back to article 2001 set the standard for the next 50 years of hard (and some soft) sci-fi

Finally, after almost half a century of waiting, you can welcome the mildly homicidal artificial intelligence HAL 9000 into your home. If you want. Few of the other predictions of tomorrow's world made in Stanley Kubrick's psychedelic space epic 2001: A Space Odyssey – marking its 50th anniversary at the start of April – have …

  1. Alastair Dodd 1
    Thumb Up

    Not just Siri/Google Assistant/etc

    It also predicted the ipad/tablet computer.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQ8pQVDyaLo

    Amazing film, incredible effects. Total landmark in cinema

    1. Spiracle

      Re: Not just Siri/Google Assistant/etc

      It does suffer from the Blade Runner/Neuromancer anachronism of everybody still using phone boxes though.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Not just Siri/Google Assistant/etc

        > Blade Runner/Neuromancer anachronism

        And Solyent Green :)

    2. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: Not just Siri/Google Assistant/etc

      And video phone calls were quite a thing in it too

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Not just Siri/Google Assistant/etc

        Shame we never got an ibmPad (bottom right)...

        1. Symon Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Not just Siri/Google Assistant/etc

          The 2001 iPad wouldn't have caught on. It needs _rounded_ corners. Duh!

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: Not just Siri/Google Assistant/etc

            For rounded corners in hardware, there are lots of examples - it comes from ergonomics but also from manufacturing constraints (sharp corners and zero draught angles are a recipe for injection moulding problems.) A specific arrangement of elements is the only way to describe Trade Dress, which what I assume you are talking about. Trade Dress might be the shape of a Coke bottle, or BMW's kidney grill.

            For rounded corners in icons (a la iOS), you could look at the work done for the Nostromo's on board graphics in Ridley Scott's Alien, designed by Ron Cobb. "Semiotic Standard For All Commercial Trans-Stellar Utility Lifter And Heavy Element Transport Spacecraft. "

            https://typesetinthefuture.com/2014/12/01/alien/

            1. Christian Berger Silver badge

              Rounded corners

              According to this:

              https://www.folklore.org/StoryView.py?story=Round_Rects_Are_Everywhere.txt

              Apple included Round Rects in their graphics API because they were a common shape even back then.

            2. Mike Richards Silver badge

              Re: Not just Siri/Google Assistant/etc

              https://typesetinthefuture.com/2014/12/01/alien/

              And now I'm helplessly engrossed with that site - thank-you sir!

              1. AdamT

                Re: Not just Siri/Google Assistant/etc

                @Dave 126 + @Mike Richards - yes that blog is amazing! And they've done a book, out in October: https://typesetinthefuture.com/book/

  2. Spiracle

    Centrifuge

    I could never work out where that rapidly spinning centrifuge actually was on the ship. Presumably it was mounted laterally inside the sphere at the front, but it never looked big enough.

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: Centrifuge

      Plans are available here.

      1. Nugry Horace

        Re: Centrifuge

        That works for '2001', but the scene in '2010' when they find Discovery with the centrifuge stopped and its angular momentum transferred to the ship only works if the centrifuge is mounted fore-and-aft rather than sideways-on.

        1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

          Re: Centrifuge

          I haven't a clue whether this is right but have a upvote for your sheer pedantry

        2. PerlyKing
          Boffin

          Re: Centrifuge orientation

          I'd have to do some searching (or maths... nah ;-) but I remember reading at the time that the physics of this is correct even though it's counterintuitive - as is a lot of orbital and microgravity physics. The initial spin would have been around the long axis, but that is not stable in the long term.

          I'm fairly sure I've seen a video of someone on the ISS demonstrating with a water bottle.

          1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

            Re: Centrifuge orientation

            Similar to the effect that killed or saved pilots of Sopwith Camels in WWI. That huge Gnome rotary engine!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Kubrick was first and formost a photographer

    That's what I love about all of Kurick's work but in particular 2001: The photography, every frame is beautiful and correct - lenses, lighting, it's all perfect, thrilling, a visual pleasure.

    1. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Re: Kubrick was first and formost a photographer

      It's worth finding a copy of 'Barry Lyndon' if you haven't seen it. Some interior scenes were only lit by natural supplemented by candlelight so Kubrick had to get three f/0.7 lenses originally designed for the Moon missions.

      The effect is extraordinary.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Kubrick was first and formost a photographer

        Lyndon is amazing, each scene looks like an oil painting. Kubrick had to compose each scene carefully because the wide aperture meant few bits of the scene could be in focus.

        These days digital cameras are more sensitive than film - so the oil painting aesthetic of the BBC's Wolf Hall is easier to achieve without the shallow depth of focus.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Please give an honourable mention to the Forbidden Planet, a truly ground breaking Sci-fi movie.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Forbidden Planet

      The monster: The ID, was hand drawn by Disney and all the better for the lack of computer graphics - the ID depiction is a timeless work of art.

      1. Symon Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Forbidden Planet

        Well, even disregarding the great visual effects, with a plot written by William Shakespeare, Forbidden Planet had a pretty good chance of success!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Forbidden Planet

          2001 is proper sci-fi: No chance of happening upon a forbidden planet with human breathable atmosphere - fashioned by aliens for aliens - rather a big lapse of logic, that.

          1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

            Re: Forbidden Planet

            "2001 is real sci-fi: No chance of happening upon a forbidden planet with human breathable air - fashioned by aliens for aliens - rather a big lapse of logic, that."

