ScreeningNotes’s review published on Letterboxd:
I watched this last night and have been thinking about it all day, and I still can't make up my mind whether this is one of the greatest science fiction films of all time or one of the worst. I really can't think about it anymore, so for anyone interested here's my dilemma.
On the one hand, the themes at issue are some of my favorites. It's got all the stuff I love in the best of science fiction from 2001 to Wall-E: technology vs humanity, progress vs purpose, conviction vs arrogance, life vs survival, etc. The best of the best of the best.
On the other hand, the themes are delivered with a unrelentingly heavy hand. I lost count of the number of times Bruce Dern says "forest" or "forests". Okay, we get it, you want to save the forests. There's also two ultra-cheesy songs sung by Joan Baez which drastically limit the movie's chances of being taken seriously. But I'm not totally convinced this isn't also part of its charm.
Silent Running also looks quite amazing for its time—some of the effects look pretty bad today, but the models still hold up well—and the performance from Dern is everything a movie centered around a single character needs, so ultimately I'm certain I'll be coming back to this in the future. I'm just not sure which side I'll be on when I return.