Written by Drew Kaplan
With the DVD and Blu-Ray release of Solo: A Star Wars Story taking place next week, many of us are sure to be re-watching the most recent Star Wars cinematic release and re-watching some more! With all of this watching, us fans may be curious about the characters, places, ships, and more associated with this movie.
To help us deal with that curiosity, we are fortunate to have Solo: A Star Wars Story: The Official Guide, written by Pablo Hidalgo, who went on-set and did a behind-the-scenes series for “The Star Wars Show” on Solo, and published by DK Publishing. Similarly done as Hidalgo’s other guides with DK Publishing providing further insights into the recent films – Star Wars: The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary, Star Wars: Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi: The Visual Dictionary (which we reviewed on Skywalking Through Neverland episode 209) – this guide provides some fascinatingly curious descriptions of characters as well as places, creatures, ships, and more.
Solo Guide Layout
Solo: A Star Wars Story: The Official Guide consists of six chapters, the first five of which follow the various parts of the movie: “Mean Streets”, “Trench Warfare”, “The Great Robbery”, “Place Your Bets”, and “The Big Score”. The sixth chapter, “Going Solo”, presents four pages of behind-the-scenes pictures and conceptual art, which had also appeared (although more of it) in the sixth chapter of the Rogue One visual guide.
One aspect of these books that I enjoy is Hidalgo’s in-depth look at various facets of the movies. For instance, what we read about coaxium, the highly sought after material in this movie, is rather fascinating, including what we find on page 62: “Coaxium is a form of hypermatter – a precious substance that bridges the dimensions of ‘realspace’ and hyperspace. It is an essential fuel for lightspeed travel. A thin coating of coaxium lines a ship’s hyperdrive reaction chamber and, when energized, allows for transit into the dimension of hyperspace.” Another neat aspect of coaxium is a nice reference to the purrgil we meet in Star Wars Rebels: “Refined coaxium is a far cry from the natural form of the substance. Ancient spacefarers discovered coaxium in the organs of purrgil – huge space-traveling creatures. The purrgil inhale space gases containing traces of the gas Clouzon-36, which they metabolize into a hypermatter fuel. This enables them to jump into hyperspace.”
Hidalgo also shares an historical insight into Corellia (p. 12): “Corellia has long played a key role in the expansion of galactic civilization. Thousands of years ago, Corellian royalty sponsored exploration and colonization efforts that helped to spread the frontiers of the young Republic. Corellia’s importance in galactic affairs has since reduced, although its historical significance remains recognized.” Speaking of Corellian galactic exploration, the Millenium Falcon has a couple of two-page spreads about the ship, as well as a cross-section of it on pages 96-97.
One aspect of Hidalgo’s guides to Star Wars movies that always fascinates me is pictures of characters or scenes that did not make it into the theatrical release. We see, for instance, some Vandor locals on page 54 – did people just attend a photo shoot, or was there filming of these characters? The most fascinating inclusion in this book that did not make it into the movie were the opponents whom the Empire was fighting when we see Han as a soldier. Apparently, they are a species called Mimbanese, a ruddy species who live on the planet Mimban. The Mimbanese receive a two-page layout (pages 40-41), including their role in the Clone Wars, yet they don’t appear in the movie.
There were two disappointing omissions for me in this book, however. One was the lack of any mention of Darth Maul, which is greatly disappointing. Many people who saw Solo would probably appreciate helping connect the dots on what he’s been up to since the end of the Clone Wars, as well as how he has been involved with the Crimson Dawn. It would have been fantastic to have a two-page spread on him and his criminal activities. The other omission was utterly baffling to me: there is no picture or mention of the half-headed woman serving drinks on Dryden Vos’ ship. I got very excited when I saw that woman on-screen in the theaters because half-headed humans had appeared in Star Wars: Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide, even if they did not appear in that movie, so it was like a cinematic callback to Hidalgo’s Rogue One Visual Guide, which was neat. I came out of the movie expecting to read about this decraniated servant of Vos’ in the visual guide for Solo, however, I found it peculiar that Hidalgo did not mention the backstory of this particular half-headed woman.
One final criticism I have is that it seems as if Hidalgo may have not had as much energy or time to devote to this work, as he had in his three previous guides. This resulted in less content, it seems. While there were cross-sections books to accompany his visual dictionaries for TFA and TLJ, necessitating less of a focus on ships for his books, the Rogue One guide is massive. The guide for Solo, on the other hand, seems less full of content. I think that has a lot to do with how soon after The Last Jedi came out that Solo came out, providing Hidalgo with significantly less time to work on this guide, not to mention the likelihood of being distracted with that movie. One thing I liked as a matter of follow-up on Hidalgo’s part to his Rogue One guide was tweeting about various aspects of it, providing insights to the fans as to what went into it, although he seems to no longer tweet about Star Wars, since resetting his Twitter account this summer, which is unfortunate for us fans.
Those looking for more information into Solo: A Star Wars Story will find a lot of what they are looking for in this book. It, like Hidalgo’s other books in this genre, provide a richer understanding of the characters, locations, and more in Solo: A Star Wars Story.