Thursday, May 1, 2014

Keir Dullea, Gone Tomorrow

Continuing my series of sucky posts: 2010: The Year We Make Contact (1984). I actually saw this when it came out, but Ms. Spenser didn't, so we queued it up.

Now, I worship Kubrik's 2001. 2010 is, in many ways, its opposite. While 2001 was cold and stylish, 2010 is, well, movie-ish. 2001 was short on dialog, long on anomie, moody and mysterious. 2010 is fairly chatty, and pretty much comes out and explains everything. Also, in 2010, Dr. Heywood Floyd is played by Roy Scheider in little pants, not William Sylvester.

I went into this re-watch, 30 years later, expecting something pretty rote and generic. I was surprised to find a slightly deeper movie. For instance, the theme of lies and truth kept coming up - The Russian plays a game with Scheider, telling the truth for 2 minutes. Scheider tells the science advisor to let the president know that they will lie to the Russians, "He'll love that". Of course, lies were what made HAL go homicidal.

Bob Balaban is quite sweet as Dr. Chandra, working with HAL's successor SAL 9000. John Lithgow has a nice extended scene as an acrophobe forced to do an extended EVA to get over to the old Discovery. Overall, it seems pretty faithful to Arthur C. Clarke's vision - scientists, engineers, astronauts, problems to solve, but no real mysteries.

On the minus side, the technology level predicted for 2010 (the future!) was laughable - the insides of HAL with the lucite memory blocks were controlled by a Kaypro keyboard and a graphic interface consisting of green letters on a black background. I didn't see any payphones, but if I had, I bet they would have had rotary dials. At least they got the whole "Russians are the bad guys, even if we are temporarily not at war" thing right - although that's more of a 2014 thing than 2010.

But here's the sucky part of the post - I fell asleep, right around when they were waking HAL up, about the third act. So I'm not really sure how well they managed to explore the themes of truth and lies, humanity and the alien, and Soviet-American detente. I don't even know if they told us what was up with the space embryo from the end of 2001. Oh well, at least I got to hear Keir Dullea as Dave saying, "Something is going to happen. Something wonderful."

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