Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Blu-ray Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story


Writers Lawrence Kasdan and his son, Jonathan Kasdan, construct an entertaining origin story for Han Solo that doesn't try to recreate the wheel and brings to life all the key moments fans have always heard about the character and his co-pilot Chewbacca. Borrowing camera angles and setups from everything from old westerns to chase films and even the original trilogy, Solo: A Star Wars Story is an elegantly shot film that wears it's technical influences on its sleeves. Ron Howard does a great job of balancing lightheartedness and humor with the darkness of The Empire Strikes Back and fresh excitement of its 1977 predecessor.

Aside from some nitpicking, the CGI and special effects are top notch and help keep the viewer immersed in a Galaxy Far, Far Away. While the sound effects are as bombastic and electric as we've come to expect from these movies, nothing about John Powell's musical score really stood out to me apart from the familiar segments of John Williams' motifs. The entire cast of Solo: A Star Wars Story fulfills their acting duties very well, with Alden Ehrenreich adding a personal touch to the existing characterization of everyone's favorite scoundrel.

Through a series of daring escapades deep within a dark and dangerous criminal underworld, Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) meets his mighty future co-pilot Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and encounters the notorious gambler Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) in Solo: A Star Wars Story.

In a time when the latest entries in the Star Wars saga are very dark and more serious, Solo: A Star Wars Story is a welcome addition with its return to the movie serial and swashbuckling fun and humor captured in George Lucas's original blockbuster. The movie is still dark and holds a flavor of The Empire Strikes Back, but its main goal is to entertain and leave the audience excitedly smiling when the credits role at the end. It really comes as no surprise that one of Lucas's contemporaries and longtime friends brings the franchise full-circle back to its original cinematic intentions.


I was sent the Blu-ray edition of Solo: A Star Wars Story. It is packed full of bonus extras. There are eight deleted scenes that expand on what we saw in the theatrical version. We also get a Director and Cast Roundtable. There are also some great featurettes like "Becoming a Droid: L3-37," "Into the Maelstrom: The Kessel Run," "Remaking the Millennium Falcon," "Kasdan on Kasdan," and "Team Chewie."

The one thing missing that I think everyone would have loved to hear is director commentary from Ron Howard. With such a quick turnaround from when the movie was in theaters to home release, I can imagine it would be hard to get Howard in to do such a thing. With the director switch and other behind-the-scenes rumors, I can only imagine a detailed commentary would have been more than intriguing.

Ron Howard ("What We Do in the Shadows") directed "Solo: A Star Wars Story" from a script by Lawrence Kasdan ("The Empire Strikes Back") and Jonathan Kasdan ("Freaks and Geeks"). The movie stars Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Donald Glover, Emilia Clarke, Joonas Suotamo, Paul Bettany, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and Thandie Newton. The running time is 135 minutes.

Solo: A Star Wars Story is available now in Digital, 4K, Blu-ray, and DVD editions.


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