2001: A Space Odyssey UHD Review

Landmark cinematic achievement 5 Stars

Warner celebrates the 50th Anniversary of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey with a newly restored picture and sound. Highly recommended.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Released: 12 May 1968
Rated: G
Runtime: 149 min
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Genre: Adventure, Sci-Fi
Cast: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, Daniel Richter
Writer(s): Stanley Kubrick (screenplay), Arthur C. Clarke (screenplay)
Plot: After discovering a mysterious artifact buried beneath the lunar surface, mankind sets off on a quest to find its origins with help from intelligent supercomputer HAL 9000.
IMDB rating: 8.3
MetaScore: 82

Disc Information
Studio: Warner Brothers
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 2.20:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, English DVS 2.0, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Other
Rating: G
Run Time: 2 Hr. 29 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray, Digital Copy
Case Type: 2-spindle UHD keepcase with slipcover
Disc Type: UHD
Region: All
Release Date: 12/18/2018
MSRP: $41.99

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.

Video: 5/5

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.

Audio: 5/5

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.

Overall: 5/5

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.

Published by

Todd Erwin

editor,member

40 Comments

  1. “The restored mix is the one to listen to…”

    Many folks would disagree with this, as the “restored” 1999 track is a remix that removes directional effects, etc.

    Vincent

  2. If you can forgive a quick footnote, the “unrestored” version was released last May to 70mm theaters. This new edition contains the 4K restoration, which did play in IMAX theaters last August. (A handful 15/70 IMAX film locations showed the unrestored 70mm print, but the vast majority of IMAX locations played the new digital restoration.)

    I agree with Vincent that the 1968 track is the one to listen to, but Warner has made this confusing by labeling the 1999 track as “restored,” which doesn’t seem the proper terminology.

  3. Wayne_j

    Especially since I think the "restored" track is the same one that was on the last release.

    Yes, the 1999 track is identical to the previous Blu-ray, previous DVD, etc. That's another reason why "newly restored" seems such an odd term – it's been the default audio track for this title for 20 years!

  4. This is on my shopping list the next time I am out buying 4K movies! This should look very good on my Sony OLED as soon as I buy the movie and the tv arrives.

  5. I don’t think the “Restored and Remixed” track on the UHD is quite the same as the 5.1 on the previous Blu-ray. The older remix centered most of the dialogue, but on the UHD’s “restored” track, at least some of the original directionality is retained (one example is Dr. Floyd’s briefing just after arriving on the moon). Also, it seems like HAL’s voice is a little fuller in some scenes.

    Also, on the “restored” remix, the Main Title music is very slightly out-of-sync (the credits don’t “hit” quite where they’re supposed to).

    Not sure how they went about it, but the new remix does seem to be altered a bit from the previous one.

  6. On the 1968 original and 1977 70mm reissue prints the announcement about the sweater came out of the
    surround track only, so this 1968 version on this UHD is not original as heard in cinemas.

  7. Bryan Tuck

    Also, on the "restored" remix, the Main Title music is very slightly out-of-sync (the credits don't "hit" quite where they're supposed to).

    And that makes it the one not to listen to IMO. "1968" audio all the way!

  8. Do any of you have a full Atmos set up ? Just asking because at least to me the extraction from the Dawn of Man possible that gives full immersion particularly in the ape altercation scenes but also the leopard growling at night seem much more believable and robust in the "restored " track at least for me. So much more coming from the height channels.

  9. DP 70

    On the 1968 original and 1977 70mm reissue prints the announcement about the sweater came out of the
    surround track only, so this 1968 version on this UHD is not original as heard in cinemas.

    Quite right Derek!
    That's always my test to see how much the sound has been buggered up by the "experts"!
    My first viewing of the 4k tonight on my new PJ.
    The 1968 track is the obvious choice.

  10. The original track may have some different directional mixing, but the newer track beats the original all over the place when it comes to the actual quality of the sound. The 1968 track is quite thin in comparison. The nice thing about this release is that people will be able to listen to whichever they prefer. After sampling both, I will probably listen to the 1968 mix once, just out of interest, but the new track will be my go-to for the rest of my viewings.

