Carl jumps to lightspeed and delves into the glorious Moviemaking Magic of Star Wars: Ships + Battles book from Abrams Chronicle
I love these kinds of books. They are a joy to read and learn from. Not only do they give the reader in-depth insights into what we see on screen but also have the foresight to take us behind the scenes to show us pre-production and production photographs. Now we can get ever closer to what amazed and inspired us. This book is no exception to the rule. It does exactly what the reader or fan wants it to do. As the title suggests, this volume contains insider knowledge and facts about the ships and the battles we have seen or will see on screen in the entire Star Wars saga. It does include a VERY brief piece on the latest film in the franchise, ‘The Rise Of Skywalker‘ but this is to be expected. Many things that we see in the new film were kept back for the audience to be surprised and thrilled within the movie theatre. But the book does go through the rest of the saga in some detail including last year’s ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story‘ and the exciting Kessel Run sequence and our look at the version of the Millenium Falcon we see on screen in her almost new condition.
The Moviemaking Magic Of Star Wars: Ships + Battles | By Landry Walker
The front cover catches our eye instantly. Adorning it is a picture of the aforementioned Falcon in the state we are familiar with. Battered and weathered, this is far from the ship we encounter in ‘Solo‘. Running alongside the main photo is a selection of smaller pictures of ships we encounter throughout the saga. The back cover replicates this side panel with different pictures of ships from the saga. Also on the back cover, we find out what the pages inside contain. Accordion folds and interactive flaps await us on the pages indicating we will discover more than we expected to find within the pages. With a short brief of what the book holds inside, we turn the book over again and open the cover to see what the book has in store for us.
We first come to the contents page. Here we discover the order in how this volume will proceed. We will start with an introduction into the world we will encounter followed by a section on the basics of making movie magic. Following this, we are launched into the saga with a look at the very first Star Wars film ‘A New Hope‘. It is here where we will be enchanted by in-depth and fun-filled facts regarding the main ships that we encountered a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (1977 to be exact). We start with the Tantive IV, the very first ship we encountered in our journey. We are treated to an interactive flap showing us the first design of the ship and are amazed to find that it was originally designed as the Millenium Falcon before George Lucas decided that he didn’t like the six and a half foot model and demanded the designers go back to the drawing board. Although upset by the decision, the model makers used most of the model to make the Tantive IV and bring the now-iconic ship to life.
Across the page, we are introduced to the dreaded Star Destroyer, a staple of the original trilogy and a ship that made a comeback in ‘The Rise Of Skywalker‘. Again, an interactive flap is provided, showing us a photograph of the filming of the model ship for ‘A New Hope‘. We turn the pages and discover the other vehicles and ships seen in the film and it is only fitting that the beloved Falcon gets a larger spread than most of the others seen in this section. We are also rewarded with a piece on bringing the epic Battle Of Yavin sequence to life. Across six pages, we are taken behind the scenes and with full-colour photographs and rich rewarding text, we discover lots of fun facts regarding the finale of the original film.
We come to the section devoted to ‘The Empire Strikes Back‘. As we reach this section, we are given a wonderful production illustration of the ice cave by the great Ralph McQuarrie. As we turn the page to enter what this section has in store for us, we are greeted by a page devoted to the rebuilding of the Millenium Falcon. The truth of the matter was, on the first film, it was decided it wasn’t necessary to build a full-sized set of the ship and thus after the film had wrapped, the set was dismantled and left outside in Great Britain’s never-ending rain, meaning the whole thing was destroyed beyond saving. As quite a lot of the sequel would take place aboard the Falcon, a total rebuild was needed. This time, however, the ship DID get built to be a full-sized set. After this great page of information, we move along to encompass the rest of the new ships we will find in the movie. Once again, interactive flaps are provided to heighten our enjoyment of the section.
We come now to the original trilogy closer, ‘Return Of The Jedi‘. Again, we are given an outstanding McQuarrie production painting to welcome us to the section. Once again, the new vehicles are presented to us here in glorious photographs. As we near the end of the section on ‘Jedi‘, we are once again given behind the scenes access to how a big sequence was brought to life, this time being the Battle Of Endor. Behind the scenes pictures of technicians working on the exterior of the second Death Star and the inside of the superstructure for the climax of the film are presented to us alongside rich text taking us through the whole procedure. The section finally closes with a two page spread regarding the special editions of the original trilogy. It speaks of why Lucas decided to go back to the films and update them with newly enhanced effects and scenes. And with that, our time with the original trilogy comes to an end.
