Action Adventure

4K Review: ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ Gives the Galaxy’s Number One Rogue His Due

September 26, 2018Ben MK

We all know how Han Solo's story ends, but in Solo: A Star Wars Story, we finally get to learn how the galaxy's most charming rogue came to team up with a Wookiee named Chewbacca, and how he came to be the proud owner of an underrated little ship called the Millennium Falcon.

Starring Alden Ehrenreich as a younger, slightly rougher-around-the-edges version of the character first made famous by Harrison Ford in 1977, Solo introduces the legendary smuggler at a time in his life before he ever thought to utter the words "Death" and "Star" in the same sentence. Instead, as the film's opening carefully informs us, this is a time when crime syndicates run rampant, and when everyone has just one thing on their minds — hyperfuel, the highly explosive, not to mention highly valuable, stuff that drives the galaxy.

It's hard not to feel as if director Ron Howard and screenwriters Jonathan Kasdan and Lawrence Kasdan are being a little too obvious with their attempt to build a narrative around the bullet points of Han Solo's backstory. Still, if fleshing out the backstory of one of pop culture's most iconic characters is a priority, you could do a lot worse than Solo, which also delivers plenty of fun moments, the highlights being the interactions between Lando (Donald Glover) and his droid co-pilot L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), as well as a climax that involves the infamous Kessel Run that the older Han is so fond of bragging about.

That said, Solo just doesn't feel as integral as it should. However, one might argue that's the whole point of these non-episodic entries in the first place. Like Rogue One before it, this is a movie that answers the sort of questions that might keep hardcore Star Wars fans up at night. But unlike Rogue One, Solo sets its stakes considerably lower, which has the unintended effect of making this Star Wars Story appear content with flying at cruising speed, when it ought to be jamming on the throttle and blasting off into hyperspace.

Solo: A Star Wars Story gives the 4K competition a Kessel run for its money, thanks to an impressive 2160p video encode and an out-of-this-world Dolby Atmos sound mix. From the shipyards of Corellia to the muddy trenches of Mimban to the icy mountaintops of Vandor, image quality is top-notch and perfectly faithful to the film's theatrical presentation, right down to every last hair on Chewbacca's head, with an HDR color palette that makes even the movie's grim and earth-toned visuals look appealing. Likewise, the sound design shines through with ease, allowing audiences to hear every speeder engine, every laser blast, and every alien roar with the utmost clarity.

Disney's three-disc Ultimate Collector's Edition includes an iTunes digital copy and a Blu-ray copy of the film. There are no special features on the 4K disc, but the following extras can be found on the second Blu-ray in the set:

  • Solo: The Director & Cast Roundtable (21:44) - Director Ron Howard moderates a conversation with actors Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Joonas Suotamo, Emilia Clarke, Woody Harrelson and Paul Bettany, as they talk about their initial reactions to getting their roles, portraying their characters, stories from filming, and more.
  • Kasdan on Kasdan (7:50) - Screenwriting duo and father-son pair Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan talk about working together.
  • Remaking the Millennium Falcon (5:36) - A look at how the filmmakers reimagined the Millennium Falcon for the movie.
  • Escape from Corellia (9:59) - A behind-the-scenes look at the making of the speeder chase on Corellia, from the stunt work to the production design and the visual effects.
  • The Train Heist (14:30) - A behind-the-scenes look at the making of the train heist sequence, from shooting in the Dolomites to the action choreography.
  • Team Chewie (6:41) - A look at what it took to bring Chewbacca to life, from Joonas Suotamo's performance to the suit itself.
  • Becoming a Droid: L3-37 (5:06) - A look at what Phoebe Waller-Bridge brings to the role of L3-37, from her vocal performance to the physicality of the character.
  • Scoundrels, Droids, Creatures and Cards: Welcome to Fort Ypso (8:02) - Production Designer Neil Lamont and Creature Effects Creative Supervisor Neal Scanlan lead this behind-the-scenes look at the set where Han and Lando first meet.
  • Into the Maelstrom: The Kessel Run (8:28) - A look at the making of the film's Kessel Run sequence, from the custom-built rig built to immerse the cast in the experience of filming the scene, to the visual effects and the sound design.
  • Deleted Scenes (15:13) - Eight 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" and "Coaxium Double-Cross").

Solo: A Star Wars Story is available from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment as of September 25th, 2018. The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray features English Dolby Atmos, French and Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 7.1, and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles. The total runtime is 2 hrs. 15 min.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on May 23rd, 2018.

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