2001: A Space Odyszzzzzzzz

Guys in ape costumes are totally realistic.

Guys in ape costumes are totally realistic.

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.

HAL 9000, the most animated actor in the film.

HAL 9000, the most animated actor in the film.

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.

This is a metaphor for something, right?

This is a metaphor for something, right?

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.

Verdict: Shitty

Addendum: This review is dedicated to my online nemesis, Eva Yojimbo. This is for you, buddy.

41 Responses to “2001: A Space Odyszzzzzzzz”

  1. 1 SSD
    October 16, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    I agree with you that 2001 just drags on and onnn…I watched it a few years back with my mom’s boyfriend and was nearly falling asleep while watching because there was nothing but dead air. The film really could have been told in less time with more of a plot.

    Personally, I don’t see why it’s brilliant, either, but I can understand that for something like say, A Clockwork Orange.

  2. 2 NAveryW
    October 16, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    The length in 2001 and the way scenes linger didn’t bother me at all, though I can certainly see why it would bother others. That’s really just stylistic preference. Since so many scenes in this film were composed so well, I didn’t mind looking at them for so long.

    What bothers me is your accusation that the film is pretentious and full of Stanley Kubrick’s ego. Something that is “pretentious” is, by definition, something that claims to be greater than it is. 2001 makes no claims about itself, even if, in your mind, all you can think about while watching it is how big an ego Stanley Kubrick must have had. Therefore, it’s not pretentious.

    The subplots are indeed related thematically and symbolically. Yes, the film is full of symbolism. Yes, a lot of the supposed symbolism is just crap made up by fans, but a lot of things are rather overt once you’re aware of them. Now, it’s true that, for symbolism to matter, one has to care about the film. Filling something with symbolic allegories and such doesn’t make a film good if the script and/or acting are terrible. However, most people like the film, so that’s not really a factor.

    It’s also notable that 2001 was received quite poorly when it was released. When it was first screened, the audience hated it, and Kubrick cut forty minutes of footage that was never to be seen again. I am curious as to whether those deleted forty minutes have any dialogue or whether they’re just shots of drifting space stations.

  3. June 6, 2009 at 9:28 am

    I never claimed the film was pretentious, but only that Kubrick was.

  4. 6 Chee
    June 7, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    I disagree 100% with this review.

  5. 7 HellRaider
    August 8, 2009 at 2:38 pm


    I can agree with most of you said but there is a fact noone should ever forget and that is this movie was made in ‘1968’.

    The significance of that is, The concept of Artifical intelligence was just beginning to get popular, the space race occupied most of 60s. If we have ever lived on that timeline, we surely would be fascinated by this movie. Not to mention Special effetcts. There were hardly any special effects used on theatrical movies. The long, dizzy CGI crap was made for you to trip through deep space not to bore you. There was even a 5 minute break just in the middle of the movie. I was like wtf?. It was the moment that I realized that this was no ordinary movie.

    To sum up, you were meant to be fascinated but due to developing film industry, we are utterly familiar with these concepts and that makes this movie a boring movie.

  6. 10 Tarnsman
    September 9, 2011 at 11:50 am

    The problem I have with 2001 is the same problem I have with Citizen Kane or Avatar. When you make a movie simply to showcase your new groundbreaking movie making techniques, it generally tends to not withstand the test of time. There are still somethings that hold up, but they would have held up a lot better if the film actually had a deeply engaging plot.

    Still I’d take 2001 over any of Terrence Malick’s films any day.

  7. September 9, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    I agree with pretty well everything you’ve said here… So much of the movie drags on that I’ve forgotten pretty much everything other than the stuff you see all the time. Monkeys, spinning rooms, “I’m sorry, Dave. I can’t do that.” Daisy, Daisy… and the 30 minutes or so of acid trip space travel.

    I couldn’t tell you what any of it’s supposed to mean either. I will say that I went into the room completely sober, and left feeling like I had smoked the biggest joint of my life. This movie got me high. Still didn’t like it.

  8. 12 Brandon
    July 9, 2012 at 12:12 am

    This movie was so f*cking STUPID! I kept watching and watching, HOPING that some redeeming aspect of the plot would come along to really grab my attention. But, alas, nothing worked. It’s just one steamy pile of sh*t about… SPACE. Oh, GLORIOUS SPACE! LOL

    Stanley Kubrick was so overrated. I’ve seen three or four of his movies thus far, and all of them seemed to just barely miss the mark. I’m not even gonna TOUCH Clockwork Orange! The trailer alone looks like the most LSD-ridden shitfest of a movie, after Alice in Wonderland, that I can think of. Hell, I actually TRIED to watch the movie once before, like, 3 or 4 years ago, and I COULD NOT GET INTO IT! It was so convoluted. I had to keep fast-forwarding. The beginning scenes where they break into that woman’s house or ‘rape’ her or some sh*t were just so creepy… I didn’t see the POINT of that, esp. when one of the guys was holding some weirdass “slightly phallic” brass sculpture or whatever and… chasing her with it? I don’t really remember…

    But ALL THE FILMFAGS LOVE CLOCKWORK ORANGE. They talk about how it’s a “great ode to fighting back against ‘the man’ and indoctrination” or some shit like that. Or about how easily man can be manipulated? Who the fuck cares… It was a shitty, overrated film to begin w/. Besides, the METHODS they supposedly use on the main characters for “indoctrination” are probably VERY outdated and primitive compared to TODAY’S TECHNOLOGY, so it’s kind of hard for someone like me who was born in the 80s to relate. Ya know?

