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Details At A Glance

Category Action Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 4:3, Dolby Digital 2.0 
Rating Other Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - Dolby Digital City
Year Released 1996 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 90:03 minutes Other Extras Filmographies-Cast
Featurette - Making Of (5:28)
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Norberto Barba

Columbia Tristar
Starring Mario Van Peebles
William Sadler
Adrien Brody
Barry Corbin
Case Transparent
RRP $34.95 Music Christopher Franke

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
German (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles English
Annoying Product Placement Yes, mildly
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    The theme of a robotic or semi-robotic super-soldier has been visited many a time since the seminal Terminator and Terminator 2, by far the best of the genre. Titles that spring immediately to mind are the very ordinary Universal Soldier and the execrable Soldier. As I read the cover liner notes for Solo, I had a sinking feeling that this was going to be a very long 90 minutes. As I saw the opening titles, and saw the Triumph Pictures logo appear, I had flashbacks to the truly dreadful Screamers - a movie with great visuals and great sound, but a real stinker of a story.

    To a certain extent, my worst fears were realized, but the movie had some redeeming features as well.

    As the movie opened, the clichés came thick and fast - the bad-guy military types (Colonel Madden - William Sadler, General Claude Haynes - Barry Corbin), the operation botched because the apparently emotionless fighting machine develops a case of civilianitis, the fighting machine (Solo - Mario Van Peebles) being consigned to the scrap heap, the fighting machine helping humans with their plight and developing a conscience, yada yada yada.

    Where this movie redeems itself is in the fact that Mario Van Peebles actually gets you to care about his fate - he manages to imbue the character with a degree of vulnerability and humanity. Don't get me wrong - this is no masterpiece of filmmaking, but it lifts itself above most of the other poor attempts at this genre, and is at least worthy of consideration. That is, if you can get past the first 15 minutes of really bad dialogue and bad stereotyping.

Transfer Quality


    This transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer was generally up to the usual Columbia Tristar standard, with a sharp and clear picture throughout the majority of the movie. Some film grain was apparent in some of the long helicopter shots. Shadow detail was generally good other than the opening of the movie which lacked in this area. No low level noise was noted.

    The colours were clearly rendered. There are no vibrant colours in this transfer except for Solo's computerized displays, but the greens and browns of the jungle are well rendered, as are the reds and oranges of the various explosions.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. No film-to-video artefacts were seen. No film artefacts of any significance were seen.


    There are five audio tracks on this DVD - English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. All except for the German soundtrack are in Dolby Digital 5.1. The German soundtrack is in Dolby Digital 2.0, surround-encoded. The default soundtrack is English Dolby Digital 5.1, and this is the soundtrack that I listened to.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to follow at all times.

    Audio sync was problematic with this disc, with sync being marginally out for large portions of this movie. It was not badly out, but enough to be noticeable, and quite irritating. It would often be out for portions of a scene and would then return to normal. This was apparent on both my standalone DVD player and on my DVD-ROM, so it is an inherent problem with this disc. This may be inherent in the movie's audio, but not having seen this film theatrically, I cannot comment on this.

    The score by Christopher Franke was a typical undistinguished action movie score.

    The surround channels were very aggressively used throughout the movie, particularly for action sequences, creating a very enveloping and exciting surround experience. If it were not for the dialogue sync problem, this disc would earn very high marks in the audio department.

    The .1 channel was used aggressively and frequently to underscore the action sequences.


    This disc has an average selection of extras.


    The main menu is a standard Columbia Tristar 4:3 menu.

Dolby Digital City Trailer

Theatrical Trailer

Filmographies - Cast

Featurette - Making Of (5:28)

    This is a better-than-average promotional featurette.

R4 vs R1

    The Region 4 version of this DVD misses out on;     There is nothing compelling here to prefer one version over the other.


    Solo is a passable movie once you get past the early clichés and bad dialogue.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is a good aggressive surround mix but suffers frequently from very bad dialogue sync.

    The extras are unremarkable.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna
12th October 1999
Amended 15th April 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer