So they send George Clooney to a spaceship that is orbiting a random planet named Solaris where he is supposed to retrieve members of the troubled mission team. While there, he starts seeing his dead wife but it turns out she’s an alien mimicking his dead wife and he kind of starts to lose it a little.
Okay, I realize that this is also somewhat the plot of Event Horizon, which is a more engaging movie than this one, to be honest.
Solaris is Steven Soderbergh’s 2002 remake of a 1972 Soviet film of the same name that’s based off of a 1961 science fiction novel, and it is mostly known for its low performance at the box office and its director and star complaining about the crappy marketing. I can kind of recall the ad campaign and hearing that it was an underrated movie, so that’s probably why I had put it on a “to-watch” list (it’s also possible that I’d heard really good things about the 1972 film and said to myself, “Why not watch both?”). It popped up on Xfinity’s free movies to watch (it was on StarzEncore or something like that), so I streamed it, and …
… actually fell asleep 1/3 of the way through, so I had to go back and watch from that point. Then, I almost fell asleep again.
That’s probably unfair because there’s a really well-told story about how we deal with the psychological trauma that comes with grief, and Clooney plays that very well, especially when his wife returns as this mimic but one who is built solely on his memories of her. The rest of the small cast is also very good, with Jeremy Davies playing the weird, kooky crew member and Viola Davis settling nicely into the Ripley of the ship’s crew.
In fact, I’d watch the hell out of Viola Davis as Ripley in Alien.
Despite that, I find Soderbergh’s approach to the material too enigmatic. I don’t need every single thing in the story spelled out for me, but this bored me in quite a number of places and I was not very engaged through most of it.
Watch or Skip?