In 1977, a little movie called Star Wars: A New Hope was released. No one knew anything about it and no one had any idea how massive it would be. Critics didn’t know what to expect when they went to see it and despite being the classic film we know today, several critics weren’t impressed the first time around.
None more so than New York Magazine film reviewer John Simon who wrote a review that absolutely ripped this movie apart. It’s hilarious to read now but, at the time, it was probably a bit more serious. George Lucas took a risk with this movie, and put a lot on the line.
The whole review can be read on Google Books but i09 pulled some of the best bits:
“I sincerely hope that science and scientists differ from science fiction and its practitioners. Heaven help us if they don’t: We may be headed for a very boring world indeed. Strip Star Wars of its often striking images and its high-falutin scientific jargon, and you get a story, characters, and dialogue of overwhelming banality, without even a “future” cast to them. Human beings, anthropoids, or robots, you could probably find them all, more or less like, that, in downtown Los Angeles today…
“O dull new world! We are treated to a galactic civil war, assorted heroes and villains, a princely maiden in distress, a splendid old man surviving from an extinct order of knights who possessed a mysterious power called “the Force,” and it is all as exciting as last year’s weather reports…. Why, even the most exciting fight is an old-fashioned duel, for all that the swords have laser beams for blades….
“Here it is all trite characterization and paltry verbiage… The one exception is Alec Guinness as the grand old man Ben Kenobi (Ben for the Hebrew ben, to make him sound Biblical and good; Kenobi probably from cannibis, i.e., hashish, for reasons you can probably guess.)…
“Still, Star Wars will do very nicely for those lucky enough to be children or unlucky enough never to have grown up.”
Simon didn’t hold back at all. The Star Wars lover in me is a little hurt but mostly I can’t stop laughing. Lucas and all these characters really showed him, didn’t they? I’m curious if he had anything to say after Star Wars took off the way it did.
What do you think of the review? Are there any popular movies you had less than great first impressions of? Share your thoughts in the comments!