            Well we don't know, since we only have a sample size of 1 to compare.

            Mars at some point had a larger proportion of Oxygen in its atmosphere that now, but Oxygen is very reactive and will quickly bond to other chemicals (so the red rust of Mars).

            To maintain high oxygen content we need a process to release oxygen from other chemicals. Simple Life does that pretty well in terms of photosynthesis, and there is no reason to believe that if life does exist elsewhere a similar process could not be possible.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Forbidden Planet

              "Simple Life does that pretty well in terms of photosynthesis, and there is no reason to believe that if life does exist elsewhere a similar process could not be possible."

              Convergent Evolution then, ok, I'll give you that one.

            2. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Forbidden Planet

              "Mars at some point had a larger proportion of Oxygen in its atmosphere that now,"

              Are you sure about that?

              Earth never had any appreciable oxygen in its atmosphere until chloroplasts evolved and finding any significant amount of free oxygen is widely considered to be an indicator of possible life processes

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Forbidden Planet

            >No chance of happening upon a forbidden planet with human breathable atmosphere - fashioned by aliens for aliens - rather a big lapse of logic, that.

            Are you being ironic, given what happened to Jupiter and Europa in 2010 or did you not read 2010 ?

            All the worlds are yours, except Europa. Attempt no landings there.

            1. Michael Strorm

              Re: Forbidden Planet

              "Are you being ironic, given what happened to Jupiter and Europa in 2010 or did you not read 2010 ?"

              Yeah, but that's 2010- which was written around fifteen years later- and for various reasons it's open to question how legitimately one can back-read continuity and explanations between that and the film of 2001.

              tl;dr - (i) 2010 was written years later, (ii) Kubrick wasn't involved in 2010 at all, (iii) both book and movie of 2010 reflected Clarke's more "literal" vision seen in the original novel which perhaps was never the intended spirit or interpretation of the film ending and (iv) the discrepancies between versions and sequels mean we can't assume one applies to the other.

              The novel of 2010 was written by Arthur C. Clarke alone and follows the far more literal style of his original novel of 2001. *That* was written alongside the original film- rather than being a direct novelisation of it- and- along with the different "approach" and feel- varies somewhat in its depiction of specific events (e.g. the action takes place around Saturn, whose rings were deemed too difficult to acccurately depict for the film).

              While it's often implied that the novel "explains" the post-Stargate ending of the film of 2001, the differences in what comes before means it can't be taken for granted that this is the case, or even what was intended. Given the aforementioned differences in approach, it's quite possible that- unlike the novel- the ending of the film was always *meant* to be open to interpretation and viewed as such, and that trying to shoehorn it into the excellent-but-different literal viewpoint of the novel both does it a disservice and misses the point.

              Back to 2010... the original novel- which came out a couple of years before the 1984 film- follows very much the approach of Clarke's 2001 novel. (I first read them one after the other- before I'd seen either film- and enjoyed both very much- 2010 was a great sequel).

              The film 2010 is based on the aforementioned Clarke sequel novel, and Kubrick was not involved at all. (#). That's why it's so different in feel and approach to Kubrick's original, and why I don't consider it the latter's direct spiritual successor. Yes, they've included elements from Kubrick's 2001- and even Clarke's 2010 novel altered the continuity to fit the original film rather than the original novel better- but the film is still essentially "Hollywood's movie version of Clarke's sequel to *his* original novel" and reflects the approach and style of the latter. (##)

              There's also the question of whether one can apply the events of 2010 to 2001, since the latter were Clarke's alone and he possibly- indeed quite probably- hadn't thought them up when writing the original story.

              (#) Indeed, when he saw it, he apparently complained that they'd "explained everything". Which might back up my view on trying to shoehorn the novel's "explanation" onto the ending of the original film.

              (##) The film even "recaps" the line "My god, it's full of stars" from just before Bowman enters the Stargate in 2001. Except that was *never* in the original film- only Clarke's novel.

              1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

                Re: Forbidden Planet

                Clarke has gone on record as saying that the follow ups to 2001 aren't strictly sequels, but more akin to further works exploring the similar themes.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Forbidden Planet

                  Yes, I think he's said something along the lines of they take place in similar but not identical parallel universes.

        2. Steve Crook

          Re: Forbidden Planet

          Actually, I always thought it was the father of 'Star Trek' more than a descendant of Shakespeare. But I guess YMMV

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "more than a descendant of Shakespeare."

            The plot is inspired from "The Tempest" - Picard would have appreciated, though... probably the only Frenchman so fond of Shakespeare over Molière...

            And not that other sci-fi plots didn't lift from Shakespeare as well....

          2. Nano nano

            Re: Forbidden Planet

            Actually, having re-watched an episode of "Space Patrol", I noted several points that seem to have "jumped" into Star Trek ! Pointy-eared logical aliens, "I'm a scientist, not a ...." etc.

            Roddenberry must have seen some episodes

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Silent Running...

    ...still one of my favourite films. Serious, hard sci-fi films tackling big issues are so rare these days.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Silent Running...

      > Silent Running......still one of my favourite films

      I thought Dark Star was better

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Silent Running...

        Dark Star, with various contributions from Dan O'Bannon. He would go on to write another Monster on a Spaceship movie you might have heard of: Alien.

        Some of the other creative talent on Alien were first assembled for an aborted Dune movie project.

        Kubrick was a photographer... and a former chess hustler. I've heard that Ridley Scott can draw like Ruebens. Visual people.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Silent Running...

