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April 02 2007

'Serenity' beats 'Star Wars' in SFX poll for best scifi movie ever. Remember back on March 12, when it was posted that there was an SFX poll on the best scifi movie ever? These are the results. The BBC also covers the results and has a poll in a similar vein.

SFX magazine editor Dave Bradley said: "Seeing Serenity topple Star Wars as the UK's favourite sci-fi movie is a massive surprise.

"The TV show may have been cancelled, yet the Serenity universe clearly struck a chord with fans, thanks to its likeable characters, witty dialogue and amazing special effects.

"Our list features some really classic movies, many of which, like Serenity, launched to no praise or applause at the box office, but have lived on for many years thanks to the fans, and continue to influence today's films and TV."


[ edited by theonetruebix on 2007-04-02 05:36 ]

I don't know how to take this....
Sequel, anyone?
The news isn't that Serenity beat Star Wars - it's that it beat everything else. Which is slightly ridiculous. I know that it's heresy to say that at Whedonesque, but really - Serenity is not the best science fiction movie ever.

It is, however, the best drama fantasy science fiction action comedy horror movie ever. I guess.
Uh. Hah hah... okay. What? Serenity, I love you, but you're no Star Wars.

Please step back to 4th place, please. Make way for Empire, Jedi, and a New Hope... because someone clearly is off their rocker.
Now, now, Number Eleven - Serenity is better than Return of the Jedi!
April Fools anyone?
I'ma go the other way and say sure, Star Wars is huge and iconic and a classic and all that, but take a closer look - it's not a good story, the characters are simple, it's full of plot holes and faults in logic, the dialogue sucks...I could go on.
Serenity, on the other hand, had everything - including the necessary death of Chewie, which, in Star Wars - not so much with the happening.
And River would kick Luke's ass any day.
As always, polls like this (and ones Veronica Mars wins too - even though that's a show I also love!) simply prove that the rabid online fandom certain franchises gather leads to that group going a bit overboard in their love of something.

Serenity is a great movie. Better than Back to the Future and Star Wars though? (or even 2001 and The Matrix?) Nah.
April Fools anyone?


Nah. There was a lot of Browncoat ballot stuffing voting over the last weeks. So it's not really a surprise. I wouldn't take it that seriously. Ask the average Briton in the street what the best scifi movie is and I doubt Serenity would get a look in.
If I recall correctly there were about 10 films in this poll. From the article it would seem coming in tenth was a big achievement so for me that sort of shows the amount of salt you have to take these results with.
In fairness Serenity did come quite high up -- I think #1 -- in a poll Channel 4 did in 2005. But that was at the time of the release. Your average Brit nowadays won't have a clue what Serenity is.

[ edited by gossi on 2007-04-02 09:30 ]
gossi, you've still got that apostrophe problem.
Well spotted. I wrote that in bed, that's my excuse.
Cast-iron that logic. Beds are notoriously hard on punctuation, i'm forever losing brackets down the back. The other week while turning my mattress I found 16 ellipses I thought i'd lost months ago ...

Yeah, I remember the thread where we rigged this poll 'organised' our voting, it even had a few Joss posts (I say 'we' but I actually didn't vote, just can't pick a single best film, sci-fi or otherwise - especially given the fairly glaring omissions. Fun to discuss though).
A big 'WOOHOO!', anyone? : )
I'ma go the other way and say sure, Star Wars is huge and iconic and a classic and all that, but take a closer look - it's not a good story, the characters are simple, it's full of plot holes and faults in logic, the dialogue sucks...I could go on.

About the bad acting? About the hype? About the tedious pace in large segments of the movie?

I honestly didn't like 'Star Wars" when it first came out for all of the above reasons. Most of the other films on that list would be ahead of Star Wars as all-time favorites. Star Wars wouldn't ever even make my list. (Neither would 2001: A Space Odyssey.) I felt about Star Wars the way I feel about the last three "prequels."

In its place (and 2001's) I might put Star Trek II & IV.

In terms of "Serenity" being #1, I can live with that. I could live with others on the list ranking #1, too, but Serenity does belong somewhere on the list of best sci-fi movies of all time.
Star Wars= Lord of the Rings meets Dune meets hippy-dippy late seventies goofiness (The Force? Yes.. an iconic movie but hardly a good story).

