**This review contains spoilers for ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’. If you haven’t seen the film yet, I suggest you go watch it and then read this review!**
As ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ continues to generate millions of dollars of revenue at the box office, this is a great time to take a look at how stylistically the film compares to its predecessors. The ideal place to start is with Abrams’ excellent new book ‘The Art Of Rogue One’ by John Kushins.
If you’re familiar with Abrams’ other ‘Star Wars’ titles, you should know what to expect. Like last year’s book on ‘The Art Of The Force Awakens’ this is a glossy, hardback publication that is crammed with concept art for ‘Rogue One’ and plenty of insight from the production team, including the director Gareth Edwards on how the team pulled together to create the film’s look and feel.
As with ‘The Force Awakens’ the design team were split between San Francisco and the UK, with veteran designer Doug Chiang heading up the US team and Neil Lamont as co-lead for design in the UK. ‘Rogue One’s basic story of stealing the Death Star plans had been sketched out by ILM legend John Knoll. Following re-drafts by Gareth Edwards and Gary Whitta, Edwards was able to instruct the design team in thinking of concepts rather that of action points. The key to the whole story, Edwards insisted was Jyn Erso’s story, from criminal loner to Rebellion leader. To put it another way, she loses her home at the film’s start only to have found a new home at its conclusion.
There was plenty for the design team to do. The whole question of having to design an environment that looks like it exists in the world of ‘Star Wars: A New Hope’ and be unique is quite a challenge. Rooms on board the Death Star have to look as if they mirror those found in the 1977 film, meanwhile new elements, such as Director Krennic’s Death Troopers are bold-looking, but suit the film’s darker tone. Particular attention was paid to the spacecraft with the Rebels’ U-Wing developing over a large number of concepts.
There are also a number of new and old worlds to discover. The base on Yavin 4 looks larger than the one seen in ‘Star Wars’ but is basically the same. Meanwhile, the rain-lashed mountainous world of Eadu is a new creation, its inhospitable atmosphere perfect for hiding the Death Star weapons research facility. The book reflects the movie’s fast-moving plot and planet-hopping by splitting itself into chapters based on each world visited. Reflecting its importance within the movie, over fifty pages are given over to the assault on Scarif, home of the Imperial Data Centre. The attention to detail and epic qualities of the art working are eye-popping as those found in the movie. If there’s one criticism you can level at ‘Rogue One’, it’s that it makes ‘The Force Awakens’ feel like a smaller film.
While this volume has been put together with Abrams’ usual comprehensive approach, there were a couple of elements I would have to like to have seen concept work for. Firstly, anything involving the recreation of Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin and, secondly, Darth Vader’s show-stopping final assault on the Rebels’ ship as they scramble to get the Death Star plans away. Despite these omissions, there is plenty to look at and enjoy.
‘The Art Of Rogue One’ is another excellent addition to the coffee table of not only ‘Star Wars’ fans, but also filmmakers and Science Fiction art enthusiasts, too. Sumptuous art, wonderfully presented.
(pub: Abrams. 256 page illustrated hardback. Price: £25.00 (UK), $40.00 (US). ISBN: 978-1-41972-225-7)
check out website: www.abramsbooks.com