With 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) Stanley Kubrick set out to make a serious sci-fi movie that wouldn’t look out of date and he produced a masterpiece of cinema. Peter Hyams, a real workman-like director, decided to make a sequel there is a lot to like about it.
There are a few things to look past; Roy Scheider is lumbered with an awful ‘I’m going to tell you what you’ve just seen’ narration and some of the special effects are a bit on the wonky side, including a ‘just hang the actors upside down’ approach to anti-gravity with both Scheider and Bob Balaban looking positively uncomfortable in a couple of instances.
What makes the film worth your time is that it has the optimism of the first film and, when it allows itself, the same wide sense of wonder. It’s an intelligent and steady piece of cinema wrapped in that same post-Alien (1979) industrial aesthetic that Hyams used for his finest film Outland (1981).
Cinema doesn’t always have to be perfect, sometimes a little bit great in the right places is enough.