"Solaris": philosphical sci-fi re-make

by Eric Melin on November 29, 2002

in Print Reviews

Steven Soderbergh is on a roll.

Last year, you probably saw “Ocean’s Eleven,” a smart piece of slick, fun Hollywood entertainment. Before that, Soderbergh got an Oscar win for “Traffic,” and a nom for “Erin Brockovich.”

That’s all good, but my fave Soderbergh movie is “Out of Sight,” a comedy/romance film noir that isn’t even remotely like “Pulp Fiction” (which everybody at the time was ripping off!) with George Clooney and J.Lo. That’s a kick-ass flick.

Anyway, “Full Frontal” was a step in another challenging direction earlier this year, and “Solaris,” his remake of the philosophical 1972 sci-fi mindbender, is another giant step in a more subtle manner for this unpredictable filmmaker.

“Solaris” is a true science fiction tale, like “A.I” or “2001.” It’s about ideas, and not just a fantasy movie set in space. (See “Star Wars.”) For this reason, 90 percent of the people who see this movie will hate it.

George Clooney shows a more personal, reflective side than we are used to seeing (and I’m not talking about his backside, by the way), and there are NO action sequences, even when you are led to believe there will be. It is a quiet, disturbing meditation on life itself. “Solaris” asks questions about the meaning of life and fate and personality that most movies would just as soon avoid with some convoluted plotline and big explosions.

The buzz on this flick is that it’s slow and long. I found it to be neither, and really enjoyed the change of pace and daring it took to produce a movie like this. Not only do I want to see it again, but I now will have to rent the original, coincidentally out on DVD this week. Hmmm…

There was a third act distraction technique I thought was unnecessary, and some questionable digital effects, but it left me with so much to talk and think about that I can wholeheartedly recommend “Solaris” if re-thinking your ideas about mortality and love is what you’re looking for in your entertainment.

It isn’t always what I have in mind, but it really worked for me.

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers.com and writes the Screen Stealers column for The Pitch. He’s President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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