Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Sci Fi Top 100, #98: "2010: The Year We Make Contact" (1984)

Movie Stats:
Released 1984 (USA)
American, in English (some non-translated Russian)
Director - Peter Hyams
Stars - Roy Scheider, John Lithgow, Helen Mirren, Bob Balaban

Plot Summary:
Nine years after the loss of the Discovery & her crew (i.e. the events of “2001: A Space Odyssey”), a joint Soviet-U.S. mission heads to Jupiter to find out what happened. Scheider stars as Dr. Heywood Floyd, the former NASA Chief who was in charge of the Discovery mission; Lithgow as engineer Dr. Walter Curnow; Mirren as Tanya Kirbuk, commander of the Soviet portion of the mission; and Balaban as Dr. R. Chandra, the computer scientist tasked with restarting Discovery’s computer, HAL.

Minor blue language; implied sexy times

Bad Stuff:
Dull, dull, dull.

I hated the Cold War 80s-ness of it. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that, at the time the novel was written (1982), the author couldn’t conceive that the Soviet Union would be gone in less than 10 years. I was alive then. I don’t think many people were predicting that. Even so, decades later, this film feels ridiculously dated. Also, given that “2001” lacked a political element, it was very jarring to have it crop up in “2010.”

My ears are very sensitive to high-pitched noises. There are several in this film, and some of the scenes with them are rather extended. I was cringing a lot. At one point, I even had my fingers plugging my ears. Very off-putting.

It definitely lacks the visual beauty of “2001.”

Good Stuff:
It could have easily descended into schlocky horror territory but refrained.

I liked the dialogue. It felt like the way people actually talk to one another. Also, the way most people behaved felt natural & human.

There were some cool special effects.

The Verdict:
Not a fan. “2001” was pretty dull too, but it was elevated by the stunning cinematography and interesting ideas about the future. “2010” lacks both of those things. It feels like a standard 1980s Cold War movie, minus a little action to spice it up. Consider this exchange, which I'm pretty sure I saw in multiple 80s movies:

Max Brajlovsky (Elya Baskin): “Piece of pie!”
Dr. Walter Curnow: “It’s, ‘piece of cake!’”
Five minutes later …
Max: “Easy as cake!”
Walter: “It’s, ‘easy as pie!’”

The acting is okay. Nothing to write home about, but nothing bad either (except for Helen Mirren’s hair, truly a multi-national tragedy). There are some interesting ideas. I’m still not sure if I like the ending or if I think it’s absurd. Maybe a bit of both. At least it gave me something to think about. Overall, though, this isn’t one I’d recommend.

I give it 2.5 stars.


Patricia said...

I have vague memories of this movie when it was released, possibly because my questions led my parents to explain about the movie 2001, and how some day I would see 2001.

I'm hoping to enjoy more of your amusing insertions into movie dialouge a la this post and the previous one.

balyien said...

My two most recent movies had good dialogue, so we'll see. ;)