the monoliths are all about, Scheider's Floyd speculates,
at the end of the film, that they might be, "...an emissary
for an intelligence beyond ours. A shape of some kind for something
that has no shape." But, we don't really know for sure, and
that's one of the joy's of "2010". While it does resolve
some of the loose ends left by "2001", others are left
to ponder and speculate about. That's the fun of cosmic mysteries;
not knowing their answers allows plenty of room for pondering
My favorite scene has Lithgow and a Russian (Vladimir Skomarovsky),
space walking from the Russian ship to the abandoned "Discovery"
space ship. As the non-space friendly Lithgow begins to panic,
the Russian, in broken English, jokes with him and calms him down,
helping Lithgow to safely make it through his harrowing space
walk. As opposed to space epics that presume that all space travelers
will have nerves of steel, "2010" puts a real human,
with real fears into space, and shows him surviving, and adapting.
The Special Visual Effects are special indeed. Hyams, (who also
served as Director of Photography), working with Visual Effects
supervisor, Richard Edlund, has delivered some amazing visuals.
Whether it's the Russian ship, heading toward Jupiter, the red
dust coated, abandoned Discovery, spinning like a thrown baton
in space, or the surfaces of Jupiter and its moons, Io and Europa,
Hyams dishes out to the viewer some of the most beautiful space
art ever captured on film!
The Original Music Score, by David Shire, is classy and moody.
He obviously got jazzed with the visuals he was composing for.
The results are as ear filling, as the space visuals are eye pleasing.
It was wise for Hyams to go with an original Score for "2010",
as opposed to the classical Music approach of "2001".
What seemed fresh and original, in 1968, would have been old hat
and ho hum, in 1984.
"2010" should be watchable for all Sci-Fi fans with
a pulse. And you don't even have to have seen "2001,"
to enjoy "2010," as the earlier film's key story elements
are recapped at the start of 2010. By the way, if you haven't
seen "2001", shame on you, and you know who you are.
Close the pod bay door, HAL!
If you liked 2010 you may enjoy 2001 and/or COUNTDOWN.