2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY 4k Ultra HD Review

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY 4k Ultra HD Review

NOTE: The review has the newly restored Blu-ray screens on the left and the 2007 Blu-ray screens on the right. They are nearly shot for shot throughout the review for comparison.

Before recorded time, there were primitive tribes who have been chased away from their watering hole by a rival tribe. They go to their home and in the morning, they see a monolith. It is a solid, black object that seems to guide them to use a bone for a weapon to show their dominance to the other tribe.

Fast-forward a few million years later to a man sleeping on a space plane. His name is Dr. Heywood Floyd from the Earth to the Calvus base on the Moon. When he arrives, he speaks with a few colleagues about some rumored issues on the base. He explains that there is nothing going on but the real story is that an ancient artifact has been discovered near the Tycho crater. It is theorized to have been there for about four million years. Untouched by whoever left it there or even light. Floyd joins a group to see it in person and it is a monolith like the one that the primitive tribe encountered. As the sun rises, there is a terrible high-pitched noise that rattled the men as they writhe in pain.

Eighteen months later, a United States spacecraft Discovery is on a mission to Jupiter. There are the two pilots/scientists who are awake named Dr. David Bowman and Dr. Frank Poole. There are also three other scientists in suspended animation but the idea is that the others aren’t to be awakened until they’re needed closer to the destination. On board, there is a computer named HAL 9000 that is a flawless machine with a perfect track record. HAL finds an issue with a combination antenna that is expected to fail but when the two go to check on it, they discover nothing is wrong. They receive a message from home saying that HAL must be mistaken but HAL believes it is human error and it needs to be rectified.


This is a plot that I could just type up to reveal the ending but there are people out there who have never seen this film and I’d rather not chance ruining it for them.

Stanley Kubrick directed 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY in 1968 and it is based on a short story by the incredible Sir Arthur C. Clarke. This is arguably the most influential science fiction film to date. It changed the way that movies have been made; even in the present day. Anyone can follow the influences of movies such as MOON, STAR WARS, and GRAVITY.

Kubrick enlisted the help of many people to bring his vision to life but if you really think about it, what he did is extraordinary. He wanted to predict how the world would be in the year 2001 from the clothing to the technology. He had to create the vehicles and the science of how they would work in a practical manner. The vehicles are a patchwork of various models and things to make them look futuristic but every piece serves a purpose. Nothing is bolted on just for the sake of being there.

Unlike most of the sci-fi films out there, he took into account that gravity is a thing and to be respected. If there is a scene with gravity in space, science is taken into account. There are grip shoes and when the ship rotates properly, it creates an artificial gravity.

As for the other technology, he has Dr. Floyd make a video call to his daughter. The idea doesn’t look too far off from what a FaceTime or Skype call looks like. At the time, Bell was working on the tech for this but it wasn’t ready for people to take the leap. Another piece of tech is the tablet that the pilots are watching the news with. Aside from maybe the resolution of the screen, it looks like any tablet that you might see in the present day.

As for the film itself, the brilliance may not be seen during the first time around. I’ll admit, the first time that I watched it as a kid, I did not get it. I thought it looked cool but there was a lot of information. Now, I probably watch the film at least once a year. Like the core idea of the film, I evolved to better understand the point that Kubrick was trying to relay with pictures and sound. I, like a lot of people who have spoken about it, have said this is practically a silent movie. There is very little dialogue but plenty of beautiful music. Movements of both objects people are like ballet.

Cast
Keir Dullea – Dr. David Bowman
Gary Lockwood – Dr. Frank Poole
William Sylvester – Dr. Heywood Floyd
Douglas Rain – the voice of HAL 9000
Daniel Richter – Moonwatcher, the chief man-ape
Leonard Rossiter – Dr. Andrei Smyslov
Margaret Tyzack – Elena
Robert Beatty – Dr. Ralph Halvorsen
Sean Sullivan – Dr. Roy Michaels

VIDEO QUALITY:

4k UHD
The video is a 2160p HEVC presentation and the transfer is immaculate. The transfer was scanned from the 65mm negative elements and it has improved the experience immensely. The images have been cleaned up and had the dirt, dust, and speckling removed that can be seen in the 2007 release. There is a fine grain that is consistent throughout the film and keeps the 50-year film as charming as ever. The coloring has been corrected and you can see it in the comparison images that I’m posting show the corrections in the Blu-ray but I will get to that in a bit. The coloring is also bolder and especially in the reds. It is a fairly important color in the movie so it makes sense that it gets the most love. As for the details, the picture is clean with smooth lines and shows everything that is happening on screen. The blacks are inky and deep so the infinite space feels…well, infinite.

