what the title might lead you to believe, Jar Jar Binks Must Die
is not about the populist Internet reaction to what is probably George
Lucas’ most reviled character or even about Star Wars as such . . .
A clue as to its actual contents lies instead in its
subtitle: “and other Observations about Science Fiction Movies.”
This book is a collection of essays dealing with science
fiction movies written throughout the years by past president of the
Boston Society of Film Critics and Variety correspondent Daniel M. Kimmel.
(Full disclosure: Mr. Kimmel is also a regular Sci-Fi Movie Page site
visitor and poster on our Facebook group.)
Unlike many other film critics Kimmel is actually a fan
of sci-fi movies. His pet peeve is people who disrespect the genre and
believe that if a movie or book such as 2001: A
Space Odyssey or Time Traveler’s
Wife is good, then it can’t be science fiction because all science
fiction is junk after all!
We share his frustration at sci-fi’s ghetto status
amongst “serious” cultural commentators and non-fans, but within the
context of this compilation it comes across as preaching to the converted.
Huge chunks of the book are dedicated to this theme and it gets slightly
repetitive at times.
That is however the only downside to this quite
enjoyable compilation and is only a minor one at that. (That, plus the
fact that at a 190 widely spaced pages one is left wanting more, which is
a testament to Kimmel’s writing abilities.)
The essays deal with anything from the restored
Metropolis (1927) print to which post-Star
Wars science fiction movies are in the running to be “canon”; why 2009
was a bumper year for the genre thanks to the likes of
Star Trek and
Avatar; how Kimmel’s opinion on
Spielberg’s E.T. changed when he saw again the
movie a few years after its initial release; why remakes aren’t
necessarily a bad thing; and so on.
Even when you find yourself not agreeing with Kimmel –
his take on E.T. is just plain wrong damn it! – the book remains
worthwhile and thought-provoking.
Kimmel’s stated aim was to introduce the reader to new
movies or even make him or her want to rewatch some old ones, and at this
he succeeds well.
If you, like Mr. Kimmel, also frequently check out the
pages of this site, then Jar Jar Binks Must Die is worth a
Jar Jar Binks Must Die... and other
Observations about Science Fiction Movies
by Daniel M. Kimmel
Paperback: 190 pages
Publisher: Fantastic Books (March 15, 2011)