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Sunday, 12 February 2012

AFICIONADO REVIEW: DK's 'STAR WARS: THE PHANTOM MENACE' - THE EXPANDED VISUAL DICTIONARY

Dare you discover the secrets of the Sith? Images: DK BOOKS/LUCASFILM


STAR WARS: THE PHANTOM MENACE – THE EXPANDED VISUAL DICTIONARY


Written by David West Reynolds and Jason Fry

Published by DORLING KINDERSLEY


Reviewed by Scott Weller

Since the dawn of time, mankind has always been good at telling stories, either via artful and evocative cave man drawings of epic journeys and hunts to captures animals for food and sport, to the written and visual realisations of our modern worlds of mystery, action, drama and love seen either in multiplexes or our TV screens on a daily basis. Basically, we love storytelling, and we love heroes and villains in all shapes and forms. Especially when its all part of the STAR WARS Saga, created by that bearded wonder, George Lucas. Remaining as exciting and relevant to audiences hearts as ever, it has comfortably found its place in our interpretations and viewpoints towards modern day myth with its tales of Sith and Jedi, of peace and war, of love and hate in a galaxy a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. It continues to resonate and keep us spellbound with every new visitation to its universe.

Audiences young, old and worldwide flocked to, and were thrilled and impressed by, the incredible new universe of the ground-breaking EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE: its talented creators chance to see and show us the turmoil, and final end, of the Galactic Republic and its noble Jedi Knight protectorates, in a manner that had long existed unfettered in his mind, and now finally realised through the birth of CGI, without the kind of effects limitations he felt had previously hampered his work on the earlier, though no less beloved, Classic Trilogy of seventeen years prior. And the end cinematic result was a new stage of the phenomenon, the Prequel universe, which continues to tap into the imaginations and collective awe of a new generation. Now, with the passing of a further thirteen years from that first jaw-dropping effects and design bonanza, we all get to see these then new creatures once again, back on the big screen, after a long absence, and better than ever within its new existence and reality within stereoscopic 3D: an epic experience of which STAR WARS was made for, and for fans and families to enjoy anew or all over again as it enters the lives and custodianship of a third generation…

As these iconic friends and foes begin their mighty return, several previous equally ambitious and important book titles released in 1999 that rode the crest of the merchandise wave have now been re-released or expanded upon to co-incide with the 3D extravaganza, the most important of which has to be DORLING KINDERSLEY’s meticulously updated and revised in every department THE PHANTOM MENACE: THE EXPANDED VISUAL DICTIONARY, out now in all good books shops and online stores worldwide. And it’s a wonderful nostalgic treat back to that bright new universe, which, alongside the Classic Trilogy of Luke, Han, Leia and Vader, etc., has now firmly become a part of our modern film world lexicon, with the likes of the heroic Anakin Skywalker, gangly Gungan comic figure Jar Jar Binks, and the feral evil that is Darth Maul.

A selection of villains, heroes and technology: part of the great new and revised spreads within the book.


Originally written by David West Reynolds- the 90’s Indiana Jones of his time, who did much fine work for LUCASFILM, and now expanded by Jason Fry, the new Keeper of the DORLING KINDERSLEY Jedi information Holocron, the title has an incredible 40 pages of new and revised content, attentively well-written and deeply informative, which puts EPISODE I into context with regards to the continued Prequels and the rest of the Expanded Universe of fiction and spin-offs that has since followed its original tornado like debut from May 1999. A rich universe has become even richer, alongside an enhanced and pleasing to the eye interior design that’s handled with great care and unparallelled detail on all our favourite characters, planets, environments, aliens and technology leaping out of George Lucas’s imagination, that STAR WARS fans expect and relish.

Superb annotated photography packs the pages, with lots of never-before-seen imagery including an exclusive cross-section view of Darth Maul’s lightsaber, whose original activation of it’s double ended red blade, seen way back in that first sneak-peek trailer for EPISODE I in 1998, sent fans into the stratosphere with overload anticipatory excitement.

THE EXPANDED VISUAL DICTIONARY is also a fine tribute to the many hundreds of talented and dedicated craftsmen and women behind the scenes that worked on the Prequel films in the respective lands of practical and electronic creation. Their Five Minutes of Fame predicted by Andy Warhol has incredibly and deservedly stretched into thirteen years and looks likely to continue further whilst there are people that love and zeitgeist into STAR WARS. 13 for EPISODE I and 35 years on for the entire saga, there’s no sense that such adoration and appreciation is going to die out anytime soon. And the world is a much richer place for its existence if you ask me…

Back to its original publication size of the 1999 edition, with a cover that firmly puts everyone’s favourite Sith assassin Darth Maul firmly in the spotlight, the new EXPANDED VISUAL DICTIONARY is a winner- the equivalent of the Boonta Eve Classic victory of new Prequel Books- for fans young and old to enjoy and immerse themselves in.

Well worth adding to your bookshelf, it remains the definitive guide for the first movie, and we look forward to future revised volumes accompanying the hopefully yearly 3D releases.


AFICIONADO RATING: 5 out of 5


Check out the available range of DK STAR WARS books here: Star Wars - search results - Dorling Kindersley

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