REVIEW: "The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian (Season Two)"
Every new installment in the “Art of” Star Wars series feels like a moment to be cherished, and Phil Szostak’s latest entry, The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian (Season Two), is no exception.
Once again, Szostak’s look inside the creative process behind The Mandalorian is truly a labor of love. Szostak details each chapter of the show’s monumental second season with hundreds of pieces of concept art, artist quotes that reveal the inspiration behind many designs, and interviews with the visionaries that made it all possible including Doug Chiang, Dave Filoni, and Jon Favreau.
It’s no surprise that season two wanted to go even bigger in scope with the characters and the environments. In his foreword, Chang expresses that the biggest challenge for live-action Star Wars television continues to be “designing more than 320 minutes of content—enough for two or three feature films—in a third of the time and half the budget.” In this context, it’s almost hard to believe any of this makes it to the screen. Then again, there isn’t a single challenge that the Lucasfilm Art Department and the wizards at ILM aren’t willing to meet.
The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian (Season Two) also provides plenty of insight into the process of bringing characters like Cobb Vanth, Bo-Katan, and Ahsoka Tano into live-action for the first time — once a rarity, it is now becoming more commonplace for the franchise. In particular, Filoni explained that the translation of Ahsoka between mediums was reverse-engineered in a way, which led to her montrals being downsized from their more exaggerated look in Star Wars: Rebels.
There’s also the return of fan-favorites Boba Fett and Luke Skywalker, the latter of whom was only ever illustrated as Master Plo Kloon (Filoni’s favorite Jedi) in order to preserve the secrecy.
One of my favorite details in The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian (Season Two) was the mention of the miniatures team, who continued to use the Razor Crest from season one and built a five-foot long Imperial light cruiser for Chapter 15 thanks to John Goodson and Dan Patrascu. John Knoll’s motion control rig, which was first unveiled in a behind-the-scenes video at Star Wars Celebration Chicago and is now nicknamed the “K-flex,” helped to execute these shots much like the old ‘Dykstraflex’ during the days of A New Hope.
I also appreciated how Chiang highlighted how designs from the prequel era and the original trilogy are merging together, which continues to be an inspiring idea for the creative team. Most recently in The Book of Boba Fett, there was a scene that featured both a Naboo N1-Starfighter (Chiang’s design) and an X-Wing (from the legendary Ralph McQuarrie) — it’s about “bringing the whole universe cohesively together,” says Chiang.
Whether it’s an underutilized practical effect or pushing the visual aesthetics beyond what we’d expect, Szostak’s inclusion of these sorts of details makes clear what the longterm vision is for this series and beyond: embrace modernity and embrace tradition.
Chiang mentions upfront that “story informs the art, and the art defines the story," and Szostak puts this on full display inThe Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian (Season Two). Although the inclusion of so many characters in season two is a hot-button issue among some fans, it's hard not to admire the ambition and the knack for bending the rules. All things considered, the latest Art of installment is 250 pages of pure imaginary bliss; it's another must-have and will allow you to comfortably sink back into the wonder and awe that everyone hopes Star Wars can provide.