2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT [1984 / 2009] [Warner Archive Collection] [Blu-ray] [UK Release] Space Fiction Of A Superior Kind!

A new time, a new odyssey, a new chance to confront enigmas arising from the daring Jupiter mission of 2001. Crew members aboard the Leonov will rendezvous with the still-orbiting Discovery. And their fate will rest on the silicon shoulders of the computer they reawaken, HAL-9000. Based on Arthur C. Clarke’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ sequel, and director Peter Hyams spellbinder was nominated for 5 Academy Awards® and stars Roy Scheider, John Lithgow, Oscar winner Dame Helen Mirren, Bob Balaban and Keir Dullea.

FILM FACT No.1: Awards and Nominations: 1985 Academy Awards®: Nominated: Best Art Direction-Set Decoration for Albert Brenner and Rick Simpson. Nominated: Best Costume Design for Patricia Norris. Nominated: Best Sound for Aaron Rochin, Carlos Delarios, Gene S. Cantamessa and Michael J. Kohut. Nominated: Best Effects, Visual Effects for George Jenson, Mark Stetson, Neil Krepela and Richard Edlund. Nominated: Best Makeup for Michael Westmore. 1985 Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA: Nominated: Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film. Nominated: Saturn Award for Best Costumes for Patricia Norris. Nominated: Saturn Award for Best Special Effects for Richard Edlund. 1985 Hugo Awards: Win: Best Dramatic Presentation for Arthur C. Clarke (based on the novel) and Peter Hyams (screenplay/director).

FILM FACT No.2: In addition, background crew members on the Leonov are played by Victor Steinbach and Jan Triska, while Herta Ware briefly appears as Dave Bowman's mother. Candice Bergen, credited as "Olga Mallsnerd," voices the SAL 9000. Arthur C. Clarke, author of the novels for “2001” and “2010,” appears as a man on a park bench outside the White House (visible in the letterboxed and widescreen versions). In addition, a Time magazine cover about the American – Soviet tension is briefly shown, in which the President of the United States is portrayed by Arthur C. Clarke and the Soviet Premier  by the ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ film's writer, producer and director, Stanley Kubrick.

Cast: Roy Scheider, John Lithgow, Helen Mirren, Bob Balaban, Keir Dullea, Douglas Rain (HAL 9000 voice), Madolyn Smith Osborne, Dana Elcar, Taliesin Jaffe, James McEachin, Mary Jo Deschanel, Elya Baskin, Saveliy Kramarov, Oleg Rudnik, Natasha Shneider, Vladimir Skomarovsky, Victor Steinbach, Jan Tríska, Larry Carroll, Herta Ware, Cheryl Carter, Ron Recasner, Robert Lesser, Candice Bergen (SAL 9000 voice), Delana Michaels, Gene McGarr, Arthur C. Clarke (Man on Park Bench) (uncredited) and Gary Lockwood (Dr. Frank Poole) (archive footage) (uncredited)                     

Director: Peter Hyams

Producers: Jonathan A. Zimbert, Jonathan A. Zimbert and      Peter Hyams

Screenplay: Arthur C. Clarke (novel) and Peter Hyams (screenplay)   

Composer: David Shire

Cinematography: Peter Hyams (Director of Photography)

Image Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Audio: English: 5.1 Dolby TrueHD Audio
English: 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio
French: 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio
German: 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio
Italian: 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio
Spanish: 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio
Spanish: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo Audio
Português: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono Audio
English: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo Audio

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Português, German SDH, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Italian, Italian SDH, Norwegian and Swedish

Running Time: 116 minutes

Region: All Regions

Number of discs: 1

Studio: Warner Archive Collection

Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: It's no secret that sequels are often little more than calculated rehashes of popular movies, with extra emphasis placed on re-creating dialogue or bits of action that everyone talked about the first time around. But Peter Hyams film ‘2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT’ [1984], the long awaited follow-up to Stanley Kubrick's monumental classic, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ [1968], is a different beast altogether. It may well be the only sequel in movie history that was designed to explain the plot of its predecessor... not that everyone was clamouring for an answer.

