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March 04 2010

The A.V. Club does Serenity. In their section The New Cult Canon, the A.V. Club re-examines the BDM.

Wow, this is coming from a person who saw Serenity first and then only recently went back to watch Firefly (convoluted reason: I held it responsible for Connor/Cordy and was only able to let that go last year, yes I suck), but I had no idea that so many people had problems with this movie. I thought it was brilliant, one of my favourite movies of the decade. No Whedon didn't do a lot of hand-holding for new audiences, but as long as you went into the movie knowing it was based off a TV show, you can figure out the characters and their dynamics pretty quickly. That first full shot with the crew in Serenity establishes a lot very quickly yet very nicely. And within the next few scenes, you've got enough jist to get who these guys are...maybe not to understand the television series as a whole, but that's almost impossible to ask from a movie, and as 9 main characters for a movie, I think they did fine.

As for the "rushed" feeling? I loved the pace. TV and Movies are two very different animals; alot less time to meditate on the characters and moral implications in movies; generally it's here's our characters, here's the plot...annnnnnd GO! And, considering the plot that had to be covered in two hours, Serenity frikkin' nailed it.

The one thing I will say is though, when watching it in the theaters, Wash's death had no impact on me other than immediate shock. Having gone back and watched the series, obviously it means a lot more to me now.
[ edited by CarpeNoctem on 2010-03-04 13:02 ]

[ edited by CarpeNoctem on 2010-03-04 13:10 ]
I also saw the movie first then watch the whole series later. It was beautiful and make me want to see more, to understand more about the characters and the worlds.

Yeah CarpeNoctem, when i watched Wash's death i was like, i like this character, it's a shame that he died. But after i watched the series and then rewatch Serenity, i cried. It goes the same with Book.
I also saw Serenity before Firefly... that was just because it came bundled with a purchase of some other Sci Fi show at the time (maybe Battlestar?). I found it incredibly moving that first time 'round, even without the series to back it up. And when I saw it the second time 'round after the series, it near brought me to tears. Closure! I understood with renewed vigor why it was such an amazing achievement for Serenity the movie to exist at all. I had already been a hardcore Whedonite, but the Firefly verse is probably my favorite, especially if you take into account the very short time it had to win me over (Buffy had my entire adolescence!).

On a less personal note, the opening sequence of Serenity - with the triple back-out of having the introduction with young River flash into River at the Academy, which then turns out to be footage of the escape viewed by the Operative - is probably the most brilliantly conceived and executed opening sequence I've encountered. The amount of ground it covers in such a short time, with such distinct clarity, is miraculous. And then that long trip through the ship on a single shot to introduce all the characters (including the ship!)... perfect.
I think Serenity is still the best thing Joss has ever done (though Dr Horrible and Astonishing X-Men come very close).
Simon, you would honestly put Astonishing X-Men over 7 seasons of Buffy?
Let me amend what I said - Serenity is consistently the best thing that Joss has ever done. It's excellent the whole way through. Everything Joss has done with Buffy, Angel and Firefly has lead to this.
I ended up purchasing the Firefly boxset when it became apparent that I wasn't going to get a chance to go see Serenity at the cinema (just started at Uni, so kind of occupied at the time,) and really liked it. This grew into a real love for it pretty a quickly, becoming more pronounced with each viewing.

When I eventually did get a chance to see Serenity, I have to admit to being disappointed. Viewing it as something in and of itself, I can see where Simon is coming from with his assertion of it being Whedon's greatest work. That opening sequence Briancoat mentions is fantastic and probably one of the greatest openings to any film I have ever seen. And the moment following THAT death makes for one of the most tense finales to any action film, which made part of me believe that they truly would not get out of there alive.

But I always get this nagging feeling of wanting more. In some ways the scope of the film is much grander than the series, but on that personal level it is much narrower. The film is Mal and River's story, with little room for anyone else. The TV series, on the other hand, was the story of the whole crew of Serenity.

Of course, I shouldn't expect the film to even attempt to progress the story of each of the characters and Joss definitely took the right direction with it, but it just leaves me feeling even more disappointed that the series couldn't have continued.
Serenity was also my introduction to Joss, and it blew me away. In the space of two hours, the character of River Tam won me over so completely that I cried when we think she sacrifices herself, and then cried even harder when she triumphs. I have never experienced that in another show or movie before or since then, yet I still get that rush every single time I rewatch Serenity (which I do a LOT). It's just not your average movie, thank you very much. It is impossible. And yet.

Also, seeing Wash die in the movie made me look at Wash in the series like "oh, you're dead- funny, but dead". I wonder what it would have been like if I had seen the series first- I would probably be inconsolable. Still, I love the way I was introduced to the 'Verse (movie first) and I constantly have to decide whether to start my friends out on the series or with the movie...such a conundrum!

~MG
I think it's a small but vocal contingent of the fan base who didn't like the BDM. Most seem to like or love it. Me, I was never the biggest Firefly fan (I know, I know...), and I thought the movie fixed a lot of the problems I had with the show.

It's probably my most watched movie of the last five years. The good parts are so entertaining in that old-fashioned, adventure movie way that I can't get enough of. It doesn't hurt that it's stuffed with fantastic Joss dialogue. Serenity has become cinematic comfort food for me, I throw it on when I need a pick me up (and this is from someone who doesn't really rewatch any of Joss' TV shows anymore).

That being said, I do think the movie has some glaring flaws that keep it from being up there with Joss' very best stuff, mostly stemming from the low budget and the things this article deals with -- making something that wrapped the story up for fans while simultaneously introducing the world to newbies.

Anyway, I just bought the Blu-Ray, which is the third time I've bought it on home video (after the horrific first edition and the special edtion DVD). It looks great. Might have to watch it again...
'On a less personal note, the opening sequence of Serenity - with the triple back-out of having the introduction with young River flash into River at the Academy, which then turns out to be footage of the escape viewed by the Operative - is probably the most brilliantly conceived and executed opening sequence I've encountered. The amount of ground it covers in such a short time, with such distinct clarity, is miraculous. And then that long trip through the ship on a single shot to introduce all the characters (including the ship!)... perfect.'

Agreed - These two sequences were actually the subject of the final essay I did for my Cinema Studies class mid-way through last year, from the perspective of how they went about the task of economic adaptation in very different ways. Ended up getting a High Distinction grade for it.

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