It is here where we now encounter the Prequel trilogy. Greeting us at the entrance is a great piece of concept art by Doug Chiang depicting a Trade Federation Multi Troop Transport we will see in this new era of Star Wars films. Once again, every new ship and transport seen in the film, ‘The Phantom Menace‘ is revealed to us alongside text explaining what each ship is and why they are designed as they are. At the end of this part, we are again given behind the scenes access at a crucial sequence in the film, this time regarding the Battle Of Naboo. Across two pages, the finale is presented to us.
We turn the page again and come to ‘Attack Of The Clones‘. Once more, after another fantastic piece of concept art, this time by Ryan Church, every new ship and vehicle is unveiled before our eyes. From the Jedi Starfighter to Jango Fett’s Slave I, everything is presented alongside text to accompany the photographs. Again, at the end of the part devoted to the film, we are given details pertaining to a sequence seen on the screen, the Battle Of Geonosis taking centre stage this time around.
We now reach the final film in the prequel trilogy, ‘Revenge Of The Sith‘. Ryan Church once again amazes us with his concept illustration, this time of a Jedi Interceptor. Once again, the new vehicles we see in the film are addressed along with a breakdown of the Battle Of Coruscant. After only a brief period of time, our visit to the prequels is over.
We are now introduced to the sequel trilogy and the stand-alone movies. Of course, our welcome to this section is made by ‘The Force Awakens‘ and by way of a concept illustration by Kevin Jenkins of an X-Wing on water. We turn the page and are immediately greeted by the new incarnation of the classic TIE Fighter and by Rey’s Speeder. Again, each vehicle is presented alongside descriptive text. In-depth looks in this part of the book regard the Escape From Jakku and the Battle Of Starkiller Base. Each is presented with concept art and a description of the scenes in detail.
Now we come to what is, in my opinion, the best of the recent movies in the guise of ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story‘. The section is started with another concept illustration, this time by Thom Terry and features the Scarif Exterior. All the vehicles seen in the film are brought to us in full detail including the Death Star seen in the film. Of course, the in-depth piece this time regards the Battle Of Scarif. The sequence in the film is possibly the best interpretation of the wars seen in the entire saga and the film itself is commonly regarded as ‘The Star Wars War Film’, a perfectly accurate description.
‘The Last Jedi‘ is next up. Opening with a concept illustration from James Clyne, we plunge headlong into what new vehicles we see in the film. Alongside the Resistance Bombers we encounter at the beginning and the First Order Dreadnought they are up against through to the AT-M6 ‘Gorilla’ walkers seen during the battle of Crait, everything is presented to us once again. The Battle Of Crait is, of course, the focus of bringing the action to life in this part of the book. However, it is very brief and doesn’t do the sequence justice.
‘Solo: A Star Wars Story‘ is next up in our time with the book. Starting as usual with a concept illustration, this time depicting a Falcon Landing Scene, we come across the AT-Hauler, the Conveyex and are rewarded with a three-page spread devoted to Lando Calrissian’s Millenium Falcon including an interactive flap depicting how the ship looked before and after Han Solo got his hands on the controls. Our bringing the action to life piece regards the Journey Through The Maw. My opinion is the part should be devoted to the Kessel Run instead but the Maw Journey is still a great scene to look into more closely.
Finally, we come to ‘The Rise Of Skywalker‘. Here we have an extremely short piece. We are given a two-page photograph of Rey looking at the wreckage of the Death Star taken from the film before we turn the page and are given two concept illustrations from Stephen Tapping depicting two events in the film and a single still shot before we come to the end of the book and our time within its glorious pages comes to an end.
The author of the book, Landry Walker has done a marvellous job compiling and researching the ships and the behind the scenes information he presents to us here. The book is aimed at a young adult market but it could so easily fit into an older fans’ collection or anybody who has an interest in these kinds of books. There is a lot of fun to be had within its pages and will become a great source of information and reference for a reader of any age. It genuinely is worthy of a place in any reference library and I’m pleased I’ve got a copy to go into my own.
The Moviemaking Magic Of Star Wars: Ships + Battles by Landry Walker is published by Abrams & Chronicle Books and is available to buy NOW! © and TM Lucasfilm Ltd. Used Under Authorization.
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Carl Roberts is a Senior Staff Writer and Books and Literature Correspondent for Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter @CarlRoberts2 where he uses the force frequently!
Editors Note: A big thank you to our friends at Abrams & Chronicle Books for sending over our advance review copy.