Solaris (2002)

solaris poster 2002 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Good looking, interesting ideas

Simpler version than the 1972 version

Movie Info

Movie Name: Solaris

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Genre(s): Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Drama

Release Date(s):  November 19, 2002 (Premiere)/November 27, 2002 (US)

MPAA Rating: PG-13

solaris ending space shuttle satellite

Welcome to Solaris!

Psychiatrist Dr. Chris Kelvin (George Clooney) has been contacted to help with an emergency.  The satellite orbiting the planet of Solaris has lost contact with Earth and a cryptic message from Dr. Gibarian (Ulrich Tukur) asked Kelvin to be sent.  When Kelvin arrives on the satellite, things are worse than he expected.  Something on the planet of Solaris is reaching out, and creatures forged from the memories of the crew are creating havoc.  What do the beings mean?  Are they human?  Are they even real?  Time is running out and the appearance of Kelvin’s wife Rheya (Natascha McElhone) is causing him to reflect on his past.

Directed by Steven Soderbergh, Solaris is a science-fiction drama.  The movie is an adaptation of the 1961 Stanislaw Lem novel which was previously in Russia for TV in 1968 and by Adrei Tarkovsky in 1972.  The film performed poorly at the box office but received mixed to positive reviews.

solaris george clooney

What is your desire? What is your regret?

I didn’t see the critically acclaimed Solaris until recently.  I had tried multiple times, but the pacing and approach to the story was difficult to make it through despite being a solid science-fiction film.  This version of Solaris has many of the basic premises of original story in a faster plot…but that doesn’t make it better.

The basic concept is the characters on the satellite are faced with reflections of their past…mainly how they accepted death and loss (or at least it is implied through characters other than Kelvin).  The movie gives few answers which can be frustrating to viewers.  It could be a means just to make contact and understand humanity, or it could be a psychic invasion.  I give the movie credit for keeping the ambiguity, but it does streamline the story a bit more.

The movie is largely the story of Kelvin and his wife Rheya with the other characters kind of being background characters.  Clooney and McElhone have a good connection in the movie and Clooney is a good at emoting with little dialogue…he comes off as tired, sad, confused, and even scared.  Viola Davis doesn’t get enough screentime as the character who is trying to logically approach the problem while Jeremy Davies gets the meatier “crazy” role.

solaris george clooney natascha mcelhone

Wait…I could be stuck with my wife for eternity?!?! Bogus!

The visuals for the movie are great, but the original Solaris in that front was more inventive.  Soderbergh plays visuals for 2002 visuals which you’d expect.  The beauty of the planet of Solaris is contrasted with space and the space station design is logical and functional.

Solaris is largely seen as a science-fiction movie, but I think there is something horrific about it.  The idea of being trapped in a fool’s paradise and occasionally seeing through this paradise is similar to idea of The Matrix.  The idea of a redemption of past mistakes but it never being true redemption because it is based on perception is a thought provoking concept, but if you have the choice and the tolerance, stick to the 1972 version.

Related Links:

Solaris (1972)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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