CHANNEL 4 4SEVEN E4 MORE4 FILM4 4MUSIC 4oD

Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • PG
  • Adventure, Mystery
  • 1984
  • 116 mins

2010

2010

Synopsis

With the world on the brink of nuclear war, a Russo-American space expedition heads for Jupiter to discover what happened aboard the USS Discovery. 2001 sequel starring Roy Scheider, John Lithgow and Helen Mirren

About

Loathed by Stanley Kubrick fans who refer to it as "Ten Past Eight", Peter Hyams's 2010 often nestles beside other unwanted sequels like The Sting 2 in critics' lists of despised pictures.

Forget for a moment that this is the follow-up to the most significant pre-Star Wars science-fiction film and you might agree that this movie has been unfairly maligned. That it withers in Kubrick's eclipse-size shadow is hardly surprising. However, Hyams's picture isn't entirely idiotic in the way it opens up 2001: A Space Odyssey. And in Roy Scheider, it finds a suitably ravaged figure to portray man's curiosity and hubris.

As Dr Heywood Floyd (played by William Sylvester in the Kubrick film), it falls to Scheider to find out what happened to the crew of the missing Discovery and to investigate the meaning behind astronaut David Bowman's last log entry - "My God, it's full of stars." Obliged to travel into deep space with a crew of cosmonauts - led by Helen Mirren's Tanya Kubrick - Floyd finds his situation compromised by the heating up of the Cold War. With the answer to life's meaning apparently at his fingertips, our hero gets to grips with enigmatic computer HAL (voiced by Rain) and the impenetrable monolith, all the while wondering whether there will be a world for him and the other crew members to return to.

In attacking 2010, people often forget that the film is based on Arthur C Clarke's - not especially good - '2001' sequel. As for the widely despised emphasis on conventional action scenes (the air breaking sequence, for example), it can be explained away by the demands of 1980s SF audiences. Still, producer-writer-DP-director Hyams must shoulder some blame for the miscasting of John Lithgow, whose comedic playing is at odds with the understated mood, and in the quest for profundity his script occasionally blunders into black holes of pretension.

Compensation for these missteps comes courtesy of Scheider - has there ever been a more sympathetic leading man? - and Dame Helen, who gets to have a little fun with her Russian heritage. And then there's Bob Balaban (an E.T vet following Close Encounters Of The Third Kind) who as HAL's creator gets to play a remarkably moving scene opposite his homicidal PC. The sort of thing that could have been incredibly silly, that this sequence works should be enough to silence those bent on jettisoning 2010.

Speaking of HAL, all the major emblems of 2001 are present and they've lost none of their power. The monolith, the Star Child, the Strauss - they almost feel hardwired into our psyche. That said, it's Keir Dullea's Dave Bowman who is the key source of eeriness. When HAL instructs Scheider that his late former colleague is standing behind him, he looks like he's seen a ghost. Then Dullea appears, and we feel exactly the same way.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Keir Dullea, Helen Mirren, Douglas Rain, John Lithgow, Bob Balaban, Roy Scheider
  • Director: Peter Hyams
  • Screen Writer: Peter Hyams
  • Writer (Book): Arthur C Clarke
  • Producer: Peter Hyams
  • Photographer: Peter Hyams
  • Composer: David Shire

In a nutshell

It can't hope to compete with Kubrick, but if you can distance Peter Hyams's picture from its formidable forerunner, you'll find a thoughtful and sometimes unforgettable science-fiction fable.

by Richard Luck

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 Tower Heist

    Tower Heist

    When the hard-working employees of a New York skyscraper fall victim to a Ponzi scheme they launch an elaborate plan to steal their money back

  • Film4 Palo Alto

    Palo Alto

    First-time writer-director Gia Coppola adapts James Francos collection of linked short stories that tell of teenagers struggles with life, love and vice

  • Film4 Killer Joe

    Killer Joe on Film4

    Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch and Juno Temple star in William Friedkin's noir thriller on Film4

  • Film4 The Angels Share

    The Angels' Share on Film4

    After avoiding jail Robbie turns over a new leaf and finds the inspiration to change his life in a whisky distillery on Film4

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Joe Cunningham's 11 recommendations for LFF 14

    Unfortunately I haven¿t been jet setting around the world this year to the various exciting international film festivals, but that¿s what makes the London Film Festival¿s compilation approach to progr

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Michael Leader's 11 recommendations for LFF 2014

    One of the best things about the London Film Festival¿s smorgasbord approach to programming is that, amongst the world premieres and gala screenings, there¿s an eclectic collection of exciting films o

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share