Home Entertainment Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story Digital Release (Disney)

Spoilers ahead, in case you hadn’t seen it yet. Firstly, I liked it. Better then Rogue One. Judge me if you must. ” order_by=”sortorder” order_direction=”ASC” returns=”included” maximum_entity_count=”500″] The story was […]

Spoilers ahead, in case you hadn’t seen it yet.

Firstly, I liked it. Better then Rogue One. Judge me if you must.

The story was a better caper story then Rogue One. Solo’s double cross and the double DOUBLE cross made for a more surprising tale for me. Although as a fan of Firefly, I couldn’t help but to recognize the train heist as right out of an episode from that franchise but at least they lifted from the best. Besides, Firefly is kinda a rip off of Han’s adventures already as Mal and the Serenity might as well be (but that is why I loved Firefly).

As I watched this film, I was reminded of the opening of the third Indiana Jones Film in which we follow a teenage Indy as he discovers his hat, his fear of snakes, how (improperly) to use a bullwhip and how he got his chin scar from said whip! All that squeezed in 15 minutes. Here in Solo, we get a similar origin story, but at a much slower pace and maybe not everything explained (although I was hoping Vision/Jarvis would have given Han his chin scar in their fight with the laser potato peeler). But… what is the significance of Han’s dice? What did the Mother of Dragons endure since last seeing Han? Not explained, and I love that! Sci-Fi has had a habit of over-explaining things in the recent years, hence taking away some of the mystery of the unknown. Midi-chlorians anyone? I’m glad some things were kept unanswered, despite the fact that a canon book will probably explain Qi’ra’s motivations at some point due to her blaa blaa blaa. See? Over-explaining!

I enjoyed Woody Harrelson in the role of Beckett, a father figure to Han. Woody showed us his best classic western outlaw character, which was a great fit for this film. The somewhat quick role of Val played by Thandie Newton was a great fit for Beckett’s lover and partner. I would have liked to have seen Beckett carry more of a chip on his shoulder over her loss, but I suppose that would go against the outlaw nature of the character. Jon Favreau’s voice work as the pilot Rio brought a lightness to the role and I really wish we could have spent more time with the character. Speaking of wanting more time: Lando’s droid L3-37, played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, was a scene stealer. As a droid’s right activist, L3 spoke her mind and did what she wanted to. Even her frank discussion with Qi’ra about Droid/Human sexual relations was funny and uncomfortable at the same time.

This brings us to the big four: Dryden, Lando, Qi’ra, and Han.

Paul Bettany was incredible in the role of gangster overlord Dryden. I actually believed him in the role and couldn’t wait for him to return to the next scene. To see him switch from loving & supportive to evil & deadly in a beat was some beautiful work. I actually believed Dryden would kill them and the others characters knew that oh too well. By the way, Dryden used a double-sided knife that had laser edges. Foreshadowing to his eventual overlord (and bad plot move, if you ask me. More on that later).

The love interest and the original partner to Han was Dryden’s Number One Qi’ra, portrayed by Emilia Clarke as she tries to distance herself from the Terminator franchise as quickly as possible. Qi’ra and Han grew up together in Space Oliver Twist planet, making plans for a better life off world. The two of them were quite a pair back then and almost got away with it, but sadly Qi’ra gets left behind as Han escapes. Again, I am glad we did not get too much explanation into what happened to her between then and now. I didn’t want to get the scene again from Gremlins in which Phoebe Cates explains to Billy and Gizmo why she hates Christmas so much (although Gremlins 2 making fun of that scene made it worth it. Please see Gremlins 2! It’s such a sarcastic swing at the original). Clarke portrayed a strong and confident individual, who took those life’s lemons and did great work with them. Her eventual betrayal was easy to miss because I wanted her and Han to be together. I was sure she would die rather than become the villain, so again I was pleasantly surprised by this plot choice. I wouldn’t mind seeing her back again in another film. Hell, maybe she’s Rey’s mother in the Skywalker Saga sequels! Naaaaaaaa.

The minute you hear Donald Glover as Lando, you believe him not only in the role but you believe he’s channeling Billy Dee Williams himself! Speech, behaviors, and right down to the capes… Lando is there! We really didn’t spend that much time with Lando in the original trilogy, so Glover has shoes to fill but the freedom to expand upon them. I hear talks of a Lando film. I wouldn’t mind it, and would actually prefer it over a Boba Fett film.

Han Solo, the beloved scruffy-looking Nerf Herder, was originally portrayed by Harrison Ford. “Han was originally played by Harrison Ford”; wow, that feels weird to write that. Ford was an incredibly strong part of my childhood, portraying personal heroes like Han, Indy, and let us not forget that Replicant hunter with a heart of gold Decker. Ford was Solo and Solo was Ford. It was a huge bet that Lucasfilm took on recasting the role, but I feel it paid off.

