Despite 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 District 9, 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 purchase.


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)
ISBN-10: 9781617200618
ISBN-13: 978-1617200618
ASIN: 1617200611




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