The Year We Make Contact

January 1, 2010

So, as the first movie of the year, if not the decade, I watched the largely forgotten sci-fi classic 2010: The Year We Make Contact.

The lesser know sequel to the enormously famous 2001: A Space Odyssey, 2010 (dir. Peter Hyams) departs from the heavy high artistry of the former (dir. Stanley Kubrick), to instead take a conventional yet still scenic route. Whereas 2001 tends to bewilder, befuddle, and for many bore (all part of its mistique), 2010 instead seeks to clarify and explain what-on-Jupiter happened in the first filmed. In doing this, 2o1o is a very different film, and yet is nonetheless worthy of being sequel to one of the most famous films in cinema history.

First, it makes not aspirations to be as high-brow and spectacular as the former – but doesn’t avoid the beautiful scenery – instead embracing it from the opening shot (done in respectful Zarathustran homage to the first), and continues with contrasting of the lusciousness of Earth with the sterility of space, and culminating in the grand shots in orbit of Io and Jupiter.

Again, though a sequel done over 15 years after the original, the casting cannot be faulted. Its stars are still well known names: Roy Scheider, Helen Mirren, John Lithgow. And the two most casting sensitive roles were filled by their original actors: Dave Bowman (i.e. “I’m sorry Dave) played by Kiera Dullea, and HAL-9000 voiced by Douglas Rain.

As far as the story goes, it was written by Arthur C. Clarke (AFTER the success of 2001), who eventually went on to write further, branching sequels. We are taken to everyones favorite moons in the solar system (Saturn’s Titan aside – the world of fire (Io) and the world of ice (Europa). Plotwise, it’s not incredibly rich on its own – and many times a follow up to the original plot is weaker. Yet it works because 2001 left so many audiences confused (even myself on the first couple of viewings), that it is very easy to understand the desire of the characters to find out what went wrong in the first film – because we want those answers just as badly.

But now that it is upon us, what of the “predictions”?

In some cases, things are better than written – even fulfilling the message of the film. Namely, the Cold War is over, and the various space agencies are working together in peace for joint exploration of the Universe. Some haven’t materialized: interplanetary spaceships, cetrifugal-force artificial gravity on said starships. Sapient mainframes are also still a dream (or a nightmare, depending on your situation).

As for Jupiter imploding and fusioning? Another intelligence making contact with us? Well, the year has just begun. May for all this year be “something wonderful.”

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