“2010” returns the audience to the proximity of the planet Jupiter, the location of the fateful showdown between the murderous computer HAL 9000, astronaut David Bowman and a particularly troublesome black monolith in Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”. The slavish adherence (for once) to the laws of science in a SF film is just one of the many characteristics which make”2001″ a landmark of the cinema, though it is certainly the film’s metaphysical obtuseness that has promulgated the film’s reputation as some sort of philosophical Rosetta Stone by which endless speculation has been generated as to the exact meaning of events. For another movie to presume to present an ersatz cheat sheet which will lay out the solutions to the mysteries of the earlier film, might well be considered an unnecessarily presumptuous folly: a brazenly ill-considered act of coattail dragging firmly representative of a long standing tradition by which a studio might cynically bleed dry one of their most revered accomplishments; in this instance, with a sequel specifically designed to strip away those interpretively daunting aspects of the Kubrick film which grant it a poetic grandeur eclipsing its hoarier compositional elements.
However (and it’s an enormous however), the direct source material for Peter Hyams’ “2010” is derived not from “2001” but from that film’s co-scripter Arthur C. Clarke’s own novel 2010: Odyssey Two, which itself is a sequel to the Clarke/Kubrick 2001: A Space Odyssey companion novel to the film of which Clarke is also credited with co-authorship, itself being partially inspired by Clarke’s own 1951 short story Sentinel of Eternity. Logically one might presume that by adhering to Clarke’s novelistic version of the story, Hyams creates something of a breach between his film and Kubrick’s, with the newer film also abandoning the tricky satirical stylization of dialogue which continually says nothing and its extremely formal visual aesthetic which seems to discard the Eisensteinian imperative of the montage as an essential tool of artistic expression , and instead embraces the grimier, utilitarian depiction of the future popularized in SF films ever since Ridley Scott’s “Alien”. But it is the sweaty literalism of “2010” which creates the greatest departure from Kubrick’s deliberately stately ethereal obscurity, a literalism which is problematically present in the novelization of the 1968 film, and doubly so in Clarke’s follow-up novel, so much so that in the film Hyams has made from the novel, it is actually a corresponding sequel to the original 1968 novelization rather than Kubrick’s film itself. Such are the twisty corridors emerging from the world of ancillary products.
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