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.
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.
Roger EbertChicago Sun-Times
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.
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.
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.
David DenbyThe New Yorker
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]