2010: The Year We Make Contact (1984) – Peter Hyams

 

We dive into the cinematic universe of Arthur C. Clarke with this next film. I’d previously written about 2001: A Space Odyssey here, so I could jump right ahead to its sequel, 2010: The Year We Make Contact. This was my first introduction, film-wise into the worlds Arthur C. Clarke had created. I’d previously read 2001, and had bought 2010 at the same time. Basically, as soon as I had read in Starlog that the film was underway, I went out and found copies of both books. But, would you believe this… the video store I rented from (and this was when the business was really just beginning to take off), didn’t have a copy of Kubrick’s 2001 for me to view first.

And while 2001 is, by its very existence, the stronger film of the two, there will always be a place in my heart for 2010, because I loved the look of the universe I found myself in, and even now, I love the probe to Europa sequence, I get chills watching it every time. So thanks to the Sci-Fi Chronicles book, it was time to take a look at it again…

Hyams gathered a strong cast to continue telling the story of the monolith, HAL, Bowman, his last message, and the Discovery, he has Roy Scheider as Heywood Floyd, and I love his take on the character, John Lithgow as Dr. Walter Curnow, who ends up palling around with Russian, Max (Elya Baskin), Bob Balaban as Dr. Chandra (the only missed bit of casting, because Chandra was Indian), and Helen Mirren (who looks amazing in uniform) as the head of the Russian team, Tanya Kirbuk.

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I do have a few problems with the film, one of the things that bothers me, is the fact that despite the advances in special effects since Kubrick’s classic, 16 years earlier, some of the effects are shakier and cheaper looking than the original film. Despite that, there are so many things I loved about the film, as a joint U.S./Soviet team heads out to Jupiter to investigate the changes in Discovery’s orbit, as well as to take a closer look at the monolith that hangs in orbit there, political tensions, and the promise of war, threatens the earth.

That doesn’t stop the crew from focussing on their tasks, maintaining a détente, and even a trusting friendship.

The Leonov, their ship, looks great, where form follows function, and Hyams makes sure that everyone can follow the science and some of the theories at play, by having Floyd send messages back to his wife and young son, explaining what is going on.

One of the things that I didn’t like about the film, especially after the first film established that there is no sound in space, but there’s plenty of it here, its subtle, but it does detract from some of the realism they were going for with the film, though, it does add a theatrical reality to everything.

As their investigation aboard the Discovery continues, Floyd discovers through a somehow restored Bowman (Kier Dullea) that something wonderful is going to happen, and as the Leonov tries to make escape velocity, that one last message from Bowman, via HAL, is sent out…

Yup, still like this one a lot.

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