Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Jar Jar Binks Must Die . . . and Other Observations About Science Fiction Movies, by Daniel Kimmel--A Review

Fantastic Books, ISBN 9781617200618, March 2011

First off, in the interest of full disclosure, I need to tell you that Dan and I have been friends for years, and I received a free copy of this book from him. There's no pretending I'm completely objective, here. On the other hand, Dan and I have been arguing vigorously about science fiction, fantasy, and movies for all those years, too.

This is a collection of criticism and commentary about science fiction movies that Dan has written over his years as a movie critic. He's added some updating, new critiques, and some additional material, tying it together into a knowledgeable, educational, and entertaining discussion of science fiction movies, their value, and their significance.


The organization is more thematic than chronological, but discusses movies from the early silent masterpiece Metropolis to recent major entries such as Avatar and District 9, and little gems like Moon. There's something here for every taste, and you will smile, grin, nod in agreement, and howl with outrage (maybe not in the same places I did!) One of the important and recurring themes of the book is the way science fiction is relegated to an artistic ghetto, and when a movie is too good to be written off as "sci-fi trash," nearly everyone associated with it feels a need to insist it's not sci-fi, it's about people and ideas. This irritating behavior of those who "go slumming" in our beloved genre is not limited to movies; it's too often true of tv and literature as well. We have learned to roll our eyes and ignore it, but sometimes it's good to address it, and Dan does that very well here.

If you enjoy science fiction movies, or want to learn more about them and have a greater understanding of an unfamiliar genre, you must read this book.

Highly recommended.

As mentioned above, I received a free copy of this book from the author, who is a personal friend.

To purchase this book from Amazon.com, click on the cover image.