John Kenneth Muir is a fine writer who loves the 1970s and he loves movies, so really is it a surprise that this book is an excellent read? If you are familiar with Mr. Muir’s blog than you already know that he prefers to delve deep into films, not stopping with simple story recaps and opinions on how entertaining the movies are. He goes beyond, digging into themes and concepts that the films explore.
That same type of focus appears in this book, but with additional perspective. Mr. Muir places the films in historical context with the events of the time as well as in context with each other. It is fascinating to read how the films of the early 70s ended up charting the course for the sci-fi and fantasy of the later 70s. He exposes trends in the two genres and how these trends fed off each other, creating sub-genres that would mix and cross over each other.
For a film fan like me, I loved reading about movies I’d never heard of like “ZPG” or “Starship Invaders”. He reminded me of some films I had completely forgotten about, but watched and loved as a kid like “The Land that Time Forgot”. He offered some interesting perspectives on acknowledged classics like “Soylant Green”, “A Clockwork Orange” and “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”. And while I didn’t agree with all his assessments, (I’m still not convinced that “Silent Running” is a four star film), all of his explorations are well reasoned, thoughtful and engaging.
In particular I enjoyed his spirited defense of films that have often been looked down on, such as “The Black Hole”, “King Kong”, “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”, “The Golden Voyage of Sinbad” and the sequels to “Planet of the Apes”. You can tell Mr. Muir loves these films, and although he acknowledges their faults, he also points out elements of them that will inspire readers to give the films another go with a fresh perspective.
All that said, the presentation could have used a bit of work. In the Kindle version the layout and formatting was often slightly off. There were also a surprising number of typos. It was just distracting enough to cause me to drop the rating. However, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the content and know I will revisit the book frequently, especially to broaden my knowledge of this decade of films from my favorite genres.