Saturday, July 6, 2019

The Art of Toy Story 4 Book Review

It's my favorite time of year—another Pixar film, another "Art of" book from Chronicle Books publishing! The Art of Toy Story 4 is the 21st Pixar release in this acclaimed, bestselling "Art of" series (which began in 2001 with Monsters Inc.), all of which I've reviewed right here in years past. I've collected these books for a long time now and always look forward to them! I'm glad to see the series still going strong and popular within the Disney/Pixar/Animation fan community. A huge thanks to Chronicle Books for sending me this copy!

First of all, if you're not familiar with this series, these books are essentially the definitive source for all officially released Pixar concept art and "making of" content (storyboards, colors scripts, lighting studies, character/environment layouts, pencil sketches, digital renderings, research photographs, deleted scenes/concepts and so much more— as well as a sprinkling of quotes, stories and insights from the creators); an amazing look into the creative process and development from the team of artists at Pixar!

Note: There are also "Art of" books for films from other studios as well, including Lucasfilm, Disney Animation, Dreamworks and more.

The Art of Toy Story 4 Book Review

The front and back covers feature some of the vibrant art you'll find within these pages. Really gorgeous stuff. The front cover makes me wish we had a moment like that in the film though—it would have been nice to have a callback to when Bo Peep would get Woody's attention by hooking him with her staff.

The Art of Toy Story 4 Book Review

As usual, remove the slipcover to reveal the sturdy hardcover book itself and the film's embossed logo. Loving the deep red this time around.

The Art of Toy Story 4 Book Review

Now we'll open things up to give you an exclusive peek at some of the opening pages!

The Art of Toy Story 4 Book Review
The Art of Toy Story 4 Book Review

The foreword this time was written by Annie Potts (voice of Bo Peep), who shares how she got involved with the original film back in 1994 and what Toy Story and Pixar Studios mean to her. It's all beautifully stated!

The introduction was written by Josh Cooley (the film's director), who shares some really down to earth insights about why he wanted to tell this story after a perfectly wrapped-up trilogy. He discuses "trusting the process", "trusting the people you work with" and "touching on universal truth" when crafting stories. He seems like a really cool dude who I'd love to just sit down and have a chat with.

The Art of Toy Story 4 Book Review

Continuing on, below is a peek at some of the other many, many pages of colorful art you'll discover inside! I'm not wanting to show a lot here (I don't want to to give anything away that might spoil the film if you by chance haven't seen it yet), but here's at least a little sampling of what you can expect.

Note: There's a miniature storybook insert of Gabby Gabby's book from the film included inside! What a cool detail right? Don't miss it.

The Art of Toy Story 4 Book Review
The Art of Toy Story 4 Book Review
The Art of Toy Story 4 Book Review The Art of Toy Story 4 Book Review

The book closes out with some acknowledgments (special thanks) by the producers of the film, Jonas Rivera and Mark Nielsen.

Some of my favorite parts of this book are the small tidbits here and there regarding abandoned concepts, ideas and scenes. As director Josh Cooley states in his introduction, "We went down a LOT of different story paths over the years (we could fill a twenty-volume set of Toy Story 4 'Art of' books with all the material created for the different versions of the film." What a tease! As a massive Toy Story fan, that stuff fascinates me more than anything. One of my only [small] complaints here is that I wish there was more of that content. Much of the art (while stunningly beautiful) basically just mirrors the final images and characters seen in the film. I'd say 90% of the art is from once the story and world were very much established.

For example, there is one particular deleted scene included here in storyboard form that I loved seeing. Honestly, I really wish it was left in the film! It's more of a moment, but it's a flashback to when Bo's lamp was first brought into Andy's room and plugged in next to Molly's crib. Woody looks up at Bo and Bo looks back at Woody and it's love at first sight. It's beautiful and I wish I could have seen that play out on screen. Perhaps the blu-ray will feature that clip and more of an explanation on why it was cut.

Speaking of explanations, that's one more thing I would have liked to see more of here. I would have enjoyed a bit more text and behind the scenes insights from the creators explaining the creative process and why certain decisions were made. Other those couple minor nitpicks though, this is an incredible book and a most welcome addition to the collection! It's absolutely a must have for Toy Story fans.

If you're looking to get into this industry (or perhaps you already are), this is a great learning tool; for everyone else, it's just a feast for the eyes. There are so many details in this book that you really could look through and study it for hours (and I'm sure I will). If you're interested in adding this to your collection, I recommend picking it up at Barnes & Noble or on Amazon using the direct link below.

And there you go! That's my review, which is just a small taste at what you can expect inside. Per usual, this is a really beautiful tribute to the incredibly talented artists who worked so hard at making the film what it is today, yet who too often go unnoticed. Do you have a favorite Pixar artist whose work you look forward to seeing?  Let me know all your thoughts on this book and any questions you might have down in the comments.

Size: 11.4" x 9.4"
Pages: 160
Retail Price: $40 (though it's always on sale for less, usually around $26)
Original Release Date: May 7th, 2019
My Rating: 8/10

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