First off? Those who attended the “Serenity” screenings (and those who wish they did) will be keen to read this fabulous first-person account by cartoonist M.E. Russell.
Joss Whedon’s feature directorial debut doesn’t formally go into release until Sept. 30, but Universal so little fears bad buzz (and for good reason) that the studio on Thursday night hosted 20 screenings of “Serenity” in 20 cities. Find the verdicts below, and beware GIANTIC, UNINVISOTEXTED SPOILERS YOU LIKELY DON’T WANT TO READ …
1) “Overall the film was excellent,” says “Quirky muse.” “Anyone familiar with Angel or Buffy knows Joss Whedon takes the human condition seriously.”
Saw Serenity tonight in DC I won’t give spoilers…and I reserve a special place in hell for those that do.
But for those that loved the show, I will tell you what dangling plot threads are resolved.
Book’s past… nope, and dialogue suggests we may never know
River’s powers… a focal point of the movie, so yeah its dealt with a lot
Inara’s desire to leave the ship…yes
Inara and Mal…somewhat
Kaylee and Simon…yes
Hands of blue…hands are neither explained nor seen
Wash and Zoe wanting a baby?…not so much
Reaver’s….oh my yes. Answers are given to questions you didn’t think to ask, but remember how the borg got kind of lame the more and more they were explained…yeah, well that aint the case here.
Sound in space…hard to know…appeared not to, but big battle (whoops theres a semi-spoiler) seemed to have explosions
Blue Sun or whatever that company was named….no
Overall the film was excellent, though not yet color-treated and possessing in many places filler soundtrack ( recognized Waterworld at least twice). Also a rather odd “hand of god” decision, that one must really think about it to understand (or rationalize), in the movie leads one to believe that joss may not be finished editing yet.
One final note…Anyone familiar with Angel or Buffy knows Joss Whedon takes the human condition seriously, including its frailties, so you can probably guess that outcome may not be completely “feel good”. Do yourself a favor and stay spoiler-free. Mr Whedon has gone to great links to give you your $8.00 (or how much it costs by then) worth of blood and laughter, keep up your end of the bargain
Oh, and by the way, the lovely Morena Baccarin was there with her mother as well, hope other venues got meet other crew members.
2) “The movie is great!” says “Willhelm.” “If you are a fan of the show, you should definitely enjoy the movie. It’s hard to tell if it’s a movie that non fans will get.”:
Hey Harry! I was lucky enough to attend the May 26th showing of Serenity in Dallas TX and thought I'd send in a review.
First off we got to the theater an hour early and we were the last in line! There were people in costume and they were giving away prizes to people that could answer trivia questions (It looked like they were small books on Joss Whedon). So there was quite a big hoopla and everyone was obviously pumped to see the movie.
About 20 minutes before the movie they let us in and the theater was PACKED! Right before the show there was only 2 seats left in the entire room.
Onto the movie...
It starts off with the introduction by Joss which was quite good. There were many times when the crowd erupted into applause.
The movie starts off explaining how River was rescued and then moves onto the ship. The movie seems to start about midway through the series (character development wise). River and Simon are on the ship but are not yet considered a part of the crew. Of course, except for Kaylee who's still creaming for Simon. Then the Alliance and their trained assassin get involved and the shit hits the fan.
The movie is great! If you are a fan of the show, you should definitely enjoy the movie. It’s hard to tell if it’s a movie that non fans will get. They don’t spend a lot of time on back story so non fans could get confused.
The movie is classic Firefly though. The best part of Firefly was its wit and the movie has that in spades.
There is one choice in the movie that I am not too sure about though. As some people have already posted on the site, there is great tragedy in the movie. I'm not one of those people that can’t watch a movie because it doesn’t have a happy ending. I understand not every movie can be "Herbie the Love Bug" and I can handle that, but DAMN IT if it wasn’t one of my favorite characters!!! I'm just not sure about the choice, and where they will go in the future if they continue the story.
With that said, it didn’t kill the movie for me at all! It’s a great movie and like I said if you liked the series you will NOT be disappointed! If they have another Advanced Screening I will probably try to snag tickets to that too.
Just thought I would pass my opinion along,
3) “I might sound like I'm being negative and nitpicky, but it's only because I loved this movie so much,” says “betterJedi.” “I loved the experience and will pay to see the film a few times when it comes out in September.”:
Hello all. I had a 2 hour drive back from Atlanta last night to contemplate how to deliver this SERENITY review. I will not give any spoilers and will try and be as fair and honest about this movie as possible. You should know up front that I'm a die hard Browncoat – watched every episode that aired when it came on, bought the boxset the day it came out and have converted over twenty people into becoming Browncoats. I went through a lot of heartache (and money) to get my ticket for the 5/26 screening. I say this just so you'll know where I'm coming from.
From what I've read in other reviews, I think die hard fans of the FIREFLY show are being more critical of this movie than folks who have never seen it. Now that I've seen it I understand where they're coming from but I also think that with repeat viewings this movie will grow on any disgruntled Browncoats. I might sound like I'm being negative and nitpicky, but it's only because I loved this movie so much. If I didn't care for this movie then I wouldn't be writing a review. Because I loved it so much, the tiny imperfections really stood out to me. I can only write this review comparing the TV show versus the movie. Both are great but they are very different from one another. I know that you can't do the same type of storytelling in movies that you can with TV and vice versa so that explains some of the concerns I have about the movie.
So here we go…
1. Captain Malcolm Reynolds: in the show Mal was a 'Han Solo'-type character with some dark edges hinted at. In the show he had plenty of humor but was able to play serious very well when the need arose. When this movie starts I couldn't help but feel a little disconnected with Mal. His dark edges seem to be the focus of his character, which didn't feel right after having watched each of the episodes so many times. The problem to me was that Mal spends most of this movie being mad – mainly with his own crew. On the show Mal had the occasional run-ins with Jayne and Simon – and of course Inara. In this film you don't ever really get a sense that this is the same crew that, despite their differences, became somewhat of a dysfunctional family. Mal spends a lot of time yelling and fussing at his crew, telling them that they can leave whenever they're ready. Though that's not a complete contradiction with the TV Mal, in the old version of Mal you at least got the sense that he was fiercely loyal to his crew and would protect them no matter what. You don't get that with this Mal – at least not at first (with the exception of River). As the film progresses Mal has more and more humorous bits and seems to lighten up slightly, which worked well in the end. My main concern here is that with the audience watching this movie who knows nothing of FIREFLY might find Mal hard to understand and like right away. Those of us who know him well will probably be a little forgiving and by the time the credits roll I felt that Mal was back to being himself again.
