(1984; English and Russian) Well, because this year is 2010, I decided to watch director/cinematographer/producer Peter Hyams's sequel (screenplay adapting Arthur C. Clarke's novel) to 2001: A Space Odyssey, filmed in an apocryphal year. More fictive physics than metaphysics, I'll cut Hyams and Clarke some slack on unanticipated differences from their imaginings of the future 26 years later during the actual 2010, such as the defunct Pan Am's flying commercial passengers to the Moon and the continued existence of the Soviet Union.
Following a recap of the mission and silence of the USS Discovery for nine years in the vicinity of Jupiter - "My God," exclaimed Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea), "it's full of stars!" - Dimitri Moisevitch of the Soviet Space Council surreptitiously approaches Dr Heywood Floyd (Roy Scheider), chairman of the US National Council of Astronautics who wrote the final report of the mysterious mission involving the Monolith, for two minutes of truth.
Pointing out a recent deterioration in the Discovery's orbit, being pulled toward the Jovian moon Io, the Russian proposes a joint venture, using the Leonov spacecraft (the US's Discovery 2 not being ready yet), with three Americans among the crew of Capt Tanya Kirbuk (Helen Mirren). In addition to Dr Floyd, leaving behind his wife Caroline and five-year-old son Christopher, Dr R Chandra (Bob Balaban), the creator of HAL 9000 on the Discovery in hopes of reactivating the computer, and Dr Walter Curnow (John Lithgow), the Discovery's engineering designer, are aboard in hibernation for the two-and-a-half-year journey.
When an unexpected indication of organic life, chlorophyll, appears during a probe's scan of the moon Europa, Dr Floyd is awakened two days early, before the data suddenly gets erased. Back on Earth the rivalry between the US and USSR over a blockade of Honduras threatens to escalate into nuclear world war, creating tensions among the astronauts and cosmonauts; Dr Floyd's replacement as NCA chairman, Victor Milson (James McEachin), remarks dryly that the crew may be safer where they are than on Earth.
Employing a previously untested method of aerobraking, the Leonov rendezvous with Discovery. Tethered to Max Brajlovsky out in space for the initial contact with Discovery, Dr Curnow demonstrates his lack of the right stuff in comparison with his well-trained Russian companion. After Dr Chandra resurrects HAL, the crew comes face-to-face with the Monolith; Max ventures out in a probe to inspect its perfectly proportioned (1 by 4 by 9) dimensions when something happens.
A spectral essence of what formerly had been Dave Bowman communicates to his former wife (remarried) Betty on Earth - "Something is going to happen" - before sending HAL a similarly enigmatic message, warning the crews (who have been ordered by their respective governments to split apart) that they face grave danger and must depart within two days.
Having uncovered the cause of HAL's failure during the earlier mission to have been the result of conflicting orders (perpetrated by the White House and NSC), putting the computer into an H-Moebius loop that paralyzed its function, Dr Chandra must now either attempt to deceive HAL into trusting a change of command to launch prematurely to the programmed schedule or trust HAL to appreciate the truth of the need for its own annihilation.
As a new Luciferian dawn bursts forth ("Something wonderful"), "a warning from the landlord" exhorts Earth's tenants to better behavior: Thus Spake Zarathustra. However, principal mysteries remain unresolved.
Dr Chandra's other computer, SAL 9000, is voiced by Candice Bergen (credited as Olga Mallsnerd). Clarke the novelist appears in a scene seated on a park bench near the White House; he and Stanley Kubrick (producer, writer, and director of 2001: A Space Odyssey) appear on the cover of a copy of Time magazine as the US president and the Soviet premier, respectively.
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