Just about every film “expert” in the world has a raging boner for this movie. Why? I have no goddamn idea. This movie stands as one of the greatest examples of excessive, self-indulgent, masturbatory bullshit ever made. There is no plot. But I’ll tell what there is a lot of. Dead space. The film will literally drag on for 10-15 minutes at a time with no dialogue or characters on screen whatsoever. Filling that time is a bunch of special effects, and Stanley Kubrick’s massive ego. I’m really not sure what Kubrick was going for here. For example, having a shot of a shuttle drifting toward a space station, while classical music plays… for 10 fucking minutes. Jesus, Kubrick, you could have easily done that in one minute, and not come off as a pretentious douchebag in the process. That’s the problem with this movie. It’s two and a half hours long, but if you fast forward through the special effects orgies, you could probably watch it in about an hour and fifteen minutes. Admittedly, there are a few cool ideas here. For example, the Monoliths, which appear to be some kind of sentient beings. They show up and bestow intelligence on primitive man in a very interesting scene… which is again ruined by lasting too goddamn long. Every fucking scene in this movie goes on for twice as long as it needs to. Any punch or effectiveness is lost, and you are left with a lingering sense of irritable impatience. The movie overstays it’s welcome time and time again, making you hate it. If any other director tried this he would have been placed in the same category as Uwe Boll, but because the “great” Stanley Kubrick did it, everyone jerks off over this movie.
Eventually, we reach the most interesting part of the “story” where a supercomputer, HAL 9000, malfunctions and attempts to kill the humans on board its space craft. Unfortunately, no real explanation for why this occurs is given, but it’s rather just something for us to watch while we wait for the “plot” to reach some kind of conclusion. I can’t really say this movie has a plot, because it really is just a series of disconnected events strung together on the same film reel. That’s the only way you can call this a movie, and not just a bunch of shorts about masturbation in outer space. The death of HAL took forever, and annoyed me, as well. Finally, in the end the last surviving member apparently makes contact with the Monolithic forms of alien life. We get a mindfuck on par with David Lynch’s work. While I certainly liked the imagery, it ultimately had no substance whatsoever, and I think Kubrick was just doing it to see how far he could take things. Why does Dave get really old and then regress to a fetus? No clue, because no explanation is ever given. In fact, no hints are even dropped anywhere along the way. Instead of hints to a greater mystery, we get a bunch of classical music and fucking models hanging in front of matte backgrounds. While a David Lynch mindfuck usually has something to do with the story at large, this mindfuck does nothing. What was the point of it all, really? It was probably a metaphor for something I’m too stupid to understand. Honestly, to enjoy a movie I don’t need to be spoonfed all the answers. I like figuring stuff out, and I like it when the ending is left open to interpretation. But when it’s all done to such great excess as it is here, it’s annoying. Kubrick is just fucking with the audience, and if there was originally some kind of message here, he buried it beneath his ego.
I’m sure the film school assholes will tell me I’m just stupid and didn’t “get it.” Maybe. But even so, that doesn’t excuse the wastefulness of watching nothing happening on screen for over an hour, all set to a classical score. If I want to listen to classical music and do nothing, I can cue up some mp3’s and lay around. Apparently Kubrick never heard the old saying “less is more.” Here, there is more of everything. Too much, in fact. Brevity can be nice in a film, and was certainly needed here. Also, some kind of story with a beginning, middle, and end, like you were taught about in middle school, would have been nice.
Addendum: This review is dedicated to my online nemesis, Eva Yojimbo. This is for you, buddy.