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Currently showing posts tagged Lucasfilm

  • Star Wars Topps Classic Sticker Book by The Topps Company & Lucasfilm Ltd. Book Review

    Star Wars Topps Classic Sticker Book by The Topps Company & Lucasfilm Ltd.

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Arriving just in time to celebrate the home video release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and the original franchise starter’s 40th anniversary, Star Wars Topps Classic Sticker Book marks the first-ever collection of its kind, repurposing many of the popular stickers that sent anxious fans on the hunt to collecting them all several decades ago.  Packed with over 250 stickers featuring the beloved characters of the original trilogy and memorable scenes from each film, Star Wars Topps Classic Sticker Book also includes several pages of alphabets with images encased in them for young fans to create their own intergalactic phrases.  Ensuring maximum nostalgia for first generationers, five reversible pullout pages displaying mock backgrounds for readers to create their own sticker collage are presented, with their flip sides donning the completed puzzle posters best remembered from the original card series lines.  Rounding out with 18 bonus stickers displaying many of the saga’s newest characters from Star Wars: The Force Awakens including, Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron and Kylo Ren, Star Wars Topps Classic Sticker Book is tailor-made for young ones yearning to decorate their walls or school binders with the heroes and villains of the galaxy while, elder diehard fans of the Force will be equally appreciative for the trip down memory lane.

    Available now from Abrams, Star Wars Topps Classic Sticker Book can be purchased via AbramsBooks.com, Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

  • The Art of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by Josh Kushins Book Review

    The Art of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by Josh Kushins

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Dominating the worldwide box-office, the first sensational spinoff to George Lucas’s original films chronicles its full artistic splendor in Josh Kushins’ The Art of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.  Featuring forewords by the film’s Co-Production Designers Doug Chiag & Neil Lamont and Director Gareth Edwards, this visually arresting volume celebrates many of the six thousand pieces of concept art, both unused and brought to life on the big-screen, developed for the prequel, spotlighting the production’s blue sky explorations for its many environments, droid and ship designs, costume choices and weaponry.  Committed to recapturing the lived-in appearance of A New Hope brilliantly realized by legendary concept artist Ralph McQuarrie while injecting a flavor all its own, the inspirational art found within its 200+ pages is nothing short of astonishing and beautifully captures the collaborative efforts of Lucasfilm’s arsenal of artists.  Appreciating the ever-changing development of character appearances and climactic sequences, the richness found in matte paintings, concept boards and digital mockups will surely inspire a new generation of artists while, longtime Force wielders will find themselves further entranced by the stunning artistry brought forth in Edwards’ rebellious adventure that set the events of the beloved 1977 feature into motion.

    Available now from Abrams, The Art of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story can be purchased via AbramsBooks.com, Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

  • The Walt Disney Studios: A Lot to Remember by Steven Clark & Rebecca Cline Book Review

    The Walt Disney Studios: A Lot to Remember by Steven Clark & Rebecca Cline

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Returning to 1923 and the formation of Walt and Roy’s Disney Brothers Studio, The Walt Disney Studios: A Lot to Remember by Steven Clark and Rebecca Cline guides readers through the remarkable history and evolution of the magic factory that has dazzled audiences since opening its gates seventy-five years ago.  After years of hard work and intense struggle, Walt Disney and his talented artists saw the fruits of their labor pay off with the runaway success of their Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphonies short subjects as well as worldwide acclaim for the first full-length animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  With the heavily employed studio bursting at the seams, relocation was not only necessary but, essential to contain the endlessly imaginative desires of its leader and all future avenues of creative expansion.  Trekking to a vast and desolate lot space in nearby Burbank, California, Disney would realize his spacious vision in 1940 with the completion of his studio plant containing an animation building with individual housing for the invaluable ink and paint, layout and background departments plus, several soundstages, orchestral recording spaces and much more.  Exploring well-documented events in Disney history including, the arrival of World War II and the animation labor strike of 1941, Clark and Cline’s viewpoint of how studio operations were specifically affected with insight from those who were there offers refreshingly new perspective into such gloomier days.  Through the resounding success of Disney’s Cinderella and their commitment to live-action entertainment with such hits as Mary Poppins and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the historic yearbook of sorts provides readers with incredible behind-the-scenes photography of said productions and details the technical dilemmas capturing the underwater sequences of the Verne adaptation and dimensional trickery utilized by the studio to bring 1959’s Darby O’Gill and the Little People to life.

    Appreciatively exploring the much forgotten but no less, important television productions of classic series including, Zorro and Davy Crockett and, their makings on the beloved backlot, The Walt Disney Studios: A Lot to Remember never misses a beat in capturing milestone achievements conducted on the tremendous space to introducing unbeknownst readers to lesser known facts such as Disney’s perfective insistence to incorporate original music for the weekly Zorro, a costly and unprecedented measure in 50s TV making.  From Disneyland’s virtual making and building of attractions, riverboats, models and monorails within the confines of its working studio space, vintage photography of Walt seen with newly painted hippos for Adventureland’s Jungle Cruise and overseeing schematics for the Sailing Ship Columbia that would eventually coast the Rivers of America captures the embodiment of the master dreamer in his element.  Leading up to Walt and Roy’s passings and the evolution of the studio through shakier times, the onsite productions of Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Pete’s Dragon and the ahead of its time Tron are given notices before an animation renaissance and new leadership regime would redeem Disney as the world’s leader in family entertainment.  Beautifully showcasing the latest advancements and expansions to the studio through their acquisitions of ABC, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel and Lucasfilm, Clark and Cline’s The Walt Disney Studios: A Lot to Remember gives Disney lovers a fascinating guided tour through the rich history of the magical moments and immeasurable productions brought to life on the ever-changing lands that Walt built.

