Saturday 6 January 2024

Movie Review: 2010: The Year We Make Contact (1984)

Genre: Science Fiction Drama 
Director: Peter Hyams 
Starring: Roy Scheider, Helen Mirren, John Lithgow, Bob Balaban, Keir Dullea 
Running Time: 116 minutes 

Synopsis: Nine years after the spaceship Discovery inexplicably malfunctioned near Jupiter, Dr. Heywood Floyd (Roy Scheider) joins the Leonov Soviet mission to uncover what happened. He is accompanied by American scientists Curnow (John Lithgow) and Chandra (Bob Balaban), while the Leonov is commanded by Tanya Kirbuk (Helen Mirren). Once near Jupiter, they detect organic signals from the moon Europa, and Floyd starts to understand what happened to Discovery's commander David Bowman (Keir Dullea) and its on-board computer system HAL 9000 (voice of Douglas Rain). Back on Earth, a geopolitical conflict threatens to erupt into a catastrophic war.

What Works Well: The adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke's sequel book stands on its own merits, with slick special effects, a strong cast, a sense of purpose, and extrapolated Cold War tensions spilling into space. Director and writer Peter Hyams keeps the sci-fi drama more traditionally approachable and less mystical, and does well in building tension through compact episodes towards an existential final act. Keir Dullea reprises the role of Bowman through brief but essential interventions, and HAL 9000 earns a poignant artificial intelligence arch.

What Does Not Work As Well: The exclamatory final message borders on hokey, and although cerebral, 2010 never threatens to reach the inspirational levels of 2001.

Conclusion: A proficient nuts and bolts underpinning for a space opus.

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