My first reaction to 2010 was that it was a pretty good science fiction movie, at least compared to the usual trash we see from the movies. It was in fact a very competent film that paid close attention to details (although we still here that impossible WHOOOOOOSH when a spaceship flies by) and offered us a story that was actually about something. However, the film was far from perfect. What was most annoying was the complete lack of subtlety in the movie. The ending was far too literal to be very effective, with all its preachments about human civilization. It leaves us with a feeling of mundania (relatively) rather than the sense of profound awe with which we leave the theatre after the final shot of 2001's floating fetus.
It seems to me that 2010 fails to live up to the standards of the previous space oddysey. What it gains in dynamics, it loses in importance, profundity, and artistic sensibility. A sequel to something as wondrous as 2001: A Space Oddysey should not leave us with a sense of "earthbound", but should take us on to new vistas of the imagination. Instead, we hear about political squables and troubles with loved ones. This would work fine if we were given characters with real depth, but seems unimportant when we have flat characters laid against a background cosmic in scale. It also fails to answer the questions left us in 2001 in a satisfying manner. (Why did HAL go crazy and kill his entire crew? Oh, that was a little programming glitch we overlooked. We'll make sure it doesn't happen again.)
All this aside, the movie was quite finely crafted. I mean, given the source material Peter Hyams still managed to make an entertaing movie out of what could have been another so so sci-fi film.