Friday, February 19, 2016

2010 - An Odyssey that's Easy to Forget [Review]

By Terry Hazlett, Entertainment Editor

The best that can be said about 2010 is that it answers the questions from 2001 which have been floating around like so many discarded Sputniks for 16 years.

The worst that can be said about 2010 is that is doesn't answer them very well.

Still, the immediate outlook for this belated sequel is good. If anything can shove the '60s generation out of its TV chairs and into the theater seats, it's a film that promises to settle the mystifying questions and situations posed by Stanley Kubrick in the original film. To director Peter Hyams' credit, 2010 concludes with a revelation that is very much in keeping with the spirit of the 1960s.

Keeping the Pepsi generation in its seats is another matter. Imaginative as 2010 is, it is nonetheless light years away from the Star Wars series. Likewise, 2010 can't boast of sex, profanity or even humor. Despite its PG rating, it might as well forget the school crowd.

In the future, I say.

In 2010, three Americans join several Russians on board their space ship in a joint search for the Discovery. The Russians control all the data, the Americans have been invited only because they can expedite the retrieval of that data.

Roy Scheider is the man blamed for the deaths of the original Discovery crew, John Lithgow is the engineer, Bob Balaban (a Richard Dreyfuss lookalike) is the computer whiz who must reprogram the HAL 9000. There's initial tension between Scheider and Balaban, but it's dismissed like so much space waste.

While the Russians and Americans are beginning to live compatibly in space, the same is not true on Earth, where war is imminent. In the movie's dumbest moment, the U.S. president orders the three Americans to abandon the Russian ship for the Discovery.

The explanation of HAL's actions in 2001 are explained away only marginally better, while the monolith, though never defined, nonetheless appears to be exactly what most viewers believed in the first place.

Keir Dullea, who played astronaut David Bowman in the original, returns to the Discovery in various forms in 2010, wrapping some loose ends for his character and the viewer as well.

One of the major problems with 2010 is that it never seems very futuristic. Although Scheider's home is equipped with a dolphin tank, the movie itself makes no other attempts to vault itself into the 21st century.

Another problem is the movie's non-story. 2010 resembles part two of a mini-series rather than a sequel. Its major developments are never major, the major crisis occurs early in the film, when the spaceship must "brake" to float alongside the Discovery. Because it occurs so early in the film, there's no question the spaceship won't be destroyed. So much for suspense.

There is minor tension when a visibly trembling John Lithgow makes his first space walk, and, later, when Balaban tries to convince HAL to go against previous instructions, but it's not the stuff of great movies.

2010 is decidedly not a great movie nor even a good one. It's merely a competent film, but one as passe as today's space shuttle flights.

When there's no excitement, no danger, no crisis, no one is likely to care.

Originally published 22 december, 1984.

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