2. Zoe: Zoe in this film is pretty much the same Zoe we had on the show, though I felt that she didn't get as many one-liners here as she did on the show. There were some great moments toward the end of the movie where her character really had a time to shine in moments of contemplation and reflection but unfortunately the movie never dares to show you those slow, character-building shots. For the most part she's likeable here. I just wish that we (especially Mal) could have spent a few quiet seconds with her near the end.
3. Wash: Wash is great. He's got some really outstanding one-liners and keeps the film from getting too dark and heavy. Though I did notice that the bulk of Wash's funny lines came in the first half of the film. He has a few great moments to shine and his character feels like one of the strongest ties that remain true to the show.
4. River: Oh River. I'll admit that she was never one of my favorites on the show but I was at least interested to find out her back story, especially with those aspects of it that are hinted at in the show. River has plenty of screen time here and I've seen in other reviews that this is her movie. I'll disagree with that. This is Mal's movie, but the plot has everything to do with River – mainly about Mal's decisions concerning what to do with River and then following him as he takes action. I didn't expect that we'd get so much information on River's background but I was pleasantly surprised about this aspect of the story. In the first ten minutes you will get a broad, general understanding of why the Alliance thinks it's vital that River is hunted down and destroyed. As the movie progresses toward a climax, River leads us to a planet where secrets are uncovered that put a more precise point to the reason why the Alliance must kill River – because of what she knows. River kicks butt in this movie and by the end of the story she's one of the characters that I liked the most. Which brings me to a major problem: her brother!
5. Simon: Simon Tam here is NOT the Simon Tam from the show unfortunately. The one on the show was a brilliant doctor but was socially a misfit – awkward in a love/no interest/is he interested relationship with Kaylee. He was a quiet man, ignorant to the ways of what it's like to live on the frontier. I think my problem with Simon in this movie is that he's too much like Mal. Simon stays mad the entire movie. That's not the Simon we knew on the show. People who never watched the show won't have a problem with this so this might not be a valid concern. I know the point to be emphasized in the movie is that Simon is willing to do anything to protect his sister. It just seems like Simon came off as a little harsh and cold and a bit of a spoiled brat, wanting to leave because he's not getting his way – not acting the least bit grateful that Mal took them in and kept them safe for the last eight months.
6. Jayne: Ah, Jayne. Jayne is Jayne and all is right with the world. He's funny – just about every line of dialogue he has is something that makes you laugh. Much like Wash, his movie character is very much the same as his television character. He's selfish, just like on the show, and is more than capable at handling the action sequences.
7. Kaylee: Kaylee, just like Jayne and Wash, is pretty much the same character in the movie as she was with the TV show. She's sweet and funny. Her character is a great sounding board for the audience – she actually delivers some thoughts and lines of dialogue to Mal that reflects what the audience is thinking. We want Mal to listen to Kaylee. She's the voice of reason.
8. Inara: I absolutely loved the way Whedon incorporated Inara into the story. I'm not a big STAR TREK fan but I at least go see the movies when they come out. One of the things that really bothered me about the last couple of TREK films is the fact that Worf was no longer a crew member on the Enterprise yet the writers seemed to go out of their way to come up with cheesy reasons to have him along for the ride – as if they didn't think they could do a TREK movie without him. This is not the case with Inara in this movie. When she first appears on a video screen to talk with Mal it's because she's vital to the story. It's no accident or cheesy circumstance that binds her with SERENITY. It's great the way she's brought in to the story. However, the poor girl has absolutely nothing to do once she's back on board. She just sort of stands around for most of the second half of the movie, watching events unfold. During the big action finale she does use a weapon that somewhat surprised me. I hope in the future that Whedon gives her more to do.
9. Book: One of the saddest things is that Book has so little screen time, yet something I was glad about is that his character is vital to the story as well. Mal needs advice. Book is the old school Yoda of the Firefly universe. He gives Mal some valuable instruction on faith. The problem is that the story is so fast paced that after Book's short screen time the crew is racing off again to their next destination. Book is fun to watch while he's on screen and the movie leaves you wishing you had more of him.
10. Whedon: he created this wonderful vision of the future, these fantastic characters that through the show became a part of each Browncoat's family, and the style of the show. Whedon wrote a great sci-fi story that surprisingly answers just about everything you wanted to know about River and he intelligently incorporates that with… well, I can't say because I don't want to spoil it for anyone. The one problem I had is that the story is so fast-paced that I feel like Whedon as a director missed some opportunities. There are moments (either sad or where a character is weighing some heavy options) that I wish we could have gotten a five to ten second shot showing the character with a contemplative look on their face. That would have given the audience a chance to catch our breath and given the story a chance to really pour on the emotional impact. Whedon wrote a funny story and he was very smart in how he tied everything together. As reported in other reviews, Whedon gives a brief introduction to the movie. This was laugh out loud funny and I'll be disappointed if it doesn't make it to the DVD. I was pleasantly surprised with an important Firefly aspect that he explains (though I can't say here in this non-spoiler review) but I was a little disappointed that there are hardly any western aspects to this story. I missed horses and small towns and that feeling of being on the wild, untamed frontier. Hopefully future stories will return a little more of that frontier feeling to the screen.
11. The story: (non-spoiler of course) coming into this movie there were three questions from the TV show that I wanted answered: A) Why does the Alliance want River so bad? B) What is Shepherd Book's real back story? C) What secret is Inara hiding about her past? Well, you get the first one answered pretty thoroughly – and in surprising ways with how River's story ties in with other aspects of the Firefly universe. We find out nothing about Book or Inara's past and I guess that's something that can be explored in the future. Talking with other Browncoats, they seem to want Whedon to keep making Firefly movies but after having seen this movie (which I loved) I find myself hoping that this comes back as a TV show and they put off doing any more movies for a while. The movie is great fun, but I would rather have twenty fun stories with these characters a year than just one great story every few years.
