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4The Daily Tar HeelThursday. December 6. 1984
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Roy Scheider and Natasha Shneider prepare for an aero-braking maneuver that will throw the 'Leonov' into its Jupiter orbit.
Director, actors discuss film's merits
By FRANK BRUM
LOS ANGELES If there is one concern that unites director
Peter Hyams and the actors who worked with him on 2010, it is
that their film not be dismissed as just another technically dazzling
foray into space or irrelevant piece of science fiction. If there is another,
it is that their film's goals and merits be recognized as distinct from
those of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick's 1968 magnum
"So often films that are technically ambitious are not films of the
heart," Hyams said recently at a special press gathering in the Century
Plaza hotel. "I wanted this to be a very, very emotional film."
One way in which he feels 2010 distinguishes itself and involves
audiences is through its prominent politics. In the film, a joint space
mission by the United States and the Soviet Union is set against a
Central American confrontation between the superpowers.
"The movies that excite me the most are movies that besides being
entertaining are ultimately about something," Hyams said. "There
doesn't have to be a dichotomy between something that's entertaining
and something that matters."
Hyams, who at 41 has directed six feature films, including last year's
The Star Chamber, said that Kubrick's ghost did indeed hover over
this project, but that its presence was more inspiring than daunting.
He credited Kubrick with making possible the special effects that grace
2010. He said the budget and success of 2001 had changed the film
industry's attitudes toward what a film could accomplish visually and
had inspired young filmmakers.
"I saw that movie and it was like getting a note in a bottle," Hyams
said. "Here was this medium that I was so in love with that was
Hyams nevertheless asserted that his film shares little, save its space
setting and background situation, with Kubrick's earlier work.
Keir Dullea, who played the protagonist of 2001 and is the only
member of that film's cast to reappear in Hyams' film, agreed. He
said 2010 achieves a "balance" bet ween human interaction and technical
wizardry that 2001 didn't.
"There's no gratuitous hardware," Dullea said. "I really loved the
human-ness of the characters."
"2001 was sort of like a giant Rorschach test," he said. "Peter's
made a much more explicit kind of film."
. Roy Scheider, ho portrays Dr. HeywpeFloydsan American A
scientist at the helm of, the,sU.S. -Soviet mission pjr-echfed ' '
Dullea 's entimentsV "So much of the first film left peoprc'inheair,"
he said. "In this film, we wanted to make sure people understood
what was happening."
Scheider said his character, whom the film initially introduces in
a sequence of domestic scenes, helps to forge a link between the concerns
of the audience and the sometimes very scientific nature of what's
happening on the space mission.
"He's a kind of Everyman confronting the urban technological
environment and extraordinary events and bureaucracy," Scheider said.
"He's the man who expresses the audience's worries and concerns."
Like Scheider, Bob Balaban, who has appeared most recently in
the films Absence of Malice and Whose Life Is It, Anyway?, saw
in his character, computer expert Dr. Chandra, a chance to bridge
the potential gulf between the ordinary man and the extraordinary
environment of outer space. In preparing for his role, he visited research
computer scientists from whom he hoped to glean ideas about how
to play his part realistically yet humanely.
"I was just looking for ways my role could be as human as possible,"
Balaban said. "I met some fascinating people who gave me good ideas."
As concerned as they are with the realistic portrayal of human beings
in the film, Hyams, Dullea, Scheider and Balaban don't make apologies
for the film's look, which they describe as "wonderful," "miraculous,"
"fascinating."They all praised the work done by visual effects supervisor
Richard Edlund, whose cinematic genius has transformed such films
as Star Wars, Poltergeist and Ghostbusters into blockbusters.
While Edlund is proud of his work on the film, he said concessions
and compromises are made on any project with additional other-than-visual
concerns. He said he always plans to accomplish more in a
film than he is ultimately able - or allowed to.
"We usually start out with 300 percent and hopefully end up with
150 percent," Edlund said. "We feel that anything that can be drawn
up or discussed can be committed to film. Our only enemies are time
Perhaps the person most uniquely qualified to judge both the results
of this creative tug-of-war between the emotional and visual elements
in 2010 and the film's ability to stand apart from its predecessor is
Arthur C. Clarke, the 67-year-old patriarch of science fiction who
co-wrote the 2001 screenplay and later wrote the novel upon which
2010 is based.
Clarke's verdict: "I think there was a dull quarter-second in the
third reel of the film, but that's about it. It's an emotional, two- or
three-handkerchief movie." '
Clarke smiled. "When I saw the film I said to Peter ( Hyams), 'Stanley
(Kubrick) will be jealous.' Peter said. That's okay. He can dot)dvssev
'2010' proves effective with action,
but less so with character, politics
2010 will delight many viewers, younger ones
especially, and there's no shame in that. The film
offers deftly edited action sequences, enchanting
visual effects and an ostensibly uplifting ending. It
has "box-office smash" written all over it.
But like so many films that aggressively woo
audiences and warily eye the cash register, 2010 is
not a particularly intelligent motion picture. Its
images of the fiery planet Jupiter may seem three
dimensional, but its characters don't. Its sound is
crisp and its score often exhilarating, but Peter
Hyams' direction hits more than a few wrong notes.
The story takes up where Stanley Kubrick's 2001:
A Space Odyssey left off, but the uninitiated need
not worry: Hyams awkwardly begins his film with
a computer-like catalogue of all necessary back
ground information. Nine years have elapsed since
the Discovery maiden voyage to Jupiter, and a
team of Soviet and American scientists, united by
mutual need, make a second trip to Jupiter aboard
the Soviet Leonov.