  9. 14 Brandon
    July 9, 2012 at 12:15 am

    Eyes Wide Shut was so terrible, too. I mean, a rich couple “discover” a ‘secret society’ where… all the people there dress up in really weird outfits and JUST HAVE ORGIES ALL NIGHT? Basically, if I recall… It’s like a weird mix between the Freemasons and swingers. Honestly… -_-

  10. 15 Aaron
    June 14, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    I find you to be rather pretentious yourself. I disagree with pretty much everything you’ve said in every review here, but that’s fine. I’m not going to call you an idiot for that, nor is it why I call you pretentious. Rather, it’s the way you go about it. As though your ideas of boring and not boring, necessary and unnecessary, are universal and anyone who doesn’t find this boring is a “film-fag” as you call them. The movies that you talked about and the points you make, I get them. I disagree with them, but I get them. But the unintentional irony here is that you call the people who make and enjoy these movies as pretentious snobs while doing so in a pretentious, snobish manner,

  11. 17 The Shining Blows, Too
    July 19, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    All of Kubrick’s movies from 1960 on suck the ooze out of a dead whore’s ass. Unbelievable that he’s considered an elite director, as great or greater than the likes of Billy Wilder, Woody Allen, or Steven Spielberg.

    • July 20, 2013 at 8:00 am

      Really? Not a fan of The Shining or Full Metal Jacket?

      • 19 TSBT
        July 20, 2013 at 9:00 am

        You mean The Boring? Also, Jack Nicholson is a less-ethnic, larger-skulled Robert De Niro. Which is to say, he’s been playing the same douche character at the same volume since 1980, and he sucks.

        But OK, I admit a fondness for FMJ. But it’s still a shit movie. Every character is one-dimensional (at most); an actor came up with the best lines (i.e., not the losers who were paid to come up with them (the screenwriters, of whom Kubrick is credited as one)); the twist at the end is dumb–and worse, heavyhandedly so; &c.. The only reason I watch it every decade or so is for R. Lee Ermey’s antics and Vincent D’Onofrio’s flashlight face.

        Actually, now that I think about it, all Vietnam War flicks blow. Even Hamburger Hill. And especially Apocalypse Now. That fucking dogshit isn’t even about the goddamn war.

        Oh, wait–The Rebel is awesome.

      • July 21, 2013 at 7:29 am

        I sort of agree that most Vietnam-based movies aren’t that great. But I do really like FMJ. The characters are one-dimensional, but it’s hard to resist the allure of R. Lee Ermey’s hilarious performance.

  12. February 26, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    I HATED 2001 the first time I saw it. I was younger, to be fair, I think I was maybe 16 or so, but I thought it was easily the most boring movie ever made (I had not yet sat through masterpieces like The English Coma Patient or Gosford Park… lol). I admit that after seeing it again when I was older and having more film perspective, I really enjoyed it, and there are so many parts I love about this film, like HAL, and I think it’s quite philosophical and interesting if you give it the time to examine it — which, let’s be honest, there is lots of time to examine this film while it’s playing since during most of the scenes, nothing is really going on anyway! BUT I have to say being fully honest — you are 100% right about the scenes — so I was sitting here cracking up thinking, “Yeah, I like this movie, but he’s totally right.” I mean seriously it will be 10 minutes of absolutely nothing happening. Nothing. It’s like watching grass grow in real time. The only reason I can say with a straight face that I enjoy the film quite a bit is because I try to judge a film based on when it was made, what had come before, and I can say, alright, there are a lot of elements of this film that were revolutionary and got me thinking, and some parts of it were brilliant, but did the editor just sort of fall asleep? Did he go to the vending machine to grab a Twix and it just wasn’t coming out? Then he returns 10 minutes later, seeing THE SAME GODDAMN THING ON THE SCREEN and then thinks to himself, “Huh, ok I thought I left this running, guess not, back to editing!” and just sort of never noticed that, NOPE, the film was running for 10 minutes, it’s just nothing changed on the screen whatsoever. I suppose that where 2001 really comes across as a waste of space is when you’re younger and you first hear from old farts, “Oh, you like Star Wars? Boy, have you seen 2001? You HAVE to see 2001! There’s a movie!” Umm, I’m sorry but if you go into 2001 expecting Star Wars, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. The type of disappointment that would come from, say, going into prison expecting to have sex with Victoria’s Secret supermodels and coming out with a sore ass.

    • February 26, 2015 at 3:47 pm

      The last line of your comment is one of the funniest things anyone has ever left on my blog! For me, I had a reverse of what happens with most people and films. I used to be very, very patient when it came to watching movies. But when I was in medical school, my free time was extremely limited. So, whenever a movie was boring or kind of bad, I would turn it off and find something else. If I only had 2 free hours per week, I wasn’t going to waste them watching somethin I hated! Ever since then, I’ve kept that same philosophy. I have more free time now, sure, but my tolerance for boring/bad movies is far, far, far lower.

