Al Gore Reviews "2001: A Space Odyssey"
537 LOUSY STINKIN' MISERABLE VOTES!!!
Yeah, that's all that kept me from achieving the Presidency and the dream of my life ever since Da-Da planted the notion in my head while singing the "Union Label" song to me in the cradle. Hey, you wonder why that meeting I had with G.W. only lasted 15 minutes? Hell, I felt like tossing his ass right out the door as soon as he stepped in but I'm not bitter about losing so narrowly. No. I'm going on to other things without obsessing about the Presidency that I lost by only 537 Florida votes.
From now on I'll be reviewing movies. I am first doing a retrospective review of "2001: A Space Odyssey." Why am I reviewing this movie in particular? Look at the calendar and get yourself a clue, numnuts!
Anyway, when I rented this video and popped it into my VCR, I got pissed off as hell from the get-go. Not just because I'm now a mere movie reviewer rather than President of the most powerful nation on Earth. No. I was also outraged when I saw how watching this epic film on the small TV screen ruined its great visual effects. This was a movie made to be seen and experienced on the ultra wide Cinerama screen.
If I had been elected President, I would have simply ordered a special screening of "2001" at the newly restored Seattle Cinerama Theater and flown out to Washington state aboard Air Force One with my entourage to watch this film as it was meant to be viewed. Unfortunately, due to those lousy 537 votes I'm stuck here at home with only my VCR for screening purposes.
Besides being forced to watch "2001" in an incredibly reduced format, the very narrowness of the viewing area makes it difficult to watch this movie on the tube. Yeah, it's kind of hard to concentrate on the film when on one side of my field of vision I can see Tipper popping pills and on the other side there is Karenna whimpering about not being able to party in the White House. I tried to make the best of this situation by feeding Tipper a horse tranquilizer to knock her out like a light and then chewed out Karenna for not hanging out at her Manhattan pad with her wealthy husband, Dr. Sniff, instead of getting on my nerves around here by bitching about missing out on becoming a Washington Social Butterfly because her father was just 537 Florida votes shy of his Place In History.
Okay, once I got those two annoyances out of my field of vision it still didn't help matters much. Fortunately I had already seen "2001" on a Cinerama screen back in 1968 when I was still a fresh faced student at Harvard, unaware that someday the Presidency would be snatched away from me by the narrowest of margins (Is it still too late to get a Miami-Dade County recount?).
At the time, I skipped out of a few classes to make a trip down to New York to see the flick at the Cinerama theater. No big loss about the classes since I was getting by just fine with gentlemen's Cs with a few Ds thrown in. The great thing was that I was able to see "2001" in all its glory, spread out on the wide, wide Cinerama screen. The downside was that I was so preoccupied by my quest for the Presidency even back then that it was hard to focus on the movie. Even when I saw the glorious shots of space travel, all I could think of was, "I wanna be President! I wanna be President!" Therefore my concentration on this movie at the time wasn't exactly at a peak.
When the movie was over, I wasn't sure what "2001" was all about. At first I thought it was because I was concentrating too much on my future Presidency rather than the movie but it turned out that most other folks were confused as well. Despite my confusion, I was incredibly impressed by the visual effects of "2001." I remember somebody asked me what I thought of "2001" and I wanted to tell him that I thought it was a psychedelic mindblower. However, I knew Da-Da wouldn't approve of the observation because of its drug references plus I was already careful not to say anything that might prove to become detrimental in my future Presidential bid so I merely gave the guy a noncommittal remark that I thought the movie was "interesting."
But I don't have to worry anymore about what you think of my opinions. Yes, the newly liberated Al Gore with no political future at stake can tell you what he REALLY thinks without giving a damn about the consequences. So I lit up a joint and hit the "PLAY" button on my VCR remote control.
Oh wait! Are you shocked about me smoking a little dope? Hey, I want you to know that with my own hands, all of my life, I put it in the plant beds and transferred it. I've hoed it, I've dug in it, I've sprayed it, I've chopped it, I've shredded it, spiked it, put it in the barn, stripped it, sold it, and rolled it. And now, after over a dozen years of waiting, I'm gonna smoke it! Not only will smoking a doobie give me a great buzz again but it will help bring on some flashbacks of my first viewing of "2001" on the wide Cinerama screen so I'll try to keep my impressions geared to my original viewing.
Let's start with the famous opening theme music---the "2001" theme tune. No, you idiot! That is NOT what the tune is! If you're a typical Tennessee hillbilly who is so stupid as to not even vote for your home state candidate for President then that is what you probably think. Actually, the tune is "Thus Spake Zarathustra" by Richard Strauss who wrote it over a hundred years ago. Before "2001" came out, hardly anyone ever heard of this composition. Such was the power and popularity of this movie that the music became one of the most ubiquitous tunes ever heard. It's been played over and over again in other movies, TV shows, sports events, and Priceline.Com commercials. Hell, I even watched a stripper shake her hooters to the tune of that "2001" music at a Saigon bar back when I was serving my tour of duty in 'Nam.
