Here's what I did for you. I listened to Confused Matthew's criticism. Then I watched 2001 again. And this is what I wrote (below the dashes). This is just about what actually happens in the movie, no interpretation or analysis or meaning. The short version is - there is a LOT happening, and it happens with the imagery and not with what people traditionally expect - dialog. The set is basically another character that does a lot of the talking that normally would break the feel of realism. If you object to realism, then just stop replying and go away because that's the fundamental point of the movie, if you strip away the details and analysis.
My conclusion first so you don't get bored: , about "changing the form" as Spielberg said Kubrick was doing, in the Afterword review, Matthew said that Kubrick "changed the form so much that it isn't recognizable any more." And here is the clincher - recognizable to the countless fans of the movie, but not to Matthew and not to you. And if you are going to quote someone to support your point, you can't present it as support, then select one of those statements and object to it. He says near the end that video has to have writing, and lists viewer feedback about the meaning of the movie. And apparently anyone can put pictures with music, and it doesn't qualify as a film. I did not know that. And if someone follows some simple formulae to create something like the political commercial, it is just as good as 2001. Listen to that part of the review again and see if it really passes the smell test. It is nonsensical and full of false equivalences. And Fantasia is a silent movie, while 2001 is not.
Gattaca has a lot of dialog - there is a lot going on. I didn't see The Man From Earth. The classics of course had most everything happen in dialog - all the explanations and history and circumstance. There was no atmosphere or scene, for the most part, other than an appropriate stage so the actors don't have to say "What a nice Doctor's office you have, Doctor". The classic movies are plays with better sets.
Gattaca is much more classically styled in this way, which makes it endurable by Confused Matthew. 2001 is certainly not standard Hollywood fare - but Gattaca is very much so, which is why apparently it qualifies as a film and 2001 does not. Gattaca is therefore probably the worst example you both could have used. It's a play, set in the future. If either of you had mentioned one of the Italian verismo films I might have just accepted and moved on. It had a blockbuster cast, $36 million budget. And it's a thriller.
Now for what I prepared
dashes here - lameness accounted.
Confused Matthew is genuinely confused. He is doing a review that starts out claiming to be objective, but then the profanity and exasperation starts immediately. There is no hint of an attempt to understand the film, and he asserts "nothing is happening" when there is clearly something going on.
I'll start with the end of the review: The last 3 minutes of the last review are based on completely refusing to see that anything happened at all in the movie beyond Hal. Clarke said that anyone understanding the movie *completely* missed the point, and it wanted to raise more questions than it answered. But he concluded as if Clarke said that anyone *partly* understanding missed the point (a box full of scrabble letters is a masterpiece). And if it was supposed to raise questions, wouldn't Matthew have some actual questions? Unless he actually missed the point of the movie completely. Most people would at least ask "What the hell is that space baby?" instead of saying "Same as a turkey sandwich". This paragraph is why you should not listen to anything Confused Matthew said, at all.
The opening serves to set the stage for the rest of the movie. In a relatively short timespan, it shows two groups of apes in disagreement, one inventing tools to hunt, and then one group using those tools to kill members of the other group. The abrupt transitions delineate the groups. The difficulty of life when you are cat food, territorial disputes, invention. All in about 10 minutes. It seems slow if you don't grasp the narrative, or if you don't realize there even is one.
And it is titled the Dawn of Man, and we know that man evolved from these hairy twits, so that must be depicting the moment one group of apes became men and the other didn't. That's heavy stuff for a film that hasn't even started yet.
At the end of all that, WTF is that giant black rectangle? Now you have a reason to "turn the page" and find out what happens next. Did the rectangle spur evolution? Or just affect mental processing?
The "floating space junk" introduces the space station, without needing some contrived example for dialog. I can see it written in 45 seconds, with an additional passenger observing that the station stopped rotating - while Floyd says no, we are rotating to match it. And another air hostess to have a conversation about the grip shoes with the first one. Instead, only two people on the shuttle, one is asleep, and we feel the vastness and slowness of space. It takes longer, but the stage is set.
More importantly, it addresses the normal slew of sci-fi questions like "how do they walk when there is no gravity," "what do they eat?" "how do you go from the rotating to the non-rotating part of the ship?" There is a crapload of information there, while "nothing is happening".
Some movies, they simply say "I'm in space" in dialog and I forget where they are supposed to be shortly after. A pen weightless, grip boots, and two pilots who don't need to explain to each other what they already know make this much more realistic and set in scene than the Exposition Twins who explain what no normal folk would bother to say.