The Matrix= Bad philosophy and bad acting and unecessarily violent. Sorry Joss, I just don't like this movie. All the guns...WAY too male for me.

The other contenders were pretty much cultish light-weights with the possible exception of Alien(s).

Serenity...eventhough I LOVE Joss' work I never got caught up in the Browncoat business-- but when I saw the movie I knew that I was watching something more entertaining, more layered and more interesting than the average (even above average) sci-fi movie.

And I don't give a rat's ass what some of you people say, the TV time that Serenity received during the promotional phase was pathetic and THAT was the cause of the lackluster performance at the box office. People just didn't know it was on...Yet studios put HUGE amounts of money behind truly stupid movies that don't amount to squat.....Hell it's a miracle that Serenity broke even with the kind of promotion it got.

People like sci-fi for different reasons.... I like it when it liberates and explores (a la Blade Runner or A.I.)

Star Wars... for all the success was really a movie with little or NO originality...it was part of the whole Post Modern routine about story teling that admitted it had nothing new to say..and it was ok with that-- that kind of admission is the first sign of mediocrity which is why its sequels have sucked...It simply had nothing to say...

Serenity took old tropes (which I've expounded on before...man without civilization...man's inate depravity) and BLAMMO gave us something completely new and interesting..

And who can forget the iconic teenage girl kicking Reaver ass?
Or the heartbreaking death?
Or the moral ambiguity of the Operative?
etc..etc...

Yes.. I'm a fanboy.. but I know what I like and WHY...

Long Live Joss!!!!
Our list features some really classic movies, many of which, like Serenity, launched to no praise or applause at the box office


Did anyone else take exception to this line? I mean while Serenity didn't do great at the box-office it certainly got a lot of good reviews.
Serenity is a much better film than Star Wars. And I love Star Wars; I watched it a week or two ago and it's still a classic. It makes my top 100 favorites. But Serenity makes my top 1 favorite.

The reason that Serenity bests Star Wars, despite the fact that they're both masterpieces, is, in my opinion, the writing. It's far more layered, with better characters, better dialogue, and overall a more significant meaning. There's not one moment in Star Wars that tops the emotion and significance of Mal's "They will swing back to the idea that they can make people better" speech.

Besides that, there are several other sci-fi movies I would place ahead of Star Wars: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, etc.

Star Wars does, however, have the best score of all time. No use arguing that. Dig that John Williams.

[ edited by UnpluggedCrazy on 2007-04-02 14:45 ]
Ummm, bash much guys?

I know there's a lot of classic films that Serenity beat, but lighten up. It's one poll. We rabid Browncoats are entitled to our opinion, and the fans of the classics are entitled to theirs.
Surprised at the SFX results, the BBC has put up their own poll.

A little more balanced, it shows Star Wars leading Serenity 2:1 and Blade Runner also slightly ahead.
Blade Runner's now 5% ahead.

Serenity's good, and certainly in my top ten too, but the SFX result is way more about the willingness of fan(atic)s to stuff ballots than about widespread public opinion. That's not bashing Serenity; it's being honest. Spike fans did the same for James Marsters in polls; it's fun, and it gets a picture of Nathan onto the BBC news site's front page (always a good thing), but I wouldn't claim it for more than it is.
Interestingly, the BBC story/poll on Serenity is currently the most visited story on their site (requires flash).
"The TV show may have been cancelled, yet the Serenity universe clearly struck a chord with fans, thanks to its likeable characters, witty dialogue and amazing special effects."

All I have to say is, this guy clearly does not get it at all.
There's not one moment in Star Wars that tops the emotion and significance of Mal's "They will swing back to the idea that they can make people better" speech.


"Use the Force, Luke."

Emotional for a completely different reason. (And Serenity is a much better film than Return of the Jedi... though, it has been noted, ROTJ is my least favorite Star Wars film)

[ edited by The Dark Shape on 2007-04-02 16:32 ]
I've added the Beeb poll to the subject line, makes sense to keep all the coverage in one place.

