Sunday, March 12, 2017

Review: ''Star Wars: The Visual Encyclopedia"

Star Wars is an excitingly picturesque world full of weird creatures, costumes, conveyances, and accoutrements to delight the eye. When it is doing what it was born to do, Star Wars is also a ton of fun. So it’s a bit of a drag that DK’s new edition of Star Wars: The Visual Encyclopedia isn’t more fun than it is.

Part of the problem is that Star Wars continued beyond the purely enjoyable original films to include such less fun things as CGI creatures and cartoons and the oft-criticized CSPAN leanings of the prequels. With sections titled “Galactic Politics” and “The Senate”, you can suss that fun is not at the forefront of this book’s agenda. The fact that all of the Star Wars entertainment out there has really cluttered the field is also detrimental to a book that wants to cover all that stuff to fulfill its encyclopedic purpose while also delivering on the visuals of its title. The only way to accomplish that is to shrink down the images, and too many of the photos in this book end up being too tiny to really enjoy.

Nevertheless, even little Star Wars pictures are at least a little fun, and truly dedicated fans will still find a lot to love in a book that makes room for sections on musical instruments and space food (totally gross looking space food, to be clear) and contains images of all those beloved characters, creatures, and creations (the pictures of props and decorations barely discernible on screen are fascinating and don't come off nearly as miniature as the character photos do) that all the dry, pseudo-reference book text in the world cannot dehydrate. And to be honest, you will find the occasional humorous caption if you hunt hard enough. Plus, you may even learn something, especially if you’re an original-trilogy old timer like me who didn’t know who half the robots and aliens in this book were before cracking into it. There are even things to glean about our old faves. For example, I had no idea that a tauntaun is technically a reptile. A hairy reptile. Only in Star Wars.

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