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3.3 out of 5 stars
Solaris [2003] [DVD]
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Excellent film exploring the idea of what we are and if anything we see , feel or experience is real. It takes place on a space station orbiting the weird planet "Solaris". Strange occurrences on the space station have been causing concern leading to the rescue expedition headed by George Clooney's character. At the end of the film you'll probable question your own idea of reality.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 18 November 2007
A recently widowed psychologist receives a strange message telling him to travel to the space station Solaris which is studying a spatial phenomena. People from the crew's memories begin appearing and interacting with them, including the psychologist's dead wife. The people appearing don't know they were created by the phenomena and think they are the "real" people interacting with the people they know on Solaris.

An unusual and ostensibly science fiction film, this is really a meditation on grieving, loss, regret and desire. It's about how the choices we make shape our futures and the one thing we can never let go of is the things we can't change but would give anything to be able to. It's about the crippling effect of losing a loved one, and blaming yourself.

Well this film is kind of weird - perhaps because it was so different to what was expected - and I have to admit that I almost nodded off once or twice while I watched it, such was the slowness and laid-back mood of it all. It's worth seeing for Natascha McElhone's eyes though, they are enough to keep any man wide awake. Hints of at least three other sci-fi movies here - 2001 A Space Odyssey, Alien and Event Horizon, and not as good as any of them but ultimately they should not be compared with them. It's kind of odd that it was made at all, was one of my reactions; my better half and I looked at each other at the end and shrugged as if to say, 'Huh?' Confusing at times, boring for the rest of the time, overall pretty much a waste of time. Useful vehicle for the two leading players and little more. Clearly a divider of opinions, one that you will either like a lot or very little.
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on 3 August 2015
This film is hugely under appreciated, although I can see why to a certain degree. Tarkovsky's 1972 adaptation became an undisputed classic in its genre, and it is in itself a very impressive piece of work. This 2002 "remake", helmed by Steven Soderbergh and starring George Clooney in the lead role, was almost doomed from the start to many who loved the 1972 version, many approaching it geared to hate it for being an "american remake" and as a result not really seeing the meditative masterpiece underneath.

Calling it a "remake" is in fact a bit of a misnomer, as it becomes evident that this is not a film purely based on the 1972 Solaris but a seperate adaptation of the original novel. Soderbergh takes an alternative approach to Tarkovsky, crafting a deep, intelligent psychological thriller that asks us to question the nature of reality through the device of the relationship between Clooney's character and the construction of his wife created by Solaris. It eschews the surreal imagery of the Tarkovsky version in favour of creating a series of emotions and moods, greatly helped by the absolutely phenomenal soundtrack by Cliff Martinez.

What this film manages that in my opinion the 1972 version does not, is make me care deeply for the characters, through the use of dreams and flashbacks to flesh out the relationship between Kelvin and Rhea and the wonderful performances from Clooney and Natascha McElhone. The two supporting characters on board the station also do a stellar job of giving us the impression they are being driven over the edge by their experiences.

To get to the point, although I see that this film is hugely divisive, and my opinion is probably quite contentious, I would declare that this is one of the finest science fiction films out there, and I even enjoyed it a bit more than the Tarkovsky version, as good as that is. I would ask anyone wanting to watch this to ignore the protestations of the source material being dumbed down and this being a "pointless remake" (I would argue the opposite of both these things) and dive in. By all means watch the Tarkovsky film too, as it is indeed a monumental science fiction classic and very good in its own right, but I would encourage everyone to watch this underrated gem, as by rights it should be just as much of a classic, and in my opinion offers a much more human, existentialist take on the story.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 24 December 2005
It should be noted that this film is far from your average Sci-Fi, so in that respect if your a Sci-Fi fan you will not get what you expect & will prehaps be dissappointed.
I'm not a Steven Soderberg fan, espically when i look at oceans 11 and 12, nor am i a George Clooney fan either. This film was different, intriguing and beautiful. It was wonderfully shot, and i was captivated by the cuts, and particualrly aware of how awesome the sound was.
Natascha McElhone who has never really made an impression on me that much before, she was always that woman in Ronin in my mind but even she really grabbed me in this, and felt i really saw the beauty that george's character initial saw.
It is a thought provoking film about life and people, with a sci-fi back drop instead of a sci-fi plot. It was really an unexpected suprise, and a pleasent one at that.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This is a film with not much in the way of resolution but lots of possibilities as to what we are, when we are, and where we are. Set in a space station orbiting the planet Solaris there are plenty of odd happenings as the crew begin to react to something. Given that the film concerns our imaginations and ability to manufacture memories you will not be surprised to find it is hard to determine what is "real" or even what "real" might be. If you like a firm end to a film you'll be spitting nails over this one, if you like to build your own resolution (though one is suggested) then I think you'll enjoy it.
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26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on 18 March 2006
While Solaris is inevitably labelled Sci-Fi its core themes are distinctly human. Loss, regret and the realization that memory tends to simplify events, people and places. While the original film allows the viewer to muse on the overall, Soderbergh's take focuses on the main protagonist's (Clooney) experience with the strange 'planet'. With only a standard 90 minutes to play with the director has done a good job of explaining the power Solaris wields without having to constantly remind us with new and more bizarre consequences (and special effects).
The visuals sway from the ethereal (Solaris), austere (Earth) and utilitarian (Space Station). On the commentary track, Soderbergh tells us he wanted Solaris to have a 'synaptic' quality to it and the effect is beautiful. Cliff Martinez's score, too, will follow you around for months.
As for the cast, Clooney is excellent as ever. While his performance doesn't require histrionics he makes believable a shrink thrown into a situation where his vocational skills are rendered useless by minds becoming matter. Natascha McElhone is charged with an incredibly difficult role. Her character on Earth is confident, sexy, playful, remote and ultimately suicidal; on Solaris she has to play whatever Clooney's character has in mind...hard work, but admirably done. It's unfortunate that in one weak scene of un-necessary exposition the focus is on McElhone but it's a fault of the screen-writer, not her. Jeremy Davies' Snow is perhaps the character that deserved more attention than was given. Considering his unique 'situation' it would have been worth an extra half hour to explore it. Viola Davis is okay but ultimately pointless. The removal of her character wouldn't have affected the film in anyway and her presence really only fills an authority vacuum on the station.
It's good to see adult themes being explored in the Sci-Fi genre and being embraced by Hollywood heavyweights....and not a LaZer BeAm in sight. Obviously this film won't appeal to the 'action' based wing of Sci-Fi fans and the polarity of opinions shown here is evidence of this. But as a serious slice of "what if", Solaris rewards attention and multiple viewings.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful film from Steven Soderbergh. I know this film is not every ones cup of tea, but a thought it was brilliant, the film is well shot you could say very picturesque with some wonderful colourful scenes, I could only imagine how good this film would look on Blu-ray?, if the DVD looks good then a Blu-ray release is a must.

