8 Space Travel Movies Like 2001
"2001: A Space Odyssey" is one of the greatest movies ever made about traveling through the stars, but as true cinephiles know, it's not the only one. Here are eight space travel movies that have at least something in common with Stanley Kubrick's genre-busting classic.
"Forbidden Planet". Before Kubrick made "2001", the 1950s produced some of the best space travel movies ever. Of course, Kubrick being Kubrick, he made "2001" as a conscious response to things he hated about movies like "Forbidden Planet", but that doesn't mean we can't appreciate both. "Forbidden Planet" is one hell of a fun science fiction adventure, featuring Robbie the Robot in all his metal glory, and a terrifying "Monster from the Id" animated by famous Disney animator Joshua Meador.
"Planet of the Apes". "2001" wasn't the only science fiction classic to come out in 1968. It had a more mainstream cousin in "Planet of the Apes", which is also a space travel movie that is interested in the origins of man. "Planet of the Apes" is a much more conventional action-adventure than "2001", but that hasn't kept it from being a favorite of movie buffs over the years. One fun connection between "Planet" and "2001": Some say that when "Planet of the Apes" won the Oscar for best makeup effects for its simian characters, it was because the Academy assumed the actors playing monkeys in the opening sequence of "2001" were actual monkeys!
"Silent Running". Directed by Douglas Trumbull, who supervised the visual effects for "2001", "Silent Running" takes its "intelligent outer space story" aesthetic and applies it to a movie about a space station greenhouse manned by Bruce Dern and three robot pals. If that sounds familiar, you're probably a fan of "Mystery Science Theater 3000", which is said to have been partially inspired by "Silent Running".
"Apollo 13". Although "2001" is a science fiction film, it's been renowned for its realism and attention to detail compared to other sci-fi of the period. Realism and attention to detail is the name of the game in the science-FACT drama "Apollo 13", which is about the real-life NASA mission to the moon of the same name.
"Moon". .HAL 9000, the supercomputer from "2001", is one of the most iconic villains in movie history. Its glowing red eye precisely centered on a large computer bank makes an appropriately menacing face-but why would anyone design a computer to look menacing? "Moon", the sci-fi puzzler from Duncan Jones, also has an intelligent supercomputer, but it has a smiley face instead of a glowing red eye. To say more and spoil the film's secrets would be a tragedy.
"Mission to Mars". Every sci-fi movie since "2001" has had a little bit of it in its DNA, but few have copied it as much as Brian De Palma's "Mission to Mars", which goes so far as to have shafts of light reflect off a character's space helmet in the same way as in "2001". But there are some key differences, too: "Mission to Mars" has movie stars like Tim Robbins and Gary Sinise in it, and where "2001" is mysterious, "Mission to Mars" explains everything explicitly.
"Wall-E". Another Disney movie to borrow liberally from "2001" is "Wall-E", albeit with significantly better artistic results. The Pixar production takes place exclusively in the cold black vacuum of space, and shiny, ultra-futuristic space station interiors, both of which should seem familiar to fans of Kubrick's movie. And we suspect even chilly old Stanley Kubrick would have liked those cute robots.
"Prometheus". Before "Prometheus" hit theaters, some were postulating that it would be a modern-day "2001". While it's probably true that few would make that argument now, they're still close enough for comparison. Both are space travel movies interested in big questions like God, life, and the origins of man, and both ask more questions than they answer.