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Tarkovsky's adaptation of Lem's novel takes quite a few liberties,
jettisoning, for instance, the brilliant satirical elements and
re-creating in its own potent terms the story's fascinating
strangeness. But Tarkovsky does remain true to the novel's
central sci-fi premise: that life elsewhere in the universe may have
evolved along lines so different from life on Earth that we could
never fathom it. Lem's novel, then, is an extraordinary rebuttal of
all the ridiculous, anthropomorphic sci-fi scenarios in which aliens
appear as strangely familiar humanoids (often demanding to be
taken to some leader, in English).
The new Solaris strats from the original in a far more fundamental
way than Tarkovsky did, shifting the focus from the mind-bending
sci-fi premise to something far more predictable and far less
interesting: a rather conventional tale (told largely through
flashbacks) of love, regret, and redemption. Instead of Lem's
world-wide sentient ocean, we get a few shots of some neon
clouds--and virtually no explanation at all of what Solaris is. In fact,
Solaris itself becomes so peripheral to the story that one almost
wonders why the filmmakers even bothered to use the name.
The film will probably come as a major disappointment to fans of
the original (or of the earlier film version, with its unique
`Tarkovskyan' style and atmosphere). It will also disappoint the
casual cineplex viewer who expects that since Cameron's name is
linked with the project that it must be some rip-roaring
rollercoaster ride rather along the lines of another Aliens or
Terminator II. (Thus "miss...miss...") Yes, the film's quite slow,
but the slowness is not enigmatic and compelling as in Tarkovsky;
it's mostly boring and often unimaginative. And the performances
certainly do not redeem the picture. One in particular (the `dude'
who plays Snow) is almost fascinating in its sheer badness.
The difference between Lem (and Tarkovsky) and the new version
is nowhere more apparent (or disappointing) than in the ending.
In place of the fathomless ambiguities of the novel's conclusion (`I
persisted in the faith that the time of cruel miracles was not past'),
we get a rather saccharine, allegorical happy ending. `Cruel
miracles': no, there's nothing remotely to compare with that. The
shift toward allegory is strongly reinforced by an iconic (and rather
pedestrian) visual allusion to Michelangelo. At the same time, I
suppose, one could see the scene as an allusion to Kubrick's
`Star-Child'. Throughout, the film's visual style and sudden fits of
Ligeti-like music owe much more to 2001 than to anything in
Tarkovsky--and to say that the invited comparison is not in the
newer film's favor is a bit of an understatement.
The filmmakers seem to depend on the beautiful stars to carry the
viewer's interest, in lieu of the braintwisting thematic substance of
the original(s). Yes, I enjoyed watching Natascha McElhone's
high-cheekboned face--in fact the main reason I stayed to the end
was to find out the actress's name (since there are no opening
credits). But that's candy rather than nutrition. I strongly
recommend--especially to those who have yet to encounter Lem or
Tarkovsky--that you stay home and either read the novel or rent the
earlier version. Having done both a couple of times, I still wished I
had made that choice.
Four of us saw a premier showing of Solaris. We all like George Clooney. We all were looking forward to this movie (he appeared to be a romantic lead in the trailers). All four of us walked out of the theater with bewildered looks on our faces, saying "Huh?". I never felt drawn into the characters, never felt much for what they were going through. Clooney has those wonderful expressive eyes, but even the emotion there didn't resonate. Truthfully, I did not like 2001 and this movie seemed very comparable to that film. Those who were fans of 2001 and particularly of this director, may take away more from this film than I did. Our group were not the only patrons to dislike the film, at least thirty people walked out about halfway through. I did not pay to see this movie and was glad that I had not done so. I would not rent it or watch it again. For every movie there is a definite audience, so I know that many people will enjoy the movie and the "messages". I am just not in that target audience.
Unfortunately this version of Solaris focuses on the actors and the
not on the characters and story. No matter how charming the actors may be,
no matter how well crafted the sets and lighting, a movie is entertaining
because of the characters and how they embody the story.
What happened? Solaris failed to grip the attention of the audience because while the audience came to the preview to see George Clooney (in some mode of undress, it should be noted) they left disappointed because they saw him, but without the role and story to put him into context, thus falling short of cleanly telling a story.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I don't know why people compare Tarkowsky's Solaris to 2001. Sure, that's what Tarkowsky intended. But while 2001 is the best sci-fi movie of all time, Solaris not even sci-fi. It distorts Stanislaw Lem's view of the universe and actually changes it around. Of course, many people think it's a work of genius by the way it throws philosophy around, but that's for those who like philosophy. I think philosophy is silly and overblown all around. Science (the daughter of Greek thinking - which I don't really consider philosophy in the modern, especially German, sense, but as a way to try to understand the universe) is the only form of thinking that's valid. So, I think that, although entertaining, both the 1972 Solaris and the book are rather silly in their opposite ways of considering the impossibility of humanity ever understanding the universe (which is obviously false by all accounts). That said, both are a zillion times better than this movie. Of course the decision of focusing on Kelvin's love life robs the film of all depth, but it goes beyond that. In trying to "modernize" the story by having Nasa selling the Solaris project to some corporation, you get the old and trite left-wing Hollywood trope of evil Capitalism trying to exploit nature as represented by Solaris. You don't get the actual core of the novel, which is the futile attempt of Solaristics to understand Solaris - and by extension the universe as a whole - but rather, as one of the Company (what a rip-off from Alien) agents say, "the possibility of exploiting Solaris economically". And the casting if abominable. Corey Feldman is, of course, the most ridiculous of them all, with his crazy gestures - and no, he doesn't use them here because his character is emotionally disturbed, he acts like that all the time, and I supposed he acts like that in real life too. But all the other actors are badly cast. Some have mentioned that Kelvin's wife - if forget her name now - is beautiful and renders a better performance that the others. But one of the key points of the book regarding her is her youth and innocence, in flagrant contrast to Kelvin, who is much older and cynical, which renders his shock at her return far more poignant. In that regard, Tarkowksy's casting is infinitely superior (also all the other points of this movie, silly as it is). In short, this is an awful movie. I tried to see it again today but found it almost unbearably embarrassing and boring. Stay away from it.
