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Awesome: 18.62%
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8 reviews, 97 user ratings

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Solaris (2002)
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by Natasha Theobald

"Immerse yourself in the experience."
5 stars

I think it's okay not to understand everything about this movie. In fact, I think that is part of the point. I saw James Ellroy talking about intricate stories this morning and how, as an audience, you have to be willing to trust that the author or storyteller knows where they are going. What complicates this in the case of "Solaris" is that there is no distinct destination. You have to trust enough to let go, knowing you aren't necessarily meant to come back with answers. There are no answers, only choices.

In the first few scenes, we only seem to see Chris Kelvin from the back. Maybe the reason is simple, that there is just something he isn't able to face. Maybe there is no reason at all. We meet him in the midst of his daily life, which seems like the lives most of us probably lead, completing a series of mostly meaningless tasks to carry us from one end of the day to the other, thinking little about any of it, sort of coasting along. He lives in a reality of dim light and muted colors, alive with no real spark.

Chris is contacted by a friend who has traveled to Solaris to estimate its potential as a commercial property. It seems that the planet has caused something questionable to happen with the crew, and they are having difficulty finding their way home. The friend is hopeful that Chris may be of some help, as he is a therapist and has some experience with emotional pain. Chris accepts the challenge and travels via Athena to the group. He arrives among what seems to be a crime scene and finds the members of the crew who are left to be behaving oddly. It is only after he sleeps in this environment that he is able to understand the exact nature of their distress, but, before Chris can help them, he must come to grips with a past that will confront him whether he is ready for it or not.

The characters spend a lot of time in darkness, brushed only briefly with natural light -- moments of clarity. The other light on the ship has been created, a human construct masquerading as real light, the safety and seeming certainty of it, the starkness of the institutional and structured. Solaris itself has real light and color. It is ethereal and vibrant. It lives and breathes. It is creative energy. But, it is also the unknown.

Chris awakens to the dream of being human, the tenuous nature of knowledge, the fallibility of memory, and the absurdity of naming things in an attempt to give them boundaries, to categorize and box them away as if it made them easier to explain and understand. Perhaps, for him, there is a place beyond naming, beyond boundaries, where all things are on one spectrum that doesn't require definition. That would be a place where death would have no dominion. If a person could just find a way to reach out, to connect, to share energy with other energy, there would be no need for understanding, no need for classification or descriptive language. The connection would be enough.

George Clooney strips himself of his natural cool to expose a character made raw by circumstances. The movie rests on him, and he gives it everything it needs. In the supporting roles, Natascha McElhone is beautiful and bewildering, Jeremy Davies is, as always, weird and wonderful, and Viola Davis is smart and, as necessity dictates, strong. Writer-Director Soderbergh has confidence to let the power of the presence of his actors speak as loudly as any words. All elements are strung together, never forced, to create a singular and unique experience at the movies.

My reaction to this movie was equally emotional and intellectual, which, honestly, was a welcome change from how most movies choose to engage an audience. If you appreciate a story that challenges your assumptions and moves you out of your comfort zone, "Solaris" is worth a visit.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=6390&reviewer=317
originally posted: 12/28/02 18:39:52
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User Comments

