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Starring George Clooney; Natascha McElhone, Jeremy Davies, Viola Davis
Based on the novel by Stanislaw Lem
Written and Directed by Steven Soderbergh

IN SHORT: In Space, no one can hear you yawn. [Rated PG-13 on appeal for sexuality/nudity, brief language and thematic elements. Previously rated (R). ]

Based upon a famous sci-fi novel and once adapted for film (in the early 70s, as the Russian language Solyaris), we remind y'all that we don't compare to Source Material and don't believe that you should have to plant for anything in order to enjoy the movie you've paid for. If you want to pick up either previous edition of this story, there are links below that allow you to do so.

Sometime in the future, a future not too far away to look all whiz bang sci-fi, psychiatrist Chris Kelvin (George Clooney) makes his living doing what all good shrinks do. He cares for the mental. One day, he is asked to make a voyage into deep space, to a manned probe orbiting the planet Solaris. The probe is in deep space investigating the commercial possibilities of the planet -- NASA had sold rights to the project to a private corporation -- and some strange things have been occurring on board. Chris isn't told exactly what has been going on. He's just told he's got to see it to believe it.

Yeah, you, too. Once you see Solaris you won't believe you plunked down whatever it was you plunked down. At our advance screening, with just about every seat packed, audience members started streaming out of the theater a mere fifty (50) minutes into the screening. More on that in a bit.

After arriving at Solaris, Kelvin finds one crewmate, Snow (Jeremy Davies), acting as if he's stoned on something or other and another, Helen Gordon (Viola Davis), locked in her cabin because she's scared to death. But then things get weird. Chris dreams sweet dreams about his ex-wife Rheya Kelvin (Natascha McElhone) -- ex as in no longer alive -- only to wake to find his lovely lady, warm and breathing, in the bed next to him.

It seems that this planet is somehow fulfilling the dreams of the poor li'l astronauts circling it. Or nightmares, the planet doesn't seem to differentiate. Either way that's about the depth of Solaris, an amazingly underdeveloped story which plods along at a pace a snail could easily out run. Back in our film student days, Solaris would be the perfect kind of film to sit for. It invites you to sip cappuccino afterwards and discuss the merits of using a metaphor for abortion and/or murder and/or suicide as the basis of a science fiction themed movie.

You want philosophy? Go to college. You want a worthwhile ticket to spend your hard earned cash on? Go elsewhere. We stayed in our seats desperately awaiting a surprise twist that would make the mounting boredom worthwhile. Steven Soderbergh is too good a writer and director to inflict the kind of suffering Solaris does upon an audience, so we thought. We did get up to quickly ask the folks who were walking out of the theater early, why they were walking out on their free ticket.

Boredom, pure and simple. With no story evident at the halfway point, there was no reason to stay. We agree. Short of a desperate desire to see George Clooney's bare butt, there is no reason to plant for Solaris.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Solaris, he would have paid . . .


A total and complete waste of time.

amazon com link Buy Solaris (the Russian version) Criterion DVD
Buy the original novel
Click to buy films by Steven Soderbergh
Click to buy films starring George Clooney
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