on June 10, 2001
One of the biggest reasons why I think the so-called purists had such an allergic reaction to 2010 was that it was such a departure from Kubrick's 1969 masterpiece. In 2001, the audience is largely a witness to events and then must reach their own conclusions. In 2010, the audience is told what is happening through a host of wonderful characters that simply were not present on 2001. Heywood Floyd (Roy Scheider) is a fantastic protagonist. He obviously a gifted scientist, but unlike his counterpart and HAL-9000 creator Richard Chandra (Bob Balaban), seems far more connected to the human race than his particular field of expertise. In the end they are two completely different films. 2001 is a landmark film, no doubt about it, nothing like it had ever been seen before, but it was made in the 60's and perhaps younger people feel disconnected from it for that reason.
2010 begins 8 years after the Discovery disaster. The massive ship had been dispatched to Io in orbit around Jupiter to investigate a second monolith, identical but larger than one found on the moon. A Russian scientist Moisevitch (Dana Elcar) informs Floyd that the Soviets will reach the Discovery almost a full year before the Americans will and that Floyd should check Discovery's orbit. When he does so Floyd learns that the ship's orbit has begun to decay and will fall towards Io unless it is recovered. Moisevitch convinces Floyd that having American scientists onboard would make the trip go much smoother. Now that the scientists agree it is the politicians who now must be convinced. Unfortunately, the Americans and the Soviets are headed for a showdown off the coast of Honduras which may lead to war.
Four months later aboard the Soviet ship the Alexei Leonov, the joint American-Soviet crew arrives at Jupiter and in a spectacular sequence must use a process known as aero-braking in order to slow down enough to put the ship in position to rendezvous with Discovery. After this we are introduced to Walter Curnow (John Lithgow), the engineer and brains behind the Discovery II, the ship the Americans were building to go to Jupiter. Curnow and Russian Maxim Brailovsky (Elya Baskin) must transit over from the Leonov to the Discovery with the violent moon of Io spinning dangerously beneath them. Once on board the spinning American ship, they get its systems operational and pull it out of the decaying orbit. It is then they release Chandra to see if he can recover the damaged HAL-9000 (Douglas Rain). (Interesting tidbit: Add one letter to HAL and you get IBM).
Once recovered both ships move towards the second monolith which is two kilometers long. Things sour back home on Earth and both crews are ordered by their governments to return to their respective ships It is here that Floyd, aboard Discovery's bridge, receives his first message from David Bowman (Kier Dullea), that he must leave the area within two days. Believing it a hoax, Floyd asks HAL who is sending the messages, to which the computer replies "...I was David Bowman." then, "Look behind you..." And we see David Bowman for the first time-still young and still wearing the orange spacesuit. Floyd follows him into the pod bay where Bowman is revealed to be an old man. Floyd is told that "...something wonderful is going to happen." and then watches dumbfounded as Bowman transforms once again into the starchild.
Back on the Leonov, Floyd argues with Captain Tanya Kirbuk (Helen Mirren) that perhaps they really ought to head back home. Kirbuk is skeptical and can't find any reason to go along with Floyd's crazy plan. Only after they concoct a plan to use the Discovery as a massive booster rocket that the large monolith vanishes is Kirbuk convinced. Only problem now is convincing HAL to go along with the plan- the AI was created to be curious, but also to look after the Discovery and if the ship is left behind it may be destroyed. It then becomes a race against time as a large black spot appears on Jupiter that seems to be consuming the planet. The massive gas giant begins to shrink.
Ultimately 2010 boils down into a wonderful science fiction movie- yes, it's 'science fiction' and not 'sci-fi'. The only reason I think that abbreviation is used is because most people have short attention spans. It is not 2001, as the movies are separated by a generation of directors who had different values and a different audience. Strangely enough, Arthur C. Clarke's book makes far more sense than Kubrick's film does and even the short story that the book and then the movie were drawn from is more conclusive. 2010 is a sequel and not the same film as 2001, if it were, Kubrick would have directed it and it would have been called 2001: Part II. Both films are excellent, but they aren't the same.
2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT  [Blu-ray] [US Import] Space Fiction Of A Superior Kind!
