Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Trippy 'Solaris' Leaves You Feeling Lost in Space

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Trippy 'Solaris' Leaves You Feeling Lost in Space

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Soergel, Times-Union movie writer

Solaris is a crushing disappointment unless you're there to see George Clooney's bare bottom, which, happily for the movie's publicists, first got the film slapped with an R rating (it's since been given a more sensible PG-13).

The bottom is still there, but then so is the rest of the film, a ponderous and arid affair that's as self-consciously trippy as the last stretches of 2001: A Space Odyssey. You half expect to find the old guy from that movie still lying in his bed. No worries: Nothing in Solaris is going to wake him up.

Even if you'd like to encourage Steven Soderbergh and Clooney for tackling an ambitious project designed to frustrate the mainstream, you can't help but wish that they'd made one that was worth the effort.

The best I can say about Solaris is that it might have made a fascinating short film.

As it is, it's a Twilight Zone episode stretched out to feature length with the help of a freshman psychology text. It's one of those movies where, when someone reaches a hand out to the other person, it . . . takes . . . so . . . so . . . long . . . for the other person to take that hand.

You know the drill.

Solaris, based on a Stanislaw Lem novel that Andrei Tarkovsky made into a movie in 1972, is about a psychologist, Kelvin (Clooney), sent to a space station circling a purple planet named Solaris.

Communication's been cut off, and a rescue team has disappeared. Can Kelvin find out what's behind all this? Well, yes, eventually.

Soderbergh, who remains one of my top two or three modern filmmakers -- honest -- has cool style to spare, of course.

Solaris is appropriately eerie in the early scenes back on Earth and when Clooney's Kelvin first arrives at the space station. It seems empty, and there are splatters of blood everywhere.

Then, all too soon, he runs into a survivor named Snow, played by Jeremy Davies (of Spanking the Monkey and Saving Private Ryan). …

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