Raisuli,

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The original inspiration for '2001' was Clarke's short story 'The Sentinel'.
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Ah.

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Well you won't find answers to HAL's behaviour and who the aliens were in the novelisation. HAL is explained in '2010'. The aliens never really are explained.
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Oh, I can't be bothered anymore now. It's too long ago.

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Back to Star Wars. I agree with Alai. We must cease ANY criticism at once. The consequences are too horrible to contemplate otherwise. Do you want to face an enraged Yoda after seeing Episode II?!!!!!!
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You are right. Anyone who has seen Episode II will look at Yoda with renewed respect !
And BTW, I saw it two days ago, and I was surprised ; it's really good - certainly as good, if not better, as the very first S.W. movie (partly due to meanwhile much more sophisticated special effects).
But I feel that if the first movie was for grown-up children, this one is much more for grown-ups and much less for children ; there have been a few moments which are really not suited for tender souls... I think you know what I am talking about. This movie is, in a very Additionally, the first movie had a feel of adventure to it ; Episode II by comparison is dead-serious. The occasional slightly ridiculous-looking alien won't change this.
But then, between the two episodes about 27 years have elapsed, and young people have had ample time to get used to ultra-realistically imagined violence through computer games. The audience may be listening, but it is not the same anymore...