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May 28 2005

(SPOILER) Interesting and frustrating review of Serenity. A review of Serenity, grading it a D+

"This movie might just demand a certain tolerance that I just don't have. The director created Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and that's a show I've never been able to endure (and my complaints are similar)."

This guy so did not get Serenity...I can't believe he saw the same movie I saw last night. I wonder if he knew this was going to be the next Titanic and just wanted to be the first one to be in the eliete "I'm too good for this movie because everyone else likes it" club.

Not the same movie I saw either. Oh well, ya can't please everyone, I suppose.
Wha? This guy is so...his thoughts are stupid and lame. (OK, that was the best I could do at not insulting the writer.)

The worst movie he's ever seen? A hunch that it won't be released in theaters? No character depth? (And no character depth on Buffy?)

*deep breaths* There are some things in his review that are worth discussion, him being totally unfamiliar with Firefly. But I feel this was deliberately nasty. Whedon hater period? Some points that would have been worthy of valid discussion got drowned out.

Clearly, he doesn't *get* Whedon, and not everyone does. My impression is simply that when he goes to see scifi, he wants big sweeping fx shots. The backdrop seems more important than anything else to him.
If you register with the site (free and easy) you can rate the movie. Right now 11 people have rated it and it has a B+ rating. It shows that 9 people have rated it an A and only 2 have rated it a D.
angry now

might register and give it an A

[ edited by ladysorcha on 2005-05-28 02:34 ]
I've tried, and I find it's impossible to view Serenity outside of my build-in Firefly context. So some of the stuff that he says is confusing ... I dunno. Maybe without 14 hours behind you, it really is. Though at the end of the day, you can never really argue opinions anyway.

I think what irked me most about the whole review was his claim that River pretty much never speaks except to say "Miranda". Now I dunno about anybody else, but I remember some fairly word-filled scenes with Ms. Tam. That sort of "factual" statement that could easily be proved wrong tells me that he's pretty well slanted in the negative. But then I guess that reviewing's all about bias, really.

I think Serenity's success honestly could go either way -- but it'll probably go that way spectacularly. I'm thinking it'll either bomb worse than Hiroshima or surprise the hell out of everyone and be the sleeper hit of the year.

Well, surprise everyone but us, that is.

[ edited by Jet Wolf on 2005-05-28 02:35 ]
"My impression is simply that when he goes to see scifi, he wants big sweeping fx shots. The backdrop seems more important than anything else to him."

He's attacking the caliber of the special effects...did he not realize that what he was watching was not a finish print of the movie. You can't critisize the quality of the effects until the movie is released in the theatres.
Hasn't this been linked to before?
If it was, I missed it. I'm sorry to be all repeaty, but I'm on the site amost every day, and I've never come acrost it.
I wish I could speak to this reviewer's complaints but I can't. I can not separate myself from my love for, and knowledge of, Firefly and the Whedonian Way. I can't put myself in the shoes of someone who's new to this 'verse. This review worries me. If this guy can have such a different reaction to Serenity than I did, then so can plenty of other people. It looks like this review came from the April pre-screenings period. When will they be showing Serenity to magazine/newspaper reviewers? Will they wait until the movie is truly finished, effects and film quality and all? Those are the reviews that I'm worried about most.

I was a little freaked out when he said that he had a hunch that this wasn't going to be released in full. Reading this put a chill down my spine.

[ edited by phlebotinin on 2005-05-28 02:46 ]
It was on the flikr group a while back. I still stand by my decision to not take a word this guy says seriously, as I cannot seriously see how anything made by Joss Whedon, could possibly be worse than Tomb Raider 2 (somewhere in his list of other film reviews). The comment about how the writing on Buffy was poor just adds the finishing touch to a review obviously written by someone with quite poor taste.
Couple of things jumped out at me: 1) Not a well-written review, so hard to take seriously 2) Buffy playing in the background as mindless entertainment? Huh? Perhaps he should have turned up the volume and listened to the dialog 3) I haven't seen Serenity yet (GORRAMIT!), but he doesn't seem to realize, with Joss, there are things that are actually there for laughs, for irony, for thought. Sounds like he not only doesn't 'get' Joss, he doesn't 'get' the idea that a movie can be several things at once.
Bad dialogue? What movie was he watching? This guy thinks Buffy the vampire slayer was mindless entertainment. His favorite show is probably Law & Order or something.

