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2001 is in many respects, such as music, direction, and effects, a great film, but it ultimately fails as an adaptation of the book and has some major faults. Many fans state that the more confusing portions of the film can be explained by reading the book, but that's exactly the problem: the film should be able to stand up on its own without people needing to read the book. If you need to do research just to understand what's happening, the film has failed. It can still be good, but not as an effective adaptation, and there are two other major problems which diminished the film for me.
The characters are incredibly dull. The only two crew we see in action are as interesting as manilla folders, and HAL, the most memorable character, really has little effect on the plot, as I'll discuss in a moment. Do you remember the name of the guy HAL killed? How about Dave's last name? Would you even remember his name was Dave if HAL hadn't said it? They hardly say or do anything of consequence and have so little personality I can't really be interested in their fate.
Another major problem is the lack of information. We're told so little about what the mission is, both the stated one and the real one disclosed to David offscreen after he shuts down HAL, or what went wrong with HAL in the first place. We have so little information that there are no known consequences of the character's actions, because we have no way of knowing how what happens differs from the alternative. Case in point, the entire conflict with HAL could have been omitted. We don't know what that recording with the real mission instructed him to do. David still reaches the monolith without the other crewmen or HAL, without any trouble, and we don't know what they would have done, so they may as well have never been there. One of the most memorable parts of the film is completely redundant and has no impact on the larger story of reaching the monolith.
Overall, it's still deserving of status as a sci-fi classic, but mainly due to a combination of style over substance and a still memorable story from Clarke.
You do know that 2001 came out as a movie *before* Clarke published the novel, right? It can't really be considered a failed adaptation in any sense because of that. Maybe try judging the movie on its own merits?
Yes, I know, but Clarke and Kubrick worked on it together, Clarke was writing the book at the same time, people often refer to the book to understand the film, so I'm counting it as an adaptation. I did judge the movie by its own merits. It is lacking. That was my entire point.
The film isn't meant to explain things for you, it's deliberately confusing and ambiguous to make you, the audience, think and question, treating you as a philosopher, not a casual viewer, in the words of both Clarke and Kubrick. Read Ebert's review on it.
"Filtering out the filthy casuals" is never a good excuse for anything, sir, in any form of art that has ever existed.
\'\"Filtering out the filthy casuals\" is never a good excuse for anything, sir, in any form of art that has ever existed.\'
Oh, please. Besides realism, that is the entire point of all art.
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