Here is my opinion on the four films I have watched:
Let's start with 2001: A Space Odyssey. Something is wrong when the director has to explain the basic plot for the audience to understand it. This indicates to me that the director failed to convey his vision to the audience. Moreover, nothing happens in it except for random turning points that make no sense. There is no coherence nor substance, yet this is considered a deep classic because Kubrick was called a genius. Pretty images and classical music could not save it from being a dreadful film.
Full Metal Jacket is nothing more than mediocre. It starts off well with several scenes showing use the extreme hard training the recruits must go through in a satirical way, but after a while it becomes too repetitive. It overtold the story. We quickly get that Kubrick found war dehumanazing and pointless, and we get the irony in the argument that war is necessary to achieve peace. The effect the training has on one of the recruits is, however, interesting to follow and culminates into
an ironic scene where he takes out what he has learned on the instructor himself.
This turning point marks the end of the first half of the film. It is soon forgotten about and not mentioned again. It should have been used to develop the main character and to bridge the gap between the first and second half. I don't like how it is artificially divided into two halves because that renders much of the first half useless, which is a shame considering it is far more interesting than the rather boring second part lacking in purpose and a clear conflict. The action is not particularly engaging either until the climax, which is quite suspenseful and surprisingly affective for a Kubrick film.
In A Clockwork Orange the story kicks in halfway through when the sociopath is imprisoned. The theme of dehumanization is even more central in this film. In prison he tests an experimental program by the government to make him detest violence. Here Kubrick asks whether a man who is devoid of choices still is an individual or merely a mechanical machine. Can he be considered a good person if he has no other choice? Interesting theme. As mentioned, the ball doesn't really start rolling until halfway through which is the result of Kubrick dividing it into two halves just like Full Metal Jacket. However, in this case it is the second part that is the most interesting one. While the first part is too long for its own good, here at least the two parts are better linked. In the first hour we see the main characher raping his victims and treating his "friends" badly. Kubrick utilizes low camera angles in those scenes to make him seem dominant and threatening, and we certainly hate this character for a long time. In the second half, when he is out in the free again, the situation is turned upside down: He is now the vulnerable victim and is getting a taste of his own medicine. Kubrick makes us feel pity for him, partially by using high camera angles. All in all, it is a well made and interesting film, but not particularly enjoyable.
The Shining. I need to see this again, but it was quite good. The cinematography was great, as it always is in a Kubrick film. The atmosphere was creepy. Jack turning into a monster could have been developed better; it seemed like he had a psychological problem from the beginning that just got worse as he isolated himself from the world. The ending was suspenseful. It was more entertaining than A Clockwork Orange, but it was not as complex.
So, this is how I would rank them:
1. The Shining/ A Clockwork Orange
3. Full Metal Jacket