Arthur C Clarke’s sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey was published in 1982. The film of the book was written, produced and directed by Peter Hyams. Although both the story itself and the cinematic elegance aren’t as effective as the original masterpiece, 2010 has similar visuals which pay homage to Kubrick’s style. There is a level of continuity with some of the actors returning, a few shots from the first film and the use of what appear to be the same sets.
The basic plot from the book is adhered to: Dr Heywood Floyd, who feels responsible for having sent the Discovery crew to their deaths, joins a mission which aims to investigate the derelict Discovery, revive HAL to recover his data and take a closer look at the monolith which is orbiting Jupiter. The crew of the Leonov are mainly Russians, with some Americans on board. Naturally they are suspicious of each other but they bond during the long spaceflight. The context of the Cold War in this film has been increased to an actual military conflict between the USA and the Soviet Union, to the extent that their governments order the crew to disembark to separate craft while they’re actually in space. Some of the interesting parts of the book didn’t make it into the film, such as the wonder and beauty of life-forms on Europa as described by a survivor of the Chinese crew stranded there.
The characters, particularly the main protagonist Floyd, are not as well explored as in the book. Commander Tanya is shown to be noticeably more reckless than in the book, as not only does she send out a space pod to look more closely at the monolith, she even orders one of her crew into it, with predictably fatal results. Dr Chandra is the character altered the most. He programmed HAL (although in the film of 2001 he is referred to as Dr Langley instead). In the book, he’s a very slightly-built Indian man, reserved and cold, yet spiritual. In the film he’s a white American with not much of a personality, which is a missed opportunity I think.
The ending could have been more mysterious, with less narration. I don’t have any strong criticisms however and I think Peter Hyams did a great job with Clarke’s material. It’s a worthy sequel, which I recommend if you’re a fan of 2001 and are curious to know what happened next…
Low-resolution poster sourced from Wikipedia.