The point is that 2001, a big-budget, epic, leisurely paced, abstract and philosophical Science Fiction film with no explosions, space battles or other spectacular devastation would not be made today or appreciated by the mainstream audience if it were.
Well, sure, I guess if you put a dozen qualifiers with subjective definitions on it so it's easy to discard any similar examples or move the goalposts you can make it seem like no movie like that has ever been made in modern times...
How about Contact
, to start? There's one whole explosion though, to satiate the bloodlust of modern audiences, so I guess that's disqualified.