For the American scientists, the purpose of the
mission is twofold: to retrieve from the data banks
of the abandoned Discovery information about the
strange monolith near Jupiter, and to determine
what caused the HAL 9000 computer to malfunc
tion, killing the crew of the Discovery.
Where Kubrick's concerns were abstrusely
thematic, Hyams, whose credits include Capricorn
One and Outland, spotlights the various physical
predicaments encountered in the execution of the
missi6n?rHifilm is also more political, venturing
so fan as to"prophesy a military confrontation in
While Hyams offers no dearth of tense situations,
his idea of howo create suspense is disappointingly
superficial. He doesn't develop characters whose
fates are involving; only Dr. Heywood Floyd, the
architect of the past and present mission, is presented
in any detail before the action moves to outer space.
Rather, Hyams establishes the perilous nature of
a situation with close-ups of widened eyes and
perspiring foreheads, an ominous crescendo of
sourt and frenetic camera movement He anneals
not to the intellect or even the emotions, but to
Perhaps the political dimension of the film was
intended to flesh out the action. In a sense, it does.
It gives the film an emotional immediacy by
exploiting the persistent fear in Americans and
Russians alike that their governments will never see
eye to eye. But the contrast between the conflict
on Earth and the cooperation in space is belabored
Moreover, Hyams doesn't know whether he wants
to adopt a sardonic or somber tone in dealing with
the story's politics. When a government official
relays information to the American astronauts
about heightened tensions in the superpower
relationship, he speaks glibly. Later, when he
informs them of war, he's downright melodramatic.
. The cast is surprisingly strong. John Lithgow,
Helen Mirren and Elya Baskin take grossly
underdeveloped characters and render them oddly
familiar and poignantly human. The eccentricity of
Bob Balaban's computer whiz and the earnestnesss
of Roy Scheider's Floyd are arresting. These
performances greatly enhance the film but cannot
erase its superficiality.
Where 2010 succeeds best is in recognizing the
expectations of the two groups to whom it should
appeal 2001 holdovers and a generation weaned
on Spielberg and Lucas films and attempting
to satisfy both. The former contingent will be pleased
to learn the fate of astronaut David Bowman, while
the latter can enjoy some truly state-of-the-art
special effects. Both will be tickled by the energy
exhibited in some sensational sequences. Neither will
be entirely satisfied by the film as a whole.
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On the set of the 'Leonov' deck Peter Hyams shows Roy Scheider some special effects.
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A NEW M
Matt and Janet a breath of fresh air.
DILLON. . .ON THE MOVE
OK, smart guy! What would
you do if you were Jeffrey
Willis? It's your last summer
before choosing between col
lege and jobless oblivion. Now
comes a summer dream job at
the ritzy El Flamingo Beach
Club, a luxurious haunt of the
New York rich absolutely drip
ping easy money and overrun
With beautiful girls. You rub
more than shoulders with a
gorgeous blonde coed visiting
from California, you are taken
under the wing of the Club's
resident "get-rich-quick" artist
and, suddenly, college is com
ing in a very distant second.
So, in September, what will it
be? For Matt Dillon as Jeffrey
Willis in Twentieth Century
Fox's "The Flamingo Kid," the
decision won't be easy.
Everyone has an idea about
what he should do with his life
and they're ALL wrong.
Flair for comedy
As the bright but less than
"Easy Street" smart Jeffrey,
Matt Dillon takes on a role
tailored to show the talented
young actor in a new light.
Although he is only 20, Matt
Dillon has starred in eight films
since a casting director found
i .ii i. i ... . i.ih.i
the actor at age 14 in junior high
school and put Dillon in "Over
the Edge" (1978) as a tough
street kid. Several top flight
roles followed, with Dillon
becoming a new symbol of
teenage rebellion in "My
Bodyguard," "Little Darlings,"
"Tex," "The Outsiders,"
"Liar's Moon" and
"Rumblefish." But in "The
Flamingo Kid," there is a new
Matt Dillon to be discovered.
Sure, he's still a legend in his
own neighborhood, but he's a
rumblefish out of water with a f
flair for comedy and a crush on
shapely newcomer Janet Jones.
"Dance Fever" star in
major film role
Matt Dillon is "The Flamingo Kid.'
The tall, sunny blonde shines in
her first major film role after
brief appearances in "One
From the Heart" and "Grease
II." A veteran at age 22 of five "
seasons on TV's "Dance Fever"
team, Janet Jones will follow
her role in "The Flamingo Kid"
by starring in the eagerly
awaited film version of "A
Also starring is a seasoned trio
of top performers. Richard
Crenna (as slick sports car
dealer Phil Brody) recently
made his mark in "Body Heat"
and "First Blood," and will
soon reteam with Sylvester
Stallone in a second "Blood"
called "Rambo;" Hector
Elizondo (as Jeffrey's con
cerned father) was last seen in
the hilarious "Young Doctors
In Love," and Jessica Walter (as
the status-conscious Mrs.
Brody) is best remembered for
asking Clint Eastwood to "Play
Misty For Me.'
Director Garry Marshall
shoots for the stars
For director Garry Marshall,
"The Flamingo Kid" is a
comedy right up his alley.
'Known for his knack with
youthful casts of hit TV shows
as "Happy Days" and
Laverne & Shirley," Marshall
" f" V ... I
at " ii ii W Win
Shapely newcomer Janet Jones.
guides "The Flamingo Kid" on
the heels of his first hilarious
feature, "Young Doctors in
For a dash of summer in the
dead of winter, here comes
"The Flamingo Kid." Your last
days before college were never
this hot and bothered.