Star Wars: Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide – A Beyond the Films Review

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Star Wars Beyond the Films‘ Nathan P. Butler is now posting short, non-spoiler reviews for many new releases. Spoiler-filled discussion will often follow in the weeks or months thereafter on the podcast. 


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Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide by Pablo Hidalgo (hardcover, 2016)

Over the years, Star Wars “visual guides” have provided a wealth of information about Star Wars films and television series, though the balance between interesting new details and things most movie-goers would already know or that most readers would already have gleaned from other sources has varied. This year, Pablo Hidalgo has provided The Ultimate Visual Guide for Rogue One.

Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide

Pablo Hidalgo is a member of the Lucasfilm Story Group and an acknowledged Star Wars guru with few peers. He also seems to enjoy sharing interesting tidbits and responding to fans via Twitter or questions submitted to Rebels Recon. One would expect a guidebook written by Hidalgo to be a high mark for the product line.

Have no fear: Rogue One‘s Ultimate Visual Guide is just as strong as one would have expected from a member of the Story Group.

The book is divided into six main chapters, but before reaching the first, fans will already be excited to learn that the book contains a map of the Star Wars galaxy with numerous locations marked and Rogue One planets (and moons) called out. The same two-page spread includes a timeline of major events relative to the new film. This is a welcome addition, especially since Hidalgo himself keeps a detailed timeline of Star Wars events for the sake of consistency, including pinning down Jyn Erso’s exact birth month, which results in this book correctly identifying Jyn as 8, instead of 9, at the opening of the film in 13 BBY (before she could have her birthday that year), and as 21, rather than 22, in Rogue One (again, not having had her birthday that year, based on when she was born during 22 BBY in Catalyst).

That level of detail is apparent throughout the book’s five in-universe chapters: A Fragile Peace; Rebel Alliance; Occupied Territory; The Empire; and Going Rogue; plus a behind the scenes look in the final chapter. A plethora of new details are provided, including character names and backgrounds, backstory for technologies and organizations, short timelines specific to major characters’ lives, and even a few ship cutaways that are reminiscent of Incredible Cross-Sections. The amount of new information is staggering and likely the greatest amount included in any Star Wars visual guide to date.

That said, the book attempts not to spoil the end of the film or some of the specific events throughout. There are some minor omissions because of this, since revealing things like which pilots are killed in the film, a certain character’s digital appearance in the movie, and so forth would potentially sabotage that great first viewing experience for fans. That has been common for the visual guides, though, particularly those based on new films or cartoon series. One has to balance an avalanche of details against that first viewing experienc, which, by definition, only happens once in a fan’s lifetime.

The Verdict

Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide is the Star Wars visual guide product line at its best. A single read-through provides far more minute details than any fan could possibly remember for later viewings, making this a resource to go back to repeatedly, especially once Rogue One hits home video (hopefully around April 2017, in keeping with The Force Awakens). It is no wonder Hidalgo is constantly seen carrying around coffee in episodes of Rebels Recon. The fuel for this sort of work has to come from somewhere.

Even if you do not tend to pick up Star Wars guidebooks, I would highly recommend picking up Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide before your next viewing of Rogue One. Your film experience will benefit from it.

Recommended for: Those interested in getting more out of Rogue One by learning numerous details, major and minor, about the film’s characters, technologies, and worlds.

Not recommended for: Those who prefer their Star Wars information to be provided in a narrative form, rather than as a guidebook, or those who care little for minute details and only want “big picture” concepts to keep things simple.

The copy used for this review was a retail purchase from Amazon.

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