A new time, a new odyssey, a new chance to confront enigmas arising from the daring Jupiter mission of 2001. Crew members aboard the Leonov will rendezvous with the still-orbiting Discovery. And their fate will rest on the silicon shoulders of the computer they reawaken, HAL-9000. Based on Arthur C. Clarkes '2001: A Space Odyssey' sequel, and director Peter Hyams spellbinder was nominated for 5 Academy Awards® and stars Roy Scheider, John Lithgow, Oscar winner Dame Helen Mirren, Bob Balaban and Keir Dullea.
FILM FACT: Awards and Nominations: ''2010: The Year We Made Contact'' was nominated for five Academy Awards® which are as follows: Best Art Direction for Albert Brenner and Rick Simpson. Best Makeup for Michael Westmore. Best Visual Effects. Best Costume Design for Patricia Norris. Best Sound Presentation for Michael J. Kohut, Aaron Rochin, Carlos Delarios and Gene Cantamessa. The film was also nominated for three Saturn Awards; Best Science Fiction Film, Best Costumes for Patricia Norris and Best Special Effects for Richard Edlund. '2010: The Year We Made Contact' won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation in 1985. Sir Arthur C. Clarke appears as a man on a park bench outside the White House (which is out-of-frame in the pan-and-scan version, but visible in the letterboxed and widescreen versions).
Cast: Roy Scheider, John Lithgow, Dame Helen Mirren, Bob Balaban, Keir Dullea, Douglas Rain, Madolyn Smith, Saveliy Kramarov, Taliesin Jaffe, James McEachin, Mary Jo Deschanel, Elya Baskin, Dana Elcar, Oleg Rudnik, Natasha Shneider, Vladimir Skomarovsky, Victor Steinbach and Candice Bergen (voice of SAL 9000 but credited as "Olga Mallsnerd")
Director: Peter Hyams
Producer: Peter Hyams
Screenplay: Peter Hyams
Composer: David Shire
Cinematography: Peter Hyams
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English: 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, English: 5.1 Dolby Digital, French: 5.1 Dolby Digital, German: 5.1 Dolby Digital, Italian: 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish: 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish: 2.0 Dolby Digital and Portuguese: Dolby Digital Mono
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German SDH, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Italian, Italian SDH, Norwegian and Swedish
Running Time: 116 minutes
Region: Region A/1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Warner Home Video
Andrew's Blu-ray Review: It's no secret that sequels are often little more than calculated rehashes of popular movies, with extra emphasis placed on re-creating dialogue or bits of action that everyone talked about the first time around. But Peter Hyams film '2010: The Year We Make Contact' , the long awaited follow-up to Stanley Kubrick's monumental classic, ''2001: A Space Odyssey'' , is a different beast altogether. It may well be the only sequel in movie history that was designed to explain the plot of its predecessor...not that everyone was clamouring for an answer.
'2010: The Year We Make Contact' is relatively straight-forward narrative picks up nine years after the first film ended. The United States government discovers that the Soviets are planning to travel to Jupiter to find out what happened to The Discovery, the doomed ship that served as a sort of metaphysical launching pad in ''2001: A Space Odyssey.'' The Soviets eventually contact the U.S. and request that Heywood Floyd [Roy Scheider], the mastermind behind the original mission, accompany them on their journey. It's never explained how Floyd, who was played by William Sylvester in ''2001: A Space Odyssey,'' managed to transform himself into a completely different person between stories.
'2010: The Year We Make Contact' is judged strictly on its own, as if it were an original production with no connection to '2001: A Space Odyssey,' Peter Hyams' film version of '2010: The Year We Make Contact' is arguably one of the better sci-fi pictures to come out of the 1980s. Unfortunately, you really can't judge the film on its own merit. Its existence is inextricably tied to Stanley Kubrick's legendary masterpiece. Any positive attributes '2010: The Year We Make Contact' may have are unavoidably overshadowed by comparison to its predecessor. There's just no two ways around it. As the direct sequel to one of the greatest motion pictures ever made, quite frankly, '2010: The Year We Make Contact' cannot in no way be compared to '2001: A Space Odyssey,' it must stand on its own merit.
The fault for that lies mainly with author Sir Arthur C. Clarke. If a few of the sub-plots had been changed around a bit, the movie is a mostly faithful adaptation of Sir Arthur C. Clarke's novel '"2010: Odyssey Two"' in all of its most important aspects. When Sir Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick collaborated back in 1968, the results were a fusion of each man's strengths as a storyteller: Sir Arthur C. Clarke's background in hard science fiction and his grounding in plausible scientific speculation, with Stanley Kubrick's visionary artistry and mind-bending flights of imagination. The sequels (the author penned four books in the series) are purely Sir Arthur C. Clarke's doing, and suffer from the lack of Stanley Kubrick's perspective.
