The film opens a long time ago, when a group of apes is disturbed by a suddenly appearing monolith which goes on to inspire them to use tools and weapons.
We then jump quite a while into the future where scientist Heywood Floyd (William Sylvester) is sent to the (colonized) moon. Rumors have been going around that there’s an epidemic, but actually Floyd is there to investigate a mysteriously buried monolith.
18 months later, a mission is sent to Jupiter: 2 astronauts – Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea) and Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood) – 3 scientists and cryogenic hibernation and AI Hal (voiced by Douglas Rain). Hal is supposed to be infallible – but is he really?
2001: A Space Odyssey is a monumental film, but it’s far from perfect. Parts of the movie are absolutely excellent, like the science and the special effects. Other parts aren’t, like the sound and the mystery around the monoliths. And it does have some lengths, though it’s mostly surprising how little length it has.
The film was definitely groundbreaking, and in my opinion, still is. It’s basically a film about how awesome science is, which is all kinds of great already, and then even looks good while doing it. I would have had no problems to watch a film that was only scenes in the space stations and the spaceships, and the gravity thing etc. It was just wonderful to watch.
I also liked the segment with the apes, which was perfectly choreographed and worked very well. I think, the ideal version of this film – for me, at least – would have been two movies: the short film “The Dawn of Men” and a movie revolving around Hal and the spaceship going to Jupiter. Because the problem for me was that I just couldn’t bring myself to care about the monoliths at all.
I wasn’t interested in the mystery surrounding them, I thought that the connection they provided between the segments of the film was strained at best and the surreality of the ending wouldn’t fit the Wonders of Science tone of the rest of the film anyway.
And I hated the sound. The music itself was mostly good, but it got so loud and discordant that there were several instance where I had to cover my ears. And I don’t actually hear very well. [Now, the loudness might be the fault of the cinema, but since the dialogue wasn’t that loud in comparison, I’m pretty sure it was supposed to be that way.]
Summarising: Definitely a classic worth seeing, but not without faults.