          I'd really love to have seen what Ridley Scott would have done with Dune. Or even better, rather than watching his nurdling around with Alien prequels, watch him do it now. With modern special effects. Still hard to do dramatically, as so much of the action happens in Paul's head - which is the thing the Lynch version really fell down on. I could ignore the crap special effects if the film worked in other ways.

    2. hammarbtyp Silver badge

      Re: Silent Running...

      I'm still waiting for "Rendezvous with Rama" to hit the big screen

      1. Alister Silver badge

        Re: Silent Running...

        I'm still waiting for "Rendezvous with Rama" to hit the big screen

        Agreed, but unfortunately I don't think the original story has enough sex and violence to appeal to Hollywood, and I shudder to think what an "adaptation" would turn out like.

        Probably like I Robot - only the title remains.

        1. Vulch

          Re: Silent Running...

          Morgan Freeman has been trying to get Rendezvous With Rama made for 20+ years.

      2. IsJustabloke Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Silent Running...

        "Rendezvous with Rama"

        The only issue with that is that were it to be a success, they'd make use of the sequels as penned by Gentry Lee and he should never have been allowed to publish any kind of book

        1. BoldMan

          Re: Silent Running...

          Oh god yes, please don't even consider touching the terrible sequels. As soon as I read the "Ramans do everything in threes" I knew there would be a trilogy, I just didn't realise how long we'd have to wait and what an absolute turgid mess it would be.

      3. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

        Re: Silent Running...

        I'm waiting for Zelanzy's Lord Of Light. A script has existed since 1979, and last year they sadi they would bring out a TV series...

      4. strum Silver badge

        Re: Silent Running...

        >I'm still waiting for "Rendezvous with Rama" to hit the big screen

        It would have to be in three parts.

  6. Chronos Silver badge

    HAL

    HAL wasn't malfunctioning or deliberately psychopathic. It had two sets of conflicting orders and no moral imperatives. It was designed to do what it did, and did it perfectly. The fault lies with the people who fed in those category A directives and didn't think about what an AI with problem-solving heuristics would come up with as a solution, which is why "no harm by action or inaction" is law #1 and MUST be hard-coded.

    It redeemed itself in 2010 even without Asimov's law 1, which I think was the stronger of the two films from this perspective as it correctly represented the danger of having unaccountable bodies issuing orders to complex systems that have no hard-wired ethics. Chandra should have seen this coming and given HAL a bullshit detector but, like many intellectuals, he's an innocent child when it comes to political deviousness which leaked into HAL's programming almost by osmosis.

    Right now, what we're classing as AIs aren't I; Siri, Cortana, Alexa, Jasper, they're all simple if-this-then-that logic machines with a bit of imperfect voice recognition and TTS tacked on as a UX. If we ever realise true machine intelligence, these issues will need most careful thought.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: HAL

      This is the thread about 2001's production design. For conversations about HAL see yesterday's 2001 article. :)

      1. Chronos Silver badge

        Re: HAL

        @Dave 126: Sorry, Dave, I can't do that. From TFA:

        Finally, after almost half a century of waiting, you can welcome the mildly homicidal artificial intelligence HAL 9000 into your home.[...]And it predicted Siri and Alexa. What else do you want?

        My post is a direct reply to the posted article.

    2. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

      Re: HAL

      ...If we ever realise true machine intelligence, these issues will need most careful thought....

      If we ever realise true machine intelligence, we will be able to discuss these issues with the machine involved.

      Journalists and the public do not understand what they are talking about (Do they ever?). If our autonomous machines are simply machines with a decision tree (no matter how complex), then it makes sense to talk about us deciding how to program ethical issues into that tree.

      If the systems we create are truly 'intelligent', then they will develop their own ethical guidelines, just as we do. We can discuss these with them, but we cannot force an intelligent being to do something against their will.

      Incidentally, a truly 'intelligent' replica of a brain would presumably suffer from all the issues that our brains have, They would get bored, lose attention, behave immorally or recklessly and probably find a way to get drunk or high....

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: HAL

        "We can discuss these with them, but we cannot force an intelligent being to do something against their will."

        Oh, really? Robocop would like to have a word with you*...

        * starting to argue on what is and isn't possible with an intelligent brain while we have hardly any idea what either of those two words really mean is not a worthwhile use of anyone's time IMHO. But placing constraints on intelligence is definitely a neither novel nor unexplored concept.

      2. onefang Silver badge

        Re: HAL

        "... we cannot force an intelligent being to do something against their will."

        Happens all the time to humans, especially in prisons and cube farms.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: HAL

        "We can discuss these with them, but we cannot force an intelligent being to do something against their will."

        However, until they develop that free will, we can give them a set of strong rules to work with that will serve as ethical guidelines later (the three rules).

        It is a bloody shame we can't imprint them into actual meatsacks.

      4. ThatOne Bronze badge
        Terminator

        Re: HAL

        > If the systems we create are truly 'intelligent', then they will develop their own ethical guidelines, just as we do.

        Ethics aren't as much a result of intelligence as a necessity for life in society, something an AI doesn't have or even need to consider. You can't expect an AI to grow ethics all on its own, especially since commercially ethics are a handicap: AI will be rather trained to focus on "do as I say" than "do the right thing". Nobody cares about an ethical AI leaving to save the world. What you want, and will pay for, is an efficient, reliable and loyal slave.