That's not to say that Sir Arthur C. Clarke was an inferior storyteller to Stanley Kubrick. In his prolific career, he wrote several legitimate classics such as 'Childhood's End' and 'Rendezvous with Rama.' The two men simply approached the material from completely different angles. Their collaboration on '2001: A Space Odyssey' produced something beautiful and transcendent. '2010: The Year We Make Contact,' on the other hand, just isn't in the same calibre.
At the end of '2001: A Space Odyssey,' the human race had encountered the single most important event in its history, and was quite possibly poised at the brink of an evolutionary jump forward. As '2010: The Year We Make Contact' picks up, we learn that basically nothing has happened in the following nine years. In fact, the mysterious monolith and the intelligence behind it don't seem to have much interest in Earth or humanity at all. The film opens with a stream of facts and data that recap the discovery of the monolith and the first mission to Jupiter. In this alternate timeline, the U.S.S.R. is still a major superpower, and the Cold War is still very much on. While their governments squabble over an escalating conflict in Central America, the American and Soviet scientific communities decide to launch a joint mission out to Jupiter. Their plan is to board the derelict spaceship Discovery and find out exactly what went wrong the last time. The Soviets can get there faster, but only the Americans can reactivate and repair HAL 9000, and so they need each other. Leading the expedition are Dr. Heywood Floyd [Roy Scheider taking over from William Sylvester] and the Russian captain Tanya Kirbuk [Dame Helen Mirren] who I felt was misplaced, as well as not very convincing and should of instead had a Russian actress taken her place.
While Stanley Kubrick embraced ambiguity, Sir Arthur C. Clarke was a strict literalist. The brilliance of '2001: A Space Odyssey' lay in its open-ended nature, the fact that it opened the door for ideas that each audience member would have to interpret for him- or herself. '2010: The Year We Make Contact' sets about to systematically deconstruct all of the mysteries left unresolved at the end of the first story. It attempts to provide rational, understandable explanations to the images and plot developments that were intended to represent concepts beyond humanity's comprehension. Do you need to be told, in easily-digestible terms, exactly what the monolith and the 'Star Child' were, where they came from, what they did, and how they worked? Well, here you go. Personally, I find it more interesting to ponder those things on my own, especially when the explanations that Sir Arthur C. Clarke comes up with are so simplistic and mundane.
If I haven't mentioned Peter Hyams much in all this time, well the director illustrates Sir Arthur C. Clarke's story with workmanlike competence and efficiency. The film has strong performances from the cast and solid production values for the '80s sci-fi flick. The model and miniature effects are quite excellent and hold up very well. (However, optically they have dated really badly and some of the compositing work is downright terrible, especially using 4:3 video screens, whereas the '2001: A Space Odyssey' video technology was so far more advanced and still stands out today). Anyway Peter Hyams stages several moments of nail-biting suspense, including the aero braking sequence and a breathless spacewalk between the Russian craft Leonov and the Discovery. I have to admit disappointment that he falls back on that old crutch of using sound in the vacuum of outer space (which Kubrick went out of his way to avoid). Nevertheless, I think it's safe to say that '2010: The Year We Make Contact' is the best film that Peter Hyams ever made, even if that's not much of a complement considering some of the dregs he's churned out in the years since.
For what it is, the film's script is intelligently written and has some thought-provoking ideas. The depiction of the future year of 2010 misses the mark in a few respects (like the Soviet Union still being around, or the preponderance of all those bulky CRT computer monitors), but is a fairly credible extension of the world created in Stanley Kubrick's film. Unfortunately, '2010: The Year We Make Contact' lacks any real vision, which is why '2001: A Space Odyssey' stands out so spectacular. On its own, '2010: The Year We Make Contact' is a decent enough sci-fi picture. But sadly it's not a worthy follow-up to '2001: A Space Odyssey.'
Sir Arthur C. Clarke, for his part, was receptive when a nervous Peter Hyams sent him the screenplay. "I felt like playing a few tricks on you, like a message from my secretary that I was last seen heading for the airport carrying a gun," he told him. However, Sir Arthur C. Clarke added, "I'll say right away that it's a splendid job and you have brilliantly chiselled out the basic elements of the novel, besides adding quite a few of your own." Whether or not Peter Hyams succeeds in clarifying a deliberately unknowable film will hinge on your eagerness to abandon your personal interpretation of Stanley Kubrick's and Sir Arthur C. Clarke's work. Regardless, '2010: The Year We Make Contact' can still be appreciated as a solidly entertaining piece of sci-fi, and especially as I have already stated that '2010: The Year We Make Contact' was nominated for Academy Awards® for Best Sound, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup, and Best Visual effects.
