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I just rented this movie and have to say is that it is slightly less boring than watching grass grow or paint dry. I've seen art school films that are less pretentious than this movie. And if Blockbuster didn't let you keep DVDs for a week, I'd have never finished it because I fell asleep trying to watch it - twice.

I've seen the original, too. Barring the fact that it wasn't in English (Russian?) and it had that late '60s / early '70s Andromeda Strain / 2001 eat-a-bunch-of-acid-and-check-this-out feel to it, I thought it had a pretty good story.

But as for the update, I wouldn't call it an improvement at all. They changed some of the plot elements to make it more of a love story, but lost most of it in the translation. Now I like movies that challenge the viewer, but this one is downright perplexing. And the highly overrated George Clooney is wooden as ever.

It's as if the director sought to recapture the mood of the original while making the story more relatable to the times. Unfortunately, he failed at both. Absence of background music works as suspense for Kubrick, but not this time. I expected a little more from Cameron and Soderberg.
This version didn't change the story- the Russian one did. Lem, the author of Solaris, was incensed by Tarkofsky's film.

Soderbherg's is much more based on the book.

Nor is it meant to "improve" upon the original film- they simply look at the same issues from different perspectives. Tarkofsky's is more detached, approaching it from a global point of view. Soderbherg's is more intimate, relating the tale to the personal.

Both are excellent.
I just got done reading the book today acutally on the flight back from Vegas. I have been deciding if I should watch the movie or not, because the book seems to go into a LOT more detail on lots of things in the story that I cant imagine the movie possibly doing. Just a lot more insights and detail.
I must say that I'm in agreement with ElScorcho. Recoil, if you liked the book, don't watch the movie. It'll only hurt your eyes. I wasn't impressed at all. There was much that could have been done to the film to make it more involving to the viewer (without resorting to the usual sci-fi movie tactics of adding a lot of explosions or dumbing down the story). I guess the director was trying to make something "artsy" like 2001, but failed miserably. I gave it 2 thumbs down (my wife gave it three :D).
Granted I haven't read the book yet, but it's clear the story is high-concept, where the emotion and ideas behind at are more important than the narrative details.

I liken it to 2001, where the novel and film are different but complimentary.

In other words Recoil, see it for yourself and make your judgement.

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