Here's where Confused Matthew thinks that the movie starts - that nothing happened at all for 22 minutes. Apparently I just imagined that there was any value to anything that I just typed. "Dialog and story points" are the criteria for a movie to be decent at all. Atmosphere and pacing have no purpose at all, and the only way you can learn something is when people talk. Let's not forget - this is a 4 part movie, not a single story straight through.
The dialog is rather routine and mundane, but hints at problems on the moon base - more "turn the page" mystery. Buried in the banality of the formal introductions and a phone call home, this is a huge plot advancement. Yet the camera hardly changes perspective. Things are moving along quickly, but it feels glacial. The formality constrains the characters from much development, but we nonetheless capture a brief bit of a foreign language, and then the Russian has a brief "hush hush" moment when prodding for more information. The characters could have been played by mannequins, but they still exude personality in their brief appearance. In fact, the whole scene could have been a minute long "mission briefing" with one character talking into a radio. Instead of a radio, it's four people with graciousness, manners, inquisitiveness, and distinct personality. The mood changes several times, and this is so much better than a minute long catch-up.
More "nothing" while some of the questions I posed earlier are answered or expounded upon.
There is a "mission briefing", but because of the Russian we have basic awareness of what's happening, and the Council does not have to go over what they should already know. It is very natural, this is the realism, and the audience still has the mystery obscured, while watching a room full of people who are discussing that very mystery. Between the lobby scene and the Council scene, and the informality on the small transport vehicle, Floyd's character is now much richer.
Character development (changing, learning, maturation) is not a primary focus here, as the depth of the mystery is revealed. We see the monolith, it's the same as what seemingly initiated the development of tools and gorillicide, the music is spooky, and it's the monolith that develops as a character. Matthew would prefer they just get right the fuck down the hill, but this is realism and people move slowly in bulky space suits in low gravity.
Through the third act, the focus is almost a character study - partly Dave, but mostly in HAL. Character development of a computer is done brilliantly through the humans' actions and dialog. Dave and Frank are eating and watching a BBC broadcast, but we can see their personalities in the interview footage. It is a genius replacement of the "talking head" exposition, since we learn a good bit about these people who are not doing much of anything.
There is only one thing that happens in the third act, which takes an hour to accomplish. Almost half of the movie for one of the four parts, so obviously the most important. Hal asks Dave about his apparent unease about the mission, and Dave asks Hal if he is updating the staff psych report. Hal says yes, and interrupts with a failed part alert. The entire third act is Hal recognizing that Dave poses a risk, and probing him for fitness to continue the mission. Create doubt, see how they handle it, and then respond to what is now a threat. Hal and Dave are playing cat and mouse and evolving knowledge of the others' position, while maintaining a facade of normalcy. Literally, it is the psych eval - metaphorically it is all the chess game. These are not flat characters - they are very subtle, and even if you don't notice them, there is a story happening. Matthew recognizes that at least.
But he is wrong about Hal being scared and panicked, and definitely being a villain. But that's not clear from just watching this movie, so I'll let him by with a warning.
The moment that Dave catches Frank, he is visibly angry and/or scared. Hal knows this will be a critical time, and terminates the remaining crew so they won't ask what happened to Dave and Frank. "Open the pod bay doors, Hal" is spoken quickly on his return, and he is visibly agitated, struggling to find a solution, and trying to pretend nothing is wrong. Anger and frustration, panic, impotence, and finally self composure and problem solving. It is not the emotional outburst people would expect, but that would be out of place. Again, it is richly subtle, but in a sterile movie these are hugely effective - especially because they are basic body language that we process on a subconscious level. We don't need Will Smith to yell "That hunk of junk is startin a piss me right the hell off". Anyone who complains that Dave is flat has no empaty.
Not only does Hal gradually become more dimensional as we learn, his adaptice strategies, to me, qualify as character development as he defends his mission. And Hal pleads for his life very humanly - by acknowledging mistakes, re-focusing on the mission, and affirming future performance, and finally saying he is afraid. And listening to Hal die is kinda sad. It takes time, but he pleads, says he is afraid, devolves, reverts to his "childhood", slows down, and the shining eye fades out.
Here's where the acid trip starts. And given the sterile subtlety of the last 2 hours, and right on the back of a dying computer and sudden revelation of the mission, it's a doozy. It is straining to hear dialog in an emotional close of your show, then the commercial blasts out at taint-yanking volume. This is the truly mesmerizing, hypnotic genius that was, and still remains, groundbreaking.
And I won't even start on the ending - best to leave that alone.