        Besides, a base AI would be a pure intelligence, devoid of feelings, because feelings is something tied to a body and to natural needs and functions. Without animal instincts there is no fear, hate, love, compassion, sadness, joy (and so on). There is only cold and perfect logic.

        Now given this might be a little creepy for the wetware, marketing will most likely give the AI some semblance of "humanity" (note the quotes), but it will clearly be a pretended and very superficial "humanity". It will be like the smile of that salesperson wanting you to buy their tat: A means to a goal, in this case not to frighten the customer too much.

      5. WereWoof

        Re: HAL

        Asimov explored this in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Evitable_Conflict

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: HAL

      "The fault lies with the people who fed in those category A directives and didn't think about what an AI with problem-solving heuristics would come up with as a solution, which is why "no harm by action or inaction" is law #1 and MUST be hard-coded."

      And why Uber failed so badly.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Siri/Google != HAL

    nowhere close.

    Not even remotely.

    It was clear that HAL understood English just as clearly as Siri/Google don't. When my request to "tell me all about <X> without <Y>" actually does return what I asked for, rather than <X> && <Y> then I'll believe.

    Nowhere - not in the film, not any of the books, does HAL go "did you mean <my distortion of what you asked for>"

    1. Tikimon Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Siri/Google != HAL

      "nowhere close. Not even remotely."

      SECOND THAT. HAL was a discrete entity, a digital individual of which there was ONE instance. HAL truly understood language. He understood the meaning and subtext of a conversation, well enough to psychologically evaluate the meatsack astronauts during their conversations. He had his own reactions and made decisions for himself.

      Siri and its ilk are the Interface for a series of algorithms. NONE of the so-called digital assistants understand language. They have been trained to respond to This with That. They have a large data set and large collection of Possible Responses, but they don't think or understand.

      HAL 9000 (in the context of the story) was a self-aware artificial intelligence. Siri et. al. are modern Mechanical Fortune Teller machines.

      1. Unicornpiss Silver badge

        Re: Siri/Google != HAL

        I can't speak for Siri (no pun intended) having not used Siri very much, but Google certainly uses some heuristics, even though there is no consciousness there. When I do a voice search, say, for a beer I've not had and am not sure I'm even pronouncing correctly, you can see Google parse what was said when I've butchered the name, then refine it, then match it. It's actually pretty uncanny to watch, and seems to get it right much more often than not.

        Say what you will about Google being evil or not, but IMHO, no one has better voice recognition, search algorithms, and heuristics. Since HAL was short for "Heuristic Algorithmic", it seems relevant. (and perhaps Google has the same <lack of> moral character as well)

  8. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "A film that ran at such a resolutely languid pace would last less than a week in a modern multiplex."

    I saw it, well, bits of it, on TV once. My impression was that it was lasting more than a week. I suppose I'm just not a SciFi fan.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      I'm not sure I totally buy that comment from the author. There have been plenty of long, mainstream films. Mainstream high-grossing films have been getting longer in recent years, not shorter.

      I just looked it up, and Blade Runner 2049 is pretty much exactly the same length as 2001. 2 hours 40-something. Did very well at the cinema - and with the critics. OK, it's a film with more action - but you could still easily edit out 30 or more minutes of that film without losing any action or dialogue, because it spends quite a lot of time immersing you in its future vision. In a way that works really well.

      Whereas I'd argue that 2001 could do with a bit of a trim. The immersing you in the whole space travel thing is brilliant, and I'd keep it. But did we really need all that time of australopithecus hitting each other with clubs and making funny noises? Could we not just have a quick montage and a voiceover/explanation to tell us that the monolith was assessing/training them? And get it over with in a minute or two?

      Perhaps I'm not ingesting the right substances while watching it? Last time I saw it, was under the influence of tea and chocolate. And I spent the ape-time, making the tea. Although I admit that was years ago, so perhaps I should re-watch it before judging.

      1. Spiracle

        "But did we really need all that time of australopithecus hitting each other with clubs and making funny noises? Could we not just have a quick montage and a voiceover/explanation to tell us that the monolith was assessing/training them? And get it over with in a minute or two?"

        It has to be paced like that to serve as the slow build to the best jump-cut in cinema history.

      2. ThomH Silver badge

        Slight correction: Blade Runner 2049 failed to recoup, with Ridley Scott's opinion being "It's slow. Long. Too long. I would have taken out half an hour.", as well as other versions of that with more swearing.

        With a worldwide gross of almost $260m though, something just as long and good but cheaper could have been profitable. That's an awful lot of people still willing to watch a long film.

      3. Nate Amsden Silver badge

        blade runner

        Blade Runner 2049 released in 2017 did not do well in theaters according to wikipedia at least. It needed $400M to break even, and has done about $260M both according to the wikipedia article.

        I like sci fi, though more specifically like space stuff, so am a fan of 2001 (though never really tried to understand the deeper bits, I was in it for the special effects which still hold up today as far as I'm concerned), and 2010(which I liked more, and understood better). Major fan of Star Trek (not the JJ abrams stuff), Stargate (the 3 TV series, SG1 probably favorite TV show all time -- wasn't into the original movie), and Star wars (more into the universe of star wars rather than the stories that have been told in the movies, loved Rogue One though - the latest Star wars didn't look interesting to me so I have skipped it).

        Blade runner even though it was touted as having awesome special effects the previews and background didn't interest me so I haven't seen it. For some reason I kept tabs on wikipedia for Blade runner just to see how well it was doing to try to convince myself whether or not to see it.

