New Blu-ray Releases Solo

(Welcome to Not Dead Yet, a feature dedicated to new Blu-ray releases and what special features you should be excited about. Because yes, some of us still like to own physical copies of our movies.)

Solo: A Star Wars Story is arriving on Blu-ray, just in time for audiences to discover it’s not nearly as bad as some people claimed it was. In fact, it’s fun! And you can finally see Bradford Young’s cinematography the way it was intended to be. Solo is joined by the star-studded Ocean’s 8, the must-have Universal Monsters box set, and, uh…Gotti!

Here are the new Blu-ray releases and their special features you should check out this week and beyond.

Solo: A Star Wars Story

I think time will be kind to Solo: A Star Wars Story. The Star Wars spin-off film underperformed at the box office, which resulted in a narrative claiming the film was a total failure. That isn’t quite true – yes, it didn’t meet expectations, but it didn’t exactly flop, either. And while I myself was a bit mixed on the film – it’s fun, but kind of pointless! – I also think it deserves better than its reputation suggests. Alden Ehrenreich is no Harrison Ford (hey, who is?), but he makes for a charmingly roguish Han. And the doomed romance between Han and Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) really works – Ehrenreich and Clarke have real chemistry together. On top of that, Solo is one of the best looking Star Wars films, thanks to Bradford Young’s cinematography. Many of Young’s visuals were ruined by poor projection in theaters, which makes the Solo Blu-ray all the more essential: you can finally, clearly see what Young was going for here. As time wears on, I think those who shrugged Solo off will come to see it as a pretty entertaining adventure. Hell, it’s certainly a lot better than Rogue One.

 

Special Features to Note:

Of the many featurettes included on the Solo Blu-ray, the best is “Kasdan on Kasdan”, which has father and son screenwriting team Jonathan Kasdan and Lawrence Kasdan talking about the family connection to the franchise, and the crafting of the film. “The whole saga is about fathers and sons, and generations,” says Lawrence Kasdan. “So [working with my son] fits in.” This is a great, even touching, look at the writing of the film, and Lawrence Kasdan’s legacy with the franchise. 

The second best is “Becoming A Droid”, which focuses on the new droid, L3-37, played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge. This featurette tracks the character’s design origins – she started off looking like an R2D2-style droid before evolving into something different. We get to see Phoebe Waller-Bridge on set playing the character in costume. While CGI was used to enhance the appearance, Waller-Bridge performed the character wearing a costume with greenscreen elements. This helped add some much-needed realism to the part. 

Beyond this, we have a featurette about redesigning the Millenium Falcon for the film. As Donald Glover points out, the Falcon in this film is brand new, as opposed to the beat-up hunk of junk we’re used to. The script describes it as “a sports car in a junkyard.” Other featurettes break down the production – set design, costume design, and more. I was hoping for a featurette devoted to Bradford Young’s cinematography, but sadly, one does not appear.  

There are a handful of delete scenes included as well. While the scenes all add a little extra flavor to the film, none are that earth shattering. We get an extended scene with Han and Qi’ra in Proxima’s Den, where Han tells Qi’ra he won’t leave without her. This is followed by a scene where Han and Qi’ra run through the streets, pursued by Proxima’s gang. They hide in a vat of eels, as one does. After this, we actually get to see Han as an Imperial Cadet, flying on a mission and crashing. He appears before a tribunal to explain himself, where he’s accused of “Maverick heroics”, and is reassigned to the infantry. This gives way to an extended battle sequence on Mimban. Han and Chewie’s first meeting/fight is presented in an extended form, where the fake fight between the two is much longer. This isn’t the only fight included – there’s also a funny, mostly silent sequence where Han and Chewie have a snowball fight with each other. It’s not really clear where this scene fits in – it’s sometime during the train heist at the beginning of the film, but if it’s coming after the heist – when several characters die – it seems very out of place. Which might be why it was cut. Beyond this, we have an extended introduction to Dryden, where we get to see more of his trophy room. During this sequence, Han keeps trying to eat a snack, making a mess of it as he does. 