And say what you like about Star Wars and Serenity, they are no Ice Pirates. It is deeply unfair of SFX and indeed the BBC to ignore this movie.
Criminal i'd say. You should ask for your money back Simon.

"Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter" carries some weight IMO (though technically that's Empire).

Mal's speech is good, does the job but for me it's as much Jayne's response and Simon's response to that that make it (a tiny thing like him not wiping the bottle that Jayne's just swigged from speaks volumes in context, given their past).

(and, strictly speaking, in the broader context i'm not sure I completely agree with Mal anyway)
"I find your lack of faith disturbing." I could quote Star Wars till the cows come home. The movie does have some legendary dialogue. And is probably my most watched film ever. Assuming we're all still knocking about in 30 years time, it'll be interesting to see Serenity's legacy.
Simon, you bring up a great point. Legacy is something that is so often tossed to the side. Personally, I liked Serenity, loved Firefly. That being said, Star Wars, the original, not the new rubbish is in another league. Personal opinion of course.

People tend to do this sort of thing all the time. Whatever is new must be better. Quickly toss aside the older stuff, in this case Star Wars. I see it in sports all time. Some new player comes in and all of a sudden they are being talked about as one of the best ever. Sometimes the arguement makes since like Tiger Woods. Other times, the guy fades away or has a decent career but doesn't meet the expectations.

Let's take a look at this 10 years from now and see where everything stands. Time offers great perspective.
I also smell ballot-box stuffing, but I have no problem saying Serenity is the best sci-fi genre bending film of the 21st century thus far. And I'm betting that title will stand for some time.

Ask the average Briton in the street what the best scifi movie is ...

Lifeforce? ... Runs away
It's also got some coverage in The Sun. Not usually a reliable source of information I know but thought it was worth mentioning.
Simon, that Vader quote is my favorite quote in the entire film.
Make sure you guys get over to the BBC and vote for Serenity. It's running third to Starwars and Blade Runner.
I said it before (in the previous thread about SFX's poll) that in my humble opinion 'Star Wars' refers to all six films, and 'The Matrix' refers to all three of those. I don't think you can say that the franchise wasn't effected/altered by what came later. When one judges Lord of the Rings they think of the trilogy as a whole. For that reason I still do stand by my vote for Serenity, and I'm confident that if (when?) we get our sequels that they will just add to it's good points and in no way detract.
Gossi it was Film 2005's film of the year.
Keep_flyin' - it was indeed Film 2005's film of the year, but that was as a result of a bit of a voting campaign. The Channel 4 thing, which nobody seems to know about but is available here, was an independent, not online survey of cinema goers in the UK in 2005 of the best films. In the same poll that year Star Wars Episode 3 was voted the worst film of the year.

[ edited by gossi on 2007-04-02 19:29 ]
I was reading comments about the result elsewhere and somebody pointed out that IMDB had a "top rated sci-fi movie" chart.

http://imdb.com/chart/scifi

Empire Strikes Back comes in at number one, Serenity number 40. They have a weirdly wonderful formula for working it all out.
On a related note, Serenity is currently in the lead for the voting for the Oxford Mail Film Festival. The films to be shown in the festival - early August - are being voted for by the public and the BDM is currently the frontrunner in the SF section. So if you live in the Oxford area (in the UK) and fancy seeing it on the big screen again, click here to vote
As always, polls like this (and ones Veronica Mars wins too - even though that's a show I also love!) simply prove that the rabid online fandom certain franchises gather leads to that group going a bit overboard in their love of something.

Serenity is a great movie. Better than Back to the Future and Star Wars though? (or even 2001 and The Matrix?) Nah.

Ditto. I love Serenity, but I'm not even sure it belongs on the list.
I for one do count Serenity as being the #1 sci-fi film of all time, followed by Star Wars; but that begs the question, what do they mean by best? The one you enjoyed the most? That you think was the most ground-breaking? Most well-written? My vote might change based on those nuances. If we're talking the entire gestalt, Serenity would be on top for me. I saw it over 20 times in theaters, which is something I haven't done since the summer of 1977. In fact it might rank as the film I enjoy most because it harkens back to the orignial Star Wars in so many ways, and yet surpasses it in the ways that mean more to me now that I'm an adult.
And, for those of us who rate Serenity at #1, it's nice to know that Orson Scott Card agrees! You may recall he said so in his latest blog entry. And yes, he's only one guy, but he's a guy with Hugo and Nebula awards in his pockets, so his vote is not insignificant.