After we are treated to the spectacular opening with the theme music and the alignment of the Sun, Earth, and Moon, we see "The Dawn Of Man" flash on the screen. Already this had me confused. I thought I was gonna see a flick about space flight so why are we going back in time? Then I figured we would see some caveman, dressed up like Charles Bronson wearing heavy makeup and animal skins, carry a club and knock Raquel Welch on the noggin like something out of "One Million Years B.C.."
Instead we see a bunch of ugly monkeys not even remotely resembling cavemen. And what a pathetic group of monkeys they were! Mostly they were scrounging around in a wasteland munching on a few leaves and drinking from an incredibly dirty mudhole. After a few scenes of watching their depressing existence I started to get impatient to see some OUTER SPACE stuff. Hey, I don't go to see a movie with "SPACE" in the title just to see some apes hopping around.
Not to worry. Soon enough the Black Monolith appears on the scene. Bottom line: Those dumb monkeys still remained pretty dumb except they learned how to use bones to club wild boars for their meat and beat the crap out of rival bands of monkeys who wanted to hog in on their precious mudhole. Little did those monkeys know that millions of years later, their human descendants in California would give up meat and revert to eating scrawny leaves again. Speaking about reverting, another group of their descendants in Palm Beach County got a bigtime case of the dumbs again by becoming too stupid to even figure out that you poke a hole in a Butterfly Ballot where the ARROW POINTS! I bet those monkeys could have figured that out even BEFORE the Black Monolith made them smarter.
After one of the enlightened monkeys used a bone to beat up a dumbshit monkey, he tosses the bone into the air for that most famous cinematic four million year segue into a space satellite. Some folks might have found this to be incredibly creative on the part of director Stanley Kubrick but to tell you the truth, I was mostly relieved that I didn't have to see any more of those damn dirty apes. Time now for the really kewl space stuff to begin. Bring on the ray guns!
Ray guns? That shows you how stupid I was. Most other directors would have just presented some standard sci-fi flick routines but Kubrick set the tone right away with long sequences of space flight techniques set to the tune of "The Blue Danube Waltz."
At this point it is interesting to compare the Kubrick 2001 of 1968 with the real 2001 as we know it. Most impressive was the fairly accurate depiction of TV screen computer graphics. In this the movie was very close to the mark. Not so close to the mark was the portrayal of a vast roomy space station. Did I say "roomy?" Cavernous is more like it. Plus it had all sorts of amenities such as lots and lots of comfy lounge chairs, large phone kiosks, and plenty of room to go jogging in a sterilely clean environment.
Contrast this to the space station situation of the real 2001. Just one tiny space station by the name of Mir, overloaded with obsolete Soviet technology and scheduled to be shitcanned into the Pacific at the end of February, 2001 due to the fact that it is a severe health hazard to anybody deluded enough to board it. Imagine the surprise of Dr. Heywood Floyd if he were to go aboard the real space station of 2001. He would have found himself crammed like a sardine into tiny quarters with a bunch of smelly Russian Cosmonauts who love nothing better than torturing visiting American Astronauts with their reeking farts and the stale stench of their hyperactive Slavic sweat glands exuding recycled borsht and garlic. And if the smell doesn't kill him then one of the numerous electrical fires aboard the Mir surely could. Such is the sad state of Space Station technology in 2001.
Even less realistic than the portrayal of the space station was the depiction of the Moon bases. Remember the Moon? It's that round thing that glows in the night sky. Believe it or not, back in 1968 when "2001" was released, the Moon was the object of our technological hopes and dreams. Little did we know back then that the Moon would end up as nothing more than a photo-op backdrop for an Astronaut demonstrating his golf swing. Perhaps we might have ended up with Moon bases if we had found anything up there worth a damn but there wasn't. All that was found on the Moon were worthless chunks of rocks for which we wasted billions of dollars to retrieve. By the way, we are now about to make the same mistake again by attempting a manned Mars mission. The only difference is that this time it will cost even more money and the worthless rocks we find there will be colored red.
So who was the big star of "2001?" It sure as hell wasn't any of those disgusting monkeys. Dr. Heywood Floyd wasn't around long enough and the two astronauts, Dave Bowman and Frank Poole, aboard the Discovery spacecraft to Jupiter weren't exactly standouts in the personality department.
