Dr. Chris Kelvin is asked to investigate the unexplained behavior of a small group of scientists aboard the space station Prometheus, who have cut off all communication with Earth. Kelvin undertakes the journey after watching a communique from his close friend Gibarian, the mission's commander, who seeks Kelvin's help aboard the Prometheus for reasons Gibarian is unwilling, or unable, to explain. Keenly aware that his opinion will decide the fate of the orbital station, Kelvin is shocked by what he finds upon his arrival: Gibarian has committed suicide and the two remaining scientists are exhibiting signs of extreme stress and paranoia, seemingly caused by the results of their examination of the planet Solaris. Kelvin, too, becomes entrapped in the unique world's mysteries. Solaris, somehow, presents him with a second chance at love – to change the course of a past relationship that has caused him overwhelming guilt and remorse. But can he really revisit and alter the past? Or is he fated to repeat its mistakes?

4
A pared back remake of the Russian masterpiece.

Some time in the future, Chris Kelvin (George Clooney), a widowed psychologist, is urged by his old friend, Gibarion (Ulrich Tukur), to come urgently to the space station Prometheus, where something is terribly wrong.

Still grieving over the loss, by suicide, of his wife, Rheya (Natascha McElhone), Kelvin arrives at the space station, which is orbiting the mysterious planet, Solaris. Here he finds his friend, Gibarian, dead and the two surviving crew members, Dr. Gordon (Viola Davis), and Snow (Jeremy Davies), behaving very strangely. Kelvin himself begins to be haunted by Rheya, or by someone exactly like her.

Steven Soderbergh's anti-sci-fi film is based on the novel by Polish writer Stanislaw Lem, which also inspired the amazing 1972 film by Russian master Andrei Tarkovsky. Despite the story's complexity, Soderbergh actually simplifies the material; his film is about an hour shorter than Tarkovsky's, and lacks some of the earlier film's most powerful elements, including its amazing final shot.

Soderbergh is more interested in the central relationship between Kelvin and the woman he loves, and that makes the film more accessible than the more intellectual Russian version, though it is still not exactly the kind of space travel movie most fans of the genre will be looking for.

Beautifully photographed by the director himself, and making little of the space-ship sets in which most of it unfolds, this eerie drama has two very strong central performances from Clooney and McElhone. But the weakness of Jeremy Davies is a drawback; every scene in which this very mannered actor appears represents a drop in voltage.

Solaris survives this piece of mis-casting, though it probably won't be to everyone's taste.