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2001: A Space Odyssey Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.2:1
  • Video Codec: VC-1
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: English PCM 5.1, English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, German Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish (Castilian) Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish (Latin American) Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, Chinese, Dutch, French, Finnish, German SDH, Italian, Italian SDH, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Portuguese (Brazilian), Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Latin American), Swedish
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Discs: 1
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • Blu-ray Release Date: October 23, 2007
  • List Price: $28.99

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2001: A Space Odyssey - Widescreen Dubbed Subtitle AC3

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Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]

Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]

Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4/5]

I have to admit to being on the fence for years when it came to Kubrick’s science fiction classic 2001: A Space Odyssey. To me, it always seemed like a cold, overindulgent experimentation in film technique with a bit of a pointless storyline. I could always understand the influence it had on science fiction filmmaking, particularly the wolrd of visual effects and on removing the genre from the realm of the B-movie, placing it into the intellectuals’ camp, but the lack of any true character development outside of the central character HAL, a computer system, always hampered it to me.

With that being said, with each subsequent viewing of 2001 over the years, I’ve warmed up to this opus a bit and see it for what it is, finally, a visual exploration and philosophical question exploring humanity’s beginning, maturation, and possible future.

Beginning at what is supposedly thousands of years in our past with our ape-like ancestors, when a monolith from an unknown civilization appears and changes the course of our evolution, the film then shifts to the space age, 2001, and finds us in orbit around the planet in a space station. Two scientists, Dr. Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea) and Dr. Fran Poole (Gary Lockwood) find themselves aboard a spacecraft controlled by an AI (Artificial Intelligence) computer known as HAL, which appears to be malfunctioning, or is it? There have been several monoliths from extraterrestrials discovered and these must be investigated, in particular, the area around Jupiter where one such monolith on the moon is sending a broadcast.

The film is a meticulous balance of sound and vision, anchored by a classical score filled with the music of Richard Strauss (the famous Also Sprach Zarathustra opening) or the nearly psychedelic Jupiter sequences underscored with the music of modernist composer Ligeti. Kubrick, well known as a perfectionist, crafted probably the greatest of his films from a stylistic and visual perspective with 2001 while moving the science fiction genre ahead by leaps and bounds. It would never be the same, and making it an even greater accomplishment is the fact that the film would see release a year before the first man would land on the moon.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

2001 was originally shot in Super Panavision 65mm and it appears in its original aspect ratio of 2.2:1 in this 1080p/24 VC-1 encoding. As a 65mm film, one would expect it to be of a high resolution and to show a very fine grain structure, and that is exactly how it appears in this transfer from Warner. It hardly looks as if it has aged. Of course, the look of the film is no doubt helped out by Kubrick’s shooting style of exposing his special effects composite shots as successive passes on the original undeveloped 65mm negative, thereby avoiding negative dupes, and successive downgrades in picture quality. This meticulous commitment to detail shows in the Blu-ray’s clean picture, virtually free from source damage issues and excessive graininess, yet sharp enough to pick up minute details well into the background.

The flesh tones are accurate, colors are vibrant and blacks are rather inky and stable throughout as well. I would imagine that 2001: A Space Odyssey has never looked better, even when it was being originally run in theaters. There are only some minor issues with some spottiness of blacks around the very edges of the frames keeping this from being absolutely perfect.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

One can tell this is an earlier Blu-ray release from Warner by two things, it defaults to the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and its main hi-res audio option is a PCM 5.1 mix. The PCM 5.1 offers up a nicely expansive sound for the driving classical score, with a surprising amount of low end as well, but there is also a quite a bit of audible distortion in the orchestral recording. Dialogue is otherwise clean and intelligible in the center channel.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:4/5]

Despite the supplements all being in standard definition for this release, they are all quite superb. There is an audio commentary with actors Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood in addition to a series of featurettes and documentaries that bring together members of the cast and crew of 2001, including Sir Arthur C. Clarke, as well as other top filmmakers like Spielberg, Lucas, and Cameron to explore the themes and influence of 2001.

The supplements provided with this release are:

Commentary by Actors Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood

  • 2001: The Making of a Myth (1.78:1; 480i/60; 0:43.08)  — Host James Cameron, along with actor Keir Dullea, co-author Sir Arthur C. Clarke and visual effects pioneer Douglas Trumbull, goes behind the scenes into the making of Kubrick’s classic space epic.
  • Standing on the Shoulders of Kubrick: The Legacy of 2001 (1.78:1; 480i/60; 0:21.25) — Take a hypnotic journey with filmmakers, from such as George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Sydney Pollack, and others, whose own careers were inspired by this cinematic landmark.
  • Vision of a Future Passed: The Prophecy of 2001 (1.78:1; 480i/60; 0:21.31) — Kubrick and co-author Sir Arthur C. Clarke created a finely detailed vision of the future. In this documentary, filmmakers, writers, and Mr. Clarke himself reflect on the accuracy of their predictions.
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0:23.11) — A Look Behind the Future — Look in on Look Magazine’s Charmingly retro tour of the London set of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • What is Out There? (1.78:1; 480i/60; 0:20.42) — Examine the philosophical themes of 2001: A Space Odyssey, including possibilities of extra-terrestrial life, the concept of God, and the intersection of these two possibilities.
  • 2001: FX and Early Conceptual Artwork (1.78:1; 480i/60; 0:09.28)  —  Retrospective of the art and visual effects designs that led to the mind-bending visions of Kubrick’s Space Odyssey.
  • Look: Stanley Kubrick! (1.78:1; 480i/60; 0:03.15) — Kubrick’s early work as a photographer chronicling 1940’s America for Look Magazine reflected his natural talent for visual storytelling.
  • 11/27/1966 Interview with Stanley Kubrick — Director Stanley Kubrick, with physicist and writer Jeremy Bernstein, discusses the making of 2001: A Space Odyssey in this 1966 audio interview.
  • Theatrical Trailer (1.78:1; 480i/60)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

2001: A Space Odyssey is not an easy film by any means, but given time it will definitely reveal a world of wonders. This is the dawn of intelligent, thought provoking science fiction — one wonders what happened, what with some of the drivel we see in the genre today. It’s a must see for any cinephile, not just sci-fi geeks.

Additional Screen Captures:

[amazon-product align=”right”]B000Q66J1M[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
2001: A Space Odyssey - Widescreen Dubbed Subtitle AC3

Purchase 2001: A Space Odyssey on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]

Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]

Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]

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