The real star of "2001" has to be HAL the computer. But as out of control as HAL was, he wasn't nearly as dangerous of our current real computers. HAL might have killed off the Discovery crew but I could have lived with that. The big problem with our computers is that they never forget anything. Hell, when I got my personal AL 9000 computer, I thought I could simply delete my e-mail after I sent it out. I even went to my "DELETE" folder and removed the messages from there just to make sure they were gone. Guess what? Even after all that, the damn AL 9000 computer will STILL have your e-mail somewhere in its memory. Even if I did smash the AL 9000 hard drive like we did with Vince Foster's computer, the incriminating e-mail can STILL be retrieved from somewhere out in cyberspace. So maybe HAL killed off the Discovery crew. Most of the crew didn't even know what happened to them. Me? I've got to bite my fingernails for the next few years praying that the Grand Jury doesn't find my fund raising e-mails and sentence me to become the cell mate of Robert Downey, Jr..
Finally we get to the most controversial part of the movie. That's where Dave Bowman goes through some sort of space/time warp. I say "some sort of space/time warp" because neither I nor anyone else is even sure what the hell it is. Even Arthur C. Clarke who wrote the screenplay said you're not supposed to figure that out. Why? Because we are dealing with an intelligence so far above us that we can't even comprehend what it's all about.
Since those alien beings (or whatever they are) are as advanced above us as we are to a snail I want you to try this little experiment. Go out into your yard and find a garden snail. Then strap the snail into the front seat of your car and take it out for a ride. When the ride is over, ask the snail what happened. Do you think that stupid snail can give you any sort of answer? Of course not! So why are you bitching about something you don't even have the ability to comprehend?
If you want easy explanations then watch that crappola sci-fi flick, "Contact." They ripped off "2001" by basically copying that space/time warp (or whatever it was) Dave Bowman went through except they called it a wormhole. Then they had Ellie Arroway give a running travelogue commentary about the wormhole trip which served no purpose except to totally TRIVIALIZE the experience. There was absolutely NOTHING uplifting about the "Contact" wormhole experience. All I wanted was for Ellie to ditch her annoying yakety-yak. Then, unlike "2001," Ellie got to actually meet an alien who assumed the appearance of her dead father. And all he could tell her in response to her request as to the purpose of the intergalactic trip was something about "Little steps." Ellie should have grabbed the alien/father by his collar, bitch-slapped him across the face a few times and said, "Hey Pal! The people of my planet didn't break their economies by pouring over a trillion bucks into TWO separate projects to send me across the universe only to have you explain to me that it was for "little steps." You're going to have to give a damnside better explanation than that!"
Anyway, I think you got the point of how it's better not to really know what that whole Dave Bowman thing was all about. What actually got me a lot more curious than that was why they stocked the Discovery with the absolute CRAPPIEST TV dinners imaginable. Did you see that? Those dinners looked like colored soybean meal. Doesn't that just make your mouth water---NOT! Remind me to pack a whole bunch of frozen NY strip steaks if I ever go to Jupiter so I won't be stuck eating those awful soybean TV dinners covered with food dye.
Another reason why I didn't mind not understanding about the Dave Bowman space/time bit was that, under the influence of smoking several more doobies, that Black Monolith hovering over Jupiter began to remind me of a floating Chad just above the floor of Broward County Courthouse Ballot Counting Room. Damn what I wouldn't give for a space/time trip back a few weeks so I could campaign in Florida just one extra day! That alone would have added on more than the needed 537 votes.
I found the end of "2001" to be incredibly uplifting. What's that? You're still scratching your head in confusion? You can't figure out that the Star Child represents our final stage in evolution? So what does he do next, you wonder, after floating around the Earth in that egg thing? How the hell should I know!? Maybe he's gonna wipe Tennessee off the map or shtoop Katherine Harris. What difference does it make? If you want easy answers all neatly wrapped up at the end then go rent that pale reflection of "2001" called "Contact."
"2001: A Space Odyssey" just happens to be the BEST science fiction movie ever made. It is so magnificent that on my Chad Rating Scale of 1 to 10 Chads with 10 Chads being best, this movie fully deserves 10 Chads...except. Except that there was a minor flaw in the movie. Remember that Black Monolith the monkeys found? What happened to it? Don't you think a Black Monolith right here on Earth would be discovered a hell of a lot quicker than one buried on the moon? It's a little late to ask Stanley Kubrick about this since he croaked a couple of years ago. Due to this discrepancy, I am docking "2001" half a Chad and awarding it 9 Chads with the 9th Chad being a pregnant Chad to make it a 9 and a half Chad rating.
I hope you enjoyed my movie review and even if you didn't, you can kiss my tequatos. I don't need your lousy vote anymore.