2001 A Space Odyssey is a pretty tough act to follow. Although more conventional in structure and storytelling, 2010 is an exciting science fiction flick that takes itself serious in all the right ways.
9 years after the Discovery and its crew were lost in pursuit of answers to the giant monolith orbiting Jupiter, Heywood Floyd (Roy Scheider, perfectly cast) leads a co Soviet-American mission to board the empty Discovery and uncover its secrets.
John Lithgow is a nervous engineer who has one of the scariest spacewalks in history and Bob Balaban (Close Encounters, Seinfeld) is just the right amount of nuts as Dr. Chandra, creator of onboard computer HAL-9000.
In 2001, you must assume that Hal has malfunctioned and killed the crew aboard, but 2010 takes you in different directions and some are terrific.
The original is such an iconic film, and in classic Kubrick style, was more unending questions than any answers. It's a very tricky thing to provide a more literate sequel that spell out all its mysteries by the conclusion.
Director Peter Hyams (Capricorn One, Outland) takes the source material very seriously and it helps that he is adapting the book sequel by original author Arthur C. Clarke, which provides a very good core to build on.
If you love 2001 as much as I do, it's a lot of movie fun to re-board the discovery, turn Hal back on, see that haunting monolith again and share the suspense when Hal tells Dr Heywood that he might not believe what he is saying, but to prove it, just "look behind you".
Well written, expensively produced, well acted by the whole cast (including a very young Helen Mirren as the Russian captain) 2010 is always riveting, and a whole lot of fun. As sequels to classics go, it's better than most and earns an A.
"Look behind you, Dave."