JT Film Review

80 – 2010: The Year We Make Contact (1984)

2010: The Year We Make Contact REVIEW

4/5 stars

Director – Peter Hyams

Cast – Roy Scheider, John Lithgow, Helen Mirren, Keir Dullae, Douglas Rain


– follows 2001: A Space Odyssey


2010: The Year We Make Contact is the under-seen and under-rated sequel to Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey. I see 2010 as the younger brother to 2010. 2001 came first, and everyone expects much of the follow-up, but are disappointed when it follows a different course. While 2001 was visionary, groundbreaking, and unique, 2010 is practical and grounded. For this reason the sequel was ignored, and even derided, merely because it is different from its predecessor. Frankly I think the outcry would have been greater, and the results worse, had Peter Hyams tried to copy Kubrick’s style.

The plot of the movie is a continuation of the plot of 2001, written by Arthur C. Clarke, the co writer of 2001. The States and the USSR are still in the Cold War (a bit of alternate history), and both countries are sending up spaceships to recover the Discovery and HAL, in orbit around Jupiter. As the Russians will get there first (but have no knowledge of HAL’s inner workings), three Americans go with them. While investigating HAL and the strange otherworldly “monolith” which floats silently close by, the States and the USSR back on Earth come close to declaring war on each other, and the crew must deal with both Earthly problems and the otherworldly concerns of the monolith.

The film balances these two main plotlines very well, all the while delving into a bit of the mythology of the first film. Why, in 2001, did HAL go “insane”? What was the Monolith’s purpose? What is the “Star Child?” These questions and more gradually become addressed, if not answered outright.

Arthur C. Clarke has always written great science fiction, and there are some sequences here which are astounding. One scene in particular, where an American and a Russian must spacewalk from one ship to the other, is one of the best sequences in any science fiction movie. The characters interact wonderfully, with the Russian teaching the other how to say certain words in Russian. The visual effects are wonderful, and the scene is not hyped up, or drowned out by suspenseful music. It is a truly wonderful scene. Another sequence where the main character (played by Roy Schnieder) meets what he believes to be the spirit of one of the Discovery’s crew, is extremely well done also. The special effects in this movie are good, if not ground-breaking. The music has a tendency to jar the viewer, and is a tad “80’s”, but on the whole fits the tone of the film.

While the mystery of the first film is replaced with investigation and character development (and I will admit, this may hurt the film a little), the characters we see in the film are wonderfully fleshed out, and the urge to stereotype is resisted all around. Arthur C. Clarke has always written characters that, while being scientists, and all being fairly analytical in their personalities, come across as real, mature people. Too often when characters in movies are presented with problems, the actors will portray the characters a little over the top, the thinking being that if the character is scared, the audience will be too. The treatment of character in this movie however is mature, and never panders to the audience. I found this very refreshing.


2010: The Year We Make Contact is a good, solid, old-fashioned (in a good way) science fiction film. Although the awe and majesty of the first film are not present so much in this one, its absence is made bearable by the logical tone of the film. This is not to say that 2010 doesn’t have its own sense of wonder,but it is of a different sort than its predecessor, 2001: A Space Odyssey. If you love science fiction, I implore you to seek out this film. You are in for a good surprise, let me assure you.



“2010: The Year We Make Contact” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia



April 5, 2010 - Posted by | 4 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Sci-fi, Year - 1980-1989 | , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. definitely Peter Hyams best film — he usually spews out drivel….

    Comment by Joachim Boaz | August 20, 2010 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: