A brown The Adventures of Prince Achmed. It’s 90% silhouettes. A visual abomination. The worst color grading I have seen in a film that cost more than $5000.
On the other hand, it’s more entertaining and has much more engaging characters than Rogue One. Ehrenreich and Glover’s impressions aren’t half bad. But my eyes! They’re throbbing in pain.
A lot of people are blaming this on poor projectors, lazy theaters, and the supposedly gutsy cinematography by DP Bradford Young (whose work I actually love in Arrival and A Most Violent Year). But it really doesn’t make any difference. Disney and the theaters birthed this big brown expensive stain together.
As I was writing this, I decided to revisit the trailer on YouTube (with my device’s brightness turned all the way up). It’s as drab, lifeless, and lightless as I thought. It’s noticeably artificially desaturated. I can see it in Chewbacca’s fur. This isn’t the purposeful under-exposure in The Godfather films (that still contained beautiful color information). No, not at all.
And as I think about it, I don’t see how the brightness calibration could have been off in my theater. As I said previously, almost all characters are shot in silhouette, or in other words, the background was lit while the foreground was not. If the projector were to have had its brightness increased, the somewhat properly exposed backgrounds would be blown out in favor of the foreground. I don’t think Kamiński-esque blown out backgrounds and highlights were the intention for Solo.
I will say, it intrigues me that some call it “visually stunning,” but the same was said by some about Rogue One, so I guess that’s a phrase that is just thrown around.