on 28 August 2014
Ah, Star Trek. What can one say about it that hasn't been said a million times? It's a pioneer of science fiction, its characters are likable, the stories are emotional, the message is a great message, the villains are deep.... It's just so good!!! I mean, for crying out loud, its fan base (commonly referred to as Trekkies) is so dedicated that they have almost made Star Trek a kind of holy science fiction bible (personally, I'm more of a Lord of the Rings guy, but I digress). Yet, you can't ignore Star Trek forever. There comes a time in every science fiction fan's life where they just HAVE to watch a Star Trek show or one of the movies. Because, that's like saying a romance junkie (like my sister) hasn't watched Titanic or Gone With The Wind, or an action maniac hasn't watched Raiders of the Lost Ark or Die Hard. So, yeah, being a science fiction fan myself, I decided to give Star Trek a chance. And, I can say, after watching J.J.Abrams' 2009 reboot of the series AND its epic 2013 sequel, I became a Trekky myself and I'm looking forward to watching all the other movies and the original TV show. So, having amazing memories of the two Abrams movies, I decided to expand my newly found Star Trek knowledge by buying something to help me hold on until I find Wrath of Khan on DVD (and until Hobbit 3 comes out on the cinemas, but that's a story for another review). Which brings me to this book.
Star Trek; The Art Of The Film is one of those “Art Of” books (if you couldn't tell from the title) which explain all about designing all the needed sets, props, costumes, vehicles, CGI models, macquettes, storyboards etc. for a certain movie. Let me have a moment to describe my experiences with these types of books. I....FREAKING.....LOVE THEM!!!!!!!!! They're really awesome, they're always full of content and really well made etc. But they have a special meaning for me. You know what is more awesome than watching a great movie? Watching the Making of videos. I really love them and, ever since I was a little kid, they've inspired me to say I want to become a director and share my own creative vision with the world, and, to be honest, they still leave that effect on me, though not as much. Nowadays, what charms me the most are concept arts and design sketches. It seems really appealing to me and I can draw exceptionally well. But, I'm getting a bit out of subject here, so my moment's over. So, does Art of Star Trek boldly go where no one has gone before, is it your average “Art Of” book or does it get sucked in the black hole? Well, let's find out. The book is actually really pretty and well crafted. It begins with an introduction by J.J.Abrams, so there's a massive plus already there. You see, there are only three good directors for me( by good I mean epic angles, which appeals to me the most as a comic book fan. And that's my opinion, so don't criticize me); Peter Jackson, Zack Snyder and J.J.Abrams (and I guess you can squeeze Cristopher Nolan in there, as well). So, he informs us about his decisions on making the film, his worries since this is a big cultural phenomenon, and the need to make it a really awesome film. We are then briefly told about the design choices and making of the movie. But then the good stuff begins. The actual designs and concept arts.
Oh God!! We're finally at the good part! As with most “Art Of” books, Star Trek takes us chronologically through the events of the movie and explains(very briefly) the design aspects of everything while showing us the drawings. Here there can also be found a couple of sketches that were meant for scenes that ultimately got deleted from the final movie. That is both bad and good at the same time. It's good because it shows you the full experience, but it's also bad because you don't know about these scenes, so you're left confused. The choice of adding these deleted scenes is entirely illogical, as Spock would put it. But, that doesn't bring the value down at all. It's still really good. I also love how faithful they tried to stay close to the original designs of the show and yet give them a new look. And when a guy who hasn't seen the show (like me) says they're faithful to the source material, then that means something for the designers. When I rolled my eyes on the Enterprise for the first time, it looked familiar (I can't imagine how all the hard-core Trekkies reacted to this when they first saw it in theaters, but after rewatching the film, I shouted with excitement when it revealed), or when I saw a phaser I could almost tell how its mechanics worked, the characters looked established, I cheered when I actually saw Leonard Nimoy, because his Spock is a modern cultural icon, almost like Superman. What I'm trying to get across is that J.J.Abrams wanted a movie that will appeal to young kids and invite them to the amazing world of Star Trek as well as satisfy even the most hardcore Star Trek lunatic. And consider me sold. The book embraces the choices to make the lame-looking-yet-at-the-same-time-surprisingly-charming designs of the original show seem futuristic. And they nail it perfectly every single time. I can't pick a favorite section of the book, because they're all really awesome. However, I went with the Enterprise, because, now that I know a tad bit more about Star Trek, I could appreciate the re-designs and feel somehow nostalgic. That is something I've only seen Star Trek do without having watched NOTHING else of than two movies.
Yet, with all that praising, I can't say this is the best I've seen out of an “Art Of” book. It doesn't break new boundaries and doesn't bring anything new on the table. It lacks a bit on content since A) It doesn't have a lot of text, so it's a breeze, B) It's only, like, 160 pages. That seems awfully short for an “Art Of” book, especially one that's based on such a big movie. So, when you combine A and B together you get C) I READ THE BOOK IN ONE DAY!!!! That doesn't seem much at all. “Art Of” books are supposed to keep you hanged for at least a month, overwhelming with content, and not just any old content. We're talking about thousands upon thousands of detailed drawings that require a lot of attention and for the eye to basically “scan” them from top to bottom, so we can appreciate the effort put into the designs. The concept art works as a way for the concept artist to show the director how they imagine something in their head and then proceed into physically (or, sometimes, digitally) build it. Even with that you might not get just enough. But, hey, that's my opinion and you might find it has the right amount of content (I kind of fall in that category, but what I'm saying is that I want more. But I guess that's a good complaint) you see, another “Art Of” book that may or may not be my next review (hint: that Hobbit 3 thing I said at the first paragraph? It is relevant to that other “Art Of” book) is probably closer to what I wanted out of this book. And it's not only that book. Other books of this style like Art of Frozen is also closer to what I want. But, I'm judging the book the way it is, not the way I wanted it to be. As it is, the book is nothing less than awesome. Every design is great, the introduction is great, and for those of you who loved the movie, you can't miss out on this one. It's a great book that, while short, was a joy to read. While it's definitely not the best of its kind, I can only wish to it to live long and prosper. Thanks for reading!