Hope this wasn't too long and boring. And I know it sounds like I'm bashing the movie but I'm really not. I loved the experience and will pay to see the film a few times when it comes out in September. Go see this movie. Bring a friend to it. Tell them to bring a friend. It's not a perfect movie but it at least gives new life to one of the best television shows ever aired.
Thank you Joss for making this film. Please continue telling Firefly stories.
4) “My two friends and I are Joss fans though one of them had never seen Firefly whereas my girlfriend was explicitly not a Joss fan and actually wanted to go into Serenity with no background info,” says “Dallas Reaver.” “All four of us LOVED it.”:
Hi, long time reader first time reviewer etc...
I've got the reactions of four people to deal with: Me, my two friends and my girlfriend. My two friends and I are Joss fans though one of them had never seen Firefly whereas my girlfriend was explicitly not a Joss fan and actually wanted to go into Serenity with no background info(because she was pretty much in the dark for Ep III and ended up wanting to watch all six films so she wanted to give this one the same treatment).
All four of us LOVED it.
Now let me say that the fact that I walked into the film knowing that just 1 year and a few days ago, Angel ended. I've read some of the Astonishing X-Men comics but haven't been able to really get into them. They're well written, of course, but I've been out of that 'verse for so long that I wasn't able to really enjoy it. Serenity was well worth the wait.
I was lucky enough to see it in Dallas and the print I saw was pretty good but needed to be filtered or processed (my girlfriend is a film major and actually used the correct term but I don't remember what it was). There were a few inconsistencies in the film regarding the sound such as "why is there sound in space at some points but not in others?" This was a question that didn't bother me too much because the sound was used effectively i.e. there's sound in battle and atmospheric entry but not when just out in space. Well, for the most part...
At any rate, the origin of the Reavers was amazing. I've never gotten too into Firefly (more of a Buffy/Angel fan to be honest) but the scenes with the Reavers always scared me. Seeing how they were *really* created was mind blowing. Joss took this whole "can't stop the signal" line and made it important. I mean, the show and the film almost seem to be about two different things. Whereas the show was more about the characters, the film is epic in scope. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of character development (and it's nice to see Mal be as dark as he was originally intended to be), but the film is about so much more than just the people on the boat.
I don't want to give away this major spoiler because I had accidentally read about it before seeing the film (which sucked because I actually didn't know much more about the plot other than this) but the way in which one major character died was incredibly painful. It reminds me of what Joss once said about writing for what the fans need, not for what they want. Something like that...yeah...but anyway, I walked out of this thinking "We didn't need that nor did we want it." When Wesley died at the end of Angel, it was very fitting and in hindsight, it was what we needed. This wasn't; this was borderline cruelty.
What amazed me so much was the reaction of the fans around me. With only half a season, I wasn't able to get truly involved in Firefly the way I have with other shows. This didn't quite hold true for the people around me who would gasp and mutter "oh no!" whenever something shocking happened onscreen. I just don't feel like I'm as devoted a browncoat as the others, I suppose.
But here's the crux: People keep wondering if Firefly/Serenity will replace the Star Wars/Trek void and they wonder whether people who aren't already Joss fans will even like the flick. The answer to those questions are "yes, if Universal handles the film better than Fox did" and "Yes, they can and they will." The two of us who had seen the show agreed that Serenity was better while the other Joss fan (but Firefly neophyte) was definitely engrossed in the story. Finally, my girlfriend isn't into sci-fi, she even got mad at me for being so into Buffy...she walked out of the film and told me "I really liked it, I can't wait to see it again when it's cleaned up and actually released."
Score one for the Browncoats.
If you choose to post this, call me the Dallas Reaver
5) “The movie was amazing, I have to say,” says “Lithera.” “The space battles were amazing and more impressive, to me at least, than the Star Wars battles.”:
I know you all got a lot of review from the first batch of Serenity vewings but I just wanted to add my two cents. There will be some spoilers in here so, all of you reading beware.
The movie was amazing, I have to say. There were a few places where there were problems and I don't know how much will be fixed in post production but I will be seeing it then. The space battles were amazing and more impressive, to me at least, than the Star Wars battles. They weren't nearly as shiny but they rang closer to true for me.
The entire film was very tightly paced. I think there are a few places where it might be a little too quickly paced, a little too tight. For at least the last thirty minutes, you don't get to catch your breath, things are coming at you so closely.
There were some complaints I saw in previous reviews that I want to address. The first is that characters die. Of course they die. If there were no risk to the characters than we wouldn't love them as much. Part of what I love about Joss Whedon is he isn't afraid of taking aim at great characters because he wants to spare them. No. This is a real world he's making and there are consequences, there are balances and I don't think we've seen them all yet. There is a further story to tell here if this movie does well enough.
Another complaint I saw was that there wasn't enough grieving. I can't disagree more. (HUGE SPOILER) Zoe grieved in the way she understood. She flipped out for a few moments and then snapped into psychotic vengeful mode. She was going to kill the people coming after them and she was going to kill them all - personally. Even at the very end when she and Mal have that conversation about the ship... He's asking her about how she's fairing. (END SPOILER)
I will say that I think Book got the short end of the stick here. I understand why he doesn't really get more time but I don't think we get enough time here to feel that Haven really is a haven for these people that are running so hard.
I enjoyed catching all of the music holders (5th Element anyone?) and I know I will be in line when this comes out in September. There will be a lot of Firely DVD sets being given out as presents between now and then.
6) “I'm a casual fan of ‘Firefly,’ saw the show on DVD, liked it...didn't love it,” says “Paul in Stratford.” “Sadly, I must say that this movie won't go beyond pleasing anyone but the dedicated fan base.”:
I was privileged to see a 4-month early look at Joss Whedon's "Serenity". Now, I'm a casual fan of "Firefly", saw the show on DVD, liked it...didn't love it. But I figured, why not check out a screening of the flick to see how it would play to me and my friend who never even heard of "Firefly". Sadly, I must say that this movie won't go beyond pleasing anyone but the dedicated fan base. Fanboys and girls of "Firefly" and all things Browncoated, enjoy! You will definitely have a good time. To everyone else, this plays as if you should be home on your couch, holding a remote and turning said remote to the Sci-Fi Channel. Whomever wrote that this movie is epic must have been a plant. The effects were on par, maybe a little better than the TV show. The settings were just a few notches above the idiot box as well. I didn't hate the movie, but it left me with such a "Star Trek: Insurrection" feeling. You know the one, as if they just made me sit through an overblown episode of "Firefly". Not disappointing, but it will NOT be a huge blockbuster. I give this to the realm of cult status.
