Stock up on your anti-depressants and therapy. For pretentious Saturday night movie-humpers, here’s a little flick that’ll end with you saying, “Aw, that’s nice.” But fringe-element movie addicts may see its darker intent. Certainly, Solaris isn’t a happy movie, despite its final mask of the traditional Hollywood crowd-pleasing emo climax. Solaris embraces ideals such as self-mutilation and the rejection of our superficial shells to discover the limits of human mortality. The movie plays for more emotion than an all-out ‘FX spectacle’—as most sci-fi flicks should (although the effects are particularly great).
The premise of Solaris is about a shrink who gets a call to check out a nut bar on a space station near the planet Solaris. You know, that joint out past our known galaxy—just right of that star cluster and down two light years, turn left at the Starbucks wayside and there ya have it. Solaris.
In some moments, you may feel like you’re lost in the midst of a bad M. Night Shaymalan movie. Everyone walks around like corpses waiting for abstract enlightenment, but like most Soderbergh pictures, you don’t learn anything new. Movies like Solaris are designed merely for the actors and filmmakers who want to do a huge project like this. (Wasn’t the original Solaris enough?) But see, anything can happen when you find an extra $60,000,000.00 in your dirty jeans. Solaris is a mediocre update up the original, however, the acting is great across the board. Ultimately, Solaris is too uneventful for its length and as a viewer, it’s easy to lose track. The dramatic pauses between some of the characters are ridiculously long and it’s easy to predict the lines before they’re spoken. If you’ve never seen the original film as background, don’t bother. Meander through this one and you’ll figure it out. Solaris is definitely one of those flicks you have to be in the mood for. Unless you’re bumming for the holidays, stay away from sharp objects and don’t chase any pharmaceuticals with cheap Russian vodka after watching.
Solaris (2 1/2 out of Four)
PG-13, 2002, 96 min., Twentieth Century Fox
George Clooney, Natascha McElhone, Jeremy Davies, Viola Davis, Ulrich Tukur, Music by Cliff Martinez, Based on the novel by Stanislaw Lem, Produced by James Cameron, Rae Sanchini, Jon Landau, Written and Directed by Steven Soderbergh.