2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT’ is relatively straight-forward narrative picks up nine years after the first film ended. The United States government discovers that the Soviets are planning to travel to Jupiter to find out what happened to The Discovery, the doomed ship that served as a sort of metaphysical launching pad in ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’ The Soviets eventually contact the U.S.A. and request that Dr. Heywood Floyd [Roy Scheider], the mastermind behind the original mission, accompany them on their journey. It is never explained how Heywood Floyd, who was played by William Sylvester in ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ managed to transform himself into a completely different person between stories, very strange and the Warner Bros. studio thought us the audience were dumb if they thought they could get away with this anomaly.

2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT’ is judged strictly on its  own, as if it were an original production with no connection to ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ Peter Hyams' film version of 2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT’ is arguably one of the  better sci-fi pictures to come out of the 1980s. Unfortunately, you really can't judge the film on its own merit. Its existence is inextricably tied to Stanley Kubrick's legendary masterpiece. Any positive 2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT’ may have are unavoidably overshadowed by comparison to its predecessor. There's just no two ways around it. As the direct sequel to one of the greatest motion pictures ever made, quite frankly, ‘2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT’ cannot in no way be compared to ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ it must stand on its own merit.

The fault for that lies mainly with author Arthur C. Clarke. If a few of the sub-plots had been changed around a bit, the movie is a mostly faithful adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke's novel “2010: Odyssey Two” in all of its most important aspects. When Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick collaborated back in 1968, the results were a fusion of each man's strengths as a storyteller: Arthur C. Clarke's background in hard science fiction and his grounding in plausible scientific speculation, with Stanley Kubrick's visionary artistry and mind-bending flights of imagination. The sequels (the author penned four books in the series) are purely Arthur C. Clarke's doing, and suffer from the lack of Stanley Kubrick's perspective.

That's not to say that Arthur C. Clarke was an inferior storyteller to Stanley Kubrick. In his prolific career, he wrote several legitimate classics such as “Childhood's End” and “Rendezvous with Rama.” The two men simply approached the material from completely different angles. Their collaboration on ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ produced something beautiful and transcendent. '2010: The Year We Make Contact,' on the other hand, just isn't in the same calibre.

At the end of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ the human race had encountered the single most important event in its history, and was quite possibly poised at the brink of an evolutionary jump forward. As for ‘2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT’ picks up, we learn that basically nothing has happened in the following nine years. In fact, the mysterious monolith and the intelligence behind it don't seem to have much interest in Earth or humanity at all. The film opens with a stream of facts and data that recap the discovery of the monolith and the first mission to Jupiter. In this alternate timeline, the U.S.S.R. is still a major superpower, and the Cold War is still very much on. While their governments squabble over an escalating conflict in Central America, the American and Soviet scientific communities decide to launch a joint mission out to Jupiter. Their plan is to board the derelict spaceship Discovery and find out exactly what went wrong the last time. The Soviets can get there faster, but only the Americans can reactivate and repair HAL 9000, and so they need each other. Leading the expedition are Dr. Heywood Floyd and the Russian captain Tanya Kirbuk [Dame Helen Mirren] who I felt was misplaced, as well as not very convincing and should have instead had a Russian actress take her place.

While Stanley Kubrick embraced ambiguity, Arthur C. Clarke was a strict literalist. The brilliance of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ lay in its open-ended nature, the fact that it opened the door for ideas that each audience member would have to interpret for him- or herself. ‘2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT’ sets about to systematically deconstruct all of the mysteries left unresolved at the end of the first story. It attempts to provide rational, understandable explanations to the images and plot developments that were intended to represent concepts beyond humanity's comprehension. Do you need to be told, in easily-digestible terms, exactly what the monolith and the “Star Child” were, where they came from, what they did, and how they worked? Well, here you go. Personally, I find it more interesting to ponder those things on my own, especially when the explanations that Arthur C. Clarke comes up with are so simplistic and mundane.

