2010: The Year We Make Contact (1984)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 6-Nov-2000

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1984
Running Time 111:11
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (53:43) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Peter Hyams
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Roy Scheider
John Lithgow
Helen Mirren
Bob Balaban
Keir Dullea
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $24.95 Music David Shire


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Dutch
Arabic
Spanish
Portuguese
German
Romanian
Bulgarian
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    We once again manage to get a sequel before the original film, this time courtesy of our friends at Warner Home Video. To be fair in this instance, however, despite the source in the original novel by Arthur C. Clarke, I find this less of a sequel and more of an explanation of sorts for the enigmatic magnificence of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The earlier film is one of the great films of all time in my view, and it really is a shame that the sequel did not have the guiding hand of Stanley Kubrick to keep the enigma a little higher than is the case here.

   For those who are not aware of 2001: A Space Odyssey, the film finished with astronaut Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea) making some rather startling discoveries out in orbit near Jupiter, where a rather large monolith of enigmatically precise proportions is in residence. It is also where Dave Bowman's last transmission was made way back in 2001. We are now nine years later and Heywood Floyd (Roy Scheider), as former head of the National Council on Astronautics, is the scapegoat for the mission disaster that resulted in the loss of five lives aboard the spaceship Discovery. He is now a teacher, but is given a rather unusual opportunity by the head of the Soviet space agency. The Americans are heading back to Discovery, but their spaceship is somewhat behind the spaceship being built by the Soviets, who will arrive first but will not have the knowledge to find whatever data is out there. Three Americans therefore find themselves in deep sleep on the Soviet spaceship Alexei Leonov heading out to the La Grange point between Jupiter and Io where the Discovery is in a decaying orbit. Along the way, an interesting discovery is made on Europa, but undaunted the Alexei Leonov rendezvous with the Discovery and salvage attempts are sufficient to enable the derelict spaceship to make the short journey to the monolith. Things go from bad to worse, as while the Americans and Soviets go to war on Earth, disturbing things are happening around Jupiter. We discover the reason why the Discovery mission failed, see the return of a phantom Dave Bowman with more enigmatic messages and endure a climactic escape as the solar system is forever changed by a slight change to Jupiter. As a result of the these changes, things change on Earth too.

    To some extent the enigma of 2001 is explained by the enigma of 2010, but you do have to wonder whether the journey was really necessary. The overall effect of 2010 as a stand-alone film is quite decent, even if the characters are just a tad too clichéd for my taste. Whilst the entire cast is relatively small, the general impression is of competence and little more. A few valiant attempts at Russian accents notwithstanding, the overall effect is suitably cold war Soviet-American relations, which of course are now just a little on the unbelievable side. However, the main issue here, and one that has always been an issue with this film, is the way that Peter Hyams shot the film. This is not a grand visual extravaganza as 2001 was, but rather a confined visual experience that is really quite dark and dour in many ways. The special effects are quite decent even by today's standards, but this is really starting to show its age just a little.

    Whilst nowhere near in the same league as 2001: A Space Odyssey, this is in its own right quite a decent piece of intelligent science fiction, the likes of which we rarely see nowadays. This is a pity, as there is a lot more to science fiction than fantastic aliens battling it out in the far-flung corners of an imaginary universe. Still, 2010 is perhaps not as memorable as it could have been had it been in the hands of a genuine master director.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Over the years, I have had a few incarnations of 2010, most of which have been of a surprisingly mediocre standard. Having indulged some time ago in the Region 1 version of the film, it was with interest that I volunteered to review this version.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. However, in what seems to be something of a minor epidemic afflicting the distributors at the moment, Warner Home Video have chosen to release this in a very sub-standard manner, since the transfer is not 16x9 enhanced, another patently lamentable decision that does not serve well those with widescreen televisions now or in the future.

