Solo: A Star Wars Story 4K Blu-Ray Review
Over the course of last summer, Solo: A Star Wars Story joined a group of films that many people would never have predicted ANY Star Wars film would be associated with: a box office disappointment. There are a lot of opinions as to why this film didn’t attract a wider audience, but the fact remains that many people did not see this film. With that being said, Solo has one final attempt to redeem itself financially and also critically in the upcoming home video release. There are so many films that found their audiences on home video after performing dismally in the theaters. I think Solo could easily achieve this. So how does this home video release stack up compared to other Star Wars films? Let’s take a gander, shall we?
The actual movie:
I am not going to heavily critique the actual film in this review. I did plenty of that in my (shameless plug time) podcasts Blaster Canon and The Saga Continues. I’ll just say that I absolutely LOVE this film to death. It killed me when it wasn’t getting the attention I felt it deserved. I saw it five times in the theater and fell more deeply in love with each viewing. So, needless to say, the home video release is a big deal for me.
HDR/4K and standard Blu-ray presentation:
When it was announced that The Last Jedi would be the first Star Wars film to be released in HDR/4K, I knew that I would soon be joining the 4K trend. Where Star Wars goes, I go. Without being super technical (because I am the last person who should try and explain something complicated), I will do my best to explain what HDR does in layman’s terms: HDR presentation lets us see much more detail by providing broader shades of colors presented on screen.
The standard Blu-ray crushes the colors of a film and therefore loses a lot of the dynamics of nuanced darker scenes in a film. 4K is simply a higher resolution of pixels that will lead to a more accurate, theater-like presentation. The jump in quality from Blu-ray to 4K isn’t as high as DVD to Blu-Ray, but it’s a noticeable difference nonetheless.
I want to reinforce this because a big criticism of Solo was the natural lighting that cinematographer Bradford Young employed. There were many complaints online that Solo was “too dark.” Knowing the strengths of HDR/4K, I couldn’t wait to see how this translated on my player. The HDR presentation really highlights the lighting dynamics that were intended for theaters. If you watched the film in the theater and thought it was a little dark at times, I recommend watching the standard Blu-ray because as I stated previously, the standard version is much brighter and will be easier to see (I can confirm after watching a number of the darker scenes of the standard version). Keep in mind that you will also be losing some of the atmosphere by not watching the HDR/4K version, which gives this film a unique edge compared to other Star Wars films.
The special features:
A dying art in home video are the special features that are included with home video releases. I am a big Marvel fan and buy all their films when they are released. I am for the most part disappointed by the lack of ‘meaty’ special features. Star Wars started out the same way with The Force Awakens, but Lucasfilm has included better special features with every home release since. The Last Jedi was the best home release since Episodes I-VI were re-released on Blu-ray (don’t tell that to various people on Youtube, please).
Solo’s special features are not quite to the level of those Rian Johnson gave us in TLJ , but they are not bad either. The best featurette is by far the roundtable discussion with director Ron Howard and all of the main cast. You can see the entire crew’s respect for Ron during this conversation and that was really cool to see. You get to hear how special being in Star Wars is, and where the actors were when they found out they were cast in the film. This runs a little over 20 minutes, while there are a number of shorter featurettes that may lack in time, but are very insightful and fun to watch. There isn’t one that’s not worth watching. I was a little surprised because usually these shorter features tend to be less interesting to me, but they are put together really well.
There are eight deleted scenes on this release, and after watching all of them I can safely say that four are worthy of being cut. The following four scenes are the reason I am begging for an extended cut of Solo:
- Corellian Foot Race
- Han Solo: Imperial Cadet
- The Battle of Mimban: Extended
- Han Versus Chewie: Extended
These four deleted scenes add so much to the character of Han while also adding some really cool action moments. They would definitely slow the pacing of the film a bit, but I think the benefit of their addition would be worthy of sacrificing the pace. #ReleasetheHowardCut (Only DCEU people will get that hashtag, lol).
As you can probably tell, I love this home video release. It’s not quite to the level of TLJ in terms of the amount and quality of extras that we receive. I would have LOOOOOOOOVED a commentary by Ron Howard to hear his impressions of making the film. My hope for this release is that positive word of mouth will start to mount and people will give it a chance. Perhaps it could lead to a potential sequel of some kind? Doubtful, but not impossible. Either way, Solo: A Star Wars Story remains one of my favorite Star Wars films.
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