Generally favorable reviews - based on 38 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 38
  2. Negative: 2 out of 38
  1. 100
    Clooney brings raw intensity to his role; his scenes with McElhone are rooted in a fierce romantic yearning.
  2. 88
    The Soderbergh version is like the same story freed from the weight of Tarkovsky's solemnity. And it evokes one of the rarest of movie emotions, ironic regret.
  3. Solaris is a film where people...often...speak... like... this, and the camera moves slowly across sterile interiors.
  4. Solaris, an exploration of outer space and inner anguish, reminds us that science fiction can embrace adult ideas and human drama as well as technology and futuristic action.
  5. The film's real appeal won't be to Clooney fans or adventure buffs, but to moviegoers who enjoy thinking about compelling questions with no easy answers.
  6. A darkly brilliant sci-fi movie about emotions so deep, the story could be taking place within the chambers of the heart instead of an arid space station. At the same time, it is a coldly theoretical piece that could leave viewers unengaged.
  7. So beautifully made (everything in it is understated except the gorgeous good looks of its stars) and turns out to have such real cumulative power that it is worth holding out to the end.
  8. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Soderbergh does a fine job creating a moody atmosphere of pervasive anxiety. The ending can be interpreted a few different ways and should ignite debate about its meaning.
  9. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    To appreciate Solaris, the new film by Steven Soderbergh, it helps to downshift your moviegoing metabolism to a level approaching the cryogenically frozen: The movie's that cerebral, that contemplative, that slow.
  10. 75
    Neither as effective nor as ambitious as Kubrick's masterpiece, but it's still a compelling cinematic experience for those who are willing to abandon themselves to the unforced, measured rhythms of an issues-based motion picture.
  11. That level of acting-without-words demands the likes of a Bruno Ganz or a Klaus Maria Brandauer, not a Clooney. Even when flashing his bare derrière in a sex scene, he isn't revealing nearly enough -- his work is just skin deep.
  12. 63
    Steven Soderbergh's Solaris is an uptight movie -- the opposite of his scintillating "Out of Sight."
  13. A ponderous and dreadful film.
  14. 90
    It's an entirely different animal from Tarkovsky's hypnotic but opaque take, and it's an entirely different animal from most studio product in general -- Soderbergh's Solaris is a gorgeous and deceptively minimalist cinematic tone poem.
  15. 80
    I find Soderbergh's Solaris an eminently more satisfying experience than Lem's. This is a film as elegantly directed as any by Kubrick, one which is superbly acted and brilliantly scored, as spellbinding a work of cinema as we're likely to see for some time.
  16. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    The real irony is that for all its integrity, the film isn't nearly as thought-provoking as Steven Spielberg's recent "A.I. Artificial Intelligence" or "Minority Report", and nowhere as entertaining.
  17. As things turn out, Clooney’s butt is just one of the many delights to be found on a trip to Solaris.
  18. Philip Messina's claustrophobic sets and Cliff Martinez's elegantly creepy score add to the film's distinction and work off Clooney's performance and Soderbergh's staging to create an hypnotic spell and suggest a cosmos full of spiritual possibility.
  19. Soderbergh, in essence, has come up with a plodding and far less psychologically arresting version of ''Ghost.''
  20. 100
    Solaris achieves an almost perfect balance of poetry and pulp. This is as elegant, moody, intelligent, sensuous, and sustained a studio movie as we are likely to see this season -- and in its intrinsic nuttiness, perhaps the least compromised.
  21. 90
    Soderbergh's film is probably not the equal of either Tarkovsky's 1972 predecessor or the memorably Byzantine prose of Lem's novel, but in the end, almost despite himself, this able craftsman has made a brave and lovely companion piece to both of them. His ending is pure cinema at its most marvelous and moving.
  22. 90
    Though glazed in chilly surfaces -- the Kubrickian spaces, Cliff Martinez's gorgeous ambient score, the elliptical editing rhythms of Soderbergh's recent work, particularly "The Limey" -- the film contains a surprising depth of feeling within its egg-shaped head.
  23. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    Essentially a solemn, splintered meditation on lost love: a movie about personal space, in space.
  24. Reviewed by: John Powers
    While I could tell the love story was supposed to be moving, I kept feeling the characters' passion struggling against the virtuosity of Soderbergh's direction, which is so tight, so gorgeously lit, so worked that even when he wants scenes to be emotionally incandescent, they wind up detached, even chilly.