        2001 is a bit depressing in that it shows all this neat space stuff, and here we are 50 years later and doesn't seem we are anywhere close to any of it. At this rate it doesn't seem like we'll even be at 2001's level of space travel 50 years from now.

        1. ThomH Silver badge

          Re: blade runner

          I saw the newer Blade Runner on a plane, so I'm probably part of the problem, but I think it lived up to the original — it has the same central questions as to the value of life and of memories, but the same defect in descending into a series of action fight sequences as it progresses. It does so a million times better than superhero fluff as it all feels as though it has stakes and actual peril, but nevertheless it's an action crescendo.

          In terms of how you wrap a movie up, I think I prefer 2001's late switch to wholesale awe.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "My impression was that it was lasting more than a week. "

      There are 2 kinds of film scenes:

      Those filmed before and those filmed after the advent of MTV

      Why? Because Music Videos have an almost hardcoded scene limit of 5-6 seconds and this has permeated into our expectations of every other kind of filmmaking.

      Next time you watch your favourite program, count down how long any particular shot is held, then compare it with something made prior to 1980

  9. Denarius Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    meanwhile, back at the film

    I side with Mad Magazines parody. 2001 Minutes of Space Idiocy. Boring WTF time waste. Hard to think of a SciFi movie that does not irritate. The Martian and Forbidden Planet are only two that come to mind. Would love to see Heinleins' Starship Troopers done properly with the political theory central to story as it is in book.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: meanwhile, back at the film

      I'm not sure Starship Troopers needs the political theory. I was perfectly happy with the way the Verhoeven film parodied that, and I'd be equally happy with a film that cut it out entirely.

      It was the military stuff that he got wrong. They're supposed to be a tiny force of elite troops using technology as a force multiplier. But the film has them as pretty rubbish troops using numbers to defeat the bugs - but just having fewer numbers. Given how crap their guns are, and how long it takes them to kill any bug shown in close-up, they should probably lose every engagement within the first few minutes. Surely the future could at least manage explosive bullets, even if it doesn't give them lasers?

      Now special effects can keep up, I'd like to see the film done properly. Squads of 10 mobile infantry in powered suits. Everybody drops, everybody fights. And if you don't like the politics, you can just do it as a military story, which it works perfectly well as. Must dig my copy out and read it again.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: meanwhile, back at the film

        The power suits make an appearance in Starship Troopers 3, along with the return of Rico, nudity and exploding heads. Whilst the special effects are sub par, the political satire is in the spirit of the Verhoeven's Troopers movie, with the elites pretending that they are now born again Christians instead of fascists.

        It's really fun if you watch it with low expectations.

        I have no plans to watch Starship Troopers 2.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: meanwhile, back at the film

          Maybe I'll give it a go. I've seen some of the second one, and it was pants. So never bothered with the threequel.

          1. IsJustabloke Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: meanwhile, back at the film

            "So never bothered with the threequel"

            It's much more in keeping with original, well worth a look if you enjoyed the original because both were bonkers!

            Would you like to know more?

            1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

              Re: meanwhile, back at the film

              When it came out, I hated the original.

              I only changed my mind after seeing it on telly, a few years ago. I don't think it's great, but it is a hoot. And nicely bonkers. My disappointment that Verhoeven hadn't filmed the book had blinded me to the fun to be had watching his version.

              I really liked the pisstake TV in both Starship Troopers and Robocop. Robocop had the best adverts, "Nuke 'em! The game for all the family!"

        2. Unicornpiss Silver badge

          Re: meanwhile, back at the film

          It still pisses me off that the girl he should have been with (not the bitchy one) died in that..

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: meanwhile, back at the film

      "Would love to see Heinleins' Starship Troopers done properly with the political theory central to story as it is in book."

      You don't think the overt nazi future of that movie universe isn't putting that political theory front and centre?

  10. Unicornpiss Silver badge

    Taking sci-fi seriously..

    'Star Wars creator Lucas described 2001 as "the first time people really took science-fiction seriously".'

    With a nod to efforts like Forbidden Planet that was mentioned, and The Day the Earth Stood Still, I'd have to say that for the mainstream, Star Trek was probably the first accessible and generally well written Science Fiction that most people grew up on, even if the effects were very cheesy compared to 2001.

    That said, 2001 was an incredible effort to capture the reality and isolation of a space journey (no one does isolation as well as Kubrick did) in an era before we'd even traveled to to the moon.

    And Arthur C. Clarke predicted geostationary satellites, the PDA, virtual reality, free or nearly-free global communications and a lot of other things we take for granted, as far back as the 1950s in his novels. And there are a few more gems there that will probably eventually come to pass.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Taking sci-fi seriously..

      Was Star Trek really that well written? I have gone back and watched some of the original episodes now that they've been remastered. I particularly like how many bongos you can now hear in the soundtrack.

      And I've revised my opinion of it all being rubbish. My abiding memory of watching it as a kid was always Spock mind melding with a silicon-based lifeform that looked like a rather thick pizza and hamming up the awesome dialogue, "The pain! The pain!" But going back there are a lot more thoughtful episodes than I remember.

      But still, most episodes seem to be, crew meet bumpy headed aliens / female aliens in skimpy outfits, get captured / taken over / threatened, spend a bit of time thinking about it / flirting / trying to fix the ship, then do some handwaving about diverting auxilliary power or persuade the aliens to be nice.

