Happy 2010 everyone! And welcome back to the rarely-updated Outland Institute. Well, wasn’t 2009 a big one? What with the Outland Institute radio show, the world not being destroyed by the Large Hadron Collider, and Peter Andre’s new single Behind Closed Doors, it was hard just to keep up.
So I thought I’d cheat a little for 2010 by watching the film first. This way I’ll be ready for all the hot new trends! Peter Hyams’ 2010 (billed on the poster as 2010: The Year We Make Contact, although not – oddly enough – in the film itself) was released in 1984, as was 1984 (the film, not the year. And not the David Bowie song either, which came out in 1974, a year before Space: 1999).
We’ll talk about the film in a moment, but first here’s our Top 10 Tips For 2010 (The Year, Not The Film) According To 2010 (The Film, Not The Year)!
- The Soviet Union Is BACK, Baby!
With the 80s revival in full swing it’s a clever move for Russia to get the band back together and reform for the first time since 1991. And speaking of which…
- The Cold War – It’s On, People!
Yes, they’ll be accused of rehashing their old hits but the new Soviet Union and the old United States will be bringing us to brink of nuclear annihilation again this year with that old classic, the naval blockade. Think navy blues and piped matelot pants!
- Calculators Are So Hot Right Now!
Nervous that HAL may again go on a killing spree – possibly caused by Windows Vista – Roy Scheider sets up a kill switch cunningly hidden inside his pocket calculator. He’s done this so he can carry it around without raising suspicion, and since no-one says “bloody hell, Roy Scheider, I haven’t seen a pocket calculator in years” we can only assume they’re going to be back in a big way!
- Dame Helen Mirren To Become A Cosmonaut!
A surprise move for the acclaimed British actor, who must be finding it difficult to fit in training around the seven feature films she has due for release this year (including a new version of Brighton Rock). At least she’ll easily be able to get around the immigration paperwork due to her Russian father, Ilyena Vasilievna Mironov, although there’s no word on whether she’ll be reverting to the original family name.
- Wide-Screen Televisions Are SO 2009!
This year 4:3 cathode ray tubes are back in a big big way. Throw out those plasmas now!
- This Year’s Top Pet? The Dolphin!
It’s unclear if this is just because in 2010 (the film, not the year) Roy Scheider’s wife is a marine biologist, but it seems that in 2010 (the year, not the film) you’ll finally be able to keep dolphins in your lounge room!
- Roy Scheider Says Shorts Are IN!
Seriously, does that man bring his own shorts to each film? Does he refuse to go on unless he can get his legs out in at least one scene? Also, he’s going to need a bigger boat.
- Pan Am Is Back In Business!
Like The Soviet Union, the American airline Pan Am went out of business in 1991, but according to 2010 (the film, not the year) it’ll be back this year. It’s offering flights into space with the advertising slogan “Where The Sky Is No Longer The Limit”.
- Academic And Military Software To Embrace Retro 80s Stylings!
The rise of retro indie platform games like vvvvvv has even reached the military, with spacecraft and universities alike embracing faux Commodore 64 style graphics (incidentally, I believe the message after this one was “All your base are belong to us”). While we’re on computers…
- Laptop Screens Will Get Tiny!
This year’s laptops will have tiny screens, but you will be able to easily use them on beaches. Or possibly this year’s iPods will be enormous, I’m not sure.
So there you go, the top ten trends for 2010 (the year, not the film) as predicted by 2010 (the film, not the year).
As for the film itself – as I sat watching it for the second time (the first being in a cinema in 1984 – the year, not the film) I found myself wondering “Is this the most pointless film ever made?”. The world was hardly crying out for a sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey, and how could anyone follow up such a cinematic classic, a dreamlike meditation on man’s place in the universe? More to the point, why would they bother?
2010 (the film, not the year) is a straightforward cold war science fiction film with very little to offer. The characters are dull ciphers who spend most of their time doing little and the movie’s conclusion suggests events would have unfolded exactly the same way whether they were there or not. Without Stanley Kubrick’s bravura filmmaking we’re left with some nice modelwork but not much else.
So as I watched the film I pondered “is this film more pointless than Psycho 2?”. Yes. Psycho spawned the horror slasher film, a genre famous for its diminishing and endless sequels, so Psycho 2 simply completes the circle. It’s like break-up sex.
Then I thought “is 2010 – the film, not the year – more pointless than Gus Van Sant’s 1998 remake of Psycho?” Again, yes, as Gus Van Sant was at least conducting a cinematic experiment. That experiment was mostly “can I get Universal to give me 60 million dollars to do this?”, but at least it’s not dull.
Meanwhile, 2010 (the film, not the year) exists as a film so dependant on it’s predecessor that it makes no sense in isolation, yet so devoid of ideas or style that it removes itself from your memory even as you watch. Hopefully 2010 – the year – will be better than 2010 – the film.
I haven’t read the book.
John Richards is the co-creator of the upcoming ABC gay-science-fiction-fan-club-themed comedy Outland and a presenter on the Boxcutters podcast.
Want to buy your own copy of 2010 (the film, not the year)? Of course you do – amazon.co.uk has it on DVD and Blu-ray. Or pick up the superior 2001: A Space Odyssey on DVD, Blu-ray or as part of the impressive Stanley Kubrick : Special Edition 10 Disc Box Set.