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"2010: The Year We Make Contact" Blu-ray Review

It's been ages since I've seen 1984's 2010; I wouldn't be surprised if it's been nearly that long since I've seen it, but I've always remembered it for the dated Cold War aspects. Upon rewatching it Blu-ray, it's even worse than I remember, bogging down an adequate follow-up to the grossly overrated Stanley Kubrick "classic" 2001: A Space Odyssey, a film that I revisit every five years or so to see if it still sucks, which invariably it does.

Starting several years after 2001 (heh), Dr. Haywood Floyd (played this time by Roy Scheider) is approached by the Russians with a proposal: They know the USA is planning on sending a mission to find out what happened to the Discovery, but have a ship ready to leave now and would get to Jupiter a year sooner and are offering to take Floyd, the chief designer of the Discovery (John Lithgow), and Dr. Chandra (Bob Balaban), who programmed the psychotic computer HAL-9000, who killed everyone by Dave Bowman (Kier Dulea). Complicating matters are simmering tensions between the Soviet Union and America over Central America. When they get to Jupiter, they discover the giant monolith shown at the end of 2001 and then things get a little crazy.

When you strip out the preachy "We've got to trust each other; damn the politicians" claptrap that firmly roots this futuristic story in the Reagan years of 26 years ago and the somewhat slow pacing - though meth-fueled compared to Kubrick's glacial snoozer - you have a fairly straightforward space exploration tale with above-average special effects and production values. The sets and style are very reminiscent of Alien and it's a hoot to see Helen Mirren as the Soviet commander.

The best aspect of the film - which I actually forgot - concerns the reactivated HAL (again voiced by Douglas Rain) and whether he's truly in control now, what drove him to murder before, and whether he can be relied on when the mission has to escape from Jupiter space four weeks earlier than planned. Even though I knew how it was going to turn out, having read the source 2010: Odyssey Two novel and seen the movie, it was still effective.

As for the Blu-ray, the transfer is OK, with good, but not impressive detail due to the grainy source. Black levels are weak, causing a washed-out look to the live-action while the FX (which we shot in 65mm) look good, though you can spot some matte glow like the first time you saw Star Wars on tape before Lucas cleaned everything up. The only extra is a 9-minute long promo piece from when it came out. It's as informative as you could hope in such a brief time, but it's clear this minor movie didn't merit a major package to the studio.

Score: 6/10. Rent it.


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