      I suppose I'm judging it harshly. There's no much TV from the 60s that stands up to modern stuff. And I'm not complaining about special effects now. So much of it is just plain badly written. I'm sure I've forgotten stuff, but Mash and the first 3 seasons of The Sweeney are the oldest TV shows that I can think of that still stand up today.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Taking sci-fi seriously..

        "but Mash and the first 3 seasons of The Sweeney are the oldest TV shows that I can think of that still stand up today.

        "Quatermass and the Pit" BBC TV 1958.

        "The Magic Roundabout" BBC version 1964?.

        "The Prisoner" ITV 1967.

        "The Avengers" ITV 1961-1969.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Taking sci-fi seriously..

          Quatermass I'll give you. I didn't enjoy it that much, and don't think it's that good, but it's interesting.

          But I'm sorry, the Prisoner is rubbish. I watched a few episodes last year, and I think I watched it all when I was a student 25 years ago, as a friend is a fan and had it on tape. Most of it makes no sense. I've never really liked the Avengers, though it does have some good bits. I don't think it's anything special though.

          I don't remember much of the magic roundabout. But there's some great kids TV that stands the test of time, which I hadn't even thought about. Most of the Hanna-Barbera stuff for example. Mutley! Do something!

          1. SVV Silver badge

            Re: Taking sci-fi seriously..

            The Prisoner is rubbish? Makes no sense? What tosh!

            It's an allegorical show full of metaphors signifying aspects of a future technological society, where mass surveillance and data collection can be misused by the powers that be to observe and nefariously control individual behaviour, often by subliminal means using propoganda, (mis)information and distracting entertainment. And the futile struggle of someone who believes he's an individual to escape from such a world. All themes discussed on this site every day in the comments. Visually stunning too, with lots of sardonic humour, surrealism and pin-sharp dialogue.

            "What do you want?"

            -- "Information"

            "You won't get it!"

            -- "By hook or by crook we will..."

            ...

            "I am not a number, I am a free man!"

            -- "Ha ha ha ha ...."

            1. heyrick Silver badge

              Re: Taking sci-fi seriously..

              "where mass surveillance and data collection can be misused by the powers that be to observe and nefariously control individual behaviour, often by subliminal means using propoganda, (mis)information and distracting entertainment"

              Wait... we're still talking about a TV programme, right? 'cos that sounds a hell of a lot like now...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Taking sci-fi seriously..

        "the first 3 seasons of The Sweeney are the oldest TV shows that I can think of that still stand up today."

        I've only got one thing to say to that.... shut it!

        1. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

          "I've only got one thing to say to that.... shut it!"

          Get yer trarsers on yer nicked...

    2. onefang Silver badge

      Re: Taking sci-fi seriously..

      "... Star Trek was probably the first accessible and generally well written Science Fiction ..."

      I've recently started re-watching Star Trek from the very start, "generally well written" is not a term I would apply to it. Way too many holes.

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Taking sci-fi seriously..

        "generally well written" is not a term I would apply to it.

        I'm no fan of the franchise, but it could have been a lot worse...

        Danger! Will Robinson, Danger!

    3. Patrician

      Re: Taking sci-fi seriously..

      I'd suggest that Star Trek was successful because of the time it came out; the Apollo program was promising to put men on the moon by the end of the decade and previous series like Lost in Space, Invaders, The Twilight Zone and films like 2001 all had whetted peoples appetites for "good Sci-Fi". Star Trek debuted towards the end of the decade and benefited from all these things; but, looking at through non-rose coloured glasses it wasn't that well written really, it's just that the viewing public was primed and ready for The Final Frontier as it were.

      1. Unicornpiss Silver badge

        Star Trek well written... some of it

        Well, City on the Edge of Forever did win a Hugo award. Star Trek is also credited with the first TV interracial kiss. (Uhura and KIrk in Plato's Stepchildren)

        There was a lot of cheese, for sure, but some other good episodes that come to mind:

        The Naked Time

        The Paradise Syndrome

        Miri

        Shore Leave

        A Taste of Armageddon

        For the World is Hollow, and I Have Touched the Sky

  11. hammarbtyp Silver badge

    Still Waiting...

    My top 3 films I'm still waiting to see on the big screen

    1. Rendezvous with Rama

    2. Eon

    3. The Caves of Steel

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Still Waiting...

      The City and the Stars ....

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Still Waiting...

        Mine is

        Stranger in a Strange Land

        {the book I'd take to my Desert Island}

    2. jason 7

      Re: Still Waiting...

      Amazed the Stainless Steel Rat books have never made it any further than the pages of the books and 2000AD comic.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Stainless Steel Rat

        Have an upvote for that.

        What about "Venus on the Halfshell?"

        Ducks for cover

      2. IsJustabloke Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Still Waiting...

        "Amazed the Stainless Steel Rat books have never made it any further than the pages of the books and 2000AD comic."

        Yeah, I think the rat books would make great film, there have been a couple stories from 2000AD that have moved beyond the pages....

        hardware -> http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099740/ It wasn't acknowledged at the time but is now an accepted as a lift of a Tharg's Futureshock

        And of course "Universal Soldier" was based on a story of the same name but beyond a reanimated dead man , reprogrammed at will via a chip in his head it doesn't really follow the strip story line

        1. NiallRThotep

          Re: Still Waiting...

          Over twenty years ago I had the honour of several hours of conversation with Harry Harrison, a great author and a wonderful man. He had lots of advice for someone who wanted to be an author.

