2001: A Space Odyssey Live Blog

May 24, 2013

Matt: This is gonna suck, huh?
Ben: No, it’s gonna be awesome!

Matt: It’s been black forever
Ben: There’s music
Matt: So boring

Matt: Can you imagine if you’re in a theater? 2 minutes of nothing? That can’t be right!

Matt: If I was in a theater I’d seriously be worried, looking around at other people saying “should we call the manager?”

Matt: Are you for real? We’re three minutes in and they’re just getting started

Matt: The most interesting thing that’s happened so far is I found out what MGM stands for
Ben: What does it stand for?

Ben: Just so you know it’s like 40-45 minutes before anyone shows up
Matt: You are lying!
Ben: I’m not lying!
Matt: I am pissed
Matt: Merwin Goldwin… M… something

Matt: Are these real monkeys or planet of the apes monkeys?
Ben: They’re real monkeys
Matt: That’s totally an actor in a suit
Ben: It’s a real monkey
Matt: When did this come?
Ben: 1960s
Matt: I wondered if they used the same costumes as Planet of the Apes

Matt: We could honestly be watching this on mute

Ben: They’re forming society
Matt: What about screaming says society to you?
Ben: They’re gathering together
Matt: They’re just by the water hole. Everyone goes to the water hole

Matt: These monkeys are better actors than The Rock
Ben: That doesn’t take much

Ben: You were right. They’re actors
Matt: You can see it in their eyes

Matt: Oh my gosh. Aliens made humans. Just as I suspected
Ben: I don’t think that’s what the movie’s saying
Matt: They’re trying to turn these monkeys into humans!

15:00 (at the sight of another monkey digging in the dirt)
Matt: Not this again

Matt: He’s making a tool
Ben: He’s not making a tool. Oh he is making a tool!
Matt: Oh yeah!

Matt: This director sucks

Matt: This reminds me of something Jesus used to say. “Might makes right”
Ben: Amen

Ben: We made it! I guess the monkeys were only 20 minutes!

Matt: More classical music this composer didn’t write

Matt: Do you know what this is like? Fantasia
Ben: I don’t think it’s like Fantasia
Matt: Just add some music, have some pictures and bam: Space Fantasia

Matt: Five and a half minutes of random space shots

Matt: Did he say he’d meet him in the restroom?
Ben: Restaurant
Matt: You go ahead to the restroom. I’ll meet you there

Matt: The cameraphone follows her when she moves out of the shot. That’s because it’s not a cameraphone it’s a camera man
Ben: Maybe it’s a high tech cameraphone

Matt: I’m not buying this, Ben
Ben: What part?
Matt: All of it

Ben: More classical music
Matt: I know! This is a bad sign. They fade to black and come back with crap

Matt: Those grip shoes aren’t the most effective way of traveling
(as the actress walks upside down with them) Ben: But look what you can do them
Matt: Yeah, this is pointless. She’s literally going nowhere

36:30 (At the sight of the zero gravity toilet)
Matt: Oh boy
Ben: I like how there’s a whole page of instructions
Matt: 10 point by point steps on using a zero gravity toilet

Matt: I think this guy’s ok. I’m not sure why but I like him

Matt: Look at this guy! He stands up and doesn’t see the other chair coming
Ben: That’s awesome
Matt: “I just tripped in a real movie!”

Matt: Here are my favorite parts so far. I liked when the monkey made the weapon
Ben: You liked the monkeys?
Matt: Just the one who made a weapon
Ben: Ok
Matt: And I like this Floyd guy. He seems like a villain but I think I’m going to side with the villains in this one

Matt: I had some astronaut ice cream once
Ben: Did it look like that?
Matt: It was dry, it was in a square, it was good… It was kinda crunchy

Matt: I don’t know why, but this movie just got bumped up to a three for me. I’m interested in the conspiracy
Ben: I don’t know that there is a conspiracy

Ben: Oh that’s the conspiracy. Something was buried 4 million years ago
Matt: How is that possible if the earth is only 6,000 years old?

