Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Sci Fi Top 100, #92: "Solaris" (2002)

Movie Stats:
Released 2002 (USA)
American, in English
Director - Steven Soderbergh
Stars - George Clooney, Natacha McElhone, Viola Davis, Jeremy Davies

Plot Summary:
When a research station outside the distant planet of Solaris begins to experience strange goings-on, psychologist Chris Kelvin (Clooney) is asked to visit it. McElhone co-stars as Kelvin’s wife, Rheya; Davis as one of the station’s scientists, Dr. Gordon; and Davies as one of the other scientists, Snow.

Blue language; sexy times; male nudity (butt only); brief female nudity (breast and side butt); minor gore.

Bad Stuff:
It’s definitely not the most coherent or easy-to-follow film I’ve ever seen. I feel like a lot of sci fi writers/directors think that the only way for something to be mysterious is to wait forever to explain it (if they even explain it at all). At one point, two of the characters had a discussion that implied that they both understood what was going on and I turned to my husband, confused, and said, “Have they actually explained what’s going on?” and he said no.

Honestly, not much happens.

I don’t think I liked the ending.

Good Stuff:
The acting. I particularly enjoyed Clooney, Davis, and Davies. At the opening of the film, you can tell that Kelvin is grieving, even though you don’t know why, because Clooney emotes it with every fiber of his being. Davis is amazing at conveying a woman who is thoroughly freaked out, but determined to do something about it. And Davies, as always, makes a very good annoying-yet-lovable crazy person.

Not only have the special effects held up well, some of them are really impressive. For example, I love the way that they did Solaris.

I liked its exploration of memory, the (entirely accurate) idea that how we remember things and how they actually were are two different things. I don’t see that addressed much in film.

The Verdict:
I don’t think it’s a mind-blowing film, but I liked it a lot better than I expected to. The acting carries a lot of it. The ideas are interesting as well. IMO, it’s hampered by being a bit too artsy fartsy, and by trying too hard to be suspenseful. I was actually much more interested in the mystery itself - and the moral questions that it raised - than I was during the portion of the film when they were dancing around what the mystery was. I’m looking forward to seeing the earlier version of the film (also on the list) to see the differences between the two.

I give it 3.25 stars.


Patricia said...

The whole time I'm reading your review I'm thinking, "Isn't this a remake? Did they BOTH make the list?" I was about to click over and google, but you hooked me up with the knowledge I needed. Thanks.

I've not seen either version of this. I can tell you that my mom watched this film. Her review: I didn't get it.

balyien said...

Haha, that made me laugh out loud. I can so hear your mom saying that.

I seem to recall this remake getting a lot of flak when it came out, I think for having a different ending from the original. I'm curious to see if that recollection is correct!