This film is just pathetic.
Yet again Hollywood attempts to remake something that just cannot, CANNOT be remade.
I feel so sorry for George, I have no idea why he even took the project, he's not hard up for money and generally he's got good taste in scripts. Maybe he was on a profile-building frenzy at the time?
The original, real Solaris has a lot of artistic padding in it, and the real SF action doesn't start going until well into the second half. That's Tarkovsky, he was always style over substance.
But man once the original bites into the substance, it gets there. That stuff stays with you. I still shiver, unable to forget a certain tinkling glass sound...
This film just has ... nothing. It's empty and cardboard.
First of all, if the dear viewer has not seen the Tarkovsky 1978 film - watch it first for the sake of cinematography at the very least and hopefully to see that the movie is not about technical details as described in the "FAQ" section for 2002 version. 2. The presence of the song by ICP (Insane Clown Posse) early on in the film gave me a huge relief. It helped to not take the rest of it with such pain, since the movie does no justice to the novel or the Tarkovsky's version. Someone was either genius to give the hint that film is garbage just as rotten as ICP or it was made by people who aim for a cheap hit that would make a big buck "on the shoulders of giants". This film will never become a classic
A lot of people say that this film covers just two pages of Lem's book
or that compared to Russian 'Solyaris' it lacks substance and they're
probably right. But these reviews are based on comparisons. I want to
know if Soderberg's 'Solaris' is good in it's own right, not from any
The whole film really revolves around it's chilled, delicate mood. The sense of loneliness of the Solaris station, the bewilderment of it's crew and the strange things that happen there are presented by clean, steady pictures and narrated by one of the most original soundtracks I've ever heard. George Clooney gives a great performance so as Natascha McElhone, cast perfectly for the role of Rheya. Sometimes she has this extreme, edgy, almost hypnotic look and a penetrating glance that can send shivers down your spine. She's absolutely fascinating. Jeremy Davies also plays very well his role of Snow.
'Solaris' is not perfect, but is well put together and does a good job of keeping you in a confused and shaken state.
Visually this new adaptation of Solaris is simply dull, as is the plot, the cast and the dialogue. Tarkovsky managed in his version to create stunning imagery which I found extremely thought provoking but this film is just so plain that when I had finished watching I had to wonder why I ever wasted an hour of my life doing so (I say an hour as I had to resort to fast forwarding through most of the painfully irritating flashbacks). Of course I am biased; the reason why I watched this film was to see how it compared to the Tarkovsky film and to be honest I never thought Soderburg and Clooney were up to the job, the best I was hoping for was a film which didn't try to be too clever and instead came up with a few neat innovations for science fiction. Instead the film turned out to be simply the most tedious dialogue I have ever experienced set against endlessly plain futuristic style backdrops broken only by a tacky sex scene featuring an unwelcome view of Clooney's buttocks. Nothing in this film is profound, nothing in this film is entertaining and I can't think of a single reason to recommend anyone this film unless you happen to fancy the leading actors rear end.
Steven Soderbergh's remake of the 1972 Russian film "Solyaris" casts George Clooney as a psychologist who is sent a message by an old friend pleading the doctor to join himself and the crew of the space station Solaris for reasons undisclosed. Once aboard, Clooney discovers obvious distress and his friend's dead body--as well as a warning that what is happening on Solaris will soon happen to him. Good-looking picture with wonderful art direction, fluid pacing and precise editing in the dream sequences; however, the main character isn't very intriguing, and nearly all the performances are underwhelming. As a member of the paranoid surviving crew, twitchy Jeremy Davies is used as comic relief. Though the picture could certainly use some levity, Davies nearly sinks the movie with his low-key hipster ranting, annoying gum-chewing and distracting tics (also the fault of Soderbergh, who allows Davies too much screen-time to go into his pothead arias). I don't think Clooney is ever in character here; he seems overly conscious of the camera, working his handsomeness--his externals--tenderly as a way to connect with the audience. It doesn't substitute for a gripping characterization and, by the end, most viewers will feel indifferent to the romantic plot twist. ** from ****
This movie intrigued me for some time. But upon realizing what the movie is about, I was disappointed in the message. First I see the beings do not breathe. The resurrections are referred to with disgust. The other team is not correct about flesh and bone inheriting the kingdom. Yes blood is sacred but its not dirty. We will rule on the earth for the 1000 years but everything will be wonderful. Hard for some who lack appreciation for the new opportunity, but hey, free will comes at a cost.
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