2001 is a catalyst for the mind to wake the viewer up to a new state of consciousness. The appearance of the black slab symbolises the transition of the old state to the new state. The first consciousness change at the dawn of man, the second when man lands on the moon and the third is where we come in. The black slab in our current state which emits a magnetic field, of course being on its side, is the blank TV screen. You will notice in the film, we stare on numerous occasions at a black screen with a tone in the background. The new state is an understanding that time does not really exist, when all moments of the main character's life exist together and the realisation that all is connected, all is one, all is the universe, he is the universe, when he sees he is a baby and also the earth floating in space. Hal is the embodiment of this disconnection with the truth. We are ever creating more material tools to discover the answers that are perceived to be 'out there' when infact they are found within the mind of the main character at the end of the movie. At the end of the day our universe is all mind. Hal, or our ultimate robotic creation, can never be perfect as it inherits errors from man's misinterpretation of the truth of the world around him. We will all end up like the other crew members if we don't wake up....
My interpretation is that the Monolith is more or less God the creator as evidenced by the warning at the end of 2010 when it states "All these worlds are yours except Europa".
As for other things, when the early human tosses the bone (a weapon) into the air and the movie segues to a space scene, that isn't some spaceship in orbit - it's a weapon, some sort of nuclear device which has but one purpose not unlike the Ronald Reagan backed Strategic Defense Initiative.
I think one way of looking at the film is to suggest that no matter what we humans do, we are always able to devise ways to be violent and to misuse everything around us to meet such ends. But it isn't a indictment of humans as much as it is of intelligence and survival.
One could assume that the early human with the bone isn't unlike HAL with the controls of the Discovery One. They both detected a threat and defeated that threat in their own relative ways - one with a bone the other with control of life support systems.
Finally, I think the time travel sequence is an allegory of returning to the beginning and a second chance of getting things right. Like God giving us a second chance through the guidance of David Bowman the Star Child.
Very cute, but you may have a problem on your hands. If Orangutans hear that you are cllaing them monkies instead of apes, they might rip your arms off and beat you to death with them.
This film can have many interpretations, but it definitely has to do with the evolution of man, involving the giant black stone, called a "Monolith." What does it symbolize is the main question. It could be knowledge in general, it could be God (or some form of faith), or it could of course be aliens. Whatever it may be, it is the thing that instigates the forward change in Man's thinking.
Also, HAL clearly demonstrates the fact that we should not become completely reliant upon technology, for it can be our downfall. This is also shown in the first scene when a monkey finds a bone and figures out how to use it as a weapon. Then he kills another monkey. One could argue that it is really the monkey that kills the monkey (the "guns don't kill people, people kill people" argument), but at the same time HAL, didn't decide to kill the crew on his own, other humans told him to do it. Perhaps the real message is that technology is bad, but only because it speeds up the process of killing people. Even without them, we would continue to kill each other.