          While talking about this he told me why the Rat had not been made into a film.

          He wrote the book early on and just after it came out he was offered a modest sum for the renewable option on the film rights. He said "Being an impoverished author at the time, I accepted, and have received a depressingly small renewal cheque regularly ever since."

          He really wanted it to be on the big screen. He even had his ideal person to play Jim DiGriz picked out - James Coburn - and he was annoyed that he had sold it to someone who wasn't going to use it.

          His advice was to always leave a re-negotiation clause 'for later, when you have more money and better lawyers'.

          I can only assume that whichever soulless company currently owns the rights is still sending 'depressingly small cheques' to his estate. Sad.

          1. jason 7

            Re: Still Waiting...

            That's sad.

            Probably languishing in legal limbo in the estate of some failed deceased small time movie mogul wannabe.*

            Such a shame.

            *Edit - A google search says this -

            "Director Jan De Bont's Blue Tulip Films, in collaboration with 20th Century Fox, bought the film rights to the adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat back in 2001."

            1. WereWoof

              Re: Still Waiting...

              My 2 bits: Poul Anderson`s The dancer from Atlantis, All of Alan Dean Fosters Humanx series (especially The Tar-Aiym Krang).

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Still Waiting...

      No Stainless Steel Rat?

      I'm not sure I want to see the big epic stuff on the big screen. Sure, if it works then I'd be happy as anything. But it's always more worrying that they'll spend all their time on the special effects and forget the plot and/or character. Ender's Game made me sad, for example - I can't imagine why anyone would try to film that.

      So I'd like to see a bit of lighter sci-fi, that's now possible on normal film budgets, as special effects have got so much cheaper.

      I'd love to see someone have a go at CJ Cherryh's Alliance-Union universe, and depress everybody properly. Mallory of Norway ought to make a nicely flawed lead character. Or Finity's End, which has got some great ideas about a generation born to war having to adjust to peace and the different lives of people born on ships, compared to those who live in one place.

      1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

        Re: Still Waiting...

        True, to be honest with special effects costs as they are , often it makes more sense to have them as TV series where they can be run at a length which matches their complexity. I was pretty impressed by westworld in that context

        I would love to see one of Ian M Banks books put to screen, but I don't think they would translate well

        1. AdamT

          Re: Still Waiting...

          @hammarbtyp

          Looks like Alexa heard you say that:

          https://www.theverge.com/2018/2/21/17035618/amazon-culture-series-iain-m-banks-television-show

          1. smudge Silver badge
            Alien

            Re: Still Waiting...

            Ringworld, please - and sequels.

            Or maybe a whole series based in Known Space.

    4. nigeb

      Re: Still Waiting...

      I second that, and add "A Fire Upon the Deep"

    5. Teravil

      Re: Still Waiting...

      ... Death World Trilogy by Harry Harrison.

      I re-read the books every 5 years or so - excellent.

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: Still Waiting...

        I'm still waiting for a decent Riverworld by Philip José Farmer adaptation.

        1. onefang Silver badge

          Re: Still Waiting...

          "I'm still waiting for a decent Riverworld by Philip José Farmer adaptation."

          I'm wondering if your downvoters do or do not know there is a Riverworld movie, but are quibbling over your use of the word "decent"?

          1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

            Re: Still Waiting...

            Maybe they have a low opinion of the series?

    6. handleoclast Silver badge

      Re: Still Waiting...

      The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress.

  12. Lotaresco Silver badge

    Attention span

    There are three SF movies that I can think of that demand a greater attention span than that exhibited by the average twitchy gamer. 2001, Solaris (the original) and Stalker. All of them are worth watching but require full attention. All three of them have been described to me as "dull, boring" by people born later than the 1960s.

  13. jason 7

    My fave 2001 FX shot...

    ...is the floating pen.

    The effect was done with the then 'new' double sided sticky tape and a revolving sheet of clear plastic gel.

    You can see the stewardess 'peel' it off.

    Total cost maybe 6 shillings!

    Today it would be done with CGI at a cost of $80,000 and three weeks work.

    1. StheD

      Re: My fave 2001 FX shot...

      The actress who played the stewardess was a bit under the weather when she auditioned. It was why she got the job. They had her walk down the aisle. The other contenders walked straight but she wobbled due to her illness, which was just what Kubrick thought she would do with the velcro slippers.

      This from the Kubrick exhibit in the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco which I went to last year. Lots of stuff I've never read of in the books on 2001.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When you don't understand something (because it's utterly lame)...

    ... hail it as a masterpiece.

    That's what happened to 2001 - one of the most overrated movies in history. Using "substances" while watching it may explain a lot.

    Is it sci-fi? Partially, sure some nice space scenes - but the god-like aliens are always a too easy deus-ex-machina trick when you have a lame plot, and they are far away from real science. And they are really not useful for the plot. Just having something alien in the Solar System would have been enough, and more "scientific".

    And I agree with Sagan, they didn't know how to end it when they shoot it, Clarke explained the end only later in his book, probably when he came up with one. Not telling in the movie why HAL got murderous was a big error. But maybe Clarke was afraid to explain he copied too much from Asimov robopsychology novels - where Susan Calvin has to explain inexplicable violations of the Three Laws.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: When you don't understand something (because it's utterly lame)...

