PictureDisplayed in anamorphic 2.35:1, the print on this disc is wonderfully detailed. It's very crisp and revealing - see the "gigahurtz" machine, the detail in this complex shot is stunning, especially on the pipes. On facial close-ups, too, the pores are almost visible, it's that clear. Colours are well saturated, and the contrasting extremes of the "past" palette - earthy tones - and the "space station" palette - cold blues - are realised perfectly. All in all it looks superb. Many shadows are present in the film, and blacks are deep and solid, with no noticeable digital artefacts present. Minor edge-enhancement is noticeable in some scenes, particularly around characters (specifically noticeable around heads). Going back to the "gigahurtz" machine, despite the superb level of detail, the tubes have a faint halo around them. Overall it's a good transfer though.
SoundI found this to be the biggest disappointment of the Solaris experience. What I was expecting was an all-encompassing 3-D experience....and it didn't happen. Several times I put my ear to the surrounds to see if they were working: they were, but unfortunately the soundtrack wasn't. The front soundstage is a solid affair - dialogue is locked pretty much constantly to the centre channel and is clear if (a little) quiet - and the left and right channels deliver the goods in the steering department. However for much of the film the rears are sadly absent. There are many moments when action or speech is off screen and logically should be in the rear channels - but everything remains locked to the front (case in point: the second time Clooney wakes up with his wife he opens the door to the room off-screen whilst talking, yet the surrounds remain quiet). There is some surround usage, but this is generally when we're hearing the drone of the space-station engines or when the musical score kicks in: even in these moments the rears feel like they need turning up.
LFE is restrained, as you might expect for a film of this type, although there are a few moments when the lower frequencies are touched on. On the whole, LFE serves to underpin the dialogue, giving it depth - especially Clooney's deep voice - and in this respect it works well.
ExtrasFirst off we have an Audio Commentary by Steven Soderbergh and James Cameron, and if the movie arouses your curiosity about the thinking behind Solaris, then its worth taking the time to listen to this. Relaxed and informal, both commentators offer insights into various aspects of the production, and once they get going this makes for an enjoyable listen. Also included are 2 featurettes: a HBO "Making Of" Special, which doesn't really add much to the package, and the more interesting 17 minute "Behind the Planet" documentary. Both the teaser and main theatrical trailers are present, as well as trailers for Master and Commander (Russell Crow) and Le Divorce: all trailers are presented in Dolby 2.0. Finally, rounding off the package is the Original Screenplay.
VerdictAn intriguing movie, and a solid DVD release, recommended if you want to watch something different from the usual Hollywood fare.
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