[ edited by electricspacegirl on 2005-05-28 02:52 ]
Whether or not it works for a non-fan is worth debating, but after seeing it a second time, my concerns in that area were put to rest. And Mr. Universe is the dumbest name ever. Beyond that, wow. That was just a perplexing review. Of course, this is the same guy who gave The Village a B+, so I'm fairly certain that we don't share the same cinematic standards. And maybe that's all it comes down to, but it's difficult for me to believe that he was paying attention at all. No depth to the characters? Bad dialogue? What in the world are you talking about?
I, too, was wondering what movie the reviewer was watching. I agree with Jet Wolf and Phlebotinin, I can't separate myself from my love and knowledge of the series to see what non-fans would see, but I just read a post on the Canadian Browncoats site from a Winnipeg fan who drove 7 hours to Minneapolis with a friend who had never seen an episode and went home with the fans DVDs wanting to watch all of them. That sounds like he/she liked it. (My friend and I drove 8 hours yesterday to Portland from Vancouver, BC and it was worth every minute and every penny!) Hi, esg & m'cookies!
WOW! Bad dialouge? Bad acting? Comparing it to Pluto Nash and Riddick? Consider me concerned. Although the part about him not getting Buffy either, made me feel better. Why? Because I know how great that show was and most people scoffed at it, but us on the inside know whats up. Hopefully, this is just some schmoe who doesn't know what he's talking about.

Illyira out!
Well...I've long considered movie critics to be aliens from another reality...guess I was right! Couldn't just say, "I didn't like it" or "I don't get it"...nothing wrong with having a big ego until you pair it with a small mind. The good news is that few young people listen to critics and old dogs like me know what we like...the movie will do just fine! Keep in mind that the only occupation where you're allowed to be wrong more than the local weatherman is movie critic!
stupid reviewer guy!
yeah...real mature, i know, lol. but obviously his remark about buffy tells me that this review shouldn't be taken seriously AT ALL!

[ edited by buffyfanatic18 on 2005-05-28 04:05 ]
I actually saw this review before I went to the first prescreening last month, so I have no idea what version of the film this guy saw. He was probably in one of the very early, non-announced screenings.

He obviously wasn't paying attention to the movie, because he gets a lot of his facts wrong. For instance:

1) River's facial expressions are FAR from monotonous. In fact, several of her facial expressions caused me to laugh out loud. Just some excellent acting on Summer's part.

2) From my count, she only says "Miranda" 2-3 times during the whole movie. She has A LOT more dialogue than this reviewer implies.

3) Mr. Universe DOES NOT run the universe.

His complaints about the special effects really don't bear merit because he was reviewing a pre-screening where the effects weren't finished yet.

From his comments on Buffy (Not smart tv? Come on. Even friends of mine who didn't like the show admitted that the dialogue and writing was excellent) and the general acting in the movie, this guy just strikes me as a whedon-basher. Someone who just "doesn't get it" (not that there's anything wrong with that...he's entitled to his own opinion).

The thing that annoys me most about this review is that there's no mention that he saw an unfinished cut of the film over 5 months before the release date. He ought to put that in bold as a disclaimer. Instead it's in small font at the top and bottom of the review.

[ edited by gtman8503 on 2005-05-28 04:18 ]
One of the hardest things in the world is to see a negative review for something you love, but I think we all understand that not everyone is as enamored of Joss' work as we are. So if we separate the wheat from the chaff in that review, I think the cogent point that is raised is the one concerning whether people unfamiliar with the universe that Firefly operates in will come to the movie with the same level of depth that we do. We have had many hours of watching and more of discussing this show, so we understand the characters and have come to love and care about them- but the unfamiliar do not. And we are a small population compared to the entire movie-going population. I thus agree with my friend jet that this movie will either do superbly or will bomb terribly- and it will all come down to how the critics view it, for they will help to make or break the film, and we must sincerely hope that they see what we do.
"Of course, this is the same guy who gave The Village a B+, so I'm fairly certain that we don't share the same cinematic standards. And maybe that's all it comes down to, but it's difficult for me to believe that he was paying attention at all. "

You took the words right out of my ...um... fingers! He rarely gives anything a good review, and when he does, it's usually a very slow, simple, mindless, forgettable movie. That tells you something about this guy.

