Picks and Pans Review: 2010

updated 12/10/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/10/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

Sixteen years ago, when we left the vessel Discovery in Stanley Kubrick's epic 2001: A Space Odyssey, Keir Dullea was floating somewhere in outer space, his shape changing from astronaut to old man to embryonic baby. This is a sequel, also based on an Arthur C. Clarke novel, and for a while it promises to be as good as the original. Roy Scheider plays a space agency head who is approached by a Russian scientist: The Soviets are about to launch a probe to find Discovery, and they want Scheider to accompany them, since they don't have the know-how to deal with the ship once they locate it. Though the U.S. and Russia are close to going to war over Honduras, Scheider agrees to participate. He is joined by John (Terms of Endearment) Lithgow, playing an engineer with a fear of heights. (When they dock up with Discovery, Lithgow's heavy-breathing trip between the two spacecraft is hilarious.) Bob (Close Encounters of the Third Kind) Balaban is the inventor of Discovery's renegade computer, HAL 9000. It is his job to get HAL to pilot Discovery home. There is also the big black slab to be dealt with, the one that caused all the trouble in the first movie, and in the eeriest sequence Scheider is visited by what appears to be the ghost of Dullea. With all this promising material, though, producer-director-writer-cameraman Peter (Capricorn One) Hyams lets the film dissipate. He wastes British actress Helen (Cal) Mirren as the head of the Soviet crew. And his climax, a kind of cosmic Christmas card celebrating peace, seems unfinished. This movie could have benefited from another half hour to tie up the loose ends. (PG)

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