2001: A Space Odyssey: Blu-ray Review
Can this legendary sci-fi classic renown for its powerful imagery hold up in high definition?
2001 A Space Odyssey
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November 15, 2007 by Marshal Rosenthal

My Dad took me to see 2001 on one of the few Cinemascope screens in St. Louis as a kid. I remember how vivid and powerful the images were; how huge in scope and incredibly detailed every scene seemed. And while I can sit down and watch films in high-definition anytime now, getting that same kind of feeling is just too rare to duplicate. So I was hesitant to put in this Blu-ray disc: Can present day technology match nostalgia? Happy to say, it can.

Most know of the scene with the apes, traveling to the Moon and beyond, HAL and the White Room. If you consider these as works of art to contemplate, then bringing your personal bias to them is required - but what is NOT required is having anything short of a pristine canvas for them to be presented on. Now high-def can only do so much with source material, but the film benefits from an exquisite transfer to disc which is as clean as you could ask for - no artifacts to aggravate or grain to irritate the eye. Whites are solid and bright, there’s deep colors and really good blacks. And the whole feeling is expansive like it’s about to jump off the screen which is kind of ironic considering the plodding pace.  Yes, there is some image softening if you look closely at times, but it’s not disruptive. And the detail - there’s so much to take in that your eye starts to blur and just lose focus till you blink it away.

As this is Warner, the disc can also be had in HD DVD - the possible advantage there being the inclusion of TrueHD audio as compared to PCM. I couldn’t compare the two discs but tweaking for the best sound quality out of any given system is a given and just requires some effort. So don’t be put out just because you might end up using “old” Dolby Digital. The real issue is to have good speakers for your surrounds and a powerful subwoofer, because working in concert they will provide the enveloping and intrusive audio Kubrick intended, and with the kind of bass that is best listened to without fear of a heart condition.

Those looking to further their understanding of the film will find the extra content illuminating: featurettes, a documentary and artwork dealing with the movie and Kubrick, along with commentary by two of the actors. There’s also an audio interview conducted in 1966 which is a special treat for those who wish to further their understanding of the director by listening to him directly.

My wife, who never saw this film before, asked me if what we were watching looked as good as what I remembered. Compared against my mind’s eye but more importantly what I am now looking at, I think it’s safe to say yes.

About the Author - A veteran of entertainment reporting, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) has the day job you’d like: watching movies and re-viewing high-tech.

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Disc Specs and Credits

Format reviewed: Blu-ray
Video: N/A
Disc Size: BD-50 but not checked yet
Aspect Ratio: 1080p, 2.2:1
Audio: PCM 5.1
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Screenwriter: Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke
Starring: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, Daniel Richter, Leonard Rossiter, Margaret Tyzack, Robert Beatty, Sean Sullivan, Douglas Rain, Frank Miller, Bill Weston, Ed Bishop, Glenn Beck, Alan Gifford, Ann Gillis
Studio: Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., Turner Entertainment Co.
Rating: G
Retail: $28

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