Jack’s Bad Movies: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

IMDB’s description:

After discovering a mysterious artifact buried beneath the lunar surface, mankind sets off on a quest to find its origins with help from intelligent supercomputer HAL 9000.

The movie has literally had a black screen now for 3 minutes with just music. I stopped the movie twice to make sure there wasn’t something wrong with the video (like it wasn’t streaming correctly). Also the “musical” notes are not pleasing to the ear.

We interrupt this black screen, for a movie. Or at least dawn scenes. after 7 minutes of screeching apes I’ve decided this movie is a real treat for the ears. Now they are worshiping an obelisk, now the ape is beating the crap out of a skeleton, now he is beating the crap out of another ape. And at 19 minutes and 56 seconds into the film, the ape throws his bone club into the sky and it turns into a space station.

This movie was filmed on location, in space, and the music theme of Homer eating potato chips on a space shuttle makes a little more sense. A woman pretending to walk in micro-gravity is putting a sleeping man’s pen back in his pocket. I hope that pen is important later. After flying towards the space station for half of my life, they finally dock. The station is using centrifugal force for gravity, so that is nice. A man Facetimes with his daughter, and then he just sits and talks with his multi-national colleagues. We might as well pretend there never was a cold war.

This film really captures the magic of space travel by allowing us to watch 8 minutes of a ship approaching the moon, and you get to see all the quirks of zero gravity, and magnetic boots, and all your foods are liquid, and toilets. And people living on the moon, and a very very slow landing. And finally, FINALLY the ship lands on the moon.

We are in a board meeting, Dr. Floyd keeps beating around the bush on the discovery. Just get to the point man! Now Floyd and a couple of others are traveling to some spot on the moon. They found something that hasn’t been buried due to “natural erosion” How much natural erosion is occurring on the Moon? The group of scientists arrives at another obelisk. Last time something walked up and touched one of these obelisks, the thing went on a murderous killing spree. I can only hope lightning strikes twice. He did touch it, but instead of being treated to a murder-fest, our ears get another delight of a piercing screech.

Jump 18 months forward, both in movie time and in real time. Incredibly this movie, which has been going for an hour, is only 40% of the way complete. There is a man running around the spinning gravity portion of the ship. This guy probably runs in circles every day, never getting anywhere.

They are watching an interview of themselves in portrait mode, on the BBC. Also 18 months ago, the people were drinking food through straws, now they can eat in trays. Progress! Something about that HAL 9000 guy just seems off to me. For clarification, I have never watched this movie before, but I get the sense that The Simpsons has already taught me everything I need to know about the plot.

It is Frank’s birthday, and his idiot parents made him a giant cake, just to gloat (maybe), and then Frank (or Dave, they are interchangeable) loses to Hal in chess. HAL is buttering up to Dave, praising his crappy drawings and then instilling doubt in him about the mission. HAL makes up some malfunction, and Dave goes out in a pod to try and fix it. And we are treated to 5 minutes of Dave’s breathing. The guy takes a pod out quite a ways from the ship and then free jumps back to the ship. I’m pretty sure that is a terrible idea.

HAL is wrong (about the malfunction), or the HAL back at Earth is wrong, or humans are wrong. HAL is sure he is right though, and I believe him. Now Dave and Frank are conspiring against HAL. But they stupidly sit where HAL can see them, and it knows, it knows what they did!

Somehow Kubrick found a slow spot in the film for an intermission…

It is time to treat yo self, because the movie is giving an auditory reprisal of all our favorite parts of the first half of the movie. 3 minutes of a black screen with “music” and then the sound of a man breathing. Frank going back out to reinstall the part that HAL made them remove. Hey, what do you know, jumping from your pod IS a mistake, and Frank is going to pay the ultimate price for being a space cowboy. Dave is coming to rescue him, but isn’t wearing his helmet, which means if HAL actually jettisoned Frank into space, then Dave is as good as dead.

Dave managed to save Frank, I guess. But while he was gone, HAL decided to euthanize the three scientists who were sleeping. Seems like a jerk move from a cold-hearted computer. And Dave’s decision to leave his helmet behind was a terrible mistake, because now HAL won’t let him back into the ship.

Dave dumps Frank’s body (we assume he is dead) and uses the pod to open an airlock, then positions the pod so that when the door opens, the air blasts him into the airlock, I kind of think that the pod should have also blasted away from the ship, but it doesn’t. Once inside, Dave wisely wears a helmet (procured from somewhere) and then goes into the memory core to kill HAL. At this point Dave probably isn’t aware that HAL killed the other three scientists though, he doesn’t know he is going in for the long lonely trip of loneliness. HAL starts to lose it as Dave rips out hard-disks. Eventually HAL is lobotomized.

Dave arrives at Jupiter (I have it on good authority that girls only go there to get more stupider). And our ears are once again treated to the sound of the weird singing people that usually means an obelisk is near.

And now we go on a 14 minute journey of who knows what. Lights and colors and planets and stars and a baby? and what looked like 7 obelisks that are maybe aliens?

The madness stops with Dave in a pod in a fancy bedroom, looking at himself, because Dave has probably succumbed to space madness. A man in black is there (possibly a galaxy defender?). Maybe it is Dave as an old man? I suppose it is. And now Dave is on his death bed, looking at the obelisk, which I guess he kept. Fortunes of war and all that. And we end with a super creepy baby with a giant eye in a force-field overlooking the Earth? I guess that is the end.

I mean, what the crap happened in that last 30 minutes of that film? No one knows. I know there are plenty of YouTube videos and even the director came out and tried to explain it, but I’m telling you, right now, no one knows what the last 30 minutes of that film are or what they mean.


5 thoughts on “Jack’s Bad Movies: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

  1. Is this an April Fools joke?
    The crap that happened in the last thirty minutes is that Dave traveled into a space womb created by the monolith folks and was reborn into a star child.

  2. Without a doubt the best commentary on this movie you will ever read. Seriously, the best. You turned the painted sorrow of watching this movie into something enjoyable. Thanks.

  3. *Monolith. An Obelisk is a totally different thing, found mainly in Egypt and a few other spots around the world, like the Washington Monument.

    Other than that. This film is weird, slow and boring. Also exceptionally unpleasant on the ears.

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