Just like the film itself this ‘making of’ for 2010: The Year We Make Contact (1984), this is a very different take on the genre to it’s predecessor The Lost Worlds of 2001 (1972). Whilst the first book was a mixture of behind the scenes info and alternate takes on story, the textual equivalent of DVD special features, this is a record of the e-mails exchanged between Arthur C Clarke and the film’s director Peter Hyams.
Although Clarke didn’t have the involvement he had in Kubrick’s production, what it shares with the earlier book is the insight it gives into the collaborative process and the almost childlike joy of the new that makes Clarke’s work so open and readable. Granted, this makes for a rather slight book but it is enjoyable and interesting… plus it has one of those colour photo sections and some anachronistic fun can be had reading of their wonder at the future tech / sorcery that is e-mail.
With 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) Stanley Kubrick set out to make a serious sci-fi movie that wouldn’t look out of date and he produced a masterpiece of cinema.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.