When Star Wars: The Force Awakens takes over cinemas on Friday, plenty of people will probably start voicing their dismay at the film just because of how popular it is. That’s nothing new though. In fact, shortly after Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi was released back in 1983, film critic John Simon was so enraged with what he saw that he went up against Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert in a debate over the quality of the trilogy. And, over thirty years after their discussion, it sill makes for riveting viewing.
I think the first thing to say hear is: poor John Simon. I mean, if he can’t find any joy in Star Wars then he probably wanders through life shouting at sunsets, too. And while John Simon is obviously in the minority in this argument, it’s still refreshing to see such a cordial debate, especially since we now live in an age where most TV discussions are reduced to loud, squawking battles between nincompoops.
That being said, John Simon is still 100% wrong in his insistence that Star Wars, and in particular Return Of The Jedi,, is anything but glorious to watch. Not only does Simon call the film "malodorous offal," but he even insists that it’s "completely dehumanizing" and says that it makes "children dumber than they need to be." That’s because they don’t teach younglings anything about reality, people, life, or growing up, and in fact they’re so damaging that they will "keep children stupid forever."
It’s quite interesting to see Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert’s rebuttals though. Because rather than instantly going for the jugular, Gene simply insists that he feels sorry for John Simon because he wasn’t able to gain enjoyment from Return Of The Jedi. Siskel then speaks about his own personal experiences watching the film, recalling how he sat in amongst the children in the theater, he could see just how ecstatic, stimulated and involved they are were with the story.
Simon wasn’t done there, though, as he complained about Jedi's over-reliance on visual effects, while also complaining about the movie's "ghastly dialogue, miserable characterization," and "terrible plotting." But Roger Ebert didn’t really focus on these supposed discrepancies, instead simply stating that it made him laugh, excited him, and thrilled him, and even though it wasn’t as deep as an Ingmar Bergman film, it wasn’t meant to be, and it should just be enjoyed on its own credentials.
The above is the perfect example of critics needlessly stretching for insults and issues with a film. And if you find anyone overly criticizing Star Wars: The Force Awakens then just send them to this video and they’ll hopefully learn the error of their ways. That’s unless it does actually suck. But it can’t be bad … can it?