That's my short and sweet non-spoiler review, and I'm sticking to it.
7) “Serenity is one hell of a great movie and it was purely satisfying for me,” says “Joel C.” “I read somewhere that this would make a great season one finale for the show. But screw that--this would make one hell of a SERIES finale.”:
Just saw the Portland screening of Serenity. I'm going to try to give you a review with very mild spoilers in case you're interested.
First of all, I'm a big fan of Firefly, as you would probably imagine. So I'm not unbiased, to be certain. With that out of the way, let me say that Serenity is one hell of a great movie and it was purely satisfying for me. I read somewhere that this would make a great season one finale for the show. But screw that--this would make one hell of a SERIES finale.
The focus of the movie is on River and just what is up with her. Right off the bat, we see Simon breaking her out of an Alliance facility and we partly learn why the Alliance is so hell bent on getting her back. As the movie progresses, you'll learn quite a bit about her backstory, about what the Alliance was doing to her and about the abilities she has.
Now, the nice thing about a movie as opposed to a TV show is that storylines can be better wrapped up. While not every storyline and question was concluded, we got the full backstory on River and found out all about the Reavers, and that's not something that you're going to get in a television episode. You need to keep those storylines going for awhile. With the show gone and this movie possibly being it (yes, I hope for sequels, but you never know) it was great to see Joss just lay it all on the line. As I said, the movie played, for me, like a series finale. There could be sequels, without question, but this would also be a satisfactory end.
The movie is a very different beast from the television show. The characters, for starters, are slightly different. Mal is darker and more frazzled, Simon is more combative, Kaylee seems a bit more forthright. There are some other differences as well. The movie also feels as if a lot has happened between the last episode of the series and where this picks up. Joss really pushes the sense of struggling for survival to a greater degree than he did in the show--in any of the episodes. There is a greater desperation pervading the atmosphere of the movie and the moral ambiguity from the series is on full display and ratcheted up a few notches right from the outset. Malcolm Reynolds is definitely a good guy, but he isn't exactly a straight up hero, either. He's a flawed character, a flawed human being hoping to do what's right but also willing, at times, to do what may be wrong.
And have no doubt, this movie gets very dark the longer it goes on. There's plenty of humorand lots of lines that got big laughs. But there's a heaviness, a darkness, that will weigh on you as the movie unravels itself. Nothing is safe in this movie.
The way I see it, you have two big concerns with Serenity. One is that it will play like a two hour, thirty million dollar episode of Firefly rather than a real movie and the second is that people who don't know a thing about this universe or these characters won't be able to follow or enjoy the movie.
The first concern is largely moot. This damn well is a movie and not an episode of Firefly. Everything is bigger and badder, the storylines are better resolved, the plot is much more bleak and nothing is held back--there are scenes in which the movie is devastating. Everything is bigger, with rougher edges and a lack of that TV polish that always seems to keep the plot from becoming too harsh. I never felt like this played as a big TV episode--in fact, it had a very distinctly different feel than the television show. This is a movie, plain and simple. Granted, it's a sci fi movie with a relatively low budget, but they still make good use of it. This could easily pass as having had a bigger budget. Perhaps the point when the lack of money is most evident is during a fairly large space battle that just is not seen that much. It's still a great, tense scene, but you get the sense that with a larger budget, there would have been more shots of the actual battle in space.
Now, will nonfans like the movie? I'm very biased, but I really think that people who don't know the show will still really enjoy the movie. It's funny, it's fast paced, it's filled with action, it's incredibly tense and suspenseful and has a fascinating story. I think the characters are introduced well enough that people will be able to follow along with minimal confusion. The basic backstory on the universe is laid out in a very simple manner right at the beginning. I don't think it's a particularly hard movie to follow and there is damn near NO downtime throughout the entire flick. The hardest part is going to be getting people into the theater in the first place, since it's a bit of a hard sell concept and there are no big stars. But if you can get the people in the theater, I think they're going to really enjoy it.
So that's about what I have to say. Fans of the show should love the movie and I'm relieved to say that if this is the last we see of this universe, fans should go away satisfied. People who have never seen the show? I think they're in for a treat and I hope they'll give the movie a shot. It's incredibly entertaining and affecting, period, and it's a movie that will stay with you long after you leave the theater.
8) “Serenity is the most entertaining movie from start to finish I've seen in a long time,” says “Boston Browncoat”:
Serenity is the most entertaining movie from start to finish I've seen in a long time. The acting is great and there are countless parts in the movie when the dialogue is funny one moment and chilling the next.
I hope this movie makes money so they'll make another sequel or at least greenlight another TV series. In my humble opinion, the Star Wars prequel pale in comparison to Serenity, especially the already overrated Episode III. You'll find no "She's lost the will to live!" or "NOOOO!!!" dialogue in Serenity.
A little side note, I drove from Boston to Providence last night to see this movie expecting to see maybe twenty or thirty people in the theater. I arrived at 9:45 and it was packed. I had to walk around for 10 minutes to find an open spot, and when I did, I heard how people paid over $100 per ticket to see this movie and drove all the way from Philadelphia to Providence just to see it. It's nice to have something this cool us geeks can gather around once again...
If you use this call me
9) “While I always admired the whole Browncoats movement, I wouldn’t have considered myself one of them. Until I saw this gorram movie, that is!” says “Zombie Messiah.” “All I can say is... WOW.”:
I was at the Boston screening of Serenity last night. It was the Loew’s theater’s biggest screen (700 people capacity) and the place was packed 45 minutes before the screening started. No celebs there this time, but a local TV station (CN8) was in attendance interviewing fans for a feature of some sort.
A lot of people had clearly attended the earlier screening, but this was my first time and I was really excited to see what Joss had come up with. I was a fan of the Firefly TV series, but I don’t own the DVDs and haven’t seen the unaired episodes yet. So while I always admired the whole Browncoats movement, I wouldn’t have considered myself one of them. Until I saw this gorram movie, that is!