Blu-ray
The transfer is a 1080p AVC presentation that has an amazing look after the color correction. The 2007 release was a VC-1 encode with a much lower bitrate than this release. The 2007 version during the Dawn of Man scene was paused with a bitrate of 20.1 mbps and this new one paused at 35.1 mbps so that just shows the larger bitrate between the two. Skin tones are more natural and have lost that overly warm tone that was there before. Whites are cleaner and also not as warm. The blacks are darker and create a better contrasting than ever before. The images are also not s dark as they were in the 2007 release. It looks like the remaster has made plenty of improvements in the video.

AUDIO QUALITY:

The audio on both the 4k UHD and the Blu-ray is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix and the previous release was a LCPM 5.1 mix. The initial thing that I notice is the fullness in the new track. The voices are clearer and have (for lack of better words) some more strength behind them. The LFEs hit hard in some of the moments that need it such as the ambient noise from the ships themselves. There are a few punches from the subwoofer channel that has a beautifully deep sound. The mix is a huge improvement over the 2007 version.

SUPPLEMENTS & PACKAGING

Disc One:
-Audio Commentary: with actors Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood.

Disc Two:
-2001: The Making of a Myth: This is a decent sized extra with a number of people involved in the making of the film discussing it.

-Standing on the Shoulders of Kubrick: The Legacy of 2001: This featurette has directors and other people influenced by the film discussing how it changed cinema forever.

-Vision of a Future Passed: The Prophecy of 2001: This discusses the tech from the film and how the predictions weren’t exactly spot on.

-2001: A Space Odyssey: A Look Behind the Future: This extra looks at the production of the film.

-What Is Out There?: This featurette discusses life in the cosmos.

-2001: FX and Conceptual Artwork: Special Effects guy Douglas Trumball talks about the elements in the film.

-Look: Stanley Kubrick!: This is a quick extra about the director and Look Magazine.

-11/27/1966 Interview with Stanley Kubrick: This is an audio interview with the director that runs for about 1:17 mins.

-Theatrical Trailer 
 
Disc Details
3-disc set w/ 1 4k UHD and 2 Blu-rays
Digital copy
Collector’s Edition Packaging with a booklet and artcards


 
Running Time
149 mins
 
Edition Ratings
Rated G
 
Region Coding
Region Free
 
4k UHD
Video Resolution
2160p HEVC H.265
HDR: Dolby Vision & HDR10
Aspect ratio: 2.20:1
 
Audio Mixes
English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
German Dolby Digital 5.1
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 2.0
Polish Dolby Digital 2.0
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0
 
Subtitles
English SDH
French
German
Italian
Portuguese
Spanish
Arabic
Cantonese
Croatian
Czech
Danish
Dutch
Finnish
Greek
Hebrew
Hindi
Hungarian
Korean
Simplified Mandarin
Norwegian
Polish
Romanian
Russian
Swedish
Thai
Turkish 
 
Blu-ray
Video Resolution
1080p AVC MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect ratio: 2.20:1

Audio Mixes
English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
German Dolby Digital 5.1
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 2.0
Polish Dolby Digital 2.0
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0

Subtitles
English SDH
French
German
Italian
Portuguese
Spanish
Arabic
Cantonese
Croatian
Czech
Danish
Dutch
Finnish
Greek
Hebrew
Hindi
Hungarian
Korean
Simplified Mandarin
Norwegian
Polish
Romanian
Russian
Swedish
Thai
Turkish  
 

THE BOTTOM LINE:

This film has solidified its importance and ranking to be amongst the top in sci-fi films. It has inspired people to make films and discuss what their thoughts on the way that everything plays out. The 4k UHD has enhanced the viewing experience and brought a presentation closer to what Kubrick, along with his crew, meant it to be seen. The Blu-ray has also benefited from the restoration with a much better transfer than the 2007 release. The audio has also been improved with a stronger mix. The bonus features have been seen before but the information within them is excellent. The packaging has a really nice slipcase and really beautiful art cards. To the fans: I highly recommend picking this up. To the first timers: PICK THIS UP!

About the author

MEDIA JOURNALIST/ REVIEWER/STAFF WRITER | Michael is a fanatic about all cinema old and new. He collects anything from 1:6 Scale Collectibles and vinyl collectibles to movies and Steelbooks. He loves pop culture, writing, reviewing films & collectibles, and journalism. An avid Batman, The Joker and anything comics junkie, he will also chat it up about pretty much anything. Go ahead and ask...