Better movie than what so-called "fans" gave it credit for. 4 Stars

Solo: A Star Wars Story never had a chance, with the original directors being fired just weeks from wrapping production, massive reshoots by the new director Ron Howard, backlash from outraged fans over The Last Jedi, and being released less than six months from The Last Jedi and competing with Avengers: Infinity War and Deadpool 2.

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
Released: 25 May 2018
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 135 min
Director: Ron Howard
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Joonas Suotamo, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke
Writer(s): Jonathan Kasdan, Lawrence Kasdan, George Lucas (based on characters created by)
Plot: During an adventure into the criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his future copilot Chewbacca and encounters Lando Calrissian years before joining the Rebellion.
IMDB rating: 7.1
MetaScore: 62

Disc Information
Studio: Disney
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 2.39.1
Audio: Dolby Atmos, English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, English DVS 2.0, Spanish 7.1 DD+:Spanish 7.1 DD+, French 7.1 DD+:French 7.1 DD+
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Rating: PG-13
Run Time: 2 Hr. 15 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray, Digital Copy
Case Type: 2-spindle UHD Keepcase with slipcover
Disc Type: UHD
Region: All
Release Date: 09/25/2018
MSRP: $29.99

The Production: 4/5

A young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) is a street smart thief and orphan working for Lady Proxima (voiced by Linda Hunt), a giant white worm and one of the crime lords on the planet Corellia. When a heist for Proxima goes wrong, Han and Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) attempt to escape from the planet, with Qi’ra captured and Han enlisting as a pilot for the Empire as a way to escape. Three years later, he finds himself in the thick of a tough battle, finding himself under the command of Beckett (Woody Harrelson), who is impersonating an Imperial officer in order to steal a ship. Beckett double-crosses Han by denouncing him as a deserter, placing him into a cell with a wookie by the name of Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo). Han and Chewie escape, impressing Beckett to make them part of his crew for a heist of coaxium (a highly volatile hyperfuel) on the planet Vandor. Rounding out Beckett’s crew are Val (Thandie Newton) and Rio Durant (voiced by Jon Favreau). As a running theme in the film, the heist does not go as planned, lives are lost,  and Beckett finds himself empty-handed and having to face Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany), leader of the crime syndicate Crimson Dawn. But Han and Beckett have a plan to make it up to Vos, steal some unrefined coaxium on the mining planet Kessel. Vos likes the idea, and sends his assistant, Qi’ra (surprise!) with them to oversee the mission and help them charter a ship, the Millenium Falcon, from gambler Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) and his first mate, android L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge).

Solo: A Star Wars Story should probably have been called Solo: A Series of Star Wars Adventures, because the film often feels like a collection of short stories told in consecutive order. That’s not a bad thing, though, as the stories do tend to flow into one another, it’s just that the script by Jonathan and Lawrence Kasdan is structured without a solid storyline carrying the film from beginning to end, and instead tells three main stories (Han’s life on Corellia, the heist on Vandor, and the infamous Kessel run). The Kasdan’s know the Star Wars universe very well, especially Han Solo (Lawrence wrote The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and The Force Awakens). It is fairly well-known that veteran director Ron Howard was brought in when original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were fired just weeks before principal photography was scheduled to wrap, and that Howard then reportedly reshot close to 80 percent of what appears on screen in the finished film. Howard’s career has been somewhat uneven, with some very good films but lately his films have suffered, but here in Solo Howard makes the best out of what was most likely a bad situation, working with a cast and crew he did not choose and trying to “fix” a film the studio felt was broken. Solo is not necessarily a bad movie, I found it very entertaining, and my long-time friend George, with whom my wife and I saw this film with theatrically in Orlando while on vacation last summer, felt the same way, despite the fact that the two of us were in major disagreements over Star Wars: The Last Jedi (he hated it, I was much more forgiving). Yes, Alden Ehrenreich doesn’t quite have the charisma or charm that Harrison Ford embodied into his portrayal of Han, but this is a younger version of the character, who has yet to meet Jabba the Hut. Character-wise, the real standouts are Glover as Lando who has that character down pat, his sidekick and first mate L3-37 allowing Waller-Bridge to have some of the funniest lines in the film, and Suotamo taking over the role of Chewbacca from Peter Mayhew. And John Powell’s score is reminiscent of the classic Star Wars films, often incorporating cues from John Williams’ compositions.

Video: 4.5/5

3D Rating: NA

Solo: A Star Wars Story was captured at 3.4k and 6.5k resolutions on Arri Alexa Mini, Alexa XT Plus, and Alexa 65 cameras, completed as a 4K digital intermediate with Dolby Vision high dynamic range in selected venues. Disney’s 4K UHD Blu-ray presents the film in a nice 2160p HEVC encode in the 2.39:1 theatrical aspect ratio and HDR10 high dynamic range. The UHD version, first of all, does appear to be slightly darker than the Blu-ray, with deeper blacks that often appear dark grey on Blu-ray. Shadow detail is improved, particularly on the dark streets of Corellia and the mines of Kessel. Whites are often bright without clipping, and details are much stronger thanks to the improved contrast provided by HDR10, particularly on the snow-covered planet of Vandor. Colors may seem a bit more subdued on the UHD version, but I found that the colors were perhaps too vibrant, often blooming at times, on the Blu-ray. This is not exactly a transfer to wow the neighbors with on your UHD display, but I believe that may be intentional.

