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Solo: A Star Wars Story 4K UHD Review

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I can’t recommend “Solo: A Star Wars Story” enough.

What was Han Solo’s youth like? What was he like before he became a jaded smuggler and an eventual hero of the Rebellion? How did Han meet Chewbacca? At long last, questions like these are finally addressed in 2018’s “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” Not only do you get to see what his time on his homeworld of Corellia was like, but you also get to venture along with the character through his time with the Empire, his beginnings as a criminal, the formation of his partnership with Chewie, his relationship with Qi’ra (a love interest prior to Leia) and how he gets mixed up with a criminal organization known as the Crimson Dawn. Han, Chewie, and Qi’ra aren’t the only major characters here, however, as plenty of new faces and some old favorites (Lando!) are also an integral plot of the story.

When I saw “Solo: A Star Wars Story” in theaters, I came out with a smile on my face. When I rewatched it here on 4K, I still found myself smiling. This sci-fi fantasy adventure film really harkened back to the look and feel of the original trilogy. On top of that, it has everything you could want from a SW film. There’s intense action set pieces (the train heist rules), there’s characterization, there’s danger (these characters live on the edge), there’s comedy, there’s deep cut nods and references to everything from Legends to “Clone Wars,” and, above all else, there’s fun. However one may feel about the Disney era, the new films have certainly had a more serious tone. While ‘Solo’ has serious moments, director Ron Howard, writers Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan, and cinematographer Bradford Young really bring back the fun vibe that made us fall in love with the franchise to begin with. As such, ‘Solo’ really lends itself to repeat viewings and is already arguably one of the most rewatchable SW films to date.

Part of what makes ‘Solo’ work so well is the ensemble cast. Alden Ehrenreich had the tough task of taking on the role Harrison Ford made iconic. Does he sound like Ford? No, but he shouldn’t mimic Ford in that way as it would cheapen it. What Alden does do is capture the mannerisms and essence of Han and he does it well. He’s still the cocky criminal with a heart of gold. It should come as no surprise that Donald Glover crushes it as the smooth and stylish Lando. I was wanting him to play the part before he was even cast. Joonas Suotamo doesn’t get enough credit for taking over the role of Chewbacca from Peter Mayhew but he should. He’s so much more active, physical and funny now and he manages to create such a great dynamic with Han and Alden which is what you want and need from a film like this. The most underrated character in the film is Rio Durant who is voiced by Jon Favreau. I really hope he shows up somewhere else down the line. Woody Harrelson is fantastic as Beckett. He’s such a reliable, consistent professional actor who can do any kind of role. Emilia Clarke as Qi’ra was far and away the biggest surprise here. She’s always been a stand-out on “Game of Thrones,” but her film work prior to this hasn’t been impressive. Truth be told, she’s my favorite character here. She’s a secretive, strong survivor and her scenes with Han are so compelling. I hope we get to see her again as her story is FAR from over. Thandie Newton is not on screen much as Val, but she really makes the character her own. Her scenes with Beckett really give both characters more depth. Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s L3-37 is a strange droid character that doesn’t entirely work. The character is certainly poignant and tackles many issues, but I felt like they tried a bit too hard with her. It wasn’t subtle at all. I will say that the character’s ties with the Falcon were a nice touch though (you’ll see). Paul Bettany can do no wrong and that’s the case here once again with his gentlemanly crime boss villain character Dryden Vos who can fly off the handle at any time. Enfys Nest (played by Erin Kellyman) may only have a couple scenes, but it’s easy to see why the character has fast become a cult favorite. There’s so much that can be done with her character. Last, but not least there’s the brief but incredible appearance by THAT character which opens up a world of possibilities. I won’t spoil it, but it’s arguably the biggest talking point that came out of this movie.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 2.39:1 2160p. How does it look? Simply stunning. The 4K disc perfectly handles the film’s specific color schemes whether they be dark or bright.

Audio Track: Dolby Atmos. How does it sound? This is a “Star Wars” film so, of course, the audio rocks. The speeder engines, the blaster fire, John Powell’s incredible score and so forth sound crisp and clear with this Atmos track.

Extras: * Blu-ray copy * Digital copy * “8 Deleted Scenes”- The biggest draw extra feature wise are, of course, the deleted scenes. It’s easy to see why some of these were cut for pacing purposes and or because, well, they didn’t need to be included, but the extended Battle of Mimban and the Imperial Navy scenes were the clear highlights. * “Remaking The Millennium Falcon”- A featurette on the iconic ship’s new design. Interviews, a set tour, and set footage are included here. * “Kasdan On Kasdan”- My personal favorite extra is this one about Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jonathan Kasdan working together as the screenwriters of “Solo.” * “Escape From Corellia”- Han’s homeworld gets the spotlight here along with the speeder chase sequence that takes place on the planet. * “The Train Heist”- A featurette on the making of the riveting train heist action set piece. * “Team Chewie”- Chewbacca and his dynamic with Han are explored in this extra. * “Becoming A Droid: L3-37”- Lando’s co-pilot L3-37 (voiced and motion captured by Phoebe Waller-Bridge). * “Scoundrels, Droids, Creatures And Cards: Welcome To Fort Ypso”- Want to see more of the Fort where we first meet Lando? You’re in luck. We get a set tour, learn the Sabacc rules, and get a better look at the various characters that inhabit the place. * “Into The Maelstrom: The Kessel Run”- Learn (and see) more details about the very cool production of the Kessel Run sequence. * “Solo: The Director And Cast Roundtable”- Last, but not least there’s a fun, laidback roundtable discussion between Ron Howard, Emilia Clarke, Paul Bettany, Thandie Newton, Donald Glover, Woody Harrelson, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Alden Ehrenreich, and Joonas Suotamo.

Overall Thoughts: It pains me that “Solo: A Star Wars Story” underperformed at the box office as I would love to see these characters (and this cast) again. The film was an unfortunate victim of circumstances with the poor marketing, the bad release date (it should have come out in December), too much box office competition, and the boycotters that are upset about the direction the franchise has been going in. Now that it’s on home video, I really hope it can find more of an audience because it deserves to. Ron Howard and company have really created a fun-filled story that I think “Star Wars” fans and even casual fans will enjoy if they give it a chance. Buy the 4K, Blu-ray or DVD as soon as it comes out. You’ll be glad you did.

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September 13, 2018 - Posted by | 4K UHD Review | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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