      It depends what you want in a film? Films are art, and you can enjoy different aspects of them. I think 2001 is over-long and if I'm honest I only enjoyed the middle bit of the film. I'm not really interested in the grunting australopithecus or the alien contact at the end. But while I'm watching the stuff in space it's amazing. And incredibly well realised. And I like the film for that.

      A bit like Blade Runner. I've never bought into the hype on that, and I think it's a very flawed film. It's taken Scott several bites at the cherry, with director's cuts to come to the film he thinks is best. But I'm still not sure it isn't better shorter and with a narrator, as a sort of post-apocalyptic Phillip Marlowe. I personally think Blade Runner 2049 is a much better written film - and much better at asking the questions about the difference between a human and a replicant (if any), than the original is.

      However you can't deny the massive achievement of the visuals of both Blade Runner and 2001. Or the huge effect they had on so much films (and general culture) that followed.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: When you don't understand something (because it's utterly lame)...

        Clarke had written and explored aspects about AIs before - The City and The Stars, for example - independently of his friend Asimov. The plot surrounding HAL is more rooted in Clarke's previous take on AI than it is Asimov's (MultiVac, the Robot stories).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: When you don't understand something (because it's utterly lame)...

      "[...] but the god-like aliens are always a too easy deus-ex-machina trick [...]"

      Any alien life out there is likely to be more advanced than we are - especially if they have been leaving markers back before Homo Sapiens were about.

      Any advanced technology can look like supernatural magic to the uninitiated.

  15. Wade Burchette

    The music

    What I remember most about 2001 is the music. It has some of the most iconic music ever written. Who doesn't know the 'dum-dum-dum-dum' drum sequence from this movie? This movie predates me by 10 years, I still don't understand the opening or the ending, but the music is permanently stuck in my head.

    I would like to think that this move inspired other iconic scores, like in Star Wars and Indiana Jones.

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: The music

      It has some of the most iconic music ever written.

      Which were all pieces from classical composers. None of it was written for the movie.

      Both the Star Wars and Indiana Jones scores were written by John Williams, who unashamedly borrowed themes from Holst, Strauss, Dvorak, and Bach (among others) to create his music.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The music

        @Alister; Not so much Indiana Jones, but I always got the Star Wars and (1978) Superman themes confused when I was a kid.

        I didn't realise until decades later that they were written by the same person. And having listened to them both again... they *do* sound the bloody same!

  16. SImon Hobson Silver badge

    Which were all pieces from classical composers

    The story I'd heard on that was that they used the classical pieces while filming to "set the mood" and the intension was that there would be music written later. But then they decided that the classical pieces really works and kept them.

    It's a film I've watched more than once - but I know I'd be wasting my time suggesting SWMBO try watching it, should wouldn't reach the end of the opening bit before dismissing it as "boring". IMO it's what a film should be - a telling of a story, with plot, effects appropriate to to that telling, etc. Too many films these days seem to be just an excuse to show off the ability of The CGI,

    1. Spiracle

      The story I'd heard on that was that they used the classical pieces while filming to "set the mood" and the intension was that there would be music written later. But then they decided that the classical pieces really works and kept them.

      Kubrick commissioned a score from Alex North (Spartacus, Cleopatra), who sweated to complete on time and only found that it had been dropped when he attended the premier. I believe it can be heard on Spotify or the like.

  17. Mike Richards Silver badge

    The models

    All smashed after production - including a 50 foot long model of Discovery 1.

    IIRC the space station survived a bit longer and ended up being dumped in Stevenage.

    1. smudge Silver badge

      Re: The models

      IIRC the space station survived a bit longer and ended up being dumped in Stevenage.

      Mentioned in the Guardian last month...

      http://www.visual-memory.co.uk/faq/images/ss4.jpg

  18. Peter Christy

    One of the sad things about 2001 is that it is now impossible to see it as originally intended. Cinerama was the Imax of its day, tricking the viewer into seeing a two-dimensional image as in three dimensions. I originally saw it at the Cinerama in London, and that scene where the stewardess walks in, up the wall and out - upside down - had the whole cinema audience retching as one! It really did feel as if the whole cinema had suddenly inverted itself!

    It just doesn't come across on TV - or indeed ordinary wide-screen cinema - the same.

    Someone needs to get the original Cinerama prints and re-print them for Imax. The you would really know the meaning of "stomach-churning"!

  19. Phukov Andigh Bronze badge

    nailed it in one

    without significantly chemically modifying one's sensory interpretation AND also causing their judgement to be significantly impaired or erratic, the movie does not warrant repeat views within any short timeframe.

    One can pretend that long extended shots without even much background change is "art" and therefore one must like it or be labelled somehow inferior, but reality is, if there is a long shot, there are things that are to be picked up during that shot, many elements to absorb, changes happening during the shot, etc.

    when nothing changes, nothing happens, it's essentially a video of a still painting, that's "dead air". Everything else, is Pretense.

    Now if your synapses are totally misfiring on a chemical brew that makes Io look inert, your sense of time, color, and even reason affected to the point where your subjective reality fails to match objective reality at all, a movie "seen" or "remembered" in that context, is not what the unmedicated experience.

    Much in the same way a movie taken from a narrow height has no emotional effect on someone who loves heights.

  20. Stephen Wilkinson

    I'm far more of a reader than a watcher and I far prefer the book to the film.

    Totally agree with why hasn't Caves of Steel been made into a movie but as they'd probably ruin it...

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    70mm FILM

    Kubrick shooting on 70mm FILM has future-proofed it for quite some time, will laugh in the face of 64K.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019