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Entry updated 23 May 2022. Tagged: Film.

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Film (1984). MGM/UA. Produced, directed, photographed and written by Peter Hyams, based on 2010: Odyssey Two (1982) by Arthur C Clarke. Cast includes Bob Balaban, Keir Dullea, John Lithgow, Helen Mirren and Roy Scheider. 116 minutes. Colour.

Nine years after the events of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), a joint Soviet-US space mission in a Russian spacecraft is sent to recover information from the Discovery, which in the previous film had been left in orbit around Jupiter with its computer, HAL 9000, disabled. In a remarkably thin storyline the crew reach the Discovery and are contacted by the Alien monolith, their intercourse being mediated through the "ghost" of Dave Bowman (Dullea), who was last seen transfigured to a Star Child in 2001: A Space Odyssey: "Something wonderful is going to happen." They then go home again, helped by the resuscitated HAL. Countless monoliths invest Jupiter and turn it into a second Sun. Homo sapiens is given the solar system to populate, except for Europa (one of Jupiter's moons), which is off limits, and on which a new monolith awaits ...

Devoid of both narrative thrust and any interaction of characters that transcends Cliché, the film – despite some rather good space scenes – could never have succeeded. The old pulp-sf notion of Peace on Earth (where World War Three may be about to break out) being restored by the intervention of a godlike figure Out There is, to some viewers, insulting mysticism. The approach of Clarke and Hyams to the metaphysical is a lot less magical and delicate (and ambiguous) than was that of Clarke and Stanley Kubrick. This time the alien superbeings pretty well hit us over the head with a truncheon. The film was awarded a 1985 Hugo. [PN]


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