  11. WinstonCely

    I was just wondering if this new version made the front screen projection scenes more noticeable that they are stage sets instead of actual locations?

    I've found that true of this version, the previous blu-ray, and even the DVD before that. There's something about the stability of digital video that makes it stand out more. It blends together better on film, even in 70mm.

  12. I disagree. There has definitely been some digital cleanup done on the Scotchlite front projection screen artifacts, at least in the 4K version of this release. On the old Blu-ray it was pretty easy to spot the diagonal swaths of Scotchlite strips in the backgrounds of Dawn of Man sequences. They're completely gone in the new 4K release. That doesn't change the fact that it's still pretty easy to see that these are studio sets and not location shots, but the crosshatching on the backgrounds is no longer there and things blend much better.

  13. I also felt like the Dawn of Man section on the UHD disc was handled well. Honestly, unless you know that it was filmed on a soundstage, very few shots will give you any hints. The back screen was clearly visible in the previous BD release, but it's barely noticeable unless you're really looking for it in the UHD version.

  14. dpippel

    I disagree. There has definitely been some digital cleanup done on the Scotchlite front projection screen artifacts, at least in the 4K version of this release. On the old Blu-ray it was pretty easy to spot the diagonal swaths of Scotchlite strips in the backgrounds of Dawn of Man sequences. They're completely gone in the new 4K release. That doesn't change the fact that it's still pretty easy to see that these are studio sets and not location shots, but the crosshatching on the backgrounds is no longer there and things blend much better.

    Brian Kidd

    I also felt like the Dawn of Man section on the UHD disc was handled well. Honestly, unless you know that it was filmed on a soundstage, very few shots will give you any hints. The back screen was clearly visible in the previous BD release, but it's barely noticeable unless you're really looking for it in the UHD version.

    I agree with both of these.

    Film stocks weren't as fine grain in 1968 as they are now; I bet on the original release prints, there was just enough grain from the negative being printed to release stock to help obscure that it was actually a static background.

  15. Josh,
    I've only seen 2001 projected in 70mm once as an adult and the same junk was visible in many shots but the margins of the reflective material was not nearly as well delineated as in the Blu Ray. The new UHD looks fantastic in this regard IMO also.

  16. By the way, I'm currently about halfway through reading "Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece", and am thoroughly engrossed. I can't recommend this book highly enough for anyone interested in the production of 2001, or in Mr. Kubrick and his methods. It is a gem.

  17. My vivid impressions from when I saw the film as a kid in first run Cinerama is that that the early scenes were masterful in creating a sense of isolation and vulnerability. The opalescent sky of some of the sequences seemed infinite — foregrounding the creatures as alone in a vast emptiness — and when Kubrick cut to space it was like exchanging one hostile emptiness for something that was more darkly cavernous. I knew about the front projection but nothing registered except those emotions.

  18. From the day that I obtained my 4K/UHD disc of "2001", there hasn't been a week where I haven't popped it into my player;
    either to watch or reference one savoring scene or another.
    I, myself, remain thrilled and pulled in by Warner's achievement;
    and gosh, almighty, I can only imagine how many more viewings there will be when I actually capture a 4K panel.

  19. dpippel

    By the way, I'm currently … reading "Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece", and am thoroughly engrossed. I can't recommend this book highly enough …

    It's a terrific look at almost all aspects of the production of the movie. We've discussed it before, but a reminder doesn't hurt.

    Also, it's available from public libraries in Kindle formatting for those who've switched to ebooks.

    https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Space-Odyssey/Michael-Benson/9781501163937

  20. PMF

    From the day that I obtained my 4K/UHD disc of "2001", there hasn't been a week where I haven't popped it into my player; either watch entire or simply to reference one savoring scene from another.
    I, myself, remain thrilled and pulled in by Warner's achievement;
    and gosh, almighty, I can only imagine how many more viewings there will be when I actually capture a 4K panel.

    I appreciate this post I was thinking that I have to be the only guy on the planet doing this. I usually watch another movie first ( last night Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid in 4K) and then watch parts of 2001 again. My son walked in last night and said " again ! "

  21. CarlosMeat

    I appreciate this post I was thinking that I have to be the only guy on the planet doing this. I usually watch another movie first ( last night Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid in 4K) and then watch parts of 2001 again. My son walked in last night and said " again ! "

    Give it time, CarlosMeat; for down the road your grandchildren will be saying the same to him.;)

  22. Bill McCamy

    It's a terrific look at almost all aspects of the production of the movie. We've discussed it before, but a reminder doesn't hurt.

