2001: A Space Odyssey ★★★★★

Recently famed director Steven Soderbergh released his own recut version of Kubrick's sci-fi LSD opus 2001: A Space Odyssey which you can watch for yourself on his website here. This is a review of that recut, not the original film. Please ignore the 5-star rating attached to this review. If I had to rate Soderbergh's tinkering of Kubrick's work I would give it a solid ★★★★.

The first thing you will notice about SS's cut is that it clocks in at about 100 minutes, a solid 40 some minutes shorter than SK's version. So what was cut? First of all the classic opening credits are gone, disappeared, kaput. Also, the end credits are out as well and you can also throw out a large part of the glacially slow second act, particularly any dialogue to do with the Heywood Floyd character, the monolith, or the Soviet Union.

What is left is relatively untouched, with the exception of some shifted music cues, the brief appearance of HAL's closeup throughout the film (including the beginning), some strange repetitive psychedelic eye-blinking close-ups, an odd echo effect to HAL's voice that goes in and out, and maybe a small handful of more subtle stuff I missed. By my count most of SS's "changes" serve to pick-up the pace on the plot whilst trying to keep what most people appreciate about the original film: The flawlessly timeless sci-fi visuals and the Dave/HAL exchange.

And let's be honest- nobody is in love with the slow-burn pace of SK's original cut (unless your a pretentious film geek) but we all give it a pass, and rightly so, because those other parts are so great. What SS has done here is really pretty accomplished - he forces the film to get to the point with the sole cost of excising some of SK's story and pacing indulgences. This makes the movie play more like a modern film of the last 30 years or so, which may or may not be heresy, depending on your love for the original.

Me? I was ok with it. And I love the original, even the slow-burn pace.

Discussed in episode #96, a Top 10 Last 10 podcast episode, in which we rank the last 10 films we've seen.

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