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Firefly - ’Serenity’ Movie - Aintitcool.com Review - Spoilers

Saturday 25 June 2005, by Webmaster

Dem Bones bones SERENITY...

Hey folks, Harry here... I just can’t seem to get excited about SERENITY. I know how passionate the Firefly fans are... but their enthusiasm leaves me feeling like I did coming out of TANK GIRL. When I saw that film - the audience I saw it with seemed to absolutely love and enjoy every second of that film. While I sat there looking at them like they were insane. I didn’t really enjoy FIREFLY on DVD when I saw it. Wished I did. It would mean the love of Herc, which is like being wrapped in a thousand twitching tongues for 42 minutes. I’m hoping to enjoy the movie though, Robogeek claims it’s the best movie he’s seen this year. Though I don’t know if that holds still... he’s seen HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE and the Miyazaki geek in him may be stronger than the Whedon geek. Here’s Dem Bones’ review - beware of spoilers...

Hello Harry, Moriarty and crew—here is a review of “Serenity“, if you want to publish it...

Oh Firefly. I loved that show. The characters, the world, the writing, direction, acting—I loved it. But I am not here to praise it, unfortunately — I am here to bury it.

After less than half a season, Fox dumped the show, leaving many of us who loved the show up in the air, until it got a new life on DVD, prompting rabid sales and now, a movie sequel—”Serenity”.

I got a chance to see the film last night in Columbus, Ohio—and as amazing as it was to see the crew come together, as fantastic as the effects and directing were, Universal has a problem on there hands. They have invested their money in an odd, dark, science fiction fetish movie expecting a new franchise—but it really only works as a finale to the TV show. As good as the film is, I do not expect it will bring new fans into the fold, except to get people to watch the DVDs of “Firefly”. I really think it is a very good film, but it has major hurdles to overcome. I will try to talk about the film with minor spoilers...

On of the major problem with “Serenity” is that you really need to have seen Firefly to enjoy it. The events of the film, the good and bad, only affect us if we have an intimate knowledge of our Merry Band of Pirates from watching the show. If you had not seen the last two episodes, you would not know why “hooker-with-the-hear-of-gold” Inara is not on the ship, who she is, what she means to Mal, and what the big deal is to get her back onto the ship. In fact, there is no reason to have her in the movie at all—she really does nothing to advance the plot nor is she a big help when the chips come down. Even in the end, when we should get some kind of payoff for the implications of Mal and Inara’s feelings—we get nothing.

The major plot points of the film, as you can tell from the trailer, deals with crazy, psychic River Tam and the crazy, cannibalistic Reavers — two of the weaker elements of the show, now brought to the forefront. Do we really care why the Reavers became mad-dog cannibal murderers? Is it really that important? Men have gone crazy and committed murder forever—why do we need a ‘McGuffin’ built around them? Do we really need to focus on what in River’s head makes her crazy? We know through exposition that she was experimented on Mengele-style to become an assassin...isn’t that enough? And where are our blue-handed, evil Alliance men?

Another thing — when there are TWO MAJOR CHARACTER DEATHS in the film, you really need to have strong scenes setting them up, so you can feel something when they die. Having seen the show, they did affect me—but to someone unfamiliar to the show, they might not feel anything. One of the deaths I understand—it moved the characters forward...but the other death was so pointless and hackneyed it actually made me angry—which is more than I can say about the characters in the film. They just shrug it off and move on, and that is another problem with the film —everyone seems cold. When you get the aforementioned character deaths, you would think that we would get some moment at the end that had our characters actually experiencing some kind of display of emotional outpouring—but no. The film fails to build enough character moments in the first half, so that you really feel the loss of the characters.

In the original pilot for Firefly (also titled Serenity) Whedon had Malcolm Reynolds be an angry loner sourpuss, convinced that God had abandoned him — and that was okay. I don’t know if it was studio’s tweaking, but he seemed lighter as the show went on. And this film needs more light. It is uncompromisingly dark—and the captain comes off as a real jackass. He is not the fun captain we expect, and he doesn’t go through a character arc to become him in the end.

I think, in the end that is the sad truth of the film—it is not fun. And we wanted it to be fun—to be a celebration of continuing on, even in the face of cancellation. It would have been nice if it was a smart, complicated lark—that’s how you start a franchise, letting them get darker as the series progresses. You build your relationships, so you can pull the rug out from under your audience, sweetening the emotional resonance. The sad thing is, as close to great as this movie is, there isn’t time or money for improvements. The movie, outside of the music score, is finished.

These pre-screenings really serve no purpose, since there will be no re-shooting or re-editing. The only purpose for these screenings I can think of is that Universal knows that there is little chance of it succeeding at the box office, so the hope that a grass-roots, limited-engagement screenings will drive up the grosses for opening weekend. If they were smart, they would just open it in limited release, keeping the viewing of this movie an event.

We thought we were getting a sequel or a new beginning, and what we get is an ending, a burial. This film will not spawn sequels or a new TV show. At least when we left the show with “Objects in Space”, there was still the open-ended hope of new adventures. Now, with Serenity, the coffin is nailed shut.

I hope that is helpful to you guys. I am sorry that my opinion isn’t higher. I certainly wanted it to be knocked out of the park.

If you do use this , just refer to me as “Dem Bones”

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