All I can say is... WOW. Actually, more than wow—I thought the movie hit every note perfectly and gave each character a moment to shine, although I think Book was underutilized a little (but used to good effect in the plot) and, of course, Nathan Fillion absolutely stole the show. Capt Mal is like Han Solo on a really, really, really bad day. Let’s just say I don’t see Joss revising his movie in 20 years and making Greedo shoot first—there’s no doubt that Mal is absolute badass in this pic.
The crowd loved the movie, and while it was almost exclusively made up of Firefly fans, it bodes well that the movie doesn’t disappoint them/us. I think the start of the movie might be a tad inaccessible for new viewers (that’s a lot of characters to keep track of), but each character really does emerge with his/her own personality and has a moment or two that steals the show. Wash is very, very funny, and Jayne gets almost all of the great one-liners. The only one who really doesn’t do much of interest is Zoe, although she has a nice moment with Mal early on after an encounter with the Reavers that goes a long way to revealing the moral dilemmas that Mal lives with as captain of the ship.
In summary, this movie really captures the spirit of the TV show, but makes it a little more mainstream scifi (less cowboy stuff) and should—with proper marketing and word of mouth like this—be a sleeper hit for Universal. I foresee lots of repeat visits to the multiplex for people who see the movie. I know I’ll be back in September.
If you use this, call me.... Zombie Messiah
10) “It's just shy of perfection,” says “Anonymous Firely Freak.” “I realized about three quarters in I'd had a dumb grin on my face.”:
Hey there Harry,
Take this for what it's worth--a very biased review from a Buffy/Angel/all around Joss freak. In spite of all that, I didn't watch Firefly when it originally aired (Universal's marketing it with Joss' name is dead-on, by the way, and exactly what Fox should have done . . . but nevermind.) I bought the series on DVD, and I was hooked from the second or third episode.
So I beat the odds and managed to get tickets to one of the Serenity screenings tonight (and I got the nifty special keychain to prove it). Joss had a hilarious personal message before the film. ("You all made this happen . . . so if it's bad, it's your fault.)
Into the film. To be quick, it's just shy of perfection. I realized about three quarters in I'd had a dumb grin on my face.
The Good River kicking Reaver ass. River in general. Everything Jayne says, does . . . and wears (check out the graphic on the t-shirt). The resolution to all dangling plotlines from the series. Video tombstones. Sexbots! The Wrath of Khan moment. "Screw this, I'm gonna live!"
The Not-So-Good Zoe's weird reaction to a certain someone's untimely demise. A couple delivery issues (the "battery-operated" comment.) Some scenes need trimming--the pace is off here and there.
Now, I liked Star Wars Ep III, but to go from that script to a Whedon script . . . I can tell you which movie I'll be seeing again, and buying on DVD . . .
So Joss, fix some minor stuff, and it's a home run.
See it. And get yourself a birthday present and buy Firefly on DVD. You deserve it.
-Anonymous Firely Freak
11) “Firefly fully restored my faith in network television. My wife and I are Buffy and Angel fans, but not fanatics. Firefly made me a fanatic, says “Anna Morfick.” “What did I think of SERENITY? A mixed bag. There was a LOT of stuff I liked, some things I loved, but also a few fundamental gripes.”:
Last night, I had the honor (read as "luck") of attending the second Boston screening of Joss Whedon's SERENITY. Seeing as how I'm so goram tired right now and I'm still trying to fully process what I thought of the film, this is going to be somewhat less lengthy than I originally planned.
Let me start by saying that I've been a browncoat since Fox first aired the pilot episode, err, I mean "The Train Job." As hard as Fox tried to bury this show, with its terrible time slot and unaired, out-of-sequence episodes, Firefly fully restored my faith in network television. My wife and I are Buffy and Angel fans, but not fanatics. Firefly made me a fanatic. The dialogue, the cast, the music, Whedon's remarkable ability to combine every genre under the sun and make it work seamlessly. So, when I heard about the Big Damned Movie, "giddy" doesn't begin to explain my mood. Yeah, yeah, but what did I think of SERENITY?
(No spoilers in the following two paragraphs) A mixed bag. There was a LOT of stuff I liked, some things I loved, but also a few fundamental gripes. I think die-hard fans will find plenty to thrill over and get an absolute kick out of seeing everyone on the big screen; I know I did. Newbies who have never seen Firefly are going to have questions, but it's still a fun movie any way you slice it. I spoke with 3 guys last night en route to our cars in the Boston Common Garage, and one of them was a rookie. He really liked it. And that makes me happy.
The print was clearly unfinished and didn't look nearly as shiny as the Quicktime trailer. The result was a dark print without much in the Visual Punch department. The audio was also unfinished (I hope) and sounded rather flat. I hope the surround track kick ass come September. The film needs some spit and polish and some tighter editing here and there. But all told, I gave it a qualified "B" with the hope that September will bring us at least an "A-"
(*** Spoilers ahead. Beware! ***) This is hard for me, because I've never before uttered a criticism of the Firefly 'verse. If you know and love the show, the things you love about the movie will be obvious and loved by all fellow browcoats. (Simon and Kaylee... HOORAY! ; Reaver backstory... very interesting stuff and nice to finally know how the hell THEY happened; River kicking some serious booty...all good things) Ejiofor as The Operative and David Krumholtz were great additions; Ejiofor in particular had commanding screen presence.
What I want to focus on however is the negative. The stuff that has me hoping that Joss reads this and decides to make some changes. In a nutshell: where's the fun? The show was often exciting, often scary and often serious, but there was a lightheartedness coarsing through its veins. I didn't sense that nearly enough last night. There were plenty of hysterical moments and one-liners, but they seemed almost out of place considering the weighty tone and driving plot of the film. Also, Firefly gave us a family. They laughed together, ate together and fought together. The film needs to show more of that love that exists between them all. (Yes, even for Jayne.)
Wash, Inara, Kaylee and Book were all vastly underutilized and didn't get nearly enough screen time for my tastes. I know the story revolved around Simon and River, but the others seemed more like co-stars or cameos and less like the ensemble leads they were on Firefly. Wash was always a favorite of mine and it was upsetting that he wasn't more integral. He does get a kickass sequence to shine, but my Wash quota wasn't fulfilled as I hoped it would be.