That is also going to be a problem, though, in marketing this movie to the general public. Far too many people are slow, simple and mindless. That's why "America's Top Model' and other crap like that are at the top of the ratings, and intelligent stories that require more than two dimensions of thought often end up at the bottom of the heap.

Joss is a genius and fans of his work tend to be more intelligent than the average person. We get the movie, and even we have to think about what we've seen. We are the kind of people who like to dissect and analyze what we see and peel back all the layers of a story and scrutinize the point and purpose of every frame, every angle, and every nuance.

Most people just see a light show.

[ edited by Nebula1400 on 2005-05-28 04:30 ]
What a load of caca written by a pretentious, pompous poseur.

As soon as he dismissed BtVS he lost my respect. The fact is, television at its best is better than most theatrical releases these days.

A friend of mine saw it last night and loved it. And she is someone who harbors anger at Joss over the last two years of BtVS (very bitter and disappointed Spuffy)so it's not as if she went into the theatre in a mood to love anything she saw because it was produced by Joss.

Her opinion matters much more to me than this guy's.
Well you know, the one concern I've had about the potential success of Serenity is that the moviegoer has to have a certain level of sophistication to really get what is going on.

And the problem with Serenity is that it didn't seem necessary to watch with my complete attention.

I think his review pretty much proves he was wrong about that.

[ edited by mnspnr on 2005-05-28 04:31 ]
I don't know about Serenity but I really liked Firefly and have faith that Joss will do a great job on Serenity. The site in question here has 3 reviewers. I noticed that for Sin City one of the reviewers gave it an A and another gave it a D+. Eye of the beholder, etc.....
I just hope not too many non-fans take this review seriously. This is the kind of thing that can kill a movie if the person writing it has a big audience. I know I'm a fan, and everyone has their own opinion, but this guy just got too few facts straight. As he admitted himself, he didn't pay attention. Hard to form an intelligent opinion if you're using it for background noise. Why didn't he just leave or stay home? Obviously just to Whedon-bash; it's apparent to me he came in with a pre-formed opinion, mind closed (since he didn't like Buffy). I hope any intelligent person will take this review as they should, with a grain of salt and form their own opinion as they should.

[ edited by spikeangellover on 2005-05-28 04:41 ]
If there are other screenings, I must bring my oldest son to it. He is virtually a Joss Whedon virgin. Yes, he's seen episodes of Buffy here and there, but was never invested in the show. He has never seen Firefly. He would be a good one to test it on, because he is an avid movie-goer and is great at seeing what's right and wrong about a movie (i.e., he's a Star Wars fan, but disliked the 3 prequels - especially this last one).

So, Joss, if you're out there, for the sake of Serenity, you must have another screening in the Philadelphia area - preferably on the New Jersey side of the river this time!

[ edited by Nebula1400 on 2005-05-28 04:49 ]
I just hope not too many non-fans take this review seriously. This is the kind of thing that can kill a movie if the person writing it has a big audience.

I don't think we have to worry about that, this guy is hardly Roger Ebert.

And the second he criticizes the special effects, despite the fact he knows they were unfinished, he loses all credibility. I can almost guarantee you he went into the screening wanting to hate the movie.
"I can almost guarantee you he went into the screening wanting to hate the movie. "

A similar thing happened to me when some critics reviewed my off-off Broadway musical. One of them was up front about how he hated the kind of musical I chose to write, and then proceeded to bash it because it was the kind of musical he didn't like. I looked at the other shows he reviewed and generally, the shows he liked were shows I disliked.

In the end, it's a matter of personal preference. The trick with Serenity is to get it out to the people who would appreciate it. I think there would be a lot out there, even enough to make it a hit; but it might not have the same lowest-common-denominator appeal that Star Wars has. (Star Wars, while I grew to appreciate the original trilogy, was always a bit too simple for me.)
I just read the first paragraph of this review before spoilerphobia stopped me...but anyhow, he starts talking about the SNL adaptations of TV show as if that any relevance to "Serenity", as if the difficulty of adapting sketch comedy characters to feature films had anything whatsoever to do with the (certainly far from nonexistent) difficulties of adapting an hour-long dramatic TV show to feature films.

