Tuesday, June 3, 2014

2001, and other outer space movies

TCM's lineup for tonight is a bunch of science fiction movies set mostly in outer space. It kicks off at 8:00 PM, as always, with 2001: A Space Odyssey. I wrote some of my thoughts about the movie back in December 2008. It's a movie where the first two acts are quite good, especially the plot about the computer as villain. And when the two astronauts realize that the computer is out to get them, and try to get around it, the computer still outfoxes them by reading their lips! But, of course, all the good work done in the first two acts is undone by the pretentious third act. One thing I didn't mention back in 2008 is that Arthur C. Clarke, in his novelization of the movie, apparently gives a better explanation of what's going on in that third act, or so I've been told by somebody who's read the novel; I haven't read it myself. (Note that the movie and book were more or less done concurrently. Clarke wrote the novel for the movie and neither is really based on the other.) Of course, he had to rely on words and not images. The last time 2001 was on TCM, it had a descriptive video service, and I listened to some of the third act. I can only imagine how baffled the poor blind people must be trying to figure out what's going on in that third act.

The movie on tonight's schedule that's definitely worth a look if you haven't seen it before is Destination Moon, overnight at 1:00 AM. It was a relatively low-budget movie with a cast of unknowns about the attempt to lead the first manned space mission to the moon, made back in 1950, or long before mankind had even put a sattelite into space, never mind getting to the moon. Still, the science in this one isn't anywhere near as outrageous as in movies like Queen of Outer Space (4:45 AM -- my heavens, it's been two years since I blogged about that movie!). But the real highlight of the movie is the use of a Woody Woodpecker cartoon to explain some scientific principles. Destination Moon is a surprisingly enjoyable movie.

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