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Monday, 8 July 2013

AFICIONADO CLASSIC REVIEW: 'STAR WARS - THE CLONE WARS: THE VISUAL GUIDE' BOOK




STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS - THE VISUAL GUIDE

WRITTEN BY JASON FRY

PUBLISHED BY DORLING KINDERSLEY BOOKS

Reviewed by Scott Weller

Bold, colourful and exciting are words that more than adequately describe the new STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS film and TV series launching this August month. Words that can be equally applied to the exquisite new range of books dedicated to the new animated saga that are following in its mighty wake, especially from the ever reliable publishing stalwarts at DORLING KINDERSLEY. One of the first to be released onto the book shelves, THE CLONE WARS VISUAL GUIDE, I’m sure, judging by its impressive content, will surely prove to be the best as well!!

The design and printing, as with all the DK books of this type (like the ones devoted to JAMES BOND, INDY and 24), is terrific (how much these books cost to produce I don’t know, but the work that goes into them is wonderful-well done all of you at DK!), but has been taken up a notch here, and STAR WARS has never looked so interesting-the reproduction of the art pieces is absolutely smashing-it all looks so colourful and inspiring-a wonderful tribute/information guide to the new film and it’s spawned TV series (or should that be the other way round?). As the large pages excitingly unfold, don’t be fooled by the large type of the book-yes, it may be going for a younger readership in the way it presents it’s information, and it may not look like there’s enough text at times, but us grown ups will still equally enjoy reading it (or should I say devouring it!!) as much as the little ones, and  DK STAR WARS stalwart author Jason Fry excellently weaves together the Live Action and Animated sides of the Prequel history well, giving us a great sense of the amazing adventures awaiting our favourite band of Prequel heroes and villains.

As well as detailing all the old and new characters (like young Ahsoka, Admiral Yularen, Clone Captain Rex), starships (lots of new ones (well…to me anyway, like the NU-CLASS Attack shuttles and V-19 starfighter), weapons and planets/peoples to be seen in the new STAR WARS series that bridges into the events between EPISODEs II and III (and it’s so nice to witness the level of detail in all the new realizations, and the care taken with continuity by the LUCASFILM film-makers and animators), we also get a chance to see some of Dave Filoni’s sly humour and creativity at work within the book’s pages-I laughed and enjoyed  the use of the Kowakian Monkey Lizard drawing as the symbol on the front of one of the Republic drop ships, for example. It’s little bits like that that build up the universe and gives this new animated series a fresh new viewing experience, creating a subtle nod to the fans in a by the fans, for the fans kind of way, but not to the point where it might alienate a general audience, of which this book, like the TV series to come, follows the same principal. STAR WARS is for everybody…

The colour and wonder of Lucas and Filoni’s new STAR WARS universe shines brightly throughout the VISUAL GUIDE’s pages, though fans beware, this lavish, beautiful book doesn’t just contain information on the new film, it brings us a superb, you couldn’t do it any better, taster of what’s to come as well -showcasing material from at least six or so episodes of the new weekly series (I’m presuming this book was originally being brought to life as a showcase for the series, before three of the episodes got turned into the theatrical presentation)…and my word, some of them look like they’ll surpass the quality of the new movie!! Nice to see that, though hardly in the CLONE WARS movie as much as I would have liked, Padme, the ultimate fighting pacifist (a contradiction that we all love!), will be heavily involved in the series (with more banter/scenes with Anakin and Obi-Wan), with what looks likely to be a lot of action and drama, as well as sporting an impressive new wardrobe which I’m sure many female STAR WARS fans will be honoring and creating to wear at conventions for years to come. Jar Jar Binks is also back!!!-lets hope voiced by Ahmed Best (who recently turned up for the films US premiere)-again the interpretation to comic form looks good, and he may be more appealing to fans in this anime/comic book type format than he was in the Prequel live action movies (well, in my mind, I can hope at least, anyway..) And still more, we’re seeing General Grievous (sadly missing from the first animated movie), who goes up against Kit Fisto, presumably from the episode Lair of Grievous (of which some amazing footage was shown at CELEBRATION JAPAN), and Ahsoka at some point, more of the Jedi (Yoda looks like he’ll be kicking more butt, and other notables like Luminara Unduli (but what about Barriss Offee and Shaak Ti?), Plo Koon and Kit Fisto), and the droids Artoo (whom, I gather, is kidnapped in one of the upcoming episodes) and Threepio (who, though fun, was sadly underused in the movie), planets and civilizations like the Quarren and Rodia (more lovely Greedos!!) and it’s underwater cities, and the Toydarians (hoorah-will this see the return of Andy Secombe’s vocal talents?), new intrigue involving the Separatists, more Dooku and Ventress (including some kind of meeting/challenge with her and Yoda and a three way duel against Anakin and Ahsoka which looks pretty damned good!), and “Asteroids!!!”-now one of the staple STAR WARS ingredients.

And on the visual action side, an incredible sequence of images in which the Republic Star Destroyers, and Y-wing fighter support, take on General Grievous’s new flag ship: The Malevolence, which has a deadly new weapon at it’s disposal (shades of the DEATH STAR’s prime weapon in some respects), of which some footage was briefly shown during the first CLONE WARS trailer at CELEBRATION IV.

Just from these episodes alone, the new series looks like it encompasses so much material I’m surprised that they’ll be much more to cover story-wise in the second and third series to come (though I assume that each season will represent a year in the battle, if they only do three seasons, that is). THE VISUAL GUIDE also interestingly has cut scenes from the first animated movie, presumably from the time before it’s creation as a film, when the story was just three individual episodes-in the finished film, I don’t recall Ahsoka’s fight with the Rancor, or her and Anakin’s duel with the standing Vulture Droids whilst on Teth (perhaps they are saving these for inclusion in future episodes? However, I may be wrong about whether they were in the film-I’ve only seen it once so far and there is SOOO much action in it, I might have missed it all trying to keep up!!!).

So, another stunning STAR WARS of a reasonable price that you all must get hold of for your collection (and quality books like this, well…they just keep coming, which is fantastic news for us STAR WARS fans). Let’s hope that, as more series of the animated show progress (will there even be a chance we may see more animated movies if this one does well?), that this CLONE WARS VISUAL GUIDE BOOK will become a continuing publishing event rather than just a one-off.


AFICIONADO RATING: DORLING KINDERSLEY’S SUPERB STAR WARS RANGE REACHES STELLAR NEW HEIGHTS WITH THIS FANTASTIC BOOK-WORTH EVERY PENNY OF ITS SALE PRICE. A TERRIFIC SHOWCASE FOR THE CLONE WARS FILM AND A BRILLIANT PREVIEW OF WHAT LOOKS SET TO BE A PIONEERING NEW ANIMATED SERIES TO COME. 9 OUT OF 10.

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