    This is certainly not a particularly sharp transfer, a little unusual for an anamorphically shot film. Whilst there was a high degree of consistency in the transfer, it simply did not fall below or rise above the same level of decency throughout the film. Coupled with the decency in sharpness is a decency in detail, which is a polite way of saying that the detail could have been a lot better here. However, the transfer is showing every one of its sixteen years and it really comes over as a tired transfer. Those sixteen years are especially shown in what can only be described as relatively poor shadow detail. Don't expect to see too much in the darker scenes here at all, as there is simply nothing much more than black shadow. The sixteen years are also amply demonstrated by the fact that this is not an especially clear transfer and at times is quite afflicted by some relatively mild grain. There did not seem to be much in the way of any problems with low level noise.

    The colours are not especially vibrant and apart from a few noticeable exceptions, mainly in the lights in the spaceship, the overall impression is somewhat muted. Certainly this is partly a reflection of the general age of the transfer, but I would still have thought that there would have been a brighter tone to the overall colour palette. However, one area that is significantly better here than in previous incarnations is in the lack of oversaturation of colours. This is most especially noticeable during the intense red lighting inside of the HAL 9000 computer, which has previously always been an oversaturated mess, but here it is barely indicating any oversaturation at all. Colour bleed is a very minor issue here that does not distract from the film at all.

    There are no significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There is not much of a problem with film-to-video artefacts either, although if you look closely you will see a few minor instances of aliasing that barely intrude upon the film. There is something of a small problem with film artefacts but certainly nothing more than would be expected in a film of this age and certainly nothing that is too noticeable.

    This is an RSDL formatted disc, with the layer change coming at 53:43. Whilst it is in the middle of a scene, it is during what is basically a still shot and the change itself is quite quick, so it is barely disruptive at all to the film.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Thankfully, the audio aspect of the film is significantly better than the video, although it still is not what I would consider to be an exemplary demonstration of the art of great sound mastering.

    There are three soundtracks on offer on this DVD, all Dolby Digital 5.1 - English, French and Italian. Not wishing to indulge in dubbed Russian accents, I stuck well and truly to the English default here.

    Dialogue was generally clear and easy to understand, notwithstanding the Russian accents. There did not seem to be any problems with audio sync in the transfer.

    The music score comes from David Shire and is an entirely mediocre effort. There is not an awful lot memorable about it and the only time that I even noticed it was during the last few minutes of the film, when its clichéd nature certainly seemed to be quite obvious.

    This is a quite decent 5.1 soundtrack, with some reasonable use of the surround channels, both front and rear. There could perhaps have been a bit more use of the rear channels to enhance the ambience in the spaceship, as I am fairly certain that such an environment would not be as noiseless as this seemed to be at times. The bass channel gets the obligatory good workout during the engine firing sequences, but otherwise is generally not especially well used. The soundtrack is free from any imperfections and the overall soundscape is reasonably natural and believable.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There I was getting all excited: SPECIAL FEATURES: BEHIND THE SCENES DOCUMENTARY 2010: The Odyssey Continues it says. Well, I should have known that this was just another packaging error from Warner Home Video, something that is far too common on their DVDs. This was further compounded by once again having the Region 1 screen capture as the little picture on the back of the cover. What we actually get is a complete fat doughnut hole as far as extras go.

Menu

    Nicely themed but that is the extent of the matter really.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 release misses out on:     Direct comparison between the Region 1 and Region 4 versions, both of which are not 16x9 enhanced, would indicate that there is little difference in the transfers. Accordingly, the presence of the featurette would tip the balance in favour of the Region 1 version I am afraid, but neither is overly satisfactory really.

Summary

    Whilst I would much preferred to have had 2001: A Space Odyssey released first, this would have been greeted well had the package not been inherently substandard: no 16x9 enhancement, missing extras, and packaging errors. Whilst this may be starting to sound monotonous, I really cannot fathom why widescreen DVDs are being issued without 16x9 enhancement. Furthermore, to present packaging with such blatant errors as we have here is simply not good enough. Sorry, but at best this gets a qualified welcome.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Saturday, October 14, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

Other Reviews
Cassandra Nunn DVD Reviews - Raymond B
DVD Plaza - Anthony C (read my bio)

Comments (Add)
How does it explain 2001? - Damien (biotech is godzilla)
Explaining HAL - Bran (my bio, or something very like it)
explanation not necessary - Mike