Special Features Include:

  • Solo: The Director & Cast Roundtable
    Sit down with director Ron Howard and the stars for an intimate and entertaining discussion of the film’s making.
  • Team Chewie
    See what it takes to bring your favorite Wookiee to life in this lighthearted look behind the scenes.
  • Kasdan on Kasdan
    Iconic Star Wars screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan and son Jonathan share what it was like to write the movie’s script together.
  • Remaking the Millennium Falcon
    Track the transformation of the most famous ship in the galaxy, from Lando’s swank and impeccable pride and joy to Han’s stripped-down hot-rod freighter with “special modifications.”
  • Escape from Corellia
    Get behind the wheel for the making of this high-octane chase through the streets of Corellia.
  • The Train Heist
    Explore the challenges and thrills of creating this action-packed sequence, including its remote location and spectacular effects.
  • Becoming a Droid: L3-37
    Meet the newest droid—and the talented actor who helps bring her to life.
  • Scoundrels, Droids, Creatures and Cards: Welcome to Fort Ypso
    Take an in-depth tour of the rough-and-tumble bar where strangers mix and gamblers risk all in the legendary card game, Sabaac.
  • Into the Maelstrom: The Kessel Run
    Join Han and Chewie at the controls of the Millennium Falcon to see how this legendary moment in Star Wars history unfolds.
  • Deleted Scenes
    • Proxima’s Den
    • Corellian Foot Chase
    • Han Solo: Imperial Cadet
    • The Battle of Mimban: Extended
    • Han Versus Chewie: Extended
    • Snowball Fight!
    • Meet Dryden: Extended
    • Coaxium Double-Cross

 

Ocean’s 8

What a cast! What a premise! What…happened? Ocean’s 8 should’ve been a slam-dunk. One of the best casts, ever, came together for a female-driven heist flick in the vein of Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s films. Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, and Awkwafina are the ladies in question, joining forces to rob the Met Gala. This should work! And yet… Look, Ocean’s 8 is fine. It’s a light, fun movie. But it could’ve been better. Much, much better. For one thing, the film wastes this great cast. Mindy Kaling has almost nothing to do here, ditto Rihanna. Even Cate Blanchett, featured so prominently in all the marketing, gets the short end of the stick. On top of this, Gary Ross‘ direction is uninspired. The opening of the film, with Bullock’s Debbie Ocean getting out of jail, actually has Ross mimicking Soderbergh’s directorial style, and it’s great! From here, however, he abandons that for a less-thrilling look. Ocean’s 8 is also far too beholden to the previous films. This isn’t just a reboot, it’s a direct sequel, and that hurts the film. A last-minute twist heavily involves an Ocean’s 11 character, and it just seems entirely unnecessary. Why couldn’t this just be its own thing? Still, it’s hard to dislike this film. It’s so breezy and well-intentioned that it endears itself to you. Also helping matters is Anne Hathaway, who steals the entire film as a snobby actress. More Anne Hathaway in more movies, please.

Special Features to Note:

There are two deleted scenes here. One involves Sarah Paulson’s character returning to the gang’s hide-out to talk about how expensive and elite the Met Gala is. Paulson is funny here, but the scene is needless. The other deleted scene is likely from the end of the film (possibly a nixed post-credits scene?) The heist is done and everyone is gone, except Sandra Bullock and Sarah Paulson. Bullock’s Debbie Ocean attempts to keep Paulson’s character Tammy around by suggesting they pull off another robbery, but Tammy insists she has to get home. It’s amusing and quick. 

Beyond the deleted scenes, we’re treated to a handful of quick (each about 10-12 minutes) featurettes about the making of the film. One focuses on the lengths the production went to to recreate the Met Gala. At first, Gary Ross and company thought they might have to build a set, but after meeting with with Anna Wintour and Vogue, the production was able to lock down the actual Met to stage the scene.

Another featurette focuses on the concept of making an  Ocean’s film with a female-centric cast. Writer Olivia Milch wanted to “have a dialogue” with the Soderbergh films, but to also have this movie be its own thing. “We’re taking the outlaw trope and giving it to this group of amazing women,” says Gary Ross here. Milch goes on to say she wanted the film to show the “fun” of pulling of a heist – and for all the film’s flaws, I’d say they succeeded on this end. 

“Ocean’s Team 3.0” is all about the ensemble – the assemblage of the cast, the chemistry they have with each other, and so on. Everyone talks about their characters and their traits – Sandra Bullock is “cool” and “sophisticated” and and also good at putting the plan together, costume designer worked to make her wardrobe look similar to George Clooney’s Ocean’s looks – i.e., turtlenecks. There’s actually more focus on character here than in the actual movie, which says a lot. 

Special Features Include:

  • A Heist in Heels
  • Ocean’s Team 3.0
  • Reimagining the Met Gala
  • Deleted Scenes

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