    Also, it's available from public libraries in Kindle formatting for those who've switched to ebooks.

    https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Space-Odyssey/Michael-Benson/9781501163937

    I finished the book last night and really loved it. What a truly wonderful read! Again, I can't recommend it highly enough to anyone interested in this film and it's production, filmmaking in general, or Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke. It is well worth your time.

  23. Yeah, there are a couple minor inaccuracies in that book (and one hilarious example where Benson completely misses that a humorous Clarke telegram was a joke), but on the whole, it's a well-researched, well-assembled recounting of the film's production. It's the kind of book I wish I had written.

    I was at the Kubrick archive in 2017 and I saw things related to "2001" that have never been published anywhere, even there. I have my research notes from that visit but I'm not sure what, if anything, I want to do with them.

  24. Josh Steinberg

    […]It's the kind of book I wish I had written.

    I was at the Kubrick archive in 2017 and I saw things related to "2001" that have never been published anywhere, even there. I have my research notes from that visit but I'm not sure what, if anything, I want to do with them.

    You'll find your theme. Or, as David Lean is quoted for saying, "I make the movies I want to see".
    Go forth. And also keep your notes from the multiple 2018 screenings, as well.

  25. It is a fascinating book with many insights. Mostly it is amazing how different the conception of the film was from what it became. Kubrick pared away a prologue, some dialog, and a narration which most certainly would have ruined the movie. It also reveals how ruthless he was with his collaborators. Great talent does not always equate with nice. There were inaccuracies and the description of what Cinerama was, especially in relation to this film, is just wrong. Since this is probably my favorite movie along with LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, it was incredible to read how it was made. I did buy a different making of 2001 book from 1970 or so, which I still own but it definitely pales in comparison to the new book.
    View attachment 55510

  26. Jim*Tod

    It is a fascinating book with many insights.[…]I did buy a different making of 2001 book from 1970 or so, which I still own but it definitely pales in comparison to the new book.
    View attachment 55510

    Interesting cover. I noted that this early paperback reveals that there was a cut, rather than a fade.:D

  27. Good news for iTunes people: The 1968 Audio Option is fixed. The audio is set to the remastered video and it's in sync. FINALLY.

    Good to know I won't lose much with this movie if I ever decide to completely shed my physical media collection.

    My next assignment to WB is for them to get the right 5.1 track on the iTunes version of Superman: The Movie.

  28. I picked up the UHD a few days ago. I popped it into the player with the intention of just checking it out and ended up watching the entire film. The PQ definitely looks better than my old Blu-ray copy, but the real difference is mostly seen in the Stargate sequence. The colours in that scene really popped on the OLED and it looked a bit more detailed. It felt like a person was watching that scene all over again for the first time.

    I swapped between the 1968 soundtrack and the "restored" version. Generally, I think I prefer the original 1968 version; although, I found it odd that the 1968 version sounded better during the Space Station docking scene, while the "restored" version seemed to sound better during the Earth to Moon Transporter scene.

    Generally, I like this film a lot, even though I think Kubrick lost the program when the Stargate scene started. Frankly, every time I watch that scene, I get the feeling that Kubrick had no idea where he was going with the story, so he just hit the bong and "ad-libbed" a ton of random scenes with the proviso to "figure out what it all means yourself". That "Star Baby" shit has to be one of the weakest endings that I have seen in a movie.

    Still everything up to and including about 1/2 the Stargate scene is just a great piece of work. I find it weird how this film still works and managed to get some points right while, at the same time, being incredibly anachronistic. Some of those points being the heavily automated cockpits in the ships, flat screen displays and TVs in the seat backs on the Pan-Am Shuttle.

  29. Jeff F.

    Just checked the 1968 Audio Option on Apple TV, and the audio has indeed been fixed and is now in-sync.

    Thanks for checking! I forgot to ask if the video when selecting the 1968 audio is 4K, Dolby Vision… all that good stuff.

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