THE latest download and DVD releases.

Solo: A Star Wars Story

(Cert 12, 140 mins)***

THREE years after Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) is forced to abandon sweetheart Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke) on Corellia, the titular rogue and Wookiee sidekick Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) seek a route back to the ship-building planet.

They hijack a consignment of crystal fuel coaxium with thief-for-hire Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and his accomplices Val (Thandie Newton) and Rio (voiced by Jon Favreau).

The heist doesn't unfold as planned and the deflated reprobates are indebted to Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany), leader of the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate.

Thus, Han and Beckett reluctantly undertake a more dangerous assignment: to steal canisters of unrefined coaxium from Kessel.

To accomplish this seemingly impossible feat, the thieves must wrest the Millennium Falcon from smuggler Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) and his deadpan droid L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge).

Solo: A Star Wars Story travels at light speed to a galaxy not too far, far away from the old-fashioned charm of George Lucas's original trilogy.

A lean script provides a smattering of one-liners to underscore Han and Chewie's jocular banter and Glover has fun with his flirtatious chancer, who always deals himself a winning hand.

"I've got a good feeling about this," grins Han, a neat reversal of Luke Skywalker's line in Episode IV: A New Hope.

Solo's name is emboldened in the title but he's the least interesting element of the film and Ehrenreich's performance falls short of the smouldering, rascally delights of Harrison Ford.

Instead, Waller-Bridge, creator of Fleabag, shines brightest through the digitally rendered gloom as a rebellious droid, who is hard-wired to demand equal rights for her mechanised kin.

The Northern Echo:

The Breadwinner. Pictured: Mother Fattema (voiced by Laara Sadiq), baby Zaki, father Nurullah (Ali Badshah), eldest daughter Soraya (Shaista Latif) and Parvana (Saara Chaudry)

The Breadwinner

(Cert 12, 94 mins)****

ELEVEN-year-old Parvana (voiced by Saara Chaudry) lives in Kabul with her father Nurullah (Ali Badshah), mother Fattema (Laara Sadiq), older sister Soraya (Shaista Latif) and baby brother Zaki.

The capital is under the yoke of the Taliban, which enforces restrictions on women's freedom of movement, forbidding wives and daughters from leaving the family home without a male companion.

Following an altercation in the marketplace with a spiteful Taliban enforcer (Noorin Gulamgaus), Nurullah is incarcerated and Fattema and her brood become prisoners in their home.

Consequently, Parvana cuts off her hair and dons the garb of a boy to pose as her cousin Aatish so she can buy provisions and earn sufficient money to bribe a Talib guard at the prison to speak to her father.

Based on the book by Deborah Ellis, The Breadwinner is a beautifully crafted and deeply moving celebration of the fragile human spirit as seen through the tear-filled eyes of a family struggling to make ends meet under a brutal regime that subjugates women.

Nora Twomey's parable of defiance skilfully weaves together parallel narrative threads that resonate loudly in the current political climate.

Even its bleakest moments, there are glimmers of hope amidst the rubble that dry our tears and swell our hearts.

Expressive and vibrant hand-drawn visuals alternate between an earthy palette for battle-scarred reality and an explosion of retina-searing colour for the fantastical fables that family members share to salve their pain.

"Stories always remain in our hearts," tenderly counsels Parvana's father.

Twomey's film certainly lingers in the mind well after the end credits roll.

Show Dogs

(Cert PG, 92 mins)**

ROTTWEILER police dog Max (voiced by Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges) is poised to arrest a gang of animal smugglers until the FBI, led by federal agent Frank (Will Arnett), rudely gate-crashes the operation.

The trail of evidence leads to a dog show in Las Vegas, which the FBI believes is a front for the lucrative trade in creature trafficking. Frank and Max agree to go undercover as contestants.

Veteran handler Mattie (Natasha Lyonne) mentors Frank while Max gets a crash course in posing with confidence from a sneering Papillon called Philippe (Stanley Tucci), an Australian Shepherd called Daisy (Jordin Sparks), a Pug called Sprinkles (Gabriel Iglesias) and a Hungarian sheepdog called Karma (Shaquille O'Neal).

Show Dogs is a shaggy dog tale of questionable pedigree, which cocks its leg at plausibility in an opening set piece and never looks back, unleashing a tiger for a climactic showdown between the cops and the smugglers.

Director Raja Gosnell's film is essentially Miss Congeniality on four legs, with dysfunctional canines replacing the beauty queens.

Alas, the script is all bark and no bite, slobbering over fleeting moments of emotion.

Gosnell directs each flimsily constructed sequence with urgency, showcasing the glittering lights of Las Vegas which provide a lurid backdrop to the cross-species calamity.

Human cast gamely keep straight faces in thankless roles as canine co-stars run amok before the application of technical wizardry to enhance the animals' facial expressions.

Anyone with an age in double digits, who doesn't find a flatulent pooch hysterical, will be grateful that this preposterous romp only wags its tail for 92 minutes.

Damon Smith