Matt: That’s not the same block
Ben: It could be
Matt: How did it get there?
Ben: How did it get to earth?
Matt: I bet aliens made a bunch and put them all over the place
Ben: Or they just have one and keep moving it
Matt: That’s inefficient

Matt: 18 months later
Ben: I’m surprised they didn’t show the entire 18 months set to classical music

Matt: Grip shoes!!!

One hour in: Ben would rate it 5 stars so far, Matt would rate it 3 stars

1:05:30 (as Frank’s parents sing him happy birthday”
Matt: It’s down to a 2 again

Matt: Will there be a kid sidekick in this movie?

Ben: That antenna is Frodoed
Matt: Way Frodoed

Matt: Do you think people weren’t bored because it was cool for back then?

Matt: Just kill them HAL

HAL: It can only be attributed to human error
Ben: Way to pass the buck HAL

1:24:00 (at the sight of red, yellow and blue space suits)
Ben: Hey, it’s the Power Rangers!

Ben: They better hope HAL can’t read lips. He’s right there!
Matt: He probably is reading lips. Oh no!

1:27:00 (when it is revealed HAL is reading lips)
Ben: Nailed it!
Matt: You were totally right
Ben: Ben is right

1:28:00 (Intermission)
Matt: At this point if I was in the theater I might think “I’m good”

Matt: Back to the monkeys?

Matt: It’s more like 2001: A Space Travesty

Matt: 2001 reasons not to watch a Stanley Kubrick movie

Ben: There goes the Yellow Ranger!

1:33:30 (after the fifth shot of the yellow space suit guy floating away)
Matt: We get it. He’s dead

1:34:30 (another long shot of space)
Matt: Oh good, I’d forgotten we were in space. Thanks, Stanley Kubrick

Matt: Maybe he is alive. I don’t think they’d keep showing him if he was dead
Ben: We’re talking about a movie started with 20 minutes of monkeys. I don’t think that argument applies here

1:43:00 (Dave is stranded outside the ship)
Matt: I don’t know where they’re going to go from here
Ben: It does seem as though they’ve written themselves into a narrative corner

Ben: Why the heck did he leave his helmet? Dumbest move ever!

1:47:30 (as Dave backs the ship up to the airlock)
Matt: Do you ever watch Autotune the News?
Ben: Yes
Matt: Have you seen Back it Up?
Ben: Yes
Matt (singing): Back it up, back it up, back it up! My daddy taught me good!

Ben: He finally got a space helmet
Matt: Where did he get that from?
Ben: The Green Ranger?

HAL: Take a stress pill
Matt: I wonder if that’s where “take a chill pill” came from

Matt: It would be funny if the yellow guy floated by again

Ben: Maybe Stanley Kubrick was just really empathetic toward people with small bladders so he worked in a bathroom break every five minutes
Matt: How was he able to do this? What studio saw this and said, “Perfect! Don’t change a thing!”

Matt: What’s happening now. Do we even know?
Ben: I think he’s on Jupiter
Matt: No, he just left the ship and all this stuff started shooting by. I think he’s in a wormhole

Matt: He seems to be parked. In a bedroom
Ben: It is an unexpected location

Ben: Whoa, he’s aged
Matt: That wormhole thing took time. 20 years. It felt like it too

Matt: I’m prepared to never know what happened at the end of this movie. There’s no way they could explain what just happen.
Ben: Yeah
Matt: You know what it could be: Space Zoo

Matt: How is this movie rated G?
Ben: There’s nothing offensive in it
Matt: I know but who would show this to their kid? Come here Junior, this seems like a good one

Ben: For the first time in this movie I’m very confused
Matt: Time, man. It’s about time

2:19:00 (first shot of the Star Child)
Matt: What the Frodo?