Alden Ehrenreich did a great job at reinterpreting the character of Han. We’ve been through years of recasting characters that we the audience knows: James Bond, Dumbledore, and the beloved Jennifer from Back the Future films! But Han Solo… he’s a one and only! Harrison Ford made this character iconic! Women love him and men want to be him, to quote another swinging rogue. Can another play Han? I say yes. Ehrenreich made me see Ford and forget him at the same time. He found a balance between playing Ford’s Solo (his hands on his hips stance, smirks, and general scoundrelism in speech) and bringing new elements to the role. I could and would watch another Solo film starring him. Hell, I’ve seen Solo three times now within its first week alone. I would watch another Solo heist film before I would watch a Boba Fett film (as I heard recently and agree with: “Boba Fett is a costume, not a character’). I hope Aiden luck in his Star Wars career because it can be long and fruitful if Disney wants it to be.

Alright, let’s nerd out for a moment. Let’s get ready to freeze frame a scene!

In Dryden’s office, my eyes go directly to the oversized crystal skull in the background. I kept looking at it to see if it was a repo of the one from Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, but if you look directly at the base of it you will see a much more obvious reference to that other franchise: The Fertility Idol from the opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark! An exact copy!

Finally, Han shoots first. Again. He did and no taking backsies of that! Han did it and he was right to do so then AND again when Greedo was gonna grease him.

What about THAT cameo? If I hate one single thing about the Star Wars Saga… I mean really DESPISE… it’s the return of Darth Maul. Come on, guys! He was cut in half by Obi-Wan for killing Qui-Gon. Now we invalidate that because some fans thought he was cool? Oh please.

The Expanded Universe brought Maul back so it was easy for me to dismiss. Later, he became apart of the canon cartoon series. Again, I dismissed it because I’m only a watcher of the live action movies. Well, here he is… in one of my films. In the flesh, played by Ray Park again… and voiced by whoever did his voice in the cartoons. Sigh. I’ll accept it, but I don’t have to like it… because I really just don’t like it at all!

Solo was better than every prequel and Rogue One, but still not better then the Holy Trilogy or any of the sequels. In this film was as much fun and humor as action and drama. With what could have been a mess with the directors being switched out part way thru filming, I thought the film came together very fluidly. The writing, the acting, and the direction were all top notch.

Okay, to sum up. Loved Solo. I actually hope we get to see another Han adventure even IF Maul will be in them.

DIGITAL EXTRAS REVIEW

The extras included on this digital release is made of-of short featurettes, a round-table discussion with director and cast, and deleted scenes. There is no audio commentary included with this release, although the beauty of digital releases is that this can be added later in an update. I was really looking forward to the commentary for the insights into the film, but primarily it would have made Solo feel like an episode of Arrested Development with that familiar Ron Howard voiceover. ;-)

The round-table discussion was my favorite of the extras. In this 20-minute feature, you learn about the actor’s first moment when learning they would be in a Star Wars story. Bettany’s casting is especially interesting. There were hits dropped but nothing said of the swapping of directors during the middle of filming.

In case you didn’t know, originally hired to direct Solo was the team of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street). From February to June 2017, the pair directed 70% of the film but due to artistic vision conflicts they were let go. Ron Howard was brought in to not only finish the film but to reshoot many of the scenes that Lord & Miller has already filmed.

A few references are hinted of the time between directors on the film; Ron Howard joining the filming ‘after the hiatus’ and how the mud fight between Han & Chewie was shot entirely by second unit instead of under the direction of Lord & Miller. The previous directors are not mentioned in any of the extras, but do note they were given producer credits on the film in the end.

Revealed in the roundtable extra is how Howard’s first day on the set was also the day that George Lucas visited the set! Helping him out on his first day in the Star Wars universe, Lucas even advised Howard how Han should react in a particular scene. Howard gratefully took the note because who knows Han better then Lucas (and even Harrison Ford said that, too).

The cutscenes were okay, A couple of them taking place on Corellia before Han made is escape were alright. Seeing Han get kicked out of the Imperial flight school was my second favorite. My very favorite? Han and Chewie having a snowball fight! For many years, it always seemed like Han was the adult in the room making the tough calls but it was great to see this pair wrestling around and having fun. Han & Chewie are two of the greatest pairing in movie history if you were to ask me. I loved seeing how they became that pair and really wish for more of it.

Final word on the extras: Nice additions that give some insight into the creation of the film. Missed not having an audio commentary, but just now the co-screenwriter Jonathan Kasen released on his Twitter feed @jonkasen “53 random factoids & notes about the making & writing” due to the lack of a commentary track. Have a look for some insight AND Kasen makes references to previous directors Lord & Miller in it.

A must buy for a fan, especially if you enjoy “Legacy Star Wars” lover.

About Bobby Sussman

Bobby Sussman is a Sci-Fi fan who lives in Los Angeles. When not doing his day job of IT, Bobby can be found collecting movie memorabilia, frequenting Disneyland, or pondering the true meaning of the ending of Avengers: Infinity War. Bobby is a cat owner and asks you to not hold that against him.