Solaris (2002)

I still wonder what those NASA people see up there.

Steven Soderbergh’s sci-fi thriller finds Dr. Chris Kelvin (George Clooney) aboard the space station Prometheus, whose crew had been investigating the planet Solaris and subsequently ceased all communications — without explanation — with Earth. Dr. Kelvin finds out exactly what happened and is given a chance to revisit an old love (Natascha McElhone) … but can he really go home again?

Director Steven Soderbergh is the real brains of this film. I almost felt like at times I was watching a remake of 2001: A Space Odyssey by how he moved this story. Soderbergh does a great job of keeping an overall mood and pace with this film, because sometimes you really get no sounds or music, just silence and the sound of people the space-ship. I sometimes felt like I was trapped on this space-ship with these people as well, and the feeling is very creepy in a way.

There is also a lot more substance to this film than I expected. This film actually had some moving moments that bring out the emotional level within this film, and actually raise a couple of questions as well. Do we see other people as they are, or do they only exist through our own ideas about them? The planet can read the man’s mind and reproduce his dead wife, but he soon becomes depressed because he questions how well he really knew her in the first place. The planet itself cannot supply what he has in his own mind. All of this really did work for me, and actually had me thinking about it all after wards.

However, this film will frustrate the hell out of you. The film has a very snail-like slow pace that sometimes gets off the ground, but other times just keeps moving slowly and slowly. Some will be annoyed by this, and some won’t really mind, but it’s not just the slow pace that is bothering, it’s also the story in a way. I liked how the story had a deeper meaning than I originally thought, but the way the story pans out on film, didn’t work mainly because it was very confusing. We don’t know who’s side this is being told from either Clooney’s or McElhone’s, and we don’t know when the ending is, or hell for that matter, when the beginning is. I still am wondering how this film all came to be, but I will say that I wish it was structured better.

George Clooney does a good job in this lead role, and plays a more subdued character than usual, but he has a hard task here. His character is reliant on tons and tons of emotion, mainly because of what this character goes through over time, and Clooney does nail it. Natascha McElhone is also very sweet as Clooney’s old flame, and she brings out a lot of emotion within her character that was needed as well. Jeremy Davies is here and brings charm and comedy to the film, while Viola Davis is pretty strong as usual. The cast is not very big, which I admired since it was a Hollywood production, and I must say they old do pretty well.

Consensus: Though it could have been structured a lot better than it was, Solaris is intelligently directed, and brings up emotional questions about how we view other human beings, and their existence, however this is not for everybody.



  1. The more I think about this movie the more I like the pacing of it. It’s not a sci-fi action movie and it’s not entirely a thriller either. It’s very much its own genre and I find that fascinating.

    Thanks for the comment on my review! I’m glad to find someone else who really did enjoy the movie. I’m hoping to get a copy of the 1972 Russian version to see what the differences are.

  2. I wish I’d caught more of the notion that the movie questions how well we can ever actually know someone- I was more caught up in noticing other things, and even now, a year down the road, I remember that question of how well he knew her being a central premise.

    Recalling a flawed vision of someone we love after all, is one of the most human things we can do, and often our last memories of someone can be very strong indeed. The difference between 2001 and this film, to my mind, was that I actually managed to pay attention during this one- I think there’s a little more emotion to this film, but I did see Kubrick’s piece much further back, when I had a much smaller attention span.

    All in all, an excellent review, and thanks for posting! Inspired me to restart my original half-baked idea.

    • Check this out one more time, and while you’re at it go back to 2001, and see how they both hold up. No problem thanks for checking my stuff out!

  3. Having seen both versions and own a copy of Tarkovsky’s version which I have a review of.

    I like Soderbergh’s version of the film because of the production value and the personal allegories Soderbergh put into the film in relation to his own divorce at the time. Yet, I prefer Tarkovsky’s version due to its exploration of themes as well as performances, and its score. I think ending in Tarkovsky’s version as ambiguous as it was, is much better.

    Both films are slow but that’s expected from a story like this.

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