Anyone who has seen Edgar Wright‘s classic comedy series, Spaced, knows exactly how Simon Pegg feels about George Lucas‘ Star Wars prequels. Focusing on a group of directionless twenty-something Londoners, the show presents Pegg‘s character as an apathetic but opinionated lover of everything geek, who finds employment at a local comic-book shop. There, he enjoys nothing more than berating the young customers who have saved up their pocket money for the latest Jar Jar Binks toy. When a friend mentions that even Return of the Jedi wasn’t perfect, citing the Ewoks as a peer for Binks; Pegg responds, “Jar Jar Binks makes the Ewoks look like F____ing Shaft!” From a recent interview with The New York Daily Express, the Star Trek and now Star Wars (though only a cameo) star does not seem to have changed his views.
“I don’t really have any respect for anyone who thinks those films are good. They’re not. (They’re) a monumental misunderstanding of what the (original) three films are about. It’s an exercise in utter infanticide … (like) George Lucas killing his kid.”
And he has a point; the original trilogy were forged from a style of filmmaking that is no longer possible. Indiana Jones can be seen in this same way; a huge-budget family blockbuster that almost defies the politics of the time in which it was made. We no longer view cinema in that way, even the most mainstream audiences have more analytical tools at their disposal. We talk about film in different ways, deconstruct it in different ways, and as such, we make and receive film in different ways. The Star Wars prequel trilogy attempted to make political parallels with the real world, not the black and white morality tales of space-opera, but politically engaged science fiction. Unfortunately, what we received were countless hours of alienating council meetings and what was at best the lowest point in the franchise history, at worst a racial caricature; Jar Jar Binks.
For now it looks like Pegg has thrown his lot in with director J. J. Abrams, with Star Wars: The Force Awakens becoming the third joint cinematic outing for the duo. Let’s hope his faith is well placed and the new films manage to engage with the world around them whilst still holding onto some of that magic. Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens in the UK on December 18.