Friday, 21 August 2009

“2010: The Year We Make Contact” – A Review of the 1984 Peter Hyams Movie Now Reissued on BLU RAY in 2009.


“…I Want To Play A Game With You Dr. Floyd…It’s Called The Truth…”

When MGM began making "2010: The Year We Make Contact" in February 1984, the CD was in its infancy, nothing was digital and portable and the Internet and the global sharing of ideas and images was non-existent. Showing its film age badly - in one particular scene Roy Schreider even talks of information being given to his astronauts on 'cassettes' - on board a Jupiter spaceship mission for God's sake!
Even the television monitors were black screens with monosyllabic block lettering on them and nothing else... Why mention all of this, because it has of course - in some places - dated the film very badly...

But - and this is a big but - for its time (finally released in 1985), "2010" was an extraordinary vision and a technological marvel. It provided the moviegoer with a superbly detailed and realistic depiction of future space travel, shots of the majestic Jupiter and its moons Io and Europa that were and still are incredibly accurate. Even the story of the Americans and Russians coming together so as not to annihilate each other was both relevant and damn good - and made for a great end message by Bowman (Keir Dullea - who looked like he hadn't aged a day since 1968's original "2001"). Throw in model makers from the Star Wars Trilogy, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Poltergeist and Ghostbusters - and the goodies were bound to be on display and they are. Which brings us unfortunately to the bad news...

...this is one of those instances where the enhanced BLU RAY image has only worsened an already hazy print...

You see - once you go from the entirely model-led outside shots (say of outer space) which are clean, beautiful and impressive to look at - into the interior shots and live action on dimly-lit stages - the blurriness and shading act as a direct contrast to the clarity you just saw - it drive you nuts. And because a good 70 to 80% of the movie is 'inside' - the effect of the wonderfully realized and designed interiors is almost completely lost. It's like watching Aliens without the clarity - or Star Wars on blurry videotape. It's as if a heavy filter hangs over every frame - and it makes the BLU RAY picture feel and look very dated.

Don't get me wrong - the picture 'is' lovely in some places - but in the main - it's not - which is a huge disappointment.

The only real extra is a 10-minute 1984 'making of' called "2010; The Odyssey Continues" which is fascinating and contains very brief interviews with all the principals - Roy Scheider as Dr. Floyd, Helen Mirren as the Russian pilot Tanya, John Lithgow as Dr. Curnow, Elya Baskin as the loveable Russian Max, Bob Balaban as Chandra the genius who created Hal-9000 - Discovery's malfunctioning computer (voiced by Douglas Rain). There's interesting stuff too with Richard Edlund the model maker - the make-up people - interior designs - even words from author Arthur C Clarke and director Peter Hyams about the screenwriting process in 1983 when they were prepping for the film.

I really had such high hopes for this BLU RAY release, but unfortunately I'd say hire it first before you buy...

The film was - and still is - excellent - an impressive one even.
But this BLU RAY reissue of it is anything but.

It's not "full of stars" folks, it's barely pushing three.

And what a shame that Roy Scheider is no longer with us...



PS: the above Blu Ray of the original "2001" is by direct contrast probably one of the most beautifully transferred oldies - ever. Up there with "Zulu", "Pinnochio" and the Bond films...

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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