  25. Ends up more challenging and intriguing than personally involving, and while these are far from small things, it is only human to hope for more.
  26. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Can't touch the 1972 film's austere poignancy, and McElhone lacks the bewitching beauty of Natalya Bondarchuk in the original Solaris. But the project's gravity and ambition can't be denied.
  27. For all its flaws, though, Solaris is a good try, and a definite improvement over the dull remakes Soderbergh has been sleepwalking through lately.
  28. Missing is most of Tarkovsky's contemplative and mystical poetry (which is why it's 90 minutes shorter), and added are some unfortunate Hollywood-style designer flashbacks -- The story is still strong and haunting, but I'd recommend seeing this, if at all, only after the Tarkovsky.
  29. Retooled into a sleek pop fable that doesn't bother to connect all its dots, the movie aspires to fuse the mystical intellectual gamesmanship of "2001: A Space Odyssey" with the love-beyond-the-grave romantic schmaltz of "Titanic," without losing its cool. It's a tricky balancing act that doesn't quite come off.
  30. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Despite its undeniably pure and earnest intent, Solaris is equally undeniably an arid, dull affair that imposes and maintains a huge distance between the viewer and what happens onscreen.
  31. Even by the art film standards it apes, Solaris lacks conviction. And although it's meant to be restrained and free of emotional hysteria, the result is a movie that pretty much lies dead on the screen for an hour and a half.
  32. It could hardly be called rip-roaring. I should report that it drives about a quarter of the audience out of the theater before it is half over. That's because it's slower than molasses in Siberia.
  33. Soderbergh, the writer and director, has slowed his metronome almost to a crawl, has repeated and delayed and protracted, in an attempt at depth. The net effect is a small paradox: incomprehensibility caused by drag, not by rush.
  34. For those who have seen Tarkovsky's moody original, let me say that Soderbergh skims the fat from the 1972 film. What's left is a rich stew of longing.
  35. 50
    If Soderbergh set out to make a galvanizing conversation piece, he has certainly succeeded. But this cold, occasionally dull movie practically defies you to embrace it.
  36. 75
    Soderbergh, who hasn't ever attempted a film of this sort before, brings his gifts brilliantly to bear, with gorgeous shots of outer space, delicate, swift edits and a captivating score by his longtime collaborator Cliff Martinez -- But when the script becomes more about telling -- or, rather, arguing -- than showing, the film loosens its grip.
  37. Unexpectedly thoughtful, as well as touching.
  38. 40
    I know there are intelligent people who are awed by this sort of deep-dish magical mystery tour, but surely something is wrong with a movie when you can't tell a live character from a dead one and you don't care which is which. [9 December 2002, p. 142]
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 173 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 45 out of 99
  2. Negative: 49 out of 99
  1. Oct 11, 2013
    It might not exactly be George Clooney's most riveting outer space adventure, with a whole lot of moral intrigue and a bevy of beautiful images from one of Hollywood's most aesthetic directors, "Solaris" is definitely worth the watch. Full Review »
  2. Sep 22, 2013
    This is a disappointing movie. It has a rendering of a beautiful planet but forgot that it was supposed to be mostly ocean and not mostly plasma like the consistency of a star. Most of the movie was spent lingering on Clooney and McElhone, neither one seeming to have any need to blink (which I found really disturbing). I didn't really feel any more empathetic towards them with all of those close ups, really. It could have saved at least 10 minutes of pointless slow panning and closeups. Also, please put a shirt on Clooney and wipe his sweat. Another sore point I have was the kid: he has the ability to corporealize on will depending on the plot, the other creatures didn't have this ability. I gave it one point because I believed Viola Davis' character really went through something difficult and was the only one who I felt was a real human being. I gave it another point because aside from the time wasted on Clooney and McElhone, the movie didn't feel like it was too slow. Full Review »
  3. Oct 24, 2012
    Solaris is one of the most original, unique and intriguing science fiction films ever made. Steven Soderbergh takes cues from 2001: A Space Odyssey and runs with them into the modern age. The film also sees a true powerhouse performance from George Clooney. Solaris has mystery, beauty and emotion sown into every frame. Phenomenal stuff! Full Review »