[ edited by erico on 2007-04-03 00:39 ]
I agree - obviously there were multiple guerilla votes going on (on of the commenters in the SFX article says they voted for star wars 40 times).

Star Wars has a huge advantage in that it was a new kind of SciFi at the time - the traditional Heroes Journey epic with SciFi trappings. Previously it had all been arthouse (2001, Solaris) or bleak dystopias (Soylent Green, Westworld etc). SW was SciFi the whole family could enjoy, and its biggest fans are (IMO) those who remember it fondly from their younger days when it was the only game in town.

Later, on, despite worthy efforts like BladeRunner, the whole of cinematic SciFi had descended into just another version of the Action Movie (Totall Recall, the Island, I Robot). I like to think Serenity was, in its own quiet way, just as revolutionary. Well spoken characters with likeability and wit beyond ArnoldDieselesque one-liners, a certain level of plausibility, a ship with no lasers. When I saw it I just thought Whedon hit it out of the park in terms of sheer cinematic high - just like I felt at 7 when I saw StarWars.

Looking back, there's a few more flaws you can point out, but the same is true for Star Wars, so I have no problem ranking them near each other. Serenity, for me, brought the recent upping of IQ levels seen in dramatic TV to the big screen, while still being watchable by the mainstream (though maybe not the kiddies - SW still wins out there).

All IMHO, of course.
I'm going to have to agree with what others have already said: Serenity is a contender for the top-spot. Yes, Star Wars is an iconic movie which I love to bits and Serenity will never, ever, surpass it in its influence on pop-culture and all that.

But if you strip away the legend, the childhood memories and the quotes that have ingrained themselves into our cultural identity, you are left with 'just' a movie. And when you compare Serenity and Star Wars as 'just' two movies, I feel that Serenity has the deeper plot, the better dialogue, more layered characters and a bigger emotional impact, while Star Wars has more wide-eyed joy, wonder and a whopping, superior soundtrack. Also, Star Wars is an epic in every sense of the word, while Serenity is a story about small people who just happen to end up in epic circumstances.

So in the end, I'd say the movies are certainly comparable (which isn't strange, considering that Serenity shares a similar setting and a certain type of visual language with Star Wars), but I'd give Serenity the edge because the writing is - in my very humble opinion - simply better.

Does that make Serenity the best movie ever? No, it doesn't. But it's certainly a contender for the title of best sci-fi movie. Maybe it deserves the top spot, maybe it doesn't. But it does, at the very least, deserve to be considered.
I only have one comment to make.

"But I was going to go to Tasche Station to pick up some power converters!"

That is all.
GVH - I have a suspicion you get where I am coming from - thank you for elucidating
Although SFX is a British publication, I got the news via email this morning from my brother-in-law, a Cuban American living in Hawaii. Gotta love that. I wore my "I am a leaf on the wind" t-shirt today to celebrate.
No offense to Star Wars fans but I think the big difference is that Serenity is a much more adult film. Multi-layered & complex, as are all Joss's creations. And in 1977, I was probably the first person in Hawaii to have a "May The Force Be With You" t-shirt. Hmm, back to t-shirts, must be some hidden significance there.
But seriously, although these polls are fan driven, let's not forget that Joss's Serenity script won a Nebula award. More prestigeous than that you do not get, in the SciFi world.
The Matrix= Bad philosophy and bad acting and unecessarily violent. Sorry Joss, I just don't like this movie. All the guns...WAY too male for me.

also, it's pretty much a rip off of the superior Dark City.
Shey: excellent points and agreed

t r a c y: another excellent point (love me some Dark City, matrix not so much)

everybody: It's way too late and I shouldn't be typing. Thanks for putting up with me (love me some whedonesque).
As much as I enjoyed Serenity - and agree that it's one of the most layered scifi films of recent years - it can never replace Star Wars for me.

They're just totally different films.

And FWIW, my number 1 would be ALIENS.

[ edited by kipron on 2007-04-07 07:38 ]

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