I recently finished watching video-blogger Confused Matthew’s review of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 a Space Odyssey, and I must say, he pretty much hit the nail on the head. Finally, someone who is willing to muster up the courage to attack a film that has been too long immune to criticism due to its cultural importance and its technical brilliance. According to Confused Matthew, 2001 a Space Odyssey does not qualify as a film, because it lacks the essential qualities that every film needs–characters and, most importantly, a coherent story.
For those of you who may not know him, Confused Matthew is an amateur movie critic who primarily posts impassioned, scathing and bitingly humorous attacks on films he hates, films whose very existence confuse him (and, much more rarely, glowing reviews of movies he loves). I don’t always agree with what he says, but, man, does he know how to argue a point! In this case, the point was almost made for him, though. That 2001 lacks narrative drive and is mostly filler becomes apparent after just the first five minutes, which are nothing more than shots of an empty desert.
Mostly all I knew about 2001 before watching it was that it contained an evil robot named HAL who was supposed to be one of the best villains of all time.
After watching the movie, I realized that that was all I had known about the movie because the rest of the movie consisted of, as Matthew puts it, “crap floating in space” while classical music played in the background. While the Hal segment is a fine enough, albeit slow-moving short film on its own, the fact is that 2001 is over two hours long. And if the only parts of it with dialogue and character drama are slow-moving, just try to envision the rest of it.
In all fairness, as a music video or a special effects reel, 2001 is great. As a piece of storytelling, not so much. Imagine if in Aliens we had a ten minute long scene of Ellen Ripley making herself a cup of coffee, or if in Star Wars we had to sit through every second of every spaceship’s flight from point A to point B, and you will have some idea of the tedium that is 2001. We don’t get to hear a single line of dialogue until 40 minutes into the movie. We don’t get to meet the protagonist or antagonist until around the 1 hour mark.
I could go on all day about 2001, but honestly, Confused Matthew said it best.