Warner celebrates the 50th Anniversary of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey with a newly restored picture and sound. Highly recommended.
The Production: 5/5
I feel obligated to be completely upfront as I write my review of Stanley Kubrick’s classic masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey. It is a movie I have admired, even from the first time I saw it on television way back in the mid 1970s, but yet have always found difficult to view in one sitting. It is a movie that, for lack of a better term, exists and takes its time telling its very high-brow story. I’m fairly certain that today’s audiences would simply dismiss the film as “boring” and “slow,” and they would be right, to an extent. It is the majestic beauty of its marriage of classical music and picture that are simply breathtaking with then-cutting edge visual effects that still hold up today that allow it to still be considered one of the major and impressive accomplishments in the history of cinema. If 2001 didn’t exist, we likely wouldn’t have Silent Running, Star Wars, Close Encounters, etc.
3D Rating: NA
It should be noted that this release is not the “Unrestored Edition” supervised by Christopher Nolan and released to IMAX theaters last summer. Warner scanned the original 65mm camera negatives and effects shots in 8k resolution, digitally cleaned up the image and color timed to create a new 4K digital intermediate from which this 4K UHD (and included Blu-ray) was created, and then used both Dolby Vision and HDR10 high dynamic range on the UHD to improve the wide color gamut and contrast. The results are impressive, possibly the best 2001 has ever looked. Detail is striking, from the hairs on the apes in the Dawn of Man sequence to information on many of the displays aboard Discovery One. Film grain is noticeable but appears natural and is never distracting. Colors are also more natural but are not as bold as one would expect on a 4K release, but that was intentional as a way to replicate the original 70mm release prints. Also, aspect ratio has been corrected to 2.20:1, as it was seen in original 70mm engagements in 1968. Great care was taken by Warner Brothers, and it shows in this release.
Two English options are provided, both in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 – the 1999 restored soundtrack (identical to the previous Blu-ray release) and the original 6-track 70mm mix repurposed in 5.1. The restored mix is the one to listen to, which has an overall “cleaner” sound to it, with a much wider dynamic range and greater fidelity. Dialogue is much clearer as well, as it tends to sound somewhat thin with a hint of distortion on the original theatrical mix. Other than that, the two mixes are fairly identical in their use of channel separation and surrounds.
Special Features: 4/5
Warner’s 4K UHD release of 2001 is a three-disc set, with a movie-only 4K UHD disc, a movie-only Blu-ray disc, and a Blu-ray disc of Special Features (all of which have been ported over from the previous Blu-ray release).
Audio Commentary with Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood: This track, ported from the previous Blu-ray release, can be found on both the 4K UHD and Blu-ray editions of the movie.
2001: The Making of a Myth (480i; 43:08)
Standing on the Shoulders of Kubrick: The Legacy of 2001 (480i; 21:25)
Vision of a Future Passed: The Prophecy of 2001 (480i; 21:31)
2001: A Space Odyssey – A Look Behind the Future (480i; 23:11)
What Is Out There? (480i; 20:42)
2001: FX and Early Conceptual Artwork (480i; 9:33)
Look: Stanley Kubrick! (480i; 3:15)
11/27/1966 Interview with Stanley Kubrick (76:31)
Theatrical Trailer (480i; 1:51)
20-page Color Booklet: The booklet contains several stills and concept drawings from the film.
4 mini Lobby Cards
Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy (in UHD where available) on Movies Anywhere.
This newly restored edition of 2001: A Space Odyssey is a must-have for any true cinephile, home theater enthusiast, or film student. Highly Recommended.