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Solaris (2002)

Solaris
"I can't believe they chose Ben Affleck as the sexiest man alive--when I get back to Earth there's gonna be alot of explaining to do!"

Starring:

George Clooney
Natascha McElhone

Released By:

20th Century Fox

Released In:

2002

Rated:

PG-13

Reviewed By:

Adam Mast

Grade:

A-

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Solaris is a film that will probably divide audiences more then any other picture this year. Challenging and provocative, this sci-fi love story was produced by James Cameron, but don't go in expecting a big, special effects extravaganza, because director Steven Soderbergh takes a different road. This is a small, quiet picture, and I found it very effective.

George Clooney plays a psychologist mourning the death of hi wife. While trying to put his life together, he is asked to journey to a space station called Solaris, to determine why the scientists on board have cut off contact with Earth. When Clooney arrives, he finds that the crew are not at all themselves, and within a short period of time, he begins to have strange visions.

Solaris will no doubt bore many people with it's pacing (even if it only is ninety-eight minutes long), but I've always felt that a movie doesn't have to move like a bullet train to be compelling. It's important that audiences go into this film in the right frame of mind. This is science fiction, but Solaris is more of a cerebral story. This is not a movie with action and laser gun battles. Solaris is the thinking man's science fiction film.

Steven Soderbergh is one of the most exciting film makers around and he takes an enormous chance with this project, especially after breaking through with commercial hits like Erin Brockovich, Traffic, and Ocean's 11. But then that's one of the things I love about him. He makes the movies he wants to make. He even took a big chance with his last film, the little seen experimental gem Full Frontal. While his take on Solaris (a remake based on a novel by Stanislaw Lem) may pose questions and theories that might be beyond mass audiences' comprehension, it is, at heart, a simple examination into how we as people deal with loss and feelings of guilt.

In many ways, this feels like a Kubrick film with it's metaphors and highly intellectual approach at a number of subjects including that age old debate between religion and science.

And while I'm on the subject of Kubrick, I have read a few reviews that suggested Solaris is nothing more than Eyes Wide Shut meets 2001: a space Oddysey. Is that supposed to be some kind of insult? I, for one, thought that was a fantastic picture. And like that masterpiece, I'm sure Solaris will be misunderstood by many who see it.

Solaris is also a love story, but I wouldn't call it a fully developed one. But then, I don't think it's supposed to be. Soderbergh treats the romance as a series of snapshots. We are only given glimpses, but never once did I doubt Clooney's love for his wife.

This is a fantastic, heartfelt performance by Clooney, who has very little dialogue. He still manages to display vulnerability, hope, and a great sense of yearning in one of his very best performances. While Jeremy Davies turns in a terrific bit part as an eccentric crew member and Natascha McElhone is a beam of light as Clooney's wife, it is the ex-ER star who carries the movie, with his portrayal of a psychologist forced to deal with his own problems.

There has been much talk about Solaris in the press lately, most notably Soderbergh's bout with the MPAA. To the director's shock, the film was given an R rating because of a scene in which we see Mr. Clooney's bare bottom. After Soderbergh appealed, Solaris was justifiably given a PG-13. Hopefully, the publicity will help the film, for this is not an easy picture to market. It's safe to say that it probably wont find a huge audience. That's a shame too, because Solaris is a fascinating, poetic oddysey.

:: zBoneman.com Reader Comments ::

Max Griffiths

Max Griffiths

Solaris was a film I was looking forward to quite a bit. I've always followed Soderbergh's films and with afew exceptions (Full Frontal) have been very impressed. Unfortunately I have to be to differ when it comes to solaris - the tag line should have read "Solaris - A Waste of Space." It was just tedious, and when I wasn't bored to tears I was confused. I can appreciate a film that I'm not fully supposed to understand like 2001, but this film is not Kubrick and I think you gave it an awfully generous rating. Thanks

William

William

Solaris was not the best if you like sex scenes guns and violence. But if you like slow developing romance and drama this movie is exellent. George Clooney plays a psychologist mourning the death of his wife. He is asked to journey to a space station called Solaris, to determine why the scientists on board have cut off contact with Earth. When Clooney arrives, he finds that the crew are not at all themselves, and within a short period of time, he begins to have strange visions.

Ex-Clooney Fan

Ex-Clooney Fan

This movie was so boring. More ego trip than Space Odyssey.

S

S

I just watched this dvd again tonight, and I couldn't agree more with Mr. Mast's review. This is an intelligent, thought provoking movie which will, I believe, be most appreciated by intelligent people. The performances by George Clooney, Natascha McElhone, and Jeremy Davies, were excellent. The whole appearance and atmosphere of this movie, including the music score, is sedate, deep, pensive, and beautiful. Anyone who has known loss will appreciate this story even more. It brought tears for me, and is a valued addition to my dvd collection.

Cybernaut

Cybernaut

On the whole, it was a refreshing change of pace from the the standard sci-fi fare, though it's not for those crave pulse-pounding action and blaster play. I liked the character Snow because he reminded me of my roommate from college. Solaris did seem to suffer from the "Seatle Syndrome" cliche seen in previous near-future films like BladeRunner, but the story more than makes up for this. I was the first sci-fi film I've bought home in awhile that my GF loved. LOL

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