2001: A Space Odyssey- Good or Not?


Jack Lynch and Jake Ditto

Jake Ditto: 2001: A Space Odyssey is the greatest and most influential sci-fi film of all time. It inspired films like Alien and Interstellar. Stanley Kubrick made an intelligent film and made a film ahead of its time.

Jack Lynch: I do not deny that 2001 is influential. I merely think that it is unwatchable. I have never seen a film so universally lauded that has been so terrible. It was made not to entertain but so Kubrick could see what he could do with film and, while he did innovative and interesting things, 30 minutes of monkeys screeching around a monolith is so far from entertaining that I would have rather spent those 3 hours watching grass grow, paint dry or trash rot.

As for greatest sci-fi film of all time, you are dead wrong Jake. There is a list of sci-fi films a mile long that exceed 2001 in influence, watchability and enjoyment. Everything from 1968’s Planet of the Apes to 1977’s Star Wars and even 1985’s Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome are better films.

And do you know why? Because gouging my eyes out doesn’t occur to me when I see Charleton Heston in a court of law surrounded by Orangutans. I don’t nod off when Luke Skywalker wants to go to Toshi station to pick up some power convertors. The politics of Barter Town and the dynamic between Tina Turner and Master Blaster do not make me regret taking IB Film. All because I enjoy them.

The single most important thing in a movie it’s enjoyability. That is what makes a film good. Starship Troopers may be critically panned, it is an enjoyable movie. The first Transformers film may not have been ahead of its time, but it was beloved enough to have plenty of sequels.

JD:  Kubrick is not trying to make an entertaining film. Throughout the film he relies on a great script with visual storytelling and doesn’t want to spoon feed the audience every single idea

This is a film where you have to think about what you’re watching.

Also, this film is far better than all the films you listed.  To start, the only thing that Planet of the Apes did was get 4 sequels, a remake and 3 prequels.  The only thing Star Wars offers is a good story, and you don’t take anything away from it after you have watched it. Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome isn’t even the best Mad Max film. As much as I love the films you listed off, they do not even compare to the great spectacle that is 2001.  

Another thing is that none of those filmmakers come close to being as great as Kubrick.  The only other thing that the director of Planet of the Apes made was Patton.  George Lucas has only directed six movies, and the only thing great George Miller made was the Mad Max franchise. Aside from Miller none of those filmmakers you listed make you think deeply about the movie, and you don’t take anything away from the film aside from it being entertaining.

JL: You don’t think in those movies? How do you not think about a great struggle between good and evil as Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader fight each other in the ultimate battle for freedom? How do you not think about the failures of man and his own hubris when presented by Roddy McDowall and the cast of Apes as they make us view ourselves in their funhouse mirror? Miller has made more than Mad Max. Baba: Pig in the City and the Happy Feet films aren’t tentpoles of a genre but they can be watched.

Star Wars is inarguably the most influential sci-fi series of all time, by far outpacing its closest competitor in Star Trek. This is because in 1977 George Lucas’ vision was so awe-inspiring, so entertaining that there have been so many books, shows, games, movies and stories that most of them had to be relegated to an alternate universe to make sense. That is greatness. It is not perfect, but it is great.

If you asked people “What is your favorite sci-fi film?” most will mention Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Inception, Terminator or Back to the Future. Not 2001: A Space Odyssey. Because while it may be influential, it may have a great soundtrack and it may been a well made film, but what does any of that matter if you can’t sit through it?

JD: What I meant by making you think is that 2001 is still being analysed today.  Everything in Planet of the Apes and Mad Max has already been completely analyzed and everyone knows the symbolism in those movies. What makes 2001 so great is that every time people watch it they continue to find something to analyze.  

Star Wars has influenced pop culture more than film. And also the reason Star Wars does better than Star Trek was because it’s a general consensus that the Star Trek films aren’t really that great.

2001 has influenced practically every sci-fi film ever made.  As far as what the average person would say, you are right that most wouldn’t say 2001, but the people that know more about film and appreciate it more will say 2001. I would also say that 2001 is enjoyable for a certain group of people, including me. Like I already said, the entire movie is pretty much visual storytelling, and it’s like a puzzle in trying to figure out the deeper message Kubrick is trying to make.

I would also argue that a film being enjoyable isn’t the most important thing about a movie. That’s like saying Schindler’s List isn’t great because it’s not fun seeing the holocaust on the screen.

JL: I think you do have a fair argument in that. For the vast majority of movies, the most important thing is not the cinematography, the mise en scene, blocking, lighting or anything else that goes into the making of the movie. However In some films, it is. 2001: A Space Odyssey is not an enjoyable film and I doubt that I will take the time to watch it again, but it is not without merit.  

JD: Most people will not want to watch this film multiple times, but it is the greatest sci-fi film of all time. Every great sci-fi film made can thank 2001 for paving the way for the modern sci-fi movie.

Is 2001: A Space Odyssey a good film?

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