2001: A Space Odyssey 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
Although I’m a little obsessed with creating the best viewing experience for my movie watching as possible, I wasn’t always able to go to such lengths to watch a movie. My first viewing of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY was on a 19 inch tube TV while I was in college and although I appreciated the film for what Kubrick did and how groundbreaking it was, it’s needless to say I was missing something. That was over 20 years ago and until I received this 4K, I hadn’t bothered revisiting 2001 since. Thankfully, this 4K makes it feel like a first time viewing and I hope other movie fans out there will be able to experience this incredible film at least somewhat close to the way Kubrick would have wanted us to.
I’m not sure we’ll ever see a movie like 2001 again. Sure, we’ve seen some fantastic science fiction movies, especially lately, but nothing that I would put in the realm of 2001. Part of what I’ve always found surprising about 2001 is how boring it is. Or should I say, how boring it can seem if you show up wanting another Star Wars or Star Trek film. The pacing is almost frustratingly slow, but if you brace for that going in and spend your time appreciating what Kubrick is doing with his pacing, the slow pace almost becomes a character in the film that impacts the way you see and feel it. This is something that’s hard for audiences to accept and something that directors can’t get away with in today’s Hollywood (although maybe that’s changing with Netflix?).
I’m not a film historian, nor do I obsess over Stanley Kubrick as much as others, but I do know there was always drama surrounding the aspect ration of 2001. According to the handy insert included with the 4K, the original 65mm print was directly scanned for this presentation, preserving the aspect ratio of 2.20:1. So like I alluded to earlier; this is the closest you’re going to get to the actual theatrical presentation and Kubrick’s original vision. As for the quality of the transfer, this feels like it was tailor made for film purists and fans of 2001. I popped in the Blu-ray to do a few screen comparisons and I noticed some subdued colors on the 4K, but more detail and color definition. Details are more noticeable in both closeups and settings, but there’s an overall increase in definition and clarity throughout the film that really drew my attention. This is a 40 year old film, but it’s clear Warner Bros. has taken a lot of time and care in bringing this to 4K properly.
There are two DTS tracks included on the 4K, one is supposedly from the original DVD release and one has been remastered. If there’s a difference between the two, I couldn’t hear it. Both tracks seemed great and I have to assume that if WB went to such great lengths to preserve the video transfer, that this audio track is the best available.
This title was reviewed using a Samsung UBD-K8500 with a Sony XBR75X850C TV.
There are no 4K exclusive special features, but it does include two Blu-rays, one with the film and the other with the supplements from the original Blu-ray release.