The music... was ok, nothing great. I really wanted to hear that awesome Firefly theme song at some point but it never happened. Unacceptable! More fiddles, more banjo and more cowbell! (OK, maybe not cowbell) This brings me to my final complaint. I loved that Firefly was a sci-fi/western (among other things) and I felt that they almost complely eliminated the western-ness in SERENITY. This saddens me because it's probably that unique combination that made Firefly so unique to immediately capture my interest. Here, they gloss over the Old West-ish state of the border planets and keep everything feeling rather futuristic. Hmm.
I know Joss said that "now is a time for quiet" if we didn't like the film. Well, you might not know it from reading my comments, but I loved the film. I did. But I also had some issues with it. There is a ton of time between now and Sept 30. I hope that comments like these will not fall on deaf ears and SERENITY becomes what it truly has the potential to be: a fitting finale to one of the greatest series ever aired on prime time television.
No power in the 'verse will stop me from seeing this again come September...
12) “Serenity is fantastic,” says “M Satori.” “Whether or not you've seen the show is irrelevant.”:
I'm a long-time reader of this site but have never had a chance to review anything for it. But tonight I saw Serenity. I'm not going to bother setting it up, what the crowd was like, what my experience getting to the theater was like, or any of the other introductions some of your reviewers provide. It doesn't matter.
I watched Firefly when it was on the air, liked it, watched the full DVD set shortly after it came out, loved it. I'm not a raving Whedonite, and though I did enjoy much of Buffy I felt it went downhill very steeply towards the end. That's my bias, if you care to know where I'm coming from. It doesn't matter either.
Serenity is fantastic.
Whether or not you've seen the show is irrelevant. Having no small prior attachment to Firefly, I'm not going to even pretend to distance myself from it, and I might've enjoyed the movie more because I had that attachment going in to it. But there's truly nothing that you need to know going in to this movie that isn't adequately explained up front. You might not have all the nuances, but you're given every piece of information you need. There's as much introduction to the setting and insight into the characters as you get in any movie, and there's plenty of character development on screen. It stands on its own.
Serenity might not be high art. It might not be particularly deep or impart valuable life lessons, though I think you could argue that if you're so inclined. It has a very fast-paced plot, so it might not linger on a few scenes as long as some might like. But it's never fast-paced enough to be confusing or feel forced. It's got a couple of cliches, but they're handled better than you'd find in most mainstream pictures.
Is this movie perfect? I could nitpick a few minor points, but honestly I'm so pleased with it I don't really care to sully my experience of it with personal gripes. It is so obvious that every scene in this movie was made with genuine passion for the material, that it makes me feel like my very minor complaints (which I'll go into in the spoiler section at the end) aren't even worth caring about.
Above all else, *that* is why I will tell you to see this movie. The passion. If you read this site, you're like me in some way. You love some aspect of fandom, you love some show, some comic, some movie, *something* enough to come here and read these reviews and flame each other in these talkbacks and speculate about casting decisions for movies that may never get made. You have felt this passion for something, and it's left its mark on you. And I'd bet that you've probably been let down at some point when something you felt so passionately about was handled badly. Whether it was a poorly-adapted novel, or a TV show that lost its way, or a promising concept that got focus-grouped apart and put through the wringer of the Hollywood process until the soul of it was bled dry and all that remained was the trappings of something you could have once loved. If you really care about the stuff that gets reported on this site, you probably know what that's like.
Well, that didn't happen here. There's a damn good reason why so many Firefly fans who've been to the preview screenings are raving about this movie. It's because this thing we feel so passionate about has been beaten down by the system and survived intact. The very existence of this movie is a big Fuck You to the shallow executives at Fox who tried to scuttle the series. It is a living testament to the power of fandom, an example of what can happen when word spreads and suddenly this thing that was written off by the people in power has a million advocates shouting its glories so loudly that they can't be ignored.
How often can you remember that happening? How often do you get a chance to revisit something precious to you that seemed gone forever?
I'd implore you to see this movie for that reason alone - I don't want to see this opportunity squandered. And it is an opportunity, a chance to set an example that the process isn't always right. I'd want you to see the movie so that maybe, if only for a brief second, it would give pause to the purveyors of conventional wisdom in Hollywood and make the marketers sit down and have to actually ponder what made it successful.
But quite honestly, I think you'll like it. At the *very least* I do not think you will regret seeing this movie in a theater - it has a great many moments of pure action entertainment, a healthy dose of humor, and enough emotional resonance that anyone could identify with something in it. You never know - you might even catch this impassioned fever you see so many of us sharing.
What is Serenity? A story about some good-hearted outlaws harboring a girl who was turned into a psychic assassin who is now being pursued from planet to planet by the fascist government that created her for her knowledge of their secrets, secrets shocking enough to stir a solar system to revolt if they got out.
It's a well-made sci-fi flick with a quick wit, honest and utterly convincing characterization, and some clever ideas that neither define the genre or nor go off in some groundbreaking direction. But it is genuine in its approach to the material, and it just feels earnest from start to finish. That's what takes it from good to exceptional in my mind.
Moderate Spoilers follow.................................................................
I think just about any fan of the series is in for some serious pay-offs. You learn what happened to River and why she's being hunted. You get a great deal of insight into the Reavers. You see some significant character development with Mal, and really with nearly all of the main characters. You learn more about the government and why the war was worth fighting in the first place. You get dozens of lovely character moments that you're waiting for.
There are two character deaths that I'd like to address briefly. While I thought the scene of the first death was a little cliched, I can see why it was necessary to inspire the rest of the story. I've seen some people complaining about the second character death, how it seemed like the rest of the cast didn't grieve the loss and just kept moving. I disagree, as their grief was evident and given some mention later in the film - what happens is that we as an audience don't get the chance to grieve for the character after the death occurs. The movie doesn't slow down for it. I found that entirely consistent with the events unfolding on the screen though, as there was no time for the characters to stop if they wanted to live, and I think that makes it all the more poignant, especially given the character's personality and last words.
If I felt like complaining, I'd say that the introduction of a new character - Mr. Universe - isn't fleshed out enough. If I hadn't seen the show, I'd probably assume that he'd been introduced previously, as they don't really set him up much. Still, it's a really minor complaint, as his place in the movie is pretty easily understood. ..................................end of spoilers
The only other concern I have is that this movie is very fast-paced. I don't think that will be a problem for fans of Firefly, but it might leave some newcomers scratching their heads in a few places. But the movie is always comprehensible, never boring and keeps your focus on the events as they unfold, so much so that it should satisfy most people and will likely delight many.