Blu-ray Video Quality -' '2010: The Year We Make Contact' is not the revelation on Blu-ray that '2001: A Space Odyssey' was, but that has more to do with the nature of each film, than their respective high-definition transfers. Unlike its predecessor, the majority of '2010' wasn't shot on 65mm film, just regular 35mm. Furthermore, director Peter Hyams performs double-duty as cinematographer on all of his films. His preferred visual style is dark and grainy. He favours source lighting and high-speed film stocks. You'll find a consistently drab appearance among most of his other films ['Timecop,' 'The Relic' and 'End of Days']. The 1080p transfer is at the mercy of its source material. Presented in its theatrical 2.40:1 aspect ratio, the image is flat and hazy. Colours appear accurate, but aren't particularly noteworthy. Contrast wavers; a lot of shots had their exposure pushed in the lab, elevating black levels and grain. Accepting that, the Blu-ray is certainly a substantial improvement over the inferior NTSC DVD edition released with a cruddy non-anamorphic letterbox transfer back in 2000. Although fairly soft due to the lighting and use of photographic filters, the picture has a decent amount of detail and exhibits no signs of Digital Noise Reduction or artificial sharpening. The special effects footage (which was shot on 65mm by an entirely different crew than the live action scenes) looks terrific. The model shots are as sharp, clear, and well-lit as you could hope. If anything, the contrast between the two types of scene is a little jarring, but that's just the way the film is. The 1080p encoding has a few minor issues. The grain isn't always well-compressed, and sometimes comes across noisy or blocky. I also noticed some colour banding on the flat surface of the monolith. Still, overall, this transfer is about as good as I'd ever expect for '2010: The Year We Make Contact' to look in high definition. Now that '2001: A Space Odyssey' has now been remastered and brought out as a Limited Edition SteelBook Blu-ray release, it is now time Warner Home Video also brought out a remastered '2010: The Year We Make Contact' Special Edition, as it is crying out for one and then the two films will be complete for another generation.
Blu-ray Audio Quality -' '2010: The Year We Make Contact' was nominated for a Best Sound Academy Award way back in 1984. For its vintage, this is an interesting sound design, even if fidelity and aggressiveness aren't quite up to modern standards. The Blu-ray offers the soundtrack in 5.1 Dolby TrueHD or Standard 5.1 Dolby Digital formats. Dialogue sounds a little flat, but the music (especially Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathustra) has nice body and depth. The film features some very loud, shocking sound effects. The aero braking sequence is an auditory highlight with pretty intense bass action guaranteed to get your subwoofer rumbling. Even though the movie played in 70mm theatrical engagements with a 6-track audio mix, the 5.1 options on the Blu-ray are virtually devoid of surround activity. Whether that's inherent to the original sound design (it wouldn't surprise me) or an issue with the conversion to 5.1 configuration, I can't really say.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Vintage Documentary: 2010: The Odyssey Continues  [480i] [4:3] [9:00] Sir Arthur C. Clarke introduces the film by the novel's title, '2010: Odyssey Two,' and in the introduction to this vintage making-of promo. The short piece doesn't go into much depth, but does offer some quick interviews with visual futurist Syd Mead, production designers (who stress the importance of a utilitarian style in the sets), and SFX people. It's kind of amazing to see that Sir Arthur C. Clarke and director Peter Hyams were essentially communicating by E-mail (via a very primitive "computer link-up") all the way back in 1984. Around that time, they thought it was on the cutting edge with computer technology. This promotional short for '2010: The Year We Made Contact'  shows moviegoers how some of the film's visual effects were created. This includes makeup for Keir Dullea's character, how the astronauts float in space, and the construction of the spaceship in which the astronauts carry out their mission. The vehicle is so large; the two largest sound stages on the M-G-M lot were used to construct it. Narrated by William Rus.
Theatrical Trailer  [[480i] [3:00] This 4:3 pan and scan trailer is in pretty lousy condition and cannot understand why they could not do the same aspect ratio as the actual film, this is a very bad unprofessional attitude of Warner Home Video.