Matt: I don’t care if I don’t know what happened. I’m just glad it’s over

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16 comments on “2001: A Space Odyssey Live Blog

  1. Hang in there, Ben.

  2. Michael May 24, 2013


  3. Floyd is the hero from Gorgo!

  4. Michael May 24, 2013

    I think the highlight so far is, “They do seem to have written themselves into a narrative corner.” 🙂

    It’s a classic, guys… for shame! 😉

  5. Michael May 24, 2013

    If I thought my kid would sit for it, I would, in a heartbeat. Yes, some of the experience can be chalked up to this film coming from a different, pre-Star Wars time. But it wasn’t *meant* to be an “easy” movie. Kubrick wanted to make “the proverbial ‘good science fiction movie,'” meaning something more challenging than rocket ships and ray guns, and I think 2001 is probably the finest pure science fiction movie yet made. No, I don’t watch it on a regular basis, because I still find it challenging myself. But it’s a remarkable thing.

  6. This is hilarious. I bet it is even funnier reading these with the movie running but I really don’t like this movie so I am not going to do that. But this great. Loved reading it. Matt’s last line is the best, “I don’t care if I don’t know what happened. I’m just glad it’s over!!”

  7. I actually agree with you, Mike. Though I do have to say doing our live blog was a rather spectacular experience

  8. This was hilarious. I did try to warn you guys…

  9. I would have choked Matt by the end… sorry Matt… sorry Ben for the ellipsis…

  10. Normally, I find myself lining up with Ben on most reviews and opinions, but I was solidly with Matt when I watched this one – glad that I saw it, but I’d never do it again.
    (Though, to be fair, it was a decade and a half and I was a sophomore in high school the last time so… Meh, maybe I need to give it another shot).
    Matt – comparing this to Fantasia was so spot-on, I laughed for a long time when I read it. I never would have thought of that, but it’s so true. It really is largely beautiful visuals and great musical soundtrack (mostly classical).
    OK, so I do for some reason feel a need to respond some to Mike.
    I agree that I wouldn’t have much problem letting my kids see it (well, maybe not – I think they’d pick up on the eerie atmosphere, get freaked out, and ask me to turn it off). And yes, it’s a classic, and revolutionary in many ways (I blinked and went “ooh” with that shot of the jogging around the circle of the Jupiter one). There are great moments of brilliance, and, yes, it’s certainly a challenging film.
    But I just have to bristle by referring to it as “pure” science fiction. While I would like more clarification on what’s meant by that, my first impression is that’s pretension. And it’s crap.
    It seems to be suggesting to me that “rockets and ray guns” are somehow lesser, less meaningful works because they also have high entertainment value and have more action. But I’ll fight tooth and nail with anyone who will claim that “Alien” and “The Matrix” are somehow frivolous and less than pure sci fi because they have an action sequence or two.
    Or, perhaps it’s suggesting that if it’s challenging sci fi, it’s somehow suddenly good sci fi. Close Encounters of the Third Kind is also challenging in terms of pace. But you know what? I like it better because it has better developed story and well-rounded characters. Almost anything made fun of by MST3K is “challenging,” too, as in hard to keep your attention and slow moving.
    That doesn’t mean they’re actually good.
    Don’t get me wrong… if I were to make a list of my top 25 sci fi movies, 2001 would probably be on there. But don’t tell me the others are somehow less just because 2001 is “challenging.”
    And although I do not wish to diminish it as a classic, you have to admit the serious weaknesses with this movie: poorly developed characters and incomprehensible plot – just for starters. You can be challenging without slipping off into the absurd.
    For me the biggest weakness is the use of time. Not the pacing. It can move slow. Some of my favorite sci fi moves slowly (such as “I, Robot” – book only – and “Foundations”). But 2001 is just lazy with its use of time.
    Do we really need 20 minutes of monkeys? Can that part of the story not be told in 15? Do we need 15 minutes of what amounts to a kaleidoscope image?
    On that part of it, I remember at about minute 10 thinking – “All right. I get it. Something trippy is happening. Get on with it.”
    Slow paced is one thing. But when there’s so much overuse of time, to paraphrase Ben – What purpose does it serve?
    And, no, I don’t think it’s just that my modern sensibilities are what’s getting in the way – not when “Citizen Kane” and “Casablanca” are some of my favorites…

  11. Michael May 28, 2013

    Hey acpracht… For what it’s worth, I admit “rockets and ray guns” is a nebulous phrase, and it all depends on how one uses it. I wouldn’t include either “Alien” or “The Matrix” in that category, but rather such properties as “Buck Rogers” and “Flash Gordon” – the kind of sci-fi that, to my knowledge, has entertainment as its sole goal. And there is nothing wrong with that, but even their supporters would be hard pressed to classify either as “pure” science fiction. (By which I really meant “cerebral” science fiction – I should’ve chosen a better word.)

