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It's no secret that sequels are often little more than calculated rehashesof popular movies, with extra emphasis placed on re-creating dialogue orbits of action that everyone talked about the first time around. But PeterHyams' 2010 (1984), the long awaited follow-up to Stanley Kubrick'smonumental classic, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), is a differentbeast altogether. It may well be the only sequel in movie history that wasdesigned to explain the plot of its predecessor...not that everyone wasclamoring for an answer.
2010's relatively straight-forward narrative picks up nine yearsafter the first film ended. The United States government discovers that theSoviets are planning to travel to Jupiter to find out what happened to TheDiscovery, the doomed ship that served as a sort of metaphysical launchingpad in 2001: A Space Odyssey. The Soviets eventually contact theU.S. and request that Heywood Floyd (Roy Scheider), the mastermind behindthe original mission, accompany them on their journey. It's never explainedhow Floyd, who was played by William Sylvester in 2001, managed totransform himself into a completely different person betweenstories.
Floyd and his fellow American astronauts, Walter Curnow (John Lithgow) andDr. Chandra (Bob Balaban), are welcome additions to the crew, mainly becausethe Russians have no working knowledge of the HAL 9000 computer thatcontrols The Discovery. Fans of the first film, of course, realize thatnobody knows exactly what's going on with HAL. (Note also that2010 contains a guest appearance by HAL's sister, SAL 9000. SALspeaks with Candice Bergen's mellifluous voice, though Bergen isinexplicably billed in the credits as "Olga Mallsnerd.") Soviet-Americanpolitical tensions - which were a reality at the time and now may be puzzling to today's viewers - add another dimension to the proceedings. Before it's allover, you may (or may not) have a better idea what Kubrick and co-writerArthur C. Clarke were getting at with 2001.
One could debate whether there was a need to make 2010 at all. "Icertainly would not have not thought of doing the film," Hyams admitted, "ifI had not gotten the blessing of Kubrick." Though Kubrick gave Hyams thego-ahead, he always intended 2001: A Space Odyssey to operatesomewhere beyond the realm of verbal explanation. The questions it raisesaren't designed to be answered directly, since the film's "point" hinges onthe unknowable mysteries of human consciousness. It's the kind of picturethat can be viewed as profound, pretentious or incomprehensible depending on who's viewing it. Thus the sequel received a mixed reception; some people saw it and some peopleavoided it out of respect for Kubrick's original, mind-bendingexperience.
Clarke, for his part, was receptive when a nervous Hyams sent him the screenplay. "Ifelt like playing a few tricks on you - like a message from my secretarythat I was last seen heading for the airport carrying a gun," he told him.However, Clarke added, "I'll say right away that it's a splendid job and youhave brilliantly chiseled out the basic elements of the novel, besidesadding quite a few of your own."
Whether or not Hyams succeeds in clarifying a deliberately unknowable filmwill hinge on your eagerness to abandon your personal interpretation ofKubrick's and Clarke's work. Regardless, 2010 can still beappreciated as a solidly entertaining piece of sci-fi, one that wasnominated for Academy Awards for Best Sound, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design,Best Makeup, and Best Visual effects.
Directed by: Peter Hyams
Screenplay: Peter Hyams, based on Arthur C. Clarke’s novel, 2010, OdysseyTwo
Art Direction: Albert Brenner
Set Design: Rick Simpson
Cinematography: Peter Hyams
Editing: James Mitchell and Mia Goldman
Music: David Shire, Richard Strauss, and Gyorgi Ligeti
Special Effects: Henry Millar, Jr. and Richard Edlund
Costume Design: Patricia Norris
Principal Cast: Roy Scheider (Heywood Floyd), John Lithgow (Walter Curnow),Helen Mirren (Tanya Kirbuk), Bob Balaban (Dr. Chandra), Keir Dullea (DavidBowman), Dana Elcar (Dimitri Moisevitch), Elya Baskin (MaximBrailovsky).
C-116m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.
by Paul Tatara