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The Art of Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones

by Mark Cotta Vaz

(DelRey/Ballantine, 224 pages, $19.95, paperback; November 2002.)

"It's John Harris!" I said to myself, as I quickly cover scanflipped through the pages upon receiving this book for review. "This is going to be an eye-popping visual feast and a pleasure to review."

Despite my first impressions, the art presented in this book was created not in fact by John Harris but by a passel of extremely talented young men and women -- plus George Lucas, who, whatever his talents, doesn't qualify for the "young" part any more. Thanks to the art and liberal comments of Ryan Church, Erik Tiemens, Doug Chiang, Dermot Power, Iain McCraig and a host of others, the reader is taken through all the processes--concept, layout, design, modelling--that went into producing the movie Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.

As a collector of science fiction and fantasy artwork, I was sad to read in Vaz's text that most of the shot designs were digitally produced. Yes, I do understand the need for using digital techniques, but the collector in me yearns for the tangible picture executed in paint on canvas using brush strokes from the artist's soul.

Technically, the design of the book has small problems. It is very often hard to relate the pictures to the captions. The layout is a little frantic in places -- although I can willingly forgive this, imagining the amount of art that had to be sifted through before the final selections could be made. And, for a majority of the art that appears, you're not told the technical details: media and size.

The book also contains the movie's script, by George Lucas and Jonathan Hales. While fans may enjoy this section, I would have preferred it be totally eliminated and so that the space could be devoted to what the title indicates--art.

All in all, go buy the book, put on a bib and enjoy the artistry of Mr. Lucas's team. Indeed, the book is so lovely that it made me want to see the movie, and so I did ... which raised a further question: how come visuals so vibrant and exciting as these result, on screen, in something that's in general, well, a bit drab and uninspiring? I guess that's something only George Lucas can answer.

Review by Pamela D Scoville.

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