Review by C.J. Bunce
As the ninth and final film in the Skywalker Saga arrives in a home video release, the fifth volume from Abrams Books chronicling the entirety of the Disney-era Star Wars concept artwork is here. The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker does not disappoint in showing readers the expansive designs for a film that stepped ahead of its predecessor with more ships, more action, more aliens, more weaponry, and more costume designs. Our only hope is that Abrams obtains the rights to create a similar volume continuing this series of books, documenting the first season of The Mandalorian. One thing every fan will notice who has watched all eleven movies in the franchise–more than ever readers can now clearly see elements from each prequel, each original trilogy episode, and each Star Wars Story film incorporated into the sets, ships, and characters in this final installment.
As with the first two books in the trilogy, this look at the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker shows paths taken and, more interestingly, paths not taken by production designer Rick Carter, franchise veteran Kevin Jenkins, and the rest of the art design team. This includes alternate costumes for Rey, Finn, Poe, Lando, Zorii, and Jannah, new pilots, stormtroopers, droids, and new worlds of creature concepts. Probably more than the past volumes in the series, this book has close-up detailed views at props, including lightsaber and other weaponry, all in search of that design element that says “Star Wars” to the movie audience.
Phil Szostak lets the artwork take center stage in this fourth book in the series (he also wrote The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and The Art of Solo: A Star Wars Story, all reviewed here at borg)–prior books had more textual commentary. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (reviewed here and available in all digital formats today), the ninth and final episode in the Skywalker family story in the universe George Lucas created, saw the return of director J.J. Abrams and his strategy of evoking the trilogy to maximum benefit, with many images inspired by original Ralph McQuarrie concepts. So it may come as no surprise that The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker feels like a book of original trilogy designs. The artwork from dozens of contributors mirrors the iconography, the color patterns, the lighting, the costuming, and set pieces from The Return of the Jedi especially.
Here are some images from the book:
The big win for collectors of Szostak’s series is the surprise inclusion of a chapter of artwork from the ending of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which was not included in the art book for the film to avoid spoilers before the theatrical release of the film. Likewise, we can look forward to the more spoliary end pieces of this film to be featured in the next Star Wars art book from Abrams, withheld for similar reasons as millions get access to the film this week for the first time.
Recommended for any and all Star Wars fans, the behind-the-scenes concept art book The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is available now here at Amazon. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is available now on Digital, 4K Ultra HD, and via Movies Anywhere, and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD here at Amazon this week.