7/08/13 Eh Artistic takes on science fiction are usually awesome 1 stars
7/28/10 bah another crappy christian propaganda movie 1 stars
4/30/10 Man Out 6 Bucks Stupid sugar-coated Reanimator-chimera of Tarkovsky's genius, montaged by Russian CGI 2 stars
9/02/09 Woofers Thought it was boring remake of Forbidden Planet 2 stars
5/31/09 Jeff Wilder A good idea. But one that would've worked better in book form 2 stars
9/01/08 Brian Mckay visually and emotionally engrossing. Long and slow paced, but never felt tedious 5 stars
3/22/08 Andrew Earl Singer A waste of film, I watched the commercials and switched off the movie! 1 stars
7/28/07 Martin I dissagree, it's one of the best movies of 2002 5 stars
6/10/07 LesnTea Watched it again, liked it more. Natascha's stare creeped me out! 4 stars
6/05/07 gr117 A tremendous bore. 1 stars
4/25/07 unknown Very blan.. takes a minute for you to understand the plot. Clooney is of course not bad 2 stars
12/15/06 MP Bartley Sombre, but thought provoking. Clooney is mis-cast though, while Davies annoys endlessly. 4 stars
7/31/06 Marty good acting, great visual/audio combo, and it keeps your mind busy. mood movie 4 stars
3/05/06 Indrid Cold The answers to metaphysical questions are too pat, but better than most Hollywood sci fi. 4 stars
1/21/06 Jim Huh??? 4 stars
12/30/05 Agent Sands An overlooked piece of good filmmaking. 4 stars
11/24/05 JP I was mesmorized from the first frame. The blend of sound and pyschology were perfect. 5 stars
10/02/05 Tim the Enchanter Disemboweling yourself with a rusty fork is better than watching this movie 1 stars
9/10/05 R.W. Welch Doesn't make a lot of sense but has a certain fascination about it. WAL for sci-fi addicts. 3 stars
5/07/05 Ronin Not that good and not that bad either. The book is much better! 3 stars
5/01/05 Negative Emotionally stimulating ! 5 stars
2/02/05 the Grinch Honk SHEWWWW, Honk SHEWWWW, Honk SHEWWW 3 stars
1/05/05 Rinec A cerebral classic! Action film lamebrains avoid! 5 stars
10/20/04 Helen This movie is extremely confused and its very slow. 3 stars
8/26/04 Steve Newman Very confusing - would not watch again 3 stars
8/15/04 Daveman A disappointing remake of a masterpiece but still has its moments of genuine profundity. 4 stars
8/10/04 Rolo Watch it in the dark when you've had a few! Shame it wasn't longer! 5 stars
7/17/04 Absynthe Beautiful photography. You need an imagination and brain to appreciate this movie. 5 stars
7/10/04 Rob You need a brain to appreciate this film! 5 stars
7/05/04 dean loss 5 stars
6/09/04 Nadie Trust me this movie is extremely boring unless you're watching it while doing illegal drugs 1 stars
5/31/04 Charlene Javier Cute mooning, though! 1 stars
5/31/04 Nobody Absolutely the worst movie I have ever seen!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
5/09/04 reptilesni ZZZZZzzzzzZZZZZZzzzzZZZZZzzzzzZZZZ 1 stars
4/23/04 Daniel Harris Mind-numbingly boring!What was Clooney thinking? 1 stars
4/23/04 Cupid Stunt No brainers will hate it! People who like lobotomised all action films will too! 4 stars
4/16/04 Michael Greenwaldt Could have been interesting/hypnotic, but is instead boring/stupid! George's ass was nice. 2 stars
4/13/04 The More You Know had the eerie effect of glazing over my eyes til i swore i'd died & put in a cryo-chamber. 3 stars
4/11/04 Wildcarde1 not good science or fiction 1 stars
4/05/04 Agent Sands Definitely Soderbergh's most claustrophobic, but effectively creepy. 4 stars
2/05/04 coladdict Watch it when stoned. it moves at just the right pace 4 stars
1/22/04 The Velcro Warlock Best part is fleeting glimpse of Natascha McElhone's pooper. Otherwise muddled. 3 stars
12/20/03 I Would Not as good as Tarkovsky's masterful version, but still well worth your time. 4 stars
11/22/03 smartmusician so dull I fell asleep 1 stars
11/06/03 Capt' Fox Strange like the original book by Stanis Law Lem. But it draws you in and you have to watch 4 stars
10/23/03 Frostbite Falls Gonna' Love It or Hate It - Loved It 5 stars
9/26/03 othree compelling like Vonnegut and Bradbury 4 stars
9/23/03 JesseL Through a garden hose! I'm a Clooney, this was painful. 1 stars
