Solo: A Star Wars Story Blu-ray Review
Star Wars fans have been divided, to say the very least, over the recent entries in the franchise. The Last Jedi suffered severe backlash from die-hard fans, and yet many have claimed it is the best film in the series to date. People battled back and forth online for months about the film’s failings and virtues, and article after article after YouTube video kept the heated debates raging until it utterly consumed the (quite meager) marketing push behind Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Released merely a few months after The Last Jedi, the film seemed to be thrown to the wolves following all of the turmoil behind the scenes — switching directors midway through production, reshooting a massive amount of the film, etc. Those who hated on TLJ waited anxiously with popcorn, ready to watch Solo fail critically and commercially. The fact that the film didn’t even have a poster or teaser trailer until a few months before release was a huge red flag.
And yet, I was pleasantly surprised by the film. Is it the best Star Wars film ever created? Of course not. Is it a totally watchable, entertaining movie that gives us more insight into one of the franchise’s best characters? Absolutely. With its recent release on Blu-ray and streaming formats, I highly recommend that every Star Wars fan gives it a shot.
I always thought that Disney’s plan to release yearly Star Wars movies was a bit ambitious, and some would say it was destined to falter at the least. While I would say that Solo: A Star Wars Story isn’t quite as good as Rogue One the side story that preceded it, it’s definitely not as terrible as some would have you believe. Newcomer Alden Ehrenreich does a great job fitting into Harrison Ford’s shoes, channeling the cool swagger and cocky attitude of Han Solo without it feeling like a pale imitation. He puts his own mark on the character and has great chemistry with both Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and romantic interest Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke). Donald Glover kills it as Lando Calrissian, echoing the calm and collected coolness of Billy Dee Williams while bringing more humor and style to the character. It’s entertaining to see all of these characters meet for the first time and bounce off one another.
For a film with such a troubled production (original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller left midway through production due to creative differences), Solo doesn’t show it. There aren’t any glaringly obvious tone changes like those seen in last year’s Justice League, which had a similar director change midway through filming. The film tells a cohesive and tight story that never feels bloated or boring. The film begins with an exciting and visually impressive landspeeder chase through the dark planet of Corellia, as Han and Qi’ra try to escape the clutches of this oppressive hellscape. Han manages to escape, but Qi’ra is left behind, and Han promises to come back and save her. His quest leads him on a planet-hopping adventure that lets viewers finally experience the infamous Kessel Run of Star Wars lore.
As I watched the special features of Solo, I felt that it was a missed opportunity to not talk at least a little bit about the firing of the original directors and how Ron Howard came in to do the very expensive reshoot. It would have been nice to at least hear about their original vision for the film, and what scenes were kept after their firing.
So what’s included on the Blu-ray version of Solo: A Star Wars Story? A good amount of fun mini-documentaries, a roundtable discussion with the cast and director Ron Howard, and some rather throwaway deleted scenes. We get a closer behind-the-scenes look at the train heist, the Corellia chase sequence, the infamous Kessel Run, and more. I was disappointed to learn that the Blu-ray set does not contain a commentary track, as I feel it definitely could have been interesting.
The video quality is excellent, with a stunning 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode. Solo was shot entirely on digital cameras, and every costume thread, facial pore and Chewie hair looks incredibly sharp. Every bit of grime and dirt in the seedy world of Corellia is plainly visible, and the inside of the Millenium Falcon shows every wire and panel and button in great detail. You can practically feel every imperfection on L3-37’s weathered and rusty body. Colors pop in vivid detail. My only gripe is that in a lot of interior scenes, the whites look dull and the blacks look grayish, leading to scenes that can be hard to read and not so great to look at. The outdoor scenes are gorgeous and vibrant, however. In short, the presentation is mostly stunning.
If you enjoyed Solo: A Star Wars Story in the theaters and want to re-experience it at home, this Blu-ray package is certainly worth picking up. With a mostly excellent audio/visual presentation and a decent set of extras, Star Wars fans will want this on their shelves. If you missed Solo in theaters and want to give it a shot, this presentation is very faithful to the movie theater experience.