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  1. #1
    Senior Member David Vaughn's Avatar
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    Solo: A Star Wars Story (UHD Blu-ray) review

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    Plot
    A journey that explores Han’s first encounters with future friend and copilot Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and notorious gambler Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover). The film takes viewers on a ride showing Han’s adventure-filled past alongside fellow street thief Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) and career criminal Beckett (Woody Harrelson).


    My Thoughts
    I was reluctant to see this in theaters after the bad taste left in my mouth from The Last Jedi, but I relented and was pleasantly surprised by how much fun I had with the film. The casting is great—yes, even Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo—but Glover steals the show as Lando and deserves his own film since he’s one of the most interesting characters (along with Boba Fett) that has the backstory to carry a film.

    Seeing the film a second time at home was just as enjoyable, if not more so. The action scenes are well shot and substitute director, Ron Howard, was able to take a bad situation and make a coherent film. About six months into production, Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired and Howard was brought in to finish things off by reshooting many of their scenes. Fortunately, screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, along with his son Jonathan, were vocal enough with Disney about the direction the film was taking under the duo of original directors that the studio stepped in and replaced them. I’ve read that over 70% of the finished movie came from Howard’s scenes and I really like the direction he took the film and hopefully we will see these characters again.

    As much as I liked the film, I found the presentation to be severely lacking. The video quality is much too soft and the image comes across as flat and lifeless. Thinking something was wrong with my UHD setup, I rewatched key scenes with the Blu-ray and they looked slightly worse! There’s a golden tone to the picture and dark scenes don’t have the shadow detail that you expect from a blockbuster movie. Maybe the cinematographer was going for a grittier/older look, but it doesn’t look very good in 4K or 1080p.

    As bad as the video is, the audio is even worse. Disney has something seriously wrong in their home video production office because both the Dolby Atmos track on the UHD and the DTS-MA 5.1 track on the Blu-ray have severely crushed dynamics. Turning up the volume by about 10 clicks over my normal listening levels helped a bit, but the audio sounds “boxed in” from beginning to end, which is very apparent when listening to the fantastic score from John Powell, which sounded much more dynamic at my local theater. Generally speaking, soundtracks usually sound better on my own system, so it was like watching the movie in bizarro world.


    Video 7/10 (MVC)

    Audio 5/10 (Dolby Atmos)


    Special Features:

    • Solo: The Director and Cast Roundtable
    • Team Chewie
    • Kasdan on Kasdan
    • Remaking the Millennium Falcon
    • Escape from Corellia
    • The Train Heist
    • Becoming a Droid: L3-37
    • Scoundrels, Droids, Creatures and Cards: Welcome to Fort Ypso
    • Into the Maelstrom: The Kessel Run
    • Deleted Scenes
    • The Millennium Falcon: From Page to Park
    • Blu-ray +UV Digital Copy





    Conclusion
    Although this film isn’t rated very high on rottentomatoes.com (71%), it’s turned out to be one of the best films in the franchise in this writer’s opinion. I really liked the casting decisions and the story is a lot of fun to watch, even more than once. Unfortunately, the presentation leaves a lot to be desired, especially the crippled audio, but I was able to overcome that and still enjoy the movie. If you haven’t seen it yet, definitely go in with an open mind and I bet you enjoy it too. Recommended.
    David Vaughn
    Technical Writer/Blu-ray Reviewer
    Sound and Vision Magazine

  2. #2
    Well I agreed with your last few reviews David, but not this one.

    I had lots of problems with the movie (like the social justice warrior driod... ugh) but the biggest for me was the look of the film, which you did touch on. Just awful. A muddled messy of dingy browns, no true black to be seen anywhere. Even outer space seemed grey and muddy.

    Structure was a mess, but if you can get past the first 30m it gets better. I thought the score was terrible, though. Felt cheap, more like a TV movie, and the way they weaved in other SW themes felt forced.

    The Kessel Run maelstrom scene was neat, but went on way too long. Did not like Donald Glover's imitation of Billy Dee, felt more like an SNL parody and man, that 'romance' with him and the droid was so bizarre. Chewbacca was weird too. Felt like a man in a suit (which it is of course, but didn't feel that way in earlier SW movies).

    Alden Ehrenrich was great, though-
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  3. #3
    Senior Member David Vaughn's Avatar
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    We can't always agree, except for the cinematography...it was horrible.
    David Vaughn
    Technical Writer/Blu-ray Reviewer
    Sound and Vision Magazine

  4. #4
    Senior Member Ralph P.'s Avatar
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    Greetings,

    There are definitely some issues with this presentation. Like you Dave, I enjoyed this one for what it was. Nice review buddy..
    Regards,


    Ralph C.Potts
    AVSForum Blu-ray Disc Reviews

  5. #5


    This kinda sums up the movie visually.

    I didn't love The Force Awakens, but at least it was bright and flashy. Last Jedi had great visuals across the board, and some really exceptional sets and shots. (Everything in the throne room, for instance.) Rogue One was very similar to Solo for the first half or so, dark, dingy, and depressing, but then went full Star Wars for the last half, leaning into the look of the first film, and it looked great.

    The visual spectacle is a BIG part of these movies, and Solo was completely missing it, except maybe a few shots during the train heist and Kessel run, but they were still dark and dingy.
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  6. #6
    almost forgot- I do agree with David on the audio presentation. Lacked ooomph and like David I had to crank my system up. Feels like the entire soundtrack was heavily compressed. I hope this isn't a trend to make it easy listening for people just using their TVs without a separate system or even a soundbar. I could see why dynamic range would be a 'bad' thing in that case.

    Would be nice if they gave you a "true to theatrical" audio track with lots of DR, and a "home presentation" track thats compressed all to hell. Now that I think of it, maybe this is why the score felt 'cheap' to me. It didn't rise and swell so much as just keep going.
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  7. #7
    Administrator Tracy Rainwater's Avatar
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    Man, why would Disney let a major franchise look and sound like crap on the big screen? They spent a fortune on Star Wars universe, why not give it the treatment it deserves?

    I'll buy it, of course, but come on. Get it right. You're Disney, the studio of miracles after all.

  8. #8
    Senior Member NoUDont's Avatar
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    i really enjoyed the film when i watched it in a dolby cinema. and even there, the choice they made with the colors, the darkness and the fog, the dolby cinema struggled. i liked it so much i went back to watch it a second time, but by then it was out of dolby cinema but still available at the mini imax. what a mistake that was! what struggled to look presentable at the dolby cinema was just a gray mess at the imax.

    also sad that disney has decided to basically crap the bed on 4K video and audio presentations. but of course im going to buy this one.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Lefisc's Avatar
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    And collecting I think I have always been a completest, But why has that changed as I’ve gotten older. I didn’t see them in the theater but I did buy the set of the three first prequels to StAr Wars. But not just for this movie, I think I’m stopping. I really disliked the three disc set of the hobbit. But they are putting out so many sequels and prequels, I’m just going to watch them on HBO.
    Barry
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  10. #10
    Senior Member TrippleJ's Avatar
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    Disney is milking this franchise for sure..

    Just not sure how much longer they can keep doing it.

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