    I like Close Encounters better than 2001, too, frankly. It’s more like a conventional filim, so it’s more acessible. Believe me, I don’t hold that against any movie. I am no fan of avant-garde, esoteric cinema. I don’t value difficulty for its own sake. But I respect 2001 for being its own thing, where the audience can either get on board or not.

    I don’t think it’s lazy in its pacing, either – I think the purpose it serves is to acclimate us to its world as fully as possible, and it’s a world in which space travel is mundane and takes a lot of time. Which is of course why all those details of Dr. Floyd’s Pan Am flight would have been so gripping (no pun intended, regarding the stewardess’ shoes!) to a 1968 audience (or so I gather). And I do think film audiences were more patient five decades ago, as a rule, and 2001 (like Close Encounters) rewards patient and attentive viewing.

    I will grant there is pretention in 2001, but deliberate pretention doesn’t make something automatically not good, either. It has a right to be pretentious, because it’s trying to do some serious stuff.

    But I’m glad you responded to what was a hastily written comment, and glad I had the chance to clarify (hopefully!).

  12. That does help, Mike, to let me know what you were meaning. I think in actuality we’re probably pretty close on our feeling about 2001 – you’re just slightly more “fer” it and I’m a bit more “agin'” it. But I don’t think either of us would say that it’s not a classic, that it wasn’t influential, or that there aren’t (at least moments of) great cinema here.
    Cerebral makes more sense than “pure.”
    I have to admit, the term “pure” sets me off. It’s largely from being asst editor on StarShipSofa and seeing that someone’s only gripe about a story on the forums is that is isn’t “real” science fiction.
    Sometimes I just want to say: “It’s a great story. Shaddup and enjoy it.”
    I get what you’re saying about the pace and acclimation to the world. Still, I’m not a big fan of the strategy.
    Understand, I come to storytelling from a journalism background, where the goal is quality in a short space. I appreciate precision and concise, vivid prose. I believe a skilled director can give the sense of space and passage of time without actually having to show it in near-realtime… That’s what I mean by “lazy” – like they’re not even considering the screentime. It feels like they might start filming the Jupiter One model, go leave it and eat a danish, make a cup of coffee, drink it slowly, chat about the weekend, then say “Oh, crap, the movie…” and return to turn it off and decide to just leave however long that was in the film.
    Yes, I’m engaging in severe hyperbole, but I think you get my point.
    Incidentally, I had the same issue with the book, but even more so. If you had a hard time watching 20 minutes of monkeys, try reading the same thing for a few hours when it takes effort for that to pass. I still have yet to finish it and, frankly, I don’t have plans to do so.
    No, pretension is not an instant “fail,” but I do think it makes it harder to tell a good story. Since this is the SciFi Christian – it’s as difficult as a “camel going through the eye of a needle,” to my mind…

    • Michael May 29, 2013

      Thanks for continuing the conversation! Yes, I think we’re mostly on the same page – although, as far as the apes go, the book has a HUGE edge over the film because those chapters are told from Moon-Watcher’s p.o.v. You can get inside the head of one of the proto-humans in a way you just can’t on screen. Plus, Moon-Watcher’s closing thoughts at the end of Part 1 (“He was master of his world and wasn’t sure what he would do next, but he would think of something”) are echoed verbatim by the Star Child at the book’s end, making it a lot clearer what, thematically, is going on.

  13. I was going to add… the issue of conciseness is why I gave up on Wheel of Time after 3 books, and why “A Feast for Crows” is pure torture.

  14. This movie doesn’t conform to attention span standards. It creates one, and asks something of the audience. A different immersion.

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