The latest “Solo” Star Wars movie is flopping at the theater and there are lots of reasons why. Beyond the fact that “Solo” appeared so quickly after “The Last Jedi” (which many die hard Star Wars fans did not like), and ignoring the fact that people may not like any actor playing Hans Solo who isn’t Harrison Ford, the real problem of “Solo” (and any mediocre movie) boils down to the story itself and the screenplay.
The biggest problem with “Solo” is that it forgets to focus on the story and the characters. Instead, it focuses too much on explaining past references such as how Hans Solo got his name and how he won the Millennium Falcon in a game. While this information is mildly interesting, it has little to do with the actual story itself.
In any story, the hero has a goal. By the end of the story, the hero either achieves that goal or fails. In “Solo,” Hans Solo doesn’t have a specific goal. He already has a girlfriend who he wants to be with. There’s nothing pressing he wants on an emotional or physical level. By the end of the story, Hans hasn’t changed. Hue hasn’t changed emotionally and his goal of staying with his girlfriend doesn’t happen, so there’s little sense of completion or unity. Forget for a moment that “Solo” belongs to the Star Wars universe of previous movies. Then watch it and you’ll see that there’s no goal right from the start.
In the original “Star Wars,” Luke’s goal was to have an adventure by leaving his uncle’s farm. By the end, he has an amazing adventure by blowing up the Death Star and he changes from being unsure of himself to being more confident of himself.
In “Solo,” Hans has no goal beyond staying with his girlfriend. But he’s already with her at the beginning so his goal doesn’t really start until he’s separated from her. By the end, he’s still separated from her. Hans also has no emotional change. In the beginning, he’s cocky and undisciplined. In the end, he’s still cocky and undisciplined. There’s no sense that Hans changes at all so that means there’s no real story.
A story is when the hero changes. In every great movie, the hero (and the audience) changes emotionally. In “Titanic,” the hero learns to stand up for herself and embrace life. In “Legally Blonde,” the hero learns she doesn’t need a man to define her because she’s powerful enough on her own. In “The Karate Kid,” the hero learns to become more sure of himself.
In “Solo,” what does Hans Solo learn? Nothing because he’s pretty much the same from start to finish. Instead of focusing on a story, “Solo” simply focuses on throwing various characters together in unusual situations. Because there are so many characters, we don’t get to know any of them so when they die, nobody really cares. There are too many characters and their deaths are as meaningless as reading casualty counts in the news about a war overseas.
“Solo” is simply a weak story that emphasizes explaining Star Wars references without giving audiences anyone to root for or care about. There’s no distinct villain that drives the story and threatens the hero from beginning to end. Instead, there are a variety fo villains who pop up and disappear who no reason to do so other than because it’s convenient to have them suddenly appear to get in the way of Hans.
If “Solo” were an original movie without the Star Wars references, would anyone want to see it? The answer is no. “”Solo” depends too much on past references and not enough on creating interesting ideas of its own. Forget about the director problems the movie had, the actors, or the visual effects. “Solo” is simply a weak story that lacks a compelling and dominant villain, a specific emotional goal for the hero, and an emotional change in the hero. Instead of story structure, “Solo” relies on multiple characters who exist simply to die off later, references to other Star Wars facts, and multiple villains who exist only to create problems for the hero without having any real goal of their own.
“Solo” is a perfect example of a mediocre screenplay. if you write a weak story, no amount of star power, name directors, or special effects can make that story into a great movie.