9/15/03 Kyle Seems a tad pretentious. 3 stars
9/12/03 wyntrout Worse than 2001 -- the movie, not the book! 1 stars
9/10/03 Ph0 the most underrated film of our time 5 stars
8/24/03 Jason I fell asleep. I hate it. I hate it. 1 stars
8/11/03 Big B Fails on every level. Candy shell with helium inside. 1 stars
8/11/03 Amy About that.... 4 stars
8/03/03 AgoraphbicVideoAvenger About an hour and a half of George Clooney's face and not much else. 2 stars
8/03/03 James Crabtree Much better than expected. I dislike Clooney, but this was good. 4 stars
7/30/03 Daddy Plaid Twas a love story, plain & simple. 4 stars
7/06/03 Matt Thiel I still don't think this film works 3 stars
7/06/03 Mopsa I saw it months ago and I'm still yawning 1 stars
6/24/03 toto Ha,collupsed movie previews of Original.Cameron is only enough for buisiness. 1 stars
4/13/03 George Jung One of the best movies of 2002. 5 stars
3/20/03 Goksel Sahan Definetely, a great movie..... 5 stars
3/16/03 Cameron Slick Slow-moving, cerebral, and ambiguous, Solaris is not a movie for everyone, but IMO awesome 5 stars
3/03/03 WestcoastPunk What a load of shit. I fell aslead like 10 times 1 stars
2/28/03 alien assassin If you don't like this, watch "Event Horizon" on DVD 4 stars
1/29/03 Troutman Coolee Dumb story. Fleeting glimse of Natascha McElhone's pooper was best part. 3 stars
1/25/03 thejames Great film, wished it was longer but its good for the attention span of most people. 5 stars
1/21/03 Angolmois Seems like the movie takes 2 chapters out of the book and expands it. Lem deserves better. 3 stars
1/12/03 TheOthersFan its almost endearing how philosophical Solaris wants to be, if it didnt suck so bad as this 1 stars
12/16/02 D Not as beautiful as the original, story was tighter.Should have expanded on book. 4 stars
12/15/02 Mickey With A C Linda Lovelace didn't suck more than this 1 stars
12/15/02 Titus Bizzare. Fun to watch if you're into slow and subtle. 4 stars
12/11/02 WestcoastPunk What a load of shit. I fell aslead like 10 times 1 stars
12/11/02 Max recomended to read a book before seeing a film. it's deep, filosofical&poetic. 4 stars
12/11/02 TheOthersFan Solaris wants so much to be the philosophical allegory that it knows full well it isn't. 2 stars
12/11/02 cpbjr Really uninspired and completely uncompelling. 1 stars
12/10/02 R. Siby Horrible 1 stars
12/10/02 Greyjack Kind of a Terence Malick meets Stanley Kubrick kind of thing. I liked it. 4 stars
12/09/02 ^ZuLu^ Reminded me about 2001 - except for the depth of the story. Nothing special. 3 stars
12/08/02 "Yes the shit." I ll give it time. But not yet. I was annoyed by the abrupt ending. Davies was wasted. 2 stars
12/06/02 astrotart Don't see it if you're sleepy. Otherwise its bright, dreamy & romantic (w/Clooney's heiny!) 4 stars
12/06/02 ownerofdajoint prettybadstuffbigletdownexceptfornataschamcelhone 2 stars
12/06/02 Suzz interesting in a slow, uninvolving way, not on a par with 2001 3 stars
12/04/02 KingNeutron Loved it. B patient - like 2001ASO but shorter. If u cant understand it @ 1st give it time. 4 stars
12/04/02 Vagile Rare a film like this is made anymore 4 stars
12/03/02 Angry Black Man Clooney's ass stole the movie!!!! 1 stars
12/03/02 Justin A. Dyer This is by the far the worst film that I have ever seen. We walked out during the film. 1 stars
12/03/02 whtie bread A big waste of fucking money!!! This film is shit. An infant compared with 2001. 2 stars
12/02/02 rue the whirl very good if you can wrap your brain around it 4 stars
12/02/02 jc its slow but intresting 4 stars
12/02/02 Rich Cirivilleri I'd liken this to eating a bowl of mashed millet while sitting in a stainless steel cube. 2 stars
12/02/02 Mickey With A C You should die for this Soderbergh 1 stars
12/02/02 poetchuck Hal is the only thing missing from here 4 stars
12/02/02 Bert Zillian Intriguing, and Clooney's great, but in the end, not that provocative. He's dead. The end. 4 stars
12/01/02 ajay The movie is way too slow-paced, I wanted it to be over. 2 stars
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  27-Nov-2002 (PG-13)



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