      • February 26, 2015 at 4:12 pm

        Haha, nice! Yeah I don’t blame you. One of my best friends went to medical school and they work these guys to death, wow. I was amazed how many times he described his life and it seemed like it was some huge luxury to get 6 hours of sleep and 1 hour at the gym, like going to the gym to maintain your physical health is some sort of incredible hobby fun time haha. I have usually made a habit of finishing movies I start, but as I’ve gotten older, I just won’t do that with everything anymore. Life is too short, like you said, with limited free time and plenty of great movies I’ve never seen, I’m not going to waste it on crap. Maybe it ended up being an awesome movie, but I turned off Inherent Vice (from this last year) after 18 minutes. Nothing had happened, I could barely understand the dialogue, it looked poorly shot, and I already hate the director (I know he’s Hollywood’s new Golden Child, but I honestly hate his work and think it’s horribly overrated). I learned a few weeks later that another friend of a friend also walked out on that movie, so I don’t feel too bad. I guess I’m not the only one who just didn’t get it. I will give a film some time to develop, because there are instances I can think of where my opinion throughout the film was “eh, this is pretty good, I mean, nothing special,” but it ended up being great (The Usual Suspects comes to mind). That being said, if it completely sucks after 30 minutes, why is it going to get better? Great filmmaking demands a hook in the first 10 minutes, maybe you can excuse a well known director for making the hook take 20 minutes, 25 minutes, but after 30 minutes if nothing has happened and it seems shitty, you’re wasting your time.

  13. 24 republibot3
    July 25, 2015 at 8:29 am

    2001 is nowhere near the best SF movie ever made. Hell, it’s not even as good as Forbidden Planet on a human level. There is a plot, or at least a theme, however: the protohumans are dying out. They’ve gone as far as herbiverious monkeys can go. The monolith gives them the concept of killing and eating animals, and they evolve into us. Basically the concept of violence. in 2001 the world is hovering around World War III. That cut from the bone thrown in the air to a thing in space? It’s a nuclear weapons satellite. There’s some thin cold war tension on the space station. When Dave goes through the stargate he’s transformed into a space baby, which is supposed to be representative of the next stage in evolution. Humanity has gone about as far as violence can safely take us, and so the monoliths have decided to help us evolve. The reason you didn’t get this is because Kubric rather randomly decided overt cold war stuff would date the film, and was too on-the-money, so he cut mentions of it from the script, and removed a few scenes and some narration. So basically everyone onscreen is motivated by something that’s never stated.


  14. 25 George Zip
    September 30, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    It’s fine to dislike a movie that’s considered a classic but at least give a somewhat decent explanation other than displaying your complete and utter lack of intelligence when it comes to watching them. These are all straw man arguments. You found the movie boring, fine. Don’t write an essay on it if that’s all you have to say about it.

  15. 26 VartAndelay
    July 3, 2016 at 9:37 pm

    I feel as though I’ve lived my entire movie-watching life in anticipation of reading this beautifully profane, heartfelt and searing review.
    Some of the comments are nearly as enjoyable and astute, including the person who compared Kubrick to that other self-important wanker T Mallick, and another who mentioned D Lynch.
    It’s a cliche to suggest watching Dr. Strangelove or Spartacus if you want to see an entertaining Kubrick movie.
    Lolita is a fine work. But for me it’s Paths of Glory. How I love that movie.
    But starting with 2001 and thereafter Kubrick was on a full slide toward the day he delivered Eyes Glued Shut and put a bullet in his head, or whatever he did. Just a pretentious, half-crazed, self-indulgent wank.

  16. 27 ThePreciseClimber
    April 1, 2017 at 11:44 pm

    As Confused Matthew said in his review of this movie:
    More Landscape.

  17. 29 WAF
    January 15, 2018 at 7:23 pm

    2001: A Space Oddessy (1968) — Pretentious and self-indulgent … the worst movie ever made.

    Solaris (1972) — Self-indulgent and incoherent … actually *this* is the worst movie ever made — so bad, I’m not sure I sat as much as halfway through it before deciding that, rather than waste even a second more of my precious … and scarily finite … life on anything so pointless, I’d see if there weren’t any drying paint that needed watching somewhere else.

    ‘Gotta Light?’ [Twin Peaks Season 3, Episode 8] (2017) — Pretentious, self-indulgent and incoherent … the worst *thing* ever made — even that movie that was just random segments of landscape … iceflows melting, oilfields burning, sand dunes doing nothing … had a more coherent and intellectually engaging plot.

    Questions I dread my kids asking me:

    1. Where do babies come from?
    2. Why does evil exist?
    3. What the hell is going on in #TwinPeaks S3E8?

    — Trevor Foughty (@trevorfoughty) June 26, 2017

    You see that glass box in another episode altogether …

    Being the guy watching nothing happen in it … ever … for the rest of my life … would’ve been more stumulating, made more sense and left me with more of a sense of time well spent.

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October 2008


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