Solo: A Star Wars Story is the galactic spin-off I never thought was wanted or needed. Upon viewing I want and need the story to continue in some way, shape or form. It’s good old fashioned campy western fun with many nostalgic and insider hat tips for Star Wars die-hards to smile about.
Alden Ehrenreich won the unenviable right to portray an entire generation’s most identifiable hero in his younger years, played originally by one of the most identifiable and famous heroic actors of all time. He gave it his all and captured Han Solo’s bravado and mannerisms despite not particularly looking or sounding like Harrison Ford. It’s a glass half-full or half-empty interpretation of our favorite space scoundrel. I side with half-full.
It only takes two seconds worth of a wry smile in the Solo: A Star Wars Story to realize Donald Glover was born to play young Lando Calrissian. He steals every scene he’s in as the original Falcon owner. Emilia Clarke is sneakily good as Qi’ra, the most complex character in the film, while Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton and Paul Bettany add gravitas you’d expect these veterans to.
Where Solo fails to jump to light speed is not due to a change in directors midway through production. It’s trying to pack all of the big Han Solo moments we previously knew about into a single two-hour heist film. The worlds, the characters, the stakes, the twists and turns; they all work. But Solo ultimately feels rushed to check off a series of boxes and end with Han and Chewie not far from being ready to chart a course for Mos Eisley spaceport.
The irony of Solo on 4K Ultra HD is the film’s cinematography can best be described as “dusty” or “murky.” Many of the locales Han and his cohorts visit are dark and dreary by design. As such, don’t expect Solo to become some reference disc to show off to friends.
Given Solo is a native 4K transfer, the home video 4K UHD presentation is spot-on what you would expect. Detail, where noticeable like in the Falcon cockpit or Dyden Vos’s office, are beautifully clear. The HDR implementation in select bright spots such as the Maw pops on the screen. Those moments are few and far between, so enjoy Solo for the drab in color visuals it has to offer.
Solo sports a Dolby Atmos audio track that for reasons apparently locked away in a Disney vault, sounds better and on-par with non-Disney titles when turned more than usual. Once that early adjustment is made there’s a like to lot with what Lucasfilm has to offer.
The spacial effects, especially during the film’s big action set-pieces, are where Solo shines. There’s laser blasts and all sorts of noise bouncing around the room as Harrelson’s Beckett and his crew attempt the big train heist. You can argue that bass comes in a little less impacting than desired, but it’s a minor quip in an otherwise fun aural ride that never drowns out dialogue.
The Solo bonus features are neat, but it seems like they could be longer and there could be more of them. A director’s commentary with Ron Howard would have been a huge bonus, but we do get a Howard with his core cast round table discussion. The bonus features are also a treat and I’d argue at least two should have been cut back into the final film.
- Solo: The Director & Cast Roundtable
- Team Chewie
- Kasdan on Kasdan
- Remaking the Millennium Falcon
- Escape from Corellia
- The Train Heist
- Becoming a Droid: L3-37
- Scoundrels, Droids, Creatures and Cards: Welcome to Fort Ypso
- Into the Maelstrom: The Kessel Run
- Deleted Scenes
- Proxima’s Den
- Corellian Foot Chase
- Han Solo: Imperial Cadet
- The Battle of Mimban: Extended
- Han Versus Chewie: Extended
- Snowball Fight!
- Meet Dryden: Extended
- Coaxium Double-Cross
- The Millenium Falcon: From Page to Park
I wouldn’t classify Solo: A Star Wars Story as an essential Star Wars film, especially if the story is never carried forward to explore the multiple teases of what lies ahead. A sequel film, or better yet television series on Disney’s new streaming platform, can change that impression real quick. It is a fun space romp with many identifiable themes and Star Wars minutia that should find a larger fan base on home video versus the lackluster theatrical run.
Disney and Lucasfilm just about knocked the Solo: A Star Wars Story 4K Ultra HD presentation out of the ballpark. I’d like to learn more about how Solo was made and the challenges in a mid-filming director change. Maybe that’s better left for another day.
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