It's not a perfect movie. But it's really fucking good. It's worth your time.
If you use this, call me M Satori.
13) “If you're a fan of the tv show, this is DEFINITELY a treat,” says “Xmenfan.” “If you're not a fan of the show, well then, it's hard to say.”:
..I don't care, i'm still free, you can't take the sky from meeeeeee..
If you're a fan of Joss Whedon, then those song lyrics are probably as familiar to you as the back of your hand. If that's the case, you will probably reasonably enjoy Whedon's flick, Serenity, an 2 hour film sequal of sorts to his cancelled(though critically acclaimed and beloved by fans) 13 episode series known as Firefly. If you're not a fan...well...
I'm getting ahead of myself. For the uninitiated, the tv show Firefly was a sci-fi western hybrid which followed the weekly adventures of a band of rag tag smugglers led by their Captain Mal Reynolds(Nathan Fillion) who rode around in a big spaceship called Serenity. 2 of the crew were the Tams, Simon(Sean Maher) and River(Summer Glau). They were fugitives on the run from the evil Alliance of planets and River was a hot commodity because she had psychic powers(or something or another). The crew was rounded out by Jayne the muscular comic relief(Adam Baldwin), Wash the loveable pilot(Alan Tudyk), Zoe the captain's first mate and wife of Wash(Gina Torres), The ship's resident classy prostitute Inara(Morena Baccarin), a preacher/shepard named Book(Ron Glass), and Kaylee the cute mechanic(Jewel Staite). Every week the crew would get into some sort of swashbuckling heist OR they'd be on the run from the Alliance who were trying to get River back and we'd often learn more about her "mysterious past".
The movie is pretty much the same sort of thing. In the movie version, we get a new bounty hunter(Chiwetal Ejiofor) looking for River. The movie seems to be acting as some sort of season finale(or even series finale) for the series. 2 major characters loose their lives, we learn a lot about River's secrets, and their is definite closure.
Enough about the plot, you want to know if it's a good movie right? Well, yes and no and theirin lies the problem.
If you're a fan of the tv show, this is DEFINITELY a treat. You will at least like it and many, MANY of you will outright love it. I'm a hardcore Whedon fan and i thought it was hilarious(when played for comedy), action packed(the fight scenes were good. They had a certain kind of realism to them that many film fights lack) and best of all, fantastic drama(if the climax of the film doesn't move you in some way, you're just not a fan.). The acting is also amazing as usual. Ron Glass and Morena Baccarin have too little to do but given the size of the cast and how much needed to be done, it's understandable.
If you're not a fan of the show, well then, it's hard to say. I think even if you've never seen the show, it's definitely an entertaining and thought provoking sci-fi film and for many that will be enough. But unfortunatly, i'm not sure it is. For example, during one of the big character deaths, I said to myself,"wow, that's really sad and shocking but If i was someone who hadn't seen that character for 13 hours of tv, what would I think?". I know exactly what I would've thought. I would've thought,"well, that's shocking and sad but i dont' really care".
And that's why ultimately Serenity is pretty much just a really REALLY entertaining fanboy movie. For someone who already loves these characters, it's a slamdunk. I do. I'll be seeing the film again come September and buying the dvd. But for an outsider, at best, it's just "an entertaining sci-fi film". It's dialogue is amazing(but again, that also kinda depends on your tolerance for Whedon's dialogue) but unless you already care about these characters you're gonna sit there and go,"yeah, that's nice but why should i care?". I recommend it but I'm afraid the movie might be too fan inclusive for it's own good.
9/10 or 4/5 at movieman's site.( http://www.moviemansguide.com/) That’s where I’m a reviewer at.
p.s., Universal has a real uphill battle on it's hands. The fans will be there. They'll get there 20 million plus opening weekend, but I don't think this'll go further than 50 million domestic.
14) “Is a rough cut of Serenity worth a $50 ticket on Ebay and a 400 mile roundtrip?” asks the Tredeger. “Oh my. Let me count the reasons.”
Just got back from the D.C. screening of the new rough cut of Serenity. Morena in attendance. Tremendous experience. extensive review attached. Basically spoiler free. Do with as you please. Please delete anything you deem to be too spoilerish.
cheers, Jazz Tigan
My last review for aintitcoolnews was the very first review of a little show called Lost. Nothing was more thrilling than being mistaken for a plant in talkback. Here, I’d like to take the time to answer the question:
Is a rough cut of Serenity worth a $50 ticket on Ebay and a 400 mile round trip?
Oh my. Let me count the reasons. In excruciating detail. This is by far the most sustained visceral experience a film has given me since, well, possibly ever.
For the record, this will not be a perfectly glowing review, but a spoiler free analysis of what we as fans can expect in September. The movie also goes a long way in clarifying the future of the Firefly verse, and I’ll try to cover that as well.
I am cursed with an affinity for prematurely cancelled television. My enduring sadness toward Farscape: Peacekeeper Wars was that a story was told in four hours (including adverts) that should have been given 23 episodes. As the curtain call begins for Serenity I am acutely aware of the fact that I’m not going to get a full season or even a 3 hour film. More than anything else, I fear this movie will fail to find it’s proper balance.
My pet theory for why great television often fails to make a suitable transition to film revolves around the notion that “epic” means something entirely different in the two media. Failures of scope and scale derail this transition more often than any other factor. An epic film should feel like the Iliad. It may take place over a decade, but the time frame is condensed in the telling, Hektor and Achilles must die, and Troy must be reduced to a smoldering ruin. Epic television feels like the Aeneid. The journey is the thing and the passage of time should be a major force shaping the growth and development of the characters. Mr. Whedon has demonstrated an unsurpassed mastery for telling Odysseys but can he cap a half season masterpiece with a 2 hour film and leave us feeling fulfilled?
First, the Audience: I didn’t see any of the Universal people taking note of the gender distribution of the audience, but if they had, I think they would have been left scratching their heads and wondering if they were screening a sci-fi flick or a movie with the word Sisterhood in the title. The ratio was about 3-2 female (which for SF is basically unprecedented).
