Astronauts travel through space to uncover a monolith buried on the moon, but the monolith kills them. Later, a second team is sent to discover what happened to the last team. A team of 5 scientists is sent on a ship piloted by HAL 9000, a super computer. Things go badly after HAL malfunctions and we find out the true purpose of the monolith.
2001 is considered one of the greatest sci-fi films ever made. Not everyone will agree but it is worth a view by sci-fi fans and filmmakers because it is a masterpiece of cinematography, which won it an Oscar, 10 other awards, and 6 nominations.
It is directed by Stanley Kubrick and the screenplay is written by him and Arthur C. Clarke. It's based on Clarke's short story, "The Sentinel." The written story elaborates on the details, so it's a good idea to read the story to understand the movie intents.
Kubrick uses a minimal amount of dialogue; there's no talking during the first 20 minutes. It relies on beautiful imagery and powerful orchestral music to create a rich atmosphere and a sense of things much bigger than man and our solar system.
The art and special effects look phenomenal. Some of the ships' innerds are real pieces of equipment built for the movie. The budget is $10, 500, 000, which is huge for 1968. Many new techniques were used during the film, which were used in films, like Star Wars.
The computer (HAL 9000) talks a little on the second mission. His voice calmly, which adds to his darker side. Douglas Rain's voice is definitely memorable.
Kubrick creates an isolated atmosphere for the astronauts, not unlike that of his later film, The Shining, which creates the same feeling by being snowbound. This is a horror aspect of the film. The atmosphere and the creepy HAL are enough to create a sadness for the crew and HAL.
The story is straightforward until the last quarter. Then it really gets abstract and vague. You might need to watch it a few times to understand some parts. Reading the story will explain most of it.
Despite the abstract aspects, slow pace, and negative opinion, 2001 is a classic that deserves at least one view. Go into it with an open mind and you might leave the movie with some new bit of understanding.