Review by C.J. Bunce
For Star Trek fans, since the 1990s the first place to look to dig into the artistry of the sets, props, and costumes was the book The Art of Star Trek, by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, the ultimate art reference for decades of Star Trek productions. It explored the concept art and creative works from the original Trek series through the seventh film in the series, Star Trek Generations. Herbert Solow’s Star Trek Sketchbook and John Eaves’ Star Trek The Movies Sketchbook supplemented these books further and in 2016 Terry Erdmann and Paula M. Block’s Star Trek Costumes honed in on an end-to-end look at costumes spanning the franchise up to that date. In 2016 CBS re-branded the three most recent films “the Kelvin Timeline,” since the storyline splintered from the original series events beginning with the destruction of the USS Kelvin in the 2009 Star Trek film (formerly the “alternate reality” or J.J. Abrams trilogy). Separate and different from typical “behind the scenes” books, the volume of Star Trek reference material (and the large fanbase) allowed for these many, detailed looks into the creative process. Many of these books and much more can be found in our 2011 survey of Trek books found here and here. Bringing us closer to the present, the first look into the artwork of the Kelvin timeline was Mark Cotta Vaz’s Star Trek: The Art of the Film and last year’s Star Trek Beyond: The Makeup Artistry of Joel Harlow, but fans now have access to a broader look at the artwork behind all three Kelvin timeline movies: Star Trek (2009), Star Trek Into Darkness, and Star Trek Beyond, in Jeff Bond’s new book, The Art of Star Trek: The Kelvin Timeline.
Star Trek fans will find The Art of Star Trek: The Kelvin Timeline a must-read and a natural extension, or sequel of sorts, to Reeves-Stevens’ original art overview. With chapters on each of the three films, expanding on the material from Cotta Vaz’s book, this new volume provides insight into the reboot and updates to the starship Enterprise, the bridge set, and Starfleet and alien costumes, and great attention is given to the concept art that resulted in the strange new worlds in these films. Best of all is access to interviews with concept artists John Eaves, Ryan Church, James Clyne, John Goodson, Sean Hargreaves, visual effects supervisor Roger Guyett, visual effects art director Alex Jaeger, makeup supervisor Joel Harlow, production designer Scott Chambliss, supervising art director Ramsey Avery, creature designer Neville Page, art director Yanick Dusseault, production designer Thomas A. Sanders, visual effects supervisor Peter Chiang, Star Trek Beyond costume designer Sanja Hays, actors Zachary Quinto and Benedict Cumberbatch, and Star Trek Beyond director Justin Lin. The artists’ environmental, planetary, and geological concept work in many instances is the quality of final production matte paintings.
Those who already have read Cotta Vaz’s book on the art of the 2009 film will be happy to see this book provides photographs and discussion of ideas not covered before. Fans of Sanja Hays’ costume designs in Star Trek Insurrection get to see how Hays approached returning to the concepts of both Starfleet and aliens of new civilizations in Star Trek Beyond. And although he is not interviewed for the book, costume designer Michael Kaplan’s costume designs can be found across the book’s coverage of the first two films.
Whether readers like what the production accomplished with the new films compared to the old, Star Trek fans new and old will be able to appreciate the level of effort of the production crew and their inspiration for new designs, for the Enterprise, the Kelvin, shuttles, and Starfleet headquarters, from the original series, works of architect Eero Saarinen, designer Matt Jefferies, and even European particle colliders, to create updated designs for both familiar objects and new gadgetry. Fans of visionary designer John Eaves will be pleased with the insight from the creator who has worked on countless productions inside and outside of Star Trek.
Check out these previews from the book, courtesy of the publisher:
A book like The Art of Star Trek: The Kelvin Timeline can only touch on a cross-section of the filmmaking process, and readers only get to see a small portion of the source materials that went into these three films, yet the overview provided is significant and worthy of attention for the fandom.
Full of original sketches, visual effects imagery, paintings, behind the scenes photos, and close-ups of costumes and props, this is the next good reference for your favorite science fiction fan’s Star Trek library. The Art of Star Trek: The Kelvin Timeline is available now here at Amazon.