If I haven't mentioned Peter Hyams much in all this time, well the director illustrates Arthur C. Clarke's story with workmanlike competence and efficiency. The film has strong performances from the cast and solid production values for the 1980s sci-fi film. The model and miniature effects are quite excellent and hold up very well. However, optically they have dated really badly and some of the compositing work is downright terrible, especially using 1.37:1 aspect ratio video screens, whereas the ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ video technology was so far more advanced and still stands out today by using the 16:9 aspect video screens. Anyway Peter Hyams stages several moments of nail-biting suspense, including the aero braking sequence and a breathless spacewalk between the Russian craft Leonov and the Discovery. I have to admit disappointment that he falls back on that old crutch of using sound in the vacuum of outer space, which Stanley Kubrick went out of his way to avoid this silly anomaly. Nevertheless, I think it's safe to say that ‘2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT’ is the best film that Peter Hyams ever made, even if that's not much of a complement considering some of the dregs he's churned out in the years since.

For what it is, the film's script is intelligently written and has some thought-provoking ideas. The depiction of the future in the year of 2010 misses the mark in a few respects, like the Soviet Union still being around, or the preponderance of all those bulky CRT computer monitors, but is a fairly credible extension of the world created in Stanley Kubrick's film. Unfortunately, ‘2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT’ lacks any real vision, which is why ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ stands out so spectacular. On its own, ‘2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT’ is a decent enough sci-fi picture. But sadly it's not a worthy follow-up to ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’

Arthur C. Clarke, for his part, was receptive when a nervous Peter Hyams sent him the screenplay. "I felt like playing a few tricks on you, like a message from my secretary that I was last seen heading for the airport carrying a gun," he told him. However, Arthur C. Clarke added, "I'll say right away that it's a splendid job and you have brilliantly chiselled out the basic elements of the novel, besides adding quite a few of your own." Whether or not Peter Hyams succeeds in clarifying a deliberately unknowable film will hinge on your eagerness to abandon your personal interpretation of Stanley Kubrick's and Arthur C. Clarke's work. Regardless, ‘2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT’ can still be appreciated as a solidly entertaining piece of sci-fi, and especially as I have already stated that ‘2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT’ was   nominated for Academy Awards® for Best Sound, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup, and Best Visual effects.


Also Sprach Zarathustra! (Written by Richard Strauss)

Lux Aeterna (Written by György Ligeti) [Conducted by Helmut Franz] [Performed by the North German Radio Chorus]

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Blu-ray Image Quality – ‘2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT’ is not the revelation on Blu-ray that ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ was, but that has more to do with the nature of each film, than their respective high-definition transfers. Unlike its predecessor, the majority of ‘2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT’ wasn't shot on 65mm film, just regular  35mm. Furthermore, director Peter Hyams performs double-duty as cinematographer on all of his films. His preferred visual style is dark and grainy. He favours source lighting and high-speed film stocks. You’ll find a consistently drab appearance among most of his other films [‘Timecop,’ ‘The Relic’ and ‘End of Days’]. The 1080p transfer is at the mercy of its source material. Presented in its theatrical 2.40:1 aspect ratio, the image is flat and hazy. Colours appear accurate, but aren’t particularly noteworthy. Contrast wavers; a lot of shots had their exposure pushed in the lab, elevating black levels and grain. Accepting that, the Blu-ray is certainly a substantial improvement over the inferior DVD edition released with a cruddy non-anamorphic letterbox transfer back in 2000. Although fairly soft due to the lighting and use of photographic filters, the picture has a decent amount of detail and exhibits no signs of Digital Noise Reduction or artificial sharpening. The special effects footage, which was shot on 65mm by an entirely different crew than the live action scenes, looks terrific. The model shots are as sharp, clear, and well-lit as you could hope. If anything, the contrast between the two types of scene is a little jarring, but that’s just the way the film is. The 1080p encoding has a few minor issues. The grain isn’t always well-compressed, and sometimes comes across noisy or blocky. I also noticed some colour banding on the flat surface of the monolith. Still, overall, this transfer is about as good as I’d ever expect for ‘2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT’ to look in high definition. Now that ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ has now been remastered and brought out as a Limited Edition SteelBook Blu-ray release, it is now time Warner Home Video  also brought out a remastered ‘2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT’ Special Edition, as it is crying out for one and then the two films will be complete for another generation.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – ‘2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT’ was nominated for a Best Sound Academy Award way back in 1984. For its vintage, this is an interesting sound design, even if fidelity and aggressiveness aren’t quite up to modern standards. The Blu-ray offers the soundtrack in 5.1 Dolby TrueHD or Standard 5.1 Dolby Digital formats. Dialogue sounds a little flat, but the music (especially Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra) has nice body and depth. The film features some very loud, shocking sound effects. The aero braking sequence is an auditory highlight with pretty intense bass action guaranteed to get your subwoofer rumbling. Even though the movie played in 70mm theatrical engagements with a 6-track audio mix, the 5.1 options on the Blu-ray are virtually devoid of surround activity. Whether that’s inherent to the original sound design (it wouldn’t surprise me) or an issue with the conversion to 5.1 configuration, I can’t really say.

