Ralph Potts reviews 2001: A Space Odyssey , visionary director Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi opus that is making its Ultra HD Blu-ray debut from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5)

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
(Max score: 100)


Studio and Year: Warner - 1968
MPAA Rating: G
Feature running time: 149 minutes
Genre: Sci-Fi/Drama

Disc Format: BD-100
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.20:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Gary Lockwood, Keir Dullea, William Sylvester
Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
Written by: Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke based on his short story “The Sentinel”
Region Code: A

Release Date: November 20, 2018

"An Epic Drama of Adventure and Exploration"
My Take:

Stanley Kubrick’s dazzling, Academy Award-winning achievement is a compelling drama of man vs. machine, a stunning meld of music and motion. Kubrick (who co-wrote the screenplay with Arthur C. Clarke) first visits our prehistoric ape-ancestry past, then leaps millennia (via one of the most mind-blowing jump cuts ever) into colonized space, and ultimately whisks astronaut Bowman (Keir Dullea) into uncharted space, perhaps even into immortality. “Open the pod bay doors, HAL.” Let an awesome journey unlike any other begin.

2001: A Space Odyssey needs no introduction among film enthusiasts and is one of the important and influential films of our time. Stanley Kubrick was a master craftsman and storyteller whose vision for this film is fully realized. This film for those of its generation was probably very much like Star Wars was for those from my generation. Unlike anything you had seen to that point. Strangely enough it remains relevant, probably more so today than it was in 1968. Its pacing can be glacial at times, going for long periods with no spoken dialog but, the payoff is in the context and visual storytelling. I haven’t seen it in quite some time and found myself completely engaged when it mattered. 2001: A Space Odyssey is a thought provoking and inspirational film with a timeless essence that makes it revolutionary while embodying exactly what comes to mind when thinking of top-notch filmmaking.

Widely considered among the greatest films of the 20th century, 2001: A Space Odyssey returned to U.S. theatres in May following the debut of an “unrestored” 70mm print at the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival. The film is playing throughout the summer at select theatres.

For the first time since the original release, new 70mm prints were struck from pristine printing elements made from the original camera negative. A longtime admirer of the late American auteur, Christopher Nolan worked closely with the team at Warner Bros. Pictures throughout the mastering process.

Building on the work done for the new 70mm prints, the 4K UHD with HDR presentation was mastered from the 65mm original camera negative. The 4K UHD also includes both a remixed and restored 5.1 DTS-HD master audio track, as well as the original 1968 6-track theatrical audio mix (formatted for 5.1 DTS-HD master audio).

With 2001: A Space Odyssey, director Stanley Kubrick redefined the limits of filmmaking and cemented his legacy as one of the most revolutionary and influential film directors of all time. Originally released in 70mm Cinerama roadshow format on April 4, 1968, the film ignited the imaginations of critics and audiences alike and its impact continues to resonate to this day.

In addition to being included with the 4K UHD, the remastered Blu-ray disc with the feature film in hi-definition will also be available on November 20 as a standalone product for $19.98 SRP.

Fans can also own 2001: A Space Odyssey in 4K UHD via purchase from select digital retailers including iTunes, Google and Vudu on November 20.

Replay Value:
Parental Guide:

This film is appropriate for general audiences.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

Audio: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

2001: A Space Odyssey comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound.

Warner Brothers fully restored 2001: A Space Odyssey from the original 65mm negative, and Its presentation in Ultra HD is derived from the 4K Digital Intermediate. It's important to note that the ultimate goal for any release on home video is to present a film in the highest possible quality based upon its original elements. A film like 2001: A Space Odyssey has an aesthetic that incorporates film grain and the use of optics that won't result in the type of high gloss, tack-like sharpness of a film shot using digital cameras. This isn't a problem and shouldn't be seen as such.

This is a visually compelling film that strives to recreate the look and feel of Stanley Kubrick’s vision. The restored video quality looks excellent in 1080p, but this Ultra HD rendering is something to behold. 2001: A Space Odyssey is a beautifully crafted film, both in narrative, and scope. It’s not an overtly bright film, although there are bright elements. Geoffrey Unworth’s terrific cinematography benefits from the enhanced resolution and emboldened contrast. The opening sequences, first during the primate age and the first look at the future in space look stunning, providing a glimpse of what lies in store.

Copious amounts of detail can be seen, both in wide-angle and close-up perspectives, imparting a discernible increase in depth/dimension. The rendering of the finest minutia in the film’s variety of textures, as seen on the ship interiors, or in clothing/spacesuits, or physical features are reproduced with stark realism. Captured on 65mm film, using anamorphic lenses, film grain and minor innate softening are present. Neither are compromising, even during special effects shots.

The use of sepia is beautifully reproduced, while whites and grays appear gradational and vibrant. In chapter 6, the wide-angle shots of the ship making its approach to the space station, look terrific, as the deep, interstitial blacks, gradational grays/white, and brilliant light show off the spot-on application of HDR. The “Jupiter Beyond the Infinite” sequence is the presentation’s spectacle. It shows off the video’s superb combination of color and fidelity.

