Overrated Movies: 2001

I know there are some movies out there we’re just supposed to like because of where they sit in the history of cinema. And I get that there are also movies that are supposed to be good because they’re more of an art than a standard film. 2001 definitely falls into both of those categories. I watched it with Denisa and Daniela over the weekend. It was my second or third time watching it, and I have to say, I did not enjoy the experience.

This is the 88th best movie on IMDB. It’s got an 8.3, which is an outstanding score. So perhaps I’m just not cultured enough to appreciate it. But then again, I think I’m a pretty well-watched individual. I can appreciate movies for a lot of different reasons, and I enjoy a wide range of genres. True, “art film” isn’t high on my list of favorites, but I’ve seen art films that I’ve enjoyed.

2001 failed in pretty much every category. The plot was scattered at best. I had chalked this up to it being an adaptation of what might be a strange book, but I’ve now read the book, and the book was excellent. I thought that perhaps now that I’ve read the book, the movie would make more sense. It doesn’t really. It takes a compelling science fiction novel and turns it into this thing that’s inapproachable at best and irritatingly confusing at worst. Yes, there’s the bit with HAL, where the plot actually makes sense for a brief window, but then that goes away, and we’re back in who-knows-what-ville.

To me, this feels like an Emperor’s New Clothes movie. Everyone says they love it, but they only love it because that’s what everyone says. True, I did find some of the shots impressive. For a movie that’s as old as it is, it had some great space scenes, and you can see its influence on other, later movies. But it felt much like Citizen Kane did to me when I finally watched it. I could see in theory how it did a lot for film-making, but I just couldn’t bring myself to like it.

I suppose I’m just not an art film sort of guy at heart. I like my media to entertain me or to make me think about things. 2001 just made me remember what the original book was like, and how I wished I’d spent my time re-reading it instead of watching that movie.

But I think more people should be willing to stand up and speak out when they don’t like something everyone else says they love. (See my review of Parasite, for example.) If you’re out there and you loved 2001, let me know. Tell me why I’m wrong and what I missed. I’d really like to see why someone loves the film. Maybe it would make me see it in a new light and help me broaden my horizons.

Until then, I’m giving it a 3/10 and moving on.


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