It's bring your dead wife to work Day on planet Solaris. When reports of disquiet seep from a manned space mission, Chris Kelvin (George Clooney) is sent to find out what went wrong. Beautifully wrong, for all the passengers have been infected with a palpable vision of someone they have loved and lost. Waking to find a perfect facsimile of his late wife (Natascha McElhone), Kelvin soon surrenders to what seems like a gift from the grave. Steven Soderbergh's remake of Andrei Tarkovsky's science-fiction classic, based on the Stanislaw Lem novel, 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. They inform Clooney's gently grieving demeanor, the ache in his eyes, the hope against hope for a love after death. --By Richard Corliss
Yuck, preppies. Beloved William Hundert (Kevin Kline) teaches classics at snooty St. Benedict's. He gets his toga into a twist over a brat named Sedgewick Bell (Emile Hirsch), a cheeky cheat in whom he somewhat mysteriously detects good stuff. The conventions of the genre usually dictate that the boy will ultimately reform. The considerable originality of The Emperor's Club (directed by Michael Hoffman) lies in the fact that the kid gets worse, not better, going on to sleazy dotcom millions and, of course, politics. This leaves the prissily played Hundert sadder and wiser. But it still may leave viewers emotionally disconnected from this distinctly unchipper Mr. Chips. --By Richard Schickel
Disney's new animated feature, Treasure Planet, is rated PG not so much to scare away little kids (nothing gamy here) as to alert teenage boys that there's enough gaudy action in the classic cartoon format to keep them happy. This space-traveler version of Treasure Island--replete with flying galleons and intergalactic pirates--splashes lavish special effects on a colorful palette without forfeiting attention to character detail. Example: the movie's protean robot as voiced by Martin Short is the most complex, delirious cartoon sideman since Robin Williams' Genie in Aladdin. Directors Ron Clements and John Musker (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Hercules) take a while to get their vehicle to sail and soar. But when it does, this Planet is a treasure. --R.C.