Audio: 4.5/5

Disney’s UHD release of Solo contains a fairly solid but not spectacular Dolby Atmos mix (the good news is that there are no redundant Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 or 2.0 stereo mixes). It is not the disappointment that previous Disney Atmos mixes have been on titles like Thor: Ragnarok. Yes, audio levels are a bit low, but nowhere near as low as those previous films. Bump the audio up a few notches, and sit back for a fun experience, but don’t expect a lot of overhead activity. Surrounds are very active, though, with terrific panning effects made much more seamless with object-based Atmos. LFE is good, but not great, and dialogue is clear and understandable throughout. Unfortunately, this is how I remember it sounding when I saw it theatrically in a Dolby Cinema last summer, minus the butt-kickers, of course.

Special Features: 3.5/5

Disney has packaged the 4K UHD Blu-ray release as a 3-disc set, with movie-only UHD and Blu-ray discs, and a Special Features only Blu-ray disc. I’m quite surprised at the amount of Special Features included, considering all of the production problems.

Solo: The Director & Cast Roundtable (1080p; 21:44): Key cast members Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton, Joonas Suotamo, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge are interviewed by director Ron Howard in an enjoyable discussion of what must have been a tough shoot.

Kasdan on Kasdan (1080p; 7:50): The father and son writing team discuss their roots and legacy with the saga and what it was like to work on a script together.

Remaking the Millennium Falcon (1080p; 5:36): A look at creating Lando’s version of the Falcon.

Escape from Corellia (1080p; 9:59): A look at the production design of Han’s home world.

The Train Heist (1080p; 14:30): A look at creating the heist sequence on Vandor.

Team Chewie (1080p; 6:41): A look at the relationship between Han and Chewie.

Becoming a Droid: L3-37 (1080p; 5:06): A look at the designs of L3-37, and how the character was filmed to incorporate as much of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s performance as possible.

Scoundrels, Droids, Creatures and Cards: Welcome to Fort Ypso (1080p; 8:02): A look at Lando’s world.

Into the Maelstrom: The Kessel Run (1080p; 8:28): Believe it or not, much of the sequence was filmed in-camera (at least the portions inside the Falcon’s cockpit) using updated projection techniques.

Deleted Scenes (1080p; 15:13): 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.

Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy on Movies Anywhere. I received 4K UHD versions on Vudu, FandangoNow, and Amazon Prime Video, and HD on Google Play Movies. I do not own an Apple TV or an XBOX One so cannot confirm the resolutions provided on iTunes and Microsoft Movies, respectively.

Overall: 4/5

Solo: A Star Wars Story was dealt a bad hand of cards, with its production problems, word of mouth backlash from disgruntled “fans,” and opening in the wake of Infinity War and Deadpool 2. If you give it a chance, you might just like it. Trust me.

https://www.amazon.com/Solo-Star-Wars-Story-Blu-ray/dp/B07CQL3455/ref=tmm_frk_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&&qid=&&sr=

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Todd Erwin

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dpippel

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Clicking on either link gives me this:

Oops! That page can’t be found.

It looks like nothing was found at this location. Maybe try a search?
 

Josh Steinberg

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Nice review, Todd! I only saw the movie once in theaters and remember liking it but not being overly enthused about it either. But in hindsight I think I was in a bad mood that day to begin with which may have influenced my lack of enthusiasm, and your review has me really looking forward to revisiting the film on disc.
 

Robert Crawford

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Nice review Todd, I agree with your opinion about this film. I enjoyed it and saw it twice in the cinema, once in 2-D and the next in 3-D. I'll be buying this 4K/UHD release in late November.:)
 

Stephen_J_H

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I liked this better at home than I did on the big screen, for all the reasons cited. Given the disappointing box office, I wonder if LFL has considered the possibility of a streaming series rather than sequels? The format of the film almost seems to lend itself to that.
 

Josh Steinberg

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That actually seems like something they could pull off. Ehrenreich isn’t a big name; he can be got. Glover is primarily a TV actor; he can be got. Suotamo doesn’t seem like a hard get, and if he is, that role can more easily be recast. I’m intrigued by that idea.
 

Carabimero

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This is the best Star Wars film produced under Disney, IMO. It's not full of phony baloney like the other three. I said that the day I saw it, and still believe that after watching the disc.

I noticed there was no digital code contained with my disc. I suppose it's only fair when a privilege is institutionally abused, it's taken away.
 
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Todd Erwin

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I noticed there was no digital code contained with my disc. I suppose it's only fair when a privilege is institutionally abused, it's taken away.
Where did you purchase your disc, and what format? As far as I know, only the DVD version does not include a digital copy, unless Walmart is selling their "exclusive" Blu-ray editions again that do not include a digital copy.
 

Rob W

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Don't tell Crawdaddy, but I bought the 4K steelbook.
 
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Robert Crawford

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Don't tell Crawdaddy, but I bought the 4K steelbook.
Good for you. Did I say something in the past about you not buying the steelbook?
 

Scott Merryfield

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Thanks for the fine review, Todd. I haven't seen the film yet, as The Last Jedi kind of soured me towards Disney's Star Wars. However, I think I'm going to use some Amazon "digital credits" this evening to rent Solo. I haven't missed a Star Wars film yet, and this way it doesn't cost me anything versus making a blind purchase. If I end up liking it, I'll pick up the UHD somewhere down the road if the price ever drops to around $17 - $18 (but with Di$ney, that will probably take a loooonnnnggggg time)..
 
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Wayne_j

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The steel book was the only 4K version my local Best Buy had in stock.
 
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Robert Crawford

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We had a friendly back-and-forth about steelbooks in the Incredibles thread a few weeks ago....
Yeah, but I was speaking about my purchasing preferences. I would never tell somebody else how to spend their monies as it's none of my business. By the way, I just bought the "Platoon" Steelbook because I found a reasonable price for it which is why I'm reluctant to buy such releases due to their usual high price point.
 
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I watched it this afternoon(!) and a lot of it appears murky - even with the curtains closed(!) - I’ll have to have another go one evening when it’s dark(er)
Quite enjoyed the story however...
 
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