    Available now from Disney Editions, The Walt Disney Studios: A Lot to Remember can be purchased via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

  • Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back - The Original Topps Trading Card Series, Volume Two by Gary Gerani Book Review

    Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back - The Original Topps Trading Card Series, Volume Two by Gary Gerani

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Picking up where George Lucas’ original sci-fi adventure left off, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back - The Original Topps Trading Card Series, Volume Two continues the pocket-sized thrills set forth by the original 1977 feature.  Once again introduced and guided by original series editor Gary Gerani, the second installment traces the full three series run of its 352 collectible cards and 30 large-sized photocards in beautiful, glossy detail with four bonus cards included for readers.  

    As risky and ambitious as the sequel’s making, Topps Company intended to up their ante on its followup series to the wildly popular Star Wars line.  With many of the film’s elements shrouded in expected secrecy, Topps’ limitations to deliver several new series of cards that exceeded fan expectation was surely tested.  Confident in their abilities, Topps increased their card count for the new line to a massive 132 cards per series, debuting with picture cards of its main cast featuring stats for each character on their reverse side.  In addition, the “Story Digest” inclusions tell Empire’s narrative through stunning still photographs from the film.  With various stickers (featuring incomplete letters of the alphabet) included in each line, series two kicks off with the “Starcraft” group, spotlighting the film’s many unique spaceships.  Continuing to showcase more still photography from the anticipated sequel, Star Quizzes were included on the backside of many cards with a Star Wars related trivia question.  As photographs ran the risk of redundancy, behind-the-scenes stills were included as a refreshing change of pace with interesting movie facts on their flip side.  Making stylistic color changes for their third and final series, its card count was trimmed down to 88 to avoid continued risk of covering similar territories.  Commissioned by Lucasfilm, comic style character renderings of the main cast gave the final installment a breath of fresh air while, “Star Quotes” cards and “Star Paintings” featuring incredible concept art by Ralph McQuarrie also added a welcome mix.  Lastly, one final hurrah for The Empire Strikes Back line came in a series of 30 photocards, excellently reproduced in the final pages of this massive 500+ page volume.

    Chronicling what is arguably the most beloved installment of Lucas’ saga, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back - The Original Topps Trading Card Series, Volume Two surpasses its predecessor in not only size but, also detail and variety.  Furthermore, Gerani’s invaluable insight into the creative process of these nostalgic goodies continues to enhance fans’ appreciation of the Force during a time when the fate of the Resistance was very much in question.  As the filmmakers strived to capture lightning twice, the creative artists at Topps struggled equally to give fans something worthy of their previous achievements.  With the Force on both their respective sides, The Empire Strikes Back would become a universal hit while, the fruit of Topps' labor would be met with equal praise.  Excellently collected in their entirety, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back - The Original Topps Trading Card Series, Volume Two shifts into hyperspace and sends readers on a fun, youthful journey back to 1980.

    Available April 19th from Abrams ComicArts, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back - The Original Topps Trading Card Series, Volume Two can be purchased via Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com and other fine retailers.

  • The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Phil Szostak Book Review

    The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Phil Szostak

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Following the purchase of Lucasfilm by the Walt Disney Company in the fall of 2012, the power of the Force was reignited by fans worldwide at the prospect of new adventures carrying on George Lucas’ sci-fi legacy.  With famed producer Kathleen Kennedy (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park) steering Star Wars’ future, Director J.J. Abrams (Super 8, Star Trek) was selected to bring viewers back to a galaxy from far, far away.  Aided by the industries most creatively talented artists, Phil Szostak’s The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens pulls back the curtain on the challenging three year journey of development that took place to realize the many new worlds, characters, costumes and set pieces designed for the long anticipated Episode VII.

    Accompanied by a foreword from the film’s Co-Production Designer Rick Carter (Forrest Gump, Avatar), The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens unsurprisingly focuses on the design aspects of the film beginning with stunning inspirational art establishing early looks for the new characters and imaginative possibilities for new planets.  As the book progresses with production nearing, more refined design work is showcased on the evolving costume choices for the stormtroopers and our heroes while, several unique considerations for the appearance of Jedi killer Kylo Ren is displayed.  While Szostak’s behind-the-scenes hardback is relatively slim on text, interesting insight is revealed as Rey and Finn, the young heroes of the film, were originally named Kira and Sam.  In addition, artwork by Concept Artist Iain McCaig (the Star Wars prequels, Guardians of the Galaxy) suggests that the ghost of Anakin Skywalker was at one time considered for inclusion in the film.  As anticipated as the latest film is and with several episodic sequels and spinoffs currently being prepped, The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens may not be the definitive making-of account for the franchises rebirth but, still provides readers and fellow artists with an incredible look into the awe-inspiring artistry that has made the film an immediate success with viewers.

    Available now from Abrams, Star Wars: The Force Awakens can be purchased via AbramsBooks.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.