Solo: A Star Wars Story (Blu-Ray)
Han and Chewie's first adventure arrives on blu-ray/4K this week and if you're among those who skipped out on this Star Wars story, you'll definitely want to give the home entertainment release a chance. Come inside to read my full review!
Shockingly (and not entirely my fault), I did NOT review Solo: A Star Wars Story when it released in theaters at the start of Summer. I normally handle all the Star Wars reviews here, but alas, I wasn't able to get the time needed to set my thoughts on the movie down. I saw it in theaters, however, and had a lot of fun with it.
Since its release, I've been eager to see it again at home, especially considering this film pulled in a decidedly lower box office than typical Star Wars films, I wanted to see if the standalone film was able to keep it's fun factor upon multiple viewings. In this regard, I'm happy to say, it just seems to get better and better each time I watch it.
Solo: A Star Wars Story chronicles one of the early adventures of Han Solo, showing his humble origins as a street thief for a small time gangster, to the roguish pilot of the Millennium Falcon. Along the way we see how he meets the mighty Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian, and his first brush with some of the larger criminal elements of the galaxy far, far away.
It's very much an origin story, with all the box-checking that entails, but still manages to tell a self-contained story that manages to be a ridiculous amount of fun. Fun is really the key word when it comes to Solo: A Star Wars Story and seems to be the film's guiding principle.
It feels very much like an old school adventure movie that doesn't take itself too seriously, but manages to hold onto many of the themes we've come to expect in Star Wars. While it doesn't feature the same amount of depth as the other films, it has a fun factor that cannot be ignored and manages to retain the same level of fun and pure adrenaline upon multiple viewings.
It's not a perfect film by any measure and has its issues. Several characters get great setups (managing to endear you to them in a short amount of time) only to be wasted very early on in the story and there's way too much box checking (I didn't need to know how Han decided to call him Chewie instead of Chewbacca). Despite this, however, it does so many things right in an enjoyable way, that they're easily overlooked.
At the very least, if you missed out on seeing this in theaters because you didn't think a Han Solo movie would work...you need to give it a chance. The performances are great, there's never a moment when I didn't think Alden was Solo, and the new characters are very interesting. There's a lot of potential here. While not all of it lands, there's definitely something special/unique about it.
Sight and Sound
Visually speaking, Solo has a lot of style. The color pallette for the film is decidedly different than other Star Wars films, taking on more neutral tones that do a great job of highlighting the seedier side of the galaxy far, far away. It feels dirty/grungy, taking the "used future" concept another step further. This is captured wonderfully by the film's cinematographer Bradford Young (who also did Arrival) and I think the blu-ray shows it off well.
I've seen some reports that the blu-ray isn't as sharp, with black tones that aren't deep enough and result in crushing...This was definitely not my experience. In fact, while watching the movie at home I remember thinking how much better it looked on blu-ray. It looked okay in theaters, but it seemed clear the screen in my theater hadn't been calibrated in a while and things were a bit muddy.
Based on my experience, the picture quality on the blu-ray is solid and crisp. I didn't notice any issues with the visuals and felt the transfer did a great job of highlighting the film's impressive visuals and style. The surround sound is also really well done and makes you feel like you're right in the middle of the action.
One of the film's early scenes, where Han meets with Lady Proxima in her lair, sounds amazing. You hear the echoing splashes of water in the background, as well as the murmuring of the gathered bodies watching Han try and talk his way out of the situation. It's a lot of subtle sounds that makes the scene feel complete. This comes into play throughout the film, from the party scenes with Vos, to the action that plays out. All in all the technical aspects of the Solo blu-ray are solid and make the film stand out.
The Bonus Features
All of Solo: A Star Wars Story's special features are contained on a second dedicated disc, so you won't have to jump back and forth for everything. Here's what's included:
• Solo: The Director & Cast Roundtable - Sit down with director Ron Howard and the stars for an intimate and entertaining discussion of the film’s making.
• Team Chewie - See what it takes to bring your favorite Wookiee to life in this lighthearted look behind the scenes.
• Kasdan on Kasdan - Iconic Star Wars screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan and son Jonathan share what it was like to write the movie’s script together.
• Remaking the Millennium Falcon - Track the transformation of the most famous ship in the galaxy, from Lando’s swank and impeccable pride and joy to Han’s stripped-down hot-rod freighter with “special modifications.”
• Escape from Corellia - Get behind the wheel for the making of this high-octane chase through the streets of Corellia.
• The Train Heist - Explore the challenges and thrills of creating this action-packed sequence, including its remote location and spectacular effects.
• Becoming a Droid: L3-37 - Meet the newest droid—and the talented actor who helps bring her to life.
• Scoundrels, Droids, Creatures and Cards: Welcome to Fort Ypso - Take an in-depth tour of the rough-and-tumble bar where strangers mix and gamblers risk all in the legendary card game, Sabaac.
• Into the Maelstrom: The Kessel Run - Join Han and Chewie at the controls of the Millennium Falcon to see how this legendary moment in Star Wars history unfolds.
• Deleted Scenes
• The Millenium Falcon: From Page to Park – An exclusive look at the history of the most famous ship in the galaxy, its origin and development, and how it will translate in one of the most anticipated expansions in Disneyland’s history.
As has been the case with all the recent Star Wars home entertainment releases, Disney/Lucasfilm have done a great job loading them up with bonus features. Solo includes a number of things (oddly no director's commentary) that takes you surprisingly deep behind the scenes of the film. Considering all the (well known) troubles the production had with the change of directors, it's nice to see they were still able to give us a bunch of featurettes to enjoy.
Particularly, I enjoyed the Train Heist featurette and seeing how it all came together, along with the Director/Cast roundtable. In the roundtable, Ron Howard moderates conversations with the various cast members who discuss everything from how they landed their roles and their work/inspirations on the set. While this may seem a bit boring, I loved seeing the fun and camaraderie between everyone while hearing the stories about their characters. It's a fun glimpse behind the curtain.
While the rest are pretty standard (the deleted scenes are fun), overall it's a pretty good package of special features. Fans will undoubtedly be pouring over these, but more casual movie fans will find plenty to enjoy with them as well.
If you saw it in theaters, you don't have to worry about the film losing it's fun factor. It's still just as enjoyable to watch and you'll likely find new things to love about it (if you did already, that is).