Best part of the experience: I just can’t bury the lead here, mine was the D.C. screening in which the surpassingly lovely Ms. Baccarin was in attendance with her equally lovely mother. There was much speculation as to who might be in attendance, and upon her introduction, I couldn’t help but blurt out “We win!” A fine laugh of agreement from the crowd even if 3/5ths of them were not so secretly craving Adam Baldwin. Ms. Baccarin stayed for the entire screening and reported that it was a rather different cut from the last screening. I do rather wish I had the proper basis for comparison. There was an autograph signing afterward and for those of you who are wondering, yes, she is that ridiculously beautiful in person. She is also exceptionally gracious and seemed genuinely appreciative of the fans.
Exposition: Less than 10 minutes. Concise yet comprehensive. In media res at it’s very best. You get the sense that Joss could have made a twenty minute version of Episodes I & II that would have rocked that galaxy far far away. And that’s my last comparison to that other space story. Though the comparisons at the current time are inevitable, it’s much more interesting to compare Serenity to the rest of the Whedon canon.
Before the film began, I set out to continually ask the question: How would this story play to the Firefly neophyte? The opening scene flashes back to the Tams’ escape from the central planets (this is hardly a spoiler). Despite knowing that they must succeed, I was completely caught up in the suspense of the action - a remarkable feat indeed. But the uninitiated will experience this in a completely different way, in a manner that is almost diametrically opposed to that of the learned browncoat. After all, they don’t know who these people are or if they will evade the bad men.
In fact, this dual experience turns out to hold for large swathes of the film, both from the standpoint of the plot and, more impressively, our sense of the characters. It is clear that Joss took exceeding pains to craft (and craft is definitely the right word) his scenes so that they work seamlessly in either experience. Suffice to say that he tells one story to those out of the loop which can be appreciated on its own merits. For those in the know, the story is infinitely richer, and deserves all kinds of praise for never playing like a series of inside jokes and homages. Instead, it simply says welcome back to this ‘Verse, everything is still where we left it, please come in and stay a while. A wonderful callback to the crybaby device is tossed off casually without unnecessary fanfare. We are grown up enough not to need a wink and a nudge and Joss respects that.
Fans, please admire the way we step out of the escape scene. Notice how it brings the newbie through the entire series history with a driving question that propels them through the scenes to come despite their ignorance. Then enjoy the fact that we aren’t left tapping our toes while the rest of the world plays catch up. Rather, we’re catching our breath after the introduction of the new nemesis (is anyone really a villain in the Verse?). When we last left off, we were celebrating our triumph over Jubal Early and now Joss hits us over the head with a wet fish and says “um, don’t get too comfortable, I’m sending this your way…right now”. Still before credits roll. This may be the greatest achievement of Joss’s career destined to go unrecognized and unappreciated. Given the unique history of this project, he ’s chosen the most difficult route as a writer and pulled off a singular feat in story structure. Chock full of lessons for the film school set. But I digress.
The continuity error that wasn’t: In Objects in Space, as the gang discusses River’s abilities, Simon professes extreme skepticism at the notion of psychic powers. We discover in the very first moments of the film that Simon is well aware of River’s psychic peculiarities. I took this to be a continuity error until I realized that it would be entirely natural for Simon to feign ignorance to the rest of the crew in an effort to protect his sibling. But it took a second thought.
Moving on. Roll credits. Tracking shot through the ship as Simon and Mal have one serious disagreement. It could have played as a director on his first feature film trying to do too much with the camera. It could have looked like a film student’s version of *that* shot from *that* gangster movie. It did not. It felt like a loving tribute to the 10th character. A shot that was always implied in the feel of the series.
On that note, I come upon my first disappointment. The interior of the ship really feels different on the big screen. Sort of the opposite of coming back to a childhood home where everything feels smaller. Visually, everything feels a little further away from everything else. Nothing seems quite as cozy. This may have been intentional, as the story is not a cozy one, but Kaylee’s room, the kitchen table, and the room with the yellow couch all felt way too spacious and a touch forbidding.
The second thing you notice right away with this shot is that Mal is not a happy camper this outing. When you consider the series as a whole, you have a really rich sense of a multifaceted character. Malcolm Reynolds has more moods than a leopard has spots. And we never feel like we’ve seen them all. That ability to surprise with nuance was Nathan Fillon’s supreme gift to the series. But look back now at each episode in the series and you also notice that each one has it’s own internal consistency. Each one is intimately tied to Malcolm’s moods, rhythms, dispositions, fears and struggles at that point in time. The Message and Out of Gas are light-years away from Trash and Shindig. It would be an utter mistake to try to present all the facets of this character in a single story. No fear of that. But what is absolutely shocking shocking shocking is which Malcolm Reynolds Joss decided to put on the big screen. If Joss starts telling you in September that he’s really presenting a darker vision of his Verse than in the past, well he IS NOT SPINNING YOU.
I don’t know how he managed to do it, but this Malcolm is 100% free of studio input. From my vantage, I believe he could very well be utterly unappealing to the uninitiated. He isn’t sold as an action figure, but he isn’t sold as a slick anti-hero either. He is so much more. Let me put it this way: Black and white look the same in any light. The most interesting thing about a given shade of grey is that it appears differently depending upon the light in which it is cast. And our Mr. Reynolds is many different shades of grey. He is NOT a samurai, NOT a ronin, and definitely NOT a Jedi Knight. He is not a soldier either. Anymore. But he was once upon a time and a true believer. On the loosing side. And now things are about as bad as they can be.
The Malcolm Reynolds of this film is a man fighting for his life and in the process doing battle with his own sense of right, wrong, honor and purpose.
It’s truly something to behold. He doesn’t have a clear cut code, but he does have a strong internal compass, and we watch him struggle with these varying shades, constantly trying to find the right balance in a perpetually shifting set of circumstances. And he lies to himself. But if you’ve never witnessed his Shindig side, it can be offputting to say the least.
Malcolm makes choices that surprise him. And that means they can surprise us.
It is my great and abiding hope that the audience is worthy of Joss’s trust and bravery. He has decided to put forth the dark Malcolm that this dark story required, rather than shoe horn a more palatable and charming rendition into what becomes an inexorably woeful tale. M