Film Review: 2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey

Stanley Kubrick’s landmark science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey returns to cinemas. This re-release offers an opportunity to see the iconic film on the big screen.

Charting the progress of mankind and civilisation, mysterious black monoliths appear to influence prehistoric apes in their development, and later astronauts involved in a secret mission, aided by computer H.A.L. 9000…

2001: A Space Odyssey is a prototype for much science fiction cinema that followed. From Alien to Gravity, the influence of Kubrick’s 1968 film is clear.

The film’s multi-act narrative works well. The most compelling section is the middle, and longest, part. The first and third segments are successful on a sensory level. The power of 2001: A Space Odyssey is that it effectively combines a narrative with less linear sequences.

The themes present in 2001: A Space Odyssey exhibit the best in science fiction in that they illuminate and generate anxiety. The non-linear style of the film gives the audience time to ponder the images and ideas they are presented with. Kubrick and co-writer Arthur C. Clarke offer a view of civilisation that several other sci-fi films have played with in the intervening years. This view is presented, allowing audiences to come to their own conclusions, rather than being force-fed a particular viewpoint.

2001: A Space Odyssey still holds up well in terms of special effects, despite being almost fifty years old. Unlike so many effects-laden films of previous decades, Kubrick film does not look dated. The cinematography is fantastic, as is the art direction. 2001: A Space Odyssey has a very distinctive look. The sound design is also on point; the use of a classical score is as striking as it is memorable. Performances in the film are good, particularly Keir Dullea and Douglas Rain as the voice of HAL.

Science fiction aficionados and casual viewers alike should take this opportunity to see a true genre classic on the big screen.

2001: A Space Odyssey is released from 28th November 2014 at the BFI and selected locations nationwide. See here for full details.

Film Review: The Shining

One of the most complete horror movies gets a re-release in time for Halloween. It is a chance for UK audiences to see the original American version for the first time on the big screen.

Jack Torrance and his family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter. Jack sees it as an ideal time to do some writing whilst acting as caretaker of the hotel. A presence in the hotel appears to be effecting Jack, whilst his son Danny sees frightening visions…

Stanley Kubrick’s adaption of Stephen King’s novel is still as effective as ever. The director excels in generating mood. Kubrick manages to complete immerse the audience in the location. This is what makes The Shining work so well. Isolation is portrayed in the most convincing manner.

The narrative of Kubrick’s film is not overly complex. There are a few different elements at play which generate mystery. Jack’s descent is well paced, taking its time in order to make incidents believable. The Shining functions as a psychological horror, although there are other elements of horror present. Jack’s descent is both compelling and disturbing. The film mixes some tense and jumpy moments with the brooding horror of Jack’s state of mind.

The Shining uses music and sound to great effect. The film features some of the most memorable imagery of 20th century cinema. Graphic depictions are employed sparingly, which heightens the shock value. The long shots of Jack’s car driving towards the hotel work well to convey the isolation of the location.

In a career of numerous highs, Jack Nicholson delivers a stand out performance as Jack Torrance. Nicholson comes across as authentic at all times, even in psychotic moments. Shelley Duvall is also strong as wife Wendy, while Danny Lloyd is at times haunting as his namesake.

An undoubted gem of the horror genre, the re-release of The Shining should attract long time admirers and newcomers alike.

The Shining is screening at the BFI Southbank and venues throughout the country from 2nd November 2012, with special previews on 31st October 2012.