To attempt to make a sequel to a Stanley Kubrick film that's widely acknowledged to be a classic might seem like total folly. Yet that's what Peter Hyams did, and by writing, producing and directing a follow-up to "2001" he was really putting his head on the block if he screwed it up. Thankfully for him he didn't.
Based on the Arthur C Clarke novel, Hyams wisely opted for a more narrative-based approach rather than trying to emulate Kubrick's haunting visuals in "2001". Ultimately here was a chance to offer an explanation for the first film, which was always going to prove irresistible to the fans.
The tale picks up nine years on with the Soviets having built a spaceship capable of getting to the old "Discovery" which is now in a lifeless orbit around Jupiter. But while they can get there they have no answers over HAL's failure or what happened to the crew. Reluctantly, they approach Roy Scheider, who was involved with the original mission, for help. Despite the growing military tension between the US and Soviet Union, he agrees to assist if he can go along with two colleagues.
Once on board, both sides are wary of one another's motives but their docking with the old "Discovery" soon overshadows their mutual suspicion. The build-up to this and the initial moments on board are racked with a tension that's superbly handled by Hyams. He maintains the forbidding atmosphere well and his skills as a cinematographer are evident with fine visual effects throughout. To try and end this slick exercise in audience-pleasing sci-fi is not easy and some will ultimately find it too cheesy. But it no doubt fitted better in 1984 and you can hardly argue against the sentiments expressed. Ultimately this film's strongest tool is its element of mystery that makes it compelling viewing.