The wide color gamut and crisp, bright, imagery, enrich the sense of realism when looking at differing environs. The scenes aboard the Delta spaceship look fantastic. Fleshtones are reproduced beautifully throughout the course of the presentation. As impressed as I was with the 1080p rendering, I found this presentation took it to the next level, allowing its attributes to be fully realized in a way that it hadn’t been before.

This Ultra HD presentation is marvelous, adding a lustrous visual element to the experience of watching 2001: A Space Odyssey. Ultra HD renderings like this should give fans contemplating the switch to an Ultra HD capable set up, the nudge they need.

Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

* The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.*

In comparing the DV and HDR-10 renderings I ran the same scenes using my reference Oppo UHD player (both in DV and forced HDR-10 and Samsung UHD player (HDR-10 only). The title looked outstanding on both formats. I simply wasn’t disappointed with either and gave each my highest rating.

Multi-Channel Soundtrack:

Warner has included both a remixed and restored 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, as well as the original 1968 6-track theatrical audio mix, which was formatted for 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. I spent time listening to both. I felt that each did a very good job of rendering the film’s soundtrack. Dialog has appreciable vocal character and excellent room penetration. The theatrical audio mix has more of a frontal focus and probably adheres closer to the original audio presentation. It may be mixed just slightly lower as well but, doesn’t suffer in the fidelity department.

The remixed/restored audio mix is similarly front oriented but, makes use of the right/left surrounds to enhance atmosphere. Each presentation delivers a rewarding audio experience that is highlighted by the richness and defining clarity of the memorable music score, while appropriately applied dynamics and mid to upper level bass provide solidity that enhances both the music and effects without sounding unnatural or over processed. I was extremely pleased with the outcome of each audio presentation. I did find that I prefer the remixed/restored track as I feel it highlights the strengths of the source material without detracting from essence of the film’s original presentation.

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Blu-ray Video:

Video: 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: 
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail: 
  • Color Reproduction: 
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression: 

2001: A Space Odyssey comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video.

Warner did an outstanding job with the re-mastering of this classic film. It was created by doing a scan of the original 65mm camera negative to generate a new master which appears to have beautifully preserved the high-resolution elements contained within. Looking at the results it is readily apparent that a lot of care went into the restoration. Grain is intact across the board and I saw no sign of digital noise reduction or image degrading manipulation. This is a flawless and film like video presentation that delivers exquisite high-level detail and rich, deep, image penetrating colors that look gorgeous in high definition.

The video has incredible depth and dimension that is rarely limited by the camera’s perspective. The level of resolution present produces imagery that in many cases has a near infinite visual acuity that draws out the finest details in close ups while enhancing the delineation and textural nuance within objects and backgrounds. Wide angle shots in the opening sequence reveal the varied and rough texture in the surfaces made of stone while the beautifully framed shots of the interiors of the spacecrafts look stunning.

Flesh tones exhibit lifelike textures with natural color and vibrant complexions. Blacks exhibit exemplary dynamic range and appear deep and rich without compromise. Shadow detail is impressive and readily conveys strong dimensionality during the scenes shot in darkened areas and uneven light. Contrast and brightness work in tandem so that dark scenes exhibit good dynamic range and bright scenes are vivid without loss of detail. I tip my hat to Warner Brothers Home Entertainment. This is one of the most impressive restorations I have seen to date. It is an immaculate and faithful reproduction that befits one of the most memorable films of all time.

Bonus Features:
  • • 4K UHD Blu-ray™ with Commentary from Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood
    • Remastered Blu-ray™ with Commentary from Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood
    • The Making of a Myth
    • Standing on the Shoulders of Kubrick: The Legacy of 2001
    • Vision of a Future Passed: The Prophecy of 2001
    • 2001: A Space Odyssey – A Look Behind the Future
    • What Is Out There?
    • 2001: FX and Early Conceptual Artwork
    • Look: Stanley Kubrick!
    • 11/27/66 Interview with Stanley Kubrick [Audio Only]
    • Original Theatrical Trailer
    • Premium Booklet
    • Art Cards
  • Digital Copy
Final Thoughts:

2001: A Space Odyssey Stanley Kubrick’s memorable sci-fi epic is widely considered one of the greatest and most influential films in the history of cinema. Its widely anticipated release in Ultra High Definition has arrived and the results are spectacular. It comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray in this premium collectible offering featuring newly restored video quality that befits its status, complimentary lossless sound, in two multi-channel options, that enhance its already renowned soundtrack, legacy supplements and collectible extras. 2001: A Space Odyssey in this Ultra HD Blu-ray premium collectible package is simply a must have for the collections of film enthusiasts.

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from  Spectracal )
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player
System Controller: Apple iPad /iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems

We are committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using the retail links in our product reviews. Learn more about how this works  here .