Technically Impressive But Exhausting Sci-Fi
While 2001: A Space Odyssey is certainly a definitive, groundbreaking film in the history of cinema, away from the technical achievements and the few iconic scenes in the film, there’s something quite alienating with the way this film has been created. While some regard this as one of the best sci-fi films ever made, every scene feels dragged out far longer than it should, inflating the run time and making this a far longer, exhaustive watch than it should be.
The story begins with two tribes of apes, used to showcase the conflict and hierarchy in our societal structure that’s been with us since the evolution of man. From here the story shifts forward in time to where man has ventured into the stars. As the story continues, lead protagonist Dr. Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea) eventually comes face to face with a remorseless A.I. entity called HAL 9000. At the heart of the mystery are two strange monoliths; one on Earth and another on the Moon and what ensues from here is an evolving mystery linking the past and present together. Most of the story relies heavily on its thematic structure which plays out as a reflection on humankind and its evolution through the ages. While the story certainly has its moments, the excruciatingly slow pace makes this a decidedly acquired taste, requiring a tremendous amount of patience to sit through.
There’s no denying that 2001: A Space Odyssey is a crowning technical achievement and the use of miniatures, technical skill and set design is outstanding given the time period it was released. Unfortunately for this sci-fi classic, every scene meanders on unnecessarily. Watching a rocket slowly touch down for a solid 5 minutes or watching a character walk the entire length of a long, hexagonal hallway is unnecessary, with every scene dragging on, inflating the run time far more than it perhaps should. That’s not to say the film is bad, far from it; the technical feats alone are worth checking out and there’s some incredibly iconic scenes late on with HAL that are unmatched in some of today’s movies but the pacing is uncomfortably slow and for this alone, 2001 is a difficult film to recommend to the mainstream audience.
2001: A Space Odyssey is an incredibly important film in Hollywood’s history but its also one that’s quite the alienating experience to watch all these years later. The pacing of the film is the biggest culprit here and every scene drags on far longer than it should. The editing, camera work and general set design are certainly impressive feats that should be celebrated but as an enjoyable sci-fi film, 2001 is certainly an acquired taste. While there are some who may regard this as the pinnacle of sc-fi in the 70s – it’s also a film that requires a tremendous amount of patience to get to the heart of the action and for that alone, it’s a difficult film to watch even if it is quite the technical achievement.