January 4, 2012
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2010: Odyssey Two, by Arthur C. Clarke
Here we go with book and movie in one post, again. I did this with the predecessor to the book/movie in this post when I covered 2001: A Space Odyssey in both book and movie form side by side. This time, I’m taking a look at 2010: Odyssey Two (the book) and 2010: The Year We Make Contact (the movie) as close to side by side as I can. I remember both reading the book and seeing the movie when I was a lot younger, but it’d been long enough that I really only remembered the climax: I had no idea how either the book or the movie got there. I remembered that I thought 2010 was the most awesome movie ever at the time (this was some time after 1984 when the movie came out, and 1990 because I saw it before then for sure), so I was a bit concerned because that was when I was young. I approached the movie version of 2010 with not a small amount of trepidation. You see (as an example), I ruined my childhood memories of Thundercats by throwing it on the store monitors late at night with my coworkers at Blockbuster Video like 15 years ago. We all thought that would be a good idea, but only the potheads in the store looking for a “totally whacked movie” to rent appreciated it. So, the risk was to ruin my childhood memory of a cool space movie. Well, here we go.
First, both book and movie follow from the general events from the movie version of 2001. If you read my review of that story, you’ll recall that the movie and the book were slightly different. In 2001 the book, the story ended up around Saturn; while in 2001 the movie, the story ended up around Jupiter. So this time, we’re around Jupiter, and the race is on to reach a now famous derelict. Discovery is still orbiting Jupiter’s moon Io, and still nobody has any idea what happened all those years ago when Dave Bowman famously left to investigate the monolith sitting at the Legrange point between Io and Jupiter. All anyone on Earth knows is that his last words were “My God, it’s full of stars…”
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October 17, 2011
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2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke
In my quest to read more, I am revisiting some things I read a long time ago. 2001: A Space Odyssey is one of those things. I have enjoyed Arthur C. Clarke’s work ever since I read Childhood’s End in high school English class. I always thought I was 100% into only fantasy novels (thankfully I have branched out in old age), but Childhood’s End got me into science fiction. If I enjoyed that, stands to reason I’d enjoy one of is most popular works in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Turns out that’s correct.
Now, I didn’t just read the book, I also watched the movie. I was going to start writing my review of the book right after finishing it, but I held off because I started reading 2010: Odyssey Two. The forward to that book talks about how 2001 came to be. It turns out that the book and the movie (though different) were written in tandem. Strangely, moving forward into the literary sequels to 2001 (starting with 2010), Clarke chose to follow the events and timeline of Stanley Kubrick‘s movie as opposed to the book. I found it interesting that while book and movie were written in parallel, how parts of the movie were so different from the book, while other parts so wonderfully captured the feeling of what the book described. Technically, he wrote them both… so maybe he just liked the movie setting better. I think the two go really well together: the movie has some wonderful visualizations of the settings described in the book, while the book goes into much greater detail about what’s going on than can be conveyed in the movie.
2001 is divided (in my mind) into four parts: pre-history, discovery, mission, post-humanity.
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February 5, 2011
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A few friends and I took advantage of a “Digital Film Festival” last night to go and see a true classic action thriller. We saw James Cameron’s 1986 movie, Aliens. The followup to Ridley Scott’s suspense classic, Aliens starts where Alien left off with Ripley drifting in space, and ends in total war.
The movie itself has some awesome pieces that go together to make a truly complete movie. The shots where Ripley is coming out of the elevator on her way to save Newt, and again when she is revealed to the queen Alien in the power-loader at the end of the film have to be two of the greatest film scenes of the 1980s. In addition, some great acting performances actually surface in what is supposed to be a smash-boom action movie. Bill Paxton’s Hudson is a completely ridiculous character, and when he’s not saying something hilarious in the foreground action, he can always be heard to be whining or moaning something inane in the background. “Game over, man!”
The marines in this movie also serve to give Cameron a cast of characterizations that he carries forward to his later movies, including The Abyss (one of my all-time favourites!) and Avatar. In fact, I think Aliens displays a lot more creativity than the much-revered Avatar, because in Avatar Cameron just recycles the marines from Aliens to create the hard-nosed “villains” of Pandora. The overall “I’m better than you” bravado always seems to get smashed to pieces in Cameron films, and Aliens starts the lesson with the xenomorphs, hah!
What stands out to me in Aliens 25 years after its release is how good it still looks today, even on the big screen. While some of the exterior space scenes look less polished than we’re used to seeing in modern space-faring adventures (the fact that it’s models and matte paintings is pretty clear), the creature and vehicle effects are beyond reproach. I have a hard time figuring out how they did this without computer graphics in 1986, because the Aliens are truly moving, alive, and in your face. Ripley’s fight scene with the queen xenomorph in the power-loader doubles the effect, by adding the awesome mechanical special effect of the power-loader.
If you’ve never seen Aliens, you have been missing out. Any way you see it – theatrical cut or extended version – it’s a wild and fun ride, and I choose to completely discount Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection. They take the awesome franchise, and just completely wreck it. Aliens is the best!