Movie Review – “Solaris”

I tried to keep the review spoiler-free, but I expect any comments to be as loaded with spoilers as the comments on Planet of the Apes. You’ve been warned.

Premise

A psychiatrist is sent to investigate strange occurances on board a
space station.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info

George Clooney
as Chris Kelvin.
Natascha
McElhone
as Rheya Kelvin.
Jeremy Davies as
Snow.

Viola Davis as
Helen Gordon.

Written and directed by Steven
Soderbergh
.

Based on a story by Stanislaw Lem.

The full IMDB page is here.

High Point

“You’ve definitely chosen the right guy.”

Low Point

The ads I’ve seen for this were in no way representative of the movie
that it is. A lot of people will be disappointed, initial word of
mouth will be bad, and the box office results will not be
representative of what this film deserves.

The Scores

This is not a terribly original movie. Imagine taking
2001, removing the sense of exploration and growth of the
human race, and adding a hackneyed love story. This is not a bad
movie, but I don’t think it added anything new to the history of
cinema. I give it 2 out of 6.

The effects were flawless. Most were the surface effects of
Solaris itself, but the outer shots of the ship, the airlock, and some
other effects were there too. Soderbergh also has the sense to use
effects only when they fit into the story. Unfortunately, there were
no effects we haven’t seen somewhere before. I give it 5 out of 6.

The story is more about interactions than plot. There are
puzzles to solve, and numerous uses of imagery to draw parallels, but
the plot is not complicated. (I would like to read the book to see if
that is where this comes from. The only Lem I’ve read so far is
The Futurological Congress, which I cannot recommend enough,
especially for a marathon read.) I give the story 4 out of 6.

The acting from most of the cast, is decent, but not great.
In what may be one of the homages to 2001, the characters are
often cold and emotionless. Jeremy Davies is the exception, and is
truly excellent in his role. (He was great in Million Dollar
Hotel
, too.) I give the acting 4 out of 6.

The emotional response this produced was sparse. We never
really have any reasons to like or care about these characters before
they are placed in mortal jeopardy. The first act that produced a
strong response was the final one, which was just too little too
late. I give it 3 out of 6.

The production was exceptional, especially when viewed as a
tribute to 2001. There are some images that are
unquestionably designed to remind people of Kubrick’s film. The
direction is as excellent as it usually is from Steven Soderbergh.
The music was used sparingly and effectively. I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, this will probably be enjoyed by those that enjoyed
2001, such as myself. The rest of the population, like the
four people I saw it with, will probably hate it. This review is
about my opinions, though, so I’ll give it 4 out of 6. I’m happy I
watched it, but I wouldn’t buy it.

In total, Solaris received 27 out of 42.

5 replies on “Movie Review – “Solaris””

  1. hitch says:

    it’s interesting to hear
    your reactions to this movie, considering I’ve read the book, but not seen the movie.

    as far as the book – there are puzzles to figure out, but no one ever really does. No one is ever really placed in mortal danger. There’s a POSSIBILITY of it, but it comes and goes without the reader being aware that it was going on. (an “oh….yeah, well, we could have been annihalated, but as you see we’re fine…” moment.)

    on the whole, as I read it, it occurred to me that it would make a rather dull movie – though I did like the book. Wouldn’t be one I’d recommend to a lot of people, but interesting and, unlike the movie, it does add something to the history of literature.

    btw, SPOILER for the book:
    (the words are backwards (sdrawckab) in case you’re having trouble)

    eht evol yrots si ton ni eht koob. erus, sih daed o.s. swohs pu, tub s’ti a ecruos fo trofmocsid rehtar naht erusaelp.

    • y42 says:

      Re: it’s interesting to hear

      your reactions to this movie, considering I’ve read the book, but not
      seen the movie.

      as far as the book – there are puzzles to figure out, but no one ever
      really does. No one is ever really placed in mortal danger.
      There’s a POSSIBILITY of it, but it comes and goes without the
      reader being aware that it was going on. (an “oh….yeah, well, we
      could have been annihalated, but as you see we’re fine…”
      moment.)

      on the whole, as I read it, it occurred to me that it would make a
      rather dull movie – though I did like the book. Wouldn’t be one I’d
      recommend to a lot of people, but interesting and, unlike the
      movie, it does add something to the history of literature.

      I’ve read the book too, and have not yet seen the movie, but I
      intend to,
      just to go see the pretty SFX of the ocean-planet organism thingy :
      )

      So I expect a bunch of pretty SFX shots in the firts 45 minutes and
      the rest of the movie will be some boring crappy love story…very
      much like Time Machine earlier this year…

  2. rit56 says:

    Solaris
    I read the book as well. Unfortunately Hollywood has to sell tickets and naturally they focus on the “love story” rather than delve a bit more into the ocean being a living thing able to reproduce anything perfectly just from your dreams, including humans. Visually it is lovely but science fiction tales should be that, about science fiction and not love stories. The great thing about Sci-Fi is you can create whatever you want. That’s the deal. Oh well. It’s more of a take your girlfriend to film rather than anyone who has read Lem and you’re expecting to see a recreation of the world his mind created. I suspect in the book he was writing in a sense for personal perspective. I just got the feeling he treated his wife like shit for years and when he got older he realized he really loved her. Life in Poland under Soviet rule was difficult back then. Remember he wasn’t allowed to broach certain topics. He lived in an occupied land with Big Brother watching everyone especially intellectuals. I suspect that is also why the reader has a good deal of reading between the lines in the book. He had to be vague.

  3. is says:

    one word. “suck”
    My wife and I are without power due to the lovely snow in the east, so we went to see a movie. I had heard a comment about Solaris, how it was sci-fi, how it was good. I feel cheated. I want my $10 back. The movie was so slow, it never became interesting, and the camera movements made me wanna smack the director. I can handle concepts and brain twisters but this movie was such a snoozer that I am shocked that it could be actually created. There was no suspense, and the ending was predictable.

    BAH.

  4. is says:

    ohh and the SFX
    the SFX were excellent, BUT they were repetitive and after the first time I saw the SFX I had to tune them out. it apeared to me that the director or producer or whoever makes the decisions used way to many shows of Solaris in the middle of the film where they were not needed. It was as if he thought, “Hmmm… it gets boring here, maybe I should add some action or interesting stuff. Nah, I’ll just add another identical boring shot of the weird planet thingie.”

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