Finally, '2010: The Year We Make Contact' is a film simultaneously underrated and not nearly as good as it should have been. If you can try to divorce your expectations from any comparison to '2001: A Space Odyssey,' it's a solid '80s sci-fi adventure. Unfortunately, it is a sequel to '2001: A Space Odyssey' and on that mark it sort of fails. Despite this, it is still a good companion Blu-ray to the previous awesome film, but what lets it down is the 4:3 video screens, at least with '2001: A Space Odyssey,' the technology was much more far advanced looking and is still today after 50 years since its release in the cinema and I think that aspect lets the film look slightly old fashioned. Despite this anomaly the Blu-ray looks and sounds about as good as the film can look or sound, and is still worth a recommendation, despite not coming anywhere near the very high standards of '2001: A Space Odyssey' which we were hoping to see when '2010: The Year We Make Contact' was released in the cinema. Again, still despite this, it is still a worthy addition to '2001: A Space Odyssey' and I am very honoured to have it in my Blu-ray Collection. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller ' Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
Was there ever a film that needed a sequel less than 2001: A Space Odyssey? If any movie had ever defied sequel making, it was the original 2001. It is impossible to talk about 2010 without mentioning Stanley Kubrick and the groundbreaking film that started it all. With that in mind, 2010 is still an excellent science fiction film, intelligent and exciting, while feeling miles away from the original.
Dr. Heywood Floyd (the late Roy Scheider) has taken the fall for the disasters in 2001. The supercomputer H.A.L. 9000 (Douglas Rain) has failed and Dr. David Bowman (Keir Dullea) has disappeared and is presumed dead. Four astronauts have been killed by H.A.L. and nobody knows why. The Discovery is in orbit around Jupiter and the Americans plan on sending a team there to find out just what happened. Problem: The orbit is mysteriously decaying, and the Russians will get there first. Floyd has been offered a ride on the Russian ship, the Alexei Leonov, to help in their mission.
The premise itself shows us that the universe has changed. Politics were inconsequential in the first film, but by 2010 the Soviets are deep into a cold war with the Americans, and the war threatens to go nuclear at any time. The president's finger is literally on the button. Dr. Floyd, however, needs to go to Discovery and find out just what happened for his own sake. Along for the ride are Dr. Chandra (Bob Balaban), the creator of H.A.L., and Curnow (John Lithgow), the man who built Discovery and can reactivate it. The Russian crew, portrayed excellently by mostly Russian actors for authenticity, are distrustful of the Americans. Their commander, played by Helen Mirren, is also an officer of the Russian air force and finds her loyalties tested when Dr. Floyd tells her that they must leave Jupiter in just two days.
In a haunting turn of events, David Bowman has returned, or at least something that refers to itself as having once been David Bowman. Keir Dullea, not looking a day older even though nearly 20 years have passed, is eerie in his portrayal of Bowman. It is he that has given Dr. Floyd the warning that they must leave in two days, but with no explanation other than "something is going to happen. Something wonderful."
Cameos by Arthur C. Clarke and (sort of) Kubrick himself act as a nod and a wink to fans. Also look for the late Natasha Schneider from Queens Of The Stone Age and Eleven when she was young.
Arthur C. Clarke's novel, an essential companion piece, includes much more detail, but this film as directed by Peter Hyams is a suitable sequel for the sci-fi fan. Such science as "aerobraking" is shown on screen, and the possibility of life on Europa is explored. All this is done with the unfortunate use of space sound effects, a cliche which the first film avoided studiously. Also dropped from the first film is the soundtrack of classical music, replaced by a film score. And, finally, we get to see what life on Earth in 2010 actually looks like! (Not quite like the real thing, sadly!)
In an effort to "explain" all the mysteries of 2001, 2010 succeeds by leaving enough to the imagination. The monoliths and the beings behind them are never fully explained. There are many questions left behind, thus far only explored in the pages of Clarke's novels. (Tom Hanks once wanted to make a film version of 3001: Final Odyssey but that idea, thankfully, is dead.) This movie could have been a disaster in many ways, but fortunately was not. While nothing can ever equal or top 2001, or come even close to breaking the ground that it did, this film serves as a satisfying coda and it is good to watch them both together.
DVD contains a decent documentary called "2010: The Odyssey Continues".
4 stars. If this were any other sci-fi film franchise, it would have been 5. But when comparing to the original, nothing could be equal to it.