The soundtrack is just gorgeous and so haunting and sets the mood for this science-fiction thriller, don't watch this film if you don't like slow burners or easily bored the film is more about desires and your fears, don't expect aliens and spaceships fighting in the sky, this film is more about what would you do?

George Clooney who is sent to investigate a space station which is orbiting a mysterious planet "SOLARIS" with the crew experiencing some weird things going on. This film in a weird way is a love story, I can't go on to much about the plot because you have to see for yourself, trust me try and forget about all the negative reviews, just sit down watch this film, and take it for what it is, if you hate it then fair enough you could say this film is like marmite, but for me this film is just pure class.

***FEATURES BELOW***

Commentary with Soderbergh and james Cameron
HBO Special Featurette
SOLARIS: Behind the Planet Featurette
Script Access
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 17 October 2005
If you're not particularly a fan of science fiction, don't be put off seeing this film. The fact that this masterpiece is set in space simply adds visual interest to a timeless story about love and loss and reconciliation. George Clooney is simply superb and Natascha McElhone is a radiantly beautiful choice as his is-she-or-isn't-she partner. With haunting music permeating the intriguing plot, and delicately lit and moody camerawork giving subtle clues to the storyline, Solaris is mysterious, gripping, charming and dreamy. It is also ultimately philosophical, leaving it up to you to decide what has happened as the final credits roll. Every so often it really is good to see a film that entertains while also respecting the viewer's intelligence. This surely belongs in the Top 100 movies of all time, and the soundtrack is worthy of any music collection.
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on 5 February 2013
I admit like a lot of the negative reviews, this is an incredibly slow film and that it can be pretentious. I genuinely think that is the way that this film is supposed to be. Without giving away too much, this film could have been set anywhere, not just space. I think it's well suited to space because that is just part of the metaphor for the loneliness, emptiness and the feeling of the unknown in the film.

I had to watch this twice for the ending to make sense to me, or for me to decide what I think it meant. This is the type of film where you are drip fed small pieces of the puzzle and left to put these back together yourself at the end.

If you are looking for spaceships I'd advise to look elsewhere. If you want something that makes you think about your perceptions, loss and relationships, then this could be the film for you.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 9 February 2005
I don't often write reviews, but after seeing the disparaging 'review' from the 'sci-fi fan' I had to wade in and give my two pennies worth.
I admit to not having seen the original... yet... but this film is, in my humblest opinion, sublime. Maybe you either get it or you don't... I would count myself amongst those that get it, but have yet to really fathom it. It delves into the psychology of the story rather than in the science fiction of the setting itself, which I love. The conflict in the characters up to the final acceptance of Clooney's character builds and culminates perfectly. And helped along by the amazing, subtle soundtrack it really is a firm favourite of mine.
Also, forget that this was produced by James Cameron... if you're expecting The Abyss or Aliens you're going to be as disappointed as the sci-fi fan! However, if you're after an intelligent, thought provoking and beautiful film in a science fiction setting then it's perfect for you!
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