The movie explores the idea that humankind's exploration of outer space is the next step in the evolution of our species.
Apes making the slow evolution from ape to man compete for scarce resources against a rival gang of apes while hiding from, and sometimes being attacked and eaten by, predators. With the help of a mysterious black monolith that appears, the man-apes learn to use bones that are just the right size for swinging as weapons to defend themselves from the predators, fight and kill the rival apes, and hunt and kill for food. Later, there is outer space peril heightened by loud and discordant music and hypnotic visual effects as an astronaut begins to learn the truth involving a giant black monolith found on the moon and near Jupiter.
"Damned," "hell" infrequently.
The IBM logo is featured prominently on computers. The astronauts watch, and are interviewed by, BBC News. Ironically enough, the space plane carrying Dr. Heywood Floyd from Earth to the space station is owned and operated by Pan Am, an air carrier that declared bankruptcy exactly 10 years before the year in which this movie takes place.