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Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

Special Feature: 2010: The Odyssey Continues [1984] [480i] [1.37:1] [9:00] Arthur C. Clarke introduces the film by the novel's title, “2010: Odyssey Two,” and in the introduction to this vintage making-of promo. The short piece doesn't go into much depth, but does offer some quick interviews with visual futurist Syd Mead, production designers who stress the importance of a utilitarian style in the sets, and SFX people. It's kind of amazing to see that Arthur C. Clarke and director Peter Hyams were essentially communicating by E-mail via a very primitive "computer link-up" all the way back in 1984. Around that time, they thought it was on the cutting edge with computer technology. This promotional short for ‘2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT’ [1984] shows moviegoers how some of the film's visual effects were created. This includes makeup for Keir Dullea's character, how the astronauts floated in space, and the construction of the spaceship in which the astronauts carry out their mission. The vehicle is so large; the two largest sound stages on the M-G-M lot were used to construct it. Contributors include: William Rus [Narrator], Arthur C. Clarke [Author], Peter Hyams [Director], Syd Mead [Production Designer], Albert Brenner [Production Designer], Richard Edlund [Visual Effects/Producer/Special Effects], Mark Stetson [Visual Effects/Special Effects], Keir Dullea [Dave Bowman], Michael Westmore [Make-Up Department], John Lithgow [Dr. Walter Curnow], Bob Balaban [Dr. R. Chandra], Helen Mirren [Tanya Kirbuk], Roy Scheider [Dr. Heywood Floyd], Elya Baskin [Maxim Brajlovsky] and Robert Harman [Special Effects].

Theatrical Trailer [1984] [480i] [1.37:1] [3:00] This is the original Theatrical Trailer for the film ‘2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT,’ but for some unknown reason you get to view it in the 1.37:1 pan and scan trailer is in an atrocious lousy condition and I cannot understand why they could not of done the same aspect ratio as the actual film, this is a very bad unprofessional attitude of Warner Home Video.

Finally, ‘2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT’ is a film simultaneously underrated and not nearly as good as it should have been. If you can try to divorce your expectations from any comparison to ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ it's a solid '80s sci-fi adventure. Unfortunately, it is a sequel to the film ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ and on that mark it sort of fails. Despite this, it is still a good companion Blu-ray to the previous awesome film, but what lets it down is the 1.37:1 aspect ratio video screens, at least with the film ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ the technology was much more far advanced looking and is still today after 50 years since its release in the cinema and I think that aspect lets the film look slightly old fashioned. Despite this anomaly the Blu-ray looks and sounds about as good as the film can look or sound, and is still worth a recommendation, despite not coming anywhere near the very high standards of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ which we were hoping to see when ‘2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT’ was released in the cinema. Again, still despite this, it is still a worthy addition to ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ and I am very honoured to have it in my Blu-ray Collection. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Aficionado
Le Cinema Paradiso 
United Kingdom

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