2010 | Chicago Reader

2010

The bucketloads of sanctimonious message mongering ladled on by director Peter Hyams still can't disguise the sheerly mercenary basis of this 1986 project, a wholly uncalled-for sequel to Stanley Kubrick's 2001. Kubrick's 1968 film was the first in American movie history to get an open-ended, modernist narrative past a popular audience; Hyams has set himself the task of neutralizing that accomplishment, devoting the whole of his limited creative energy to “explaining” the ambiguities of the original. Unfortunately, his strategy leaves his film without a plot of its own, so he must struggle to create the illusion of action by having the characters endlessly recap the few available plot developments for each other's benefit. Hyams imitates Kubrick's lighting style and set design, but what he can't imitate is Kubrick's awesome symmetries and sense of grandeur. One face (Keir Dullea's spooky, beatific expression) and one voice (Douglas Rain's disturbingly gentle interpretation of HAL 9000) survive from the original; it's they, not the monolith, who seem like the emissaries of another world. With Roy Scheider, John Lithgow, Helen Mirren, and Bob Balaban.

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