As a sometime film critic myself, I have no problem in declaring this guy an idiot on the basis of that paragraph, and thank goodness, an unknown idiot. Nothing to worry about per se...though there is the factor that the world is essentially run by idiots, "no one ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the American people" and the very real concern of how to play to people who are not only haven't seen "Firefly" but to whom "Buffy" is only a TV show they have some vague, possibly unflattering, impression of.

In fact, I really wonder whether Universal should market it as "from the creator of" Buffy. They probably can't avoid getting press around "Firefly" and what happened with Fox, but as much as possible they should try to sell this story on its own, stand-alone, merits. Not easy, of course....

Oh, and movie reviewers are not aliens from another galaxy, though most of us look that way.

[ edited by bobster on 2005-05-28 06:07 ]
Considering that the trailor for "Serenity" is what made me finally go out and buy the "Firefly" DVD...and consequently watch them all in a few day's time...well.

Sigh.

And, Joss did do the "Buffy" movie--he had his facts wrong there.

I think a reviewer needs to separate themselves from any dislike they may have--be objective.

Obviously not the case in this particular reviewer's universe.

I'm a Joss fan and always will be. I plan on seeing the movie regardless of what any reviewer says.

Oy.
I think Serenity might have been beyond his mental capabilities, he gave:

Stuck On You (B-)
Elf (B-)
Scary Movie 3 (B-)
Starsky & Hutch (B)
Freaky Friday (B-)
Bad Boys 2 (B-)
Charlies Angels 2 (B-)
Bruce Almighty (B)
Old School (B+)
The Guru (B-)
The Hot Chick (B-)
I Spy (B-)
Goldmember (B+)

One of his many Classic Quotes: "Even with its PG-13 rating, the film is nearly as good as American Pie." (This one was about Camp).

[ edited by Zoic_Fan on 2005-05-28 06:42 ]
Ctofine -- It's impossible to separate yourself when reviewing something from your likes and dislikes....After all, it's all about your reactions. Of course, the best way to approach is to try and view every movie with a fresh eye, but it's really not always possible. What I try to do is honestyly state my prejudices one way or another so that readers can take that into account.

For example, if I were reviewing "Serenity" for a non-fan site/pub, I'd have to first cop to being a closet Browncoat.

(Oh, and I'd have given "Elf" a B+ at least.)

[ edited by bobster on 2005-05-28 06:43 ]
You know, it won't be everyone's thing, I know that. But just for once, I would like to read a negative review that I can take seriously. And that has reasonably complaints. Maybe I'm just a little too demanding.

It's impossible to separate yourself when reviewing something from your likes and dislikes....After all, it's all about your reactions. Of course, the best way to approach is to try and view every movie with a fresh eye, but it's really not always possible.


Fair enough, but this fellow's first paragraph already told me everything I needed to know about his qualities as a critic. He was concerned that the transition from TV to movie would not be a good one. That by itself is a valid concern. But then he mentions as a comparison SNL sketches that were turned into movies.

I had to read that line back to see if he really actually just wrote that. A bunch of one-dimensional 4 minute skit-characters are turned into bad 2 hour movies.....and that's comparable to completely fleshed out characters from an action-drama series whose storylines would've spanned whole seasons turned into a 2 hour movie? Right. And I'm supposed to take him seriously as a reviewer after reading that brilliant piece of reasoning? Unlikely.

And 'bad dialogue'?? Joss was a script doctor long before Buffy, and one of his main things was to make the dialogue and the humor better. And there was a reason he was asked to do that on quite a few famous movies: he's good at it.

Well as said already, this guy went in hating it. He has to mention how much he loathes Buffy too and he's obviously quite allowed that opinion, but this review is simply very very badly written.

And this guy has a whole site with reviews?? Ah, thanks Zoic Fan. Dear god...he graded THOSE movies like that?? Hahahah! OH man...to each their own I suppose. Suffice to say that in that case, to me personally, his opinions amount to absolutely zilch.
Anyone who gives Charlies Angels 2 anything higher than a F can't be taken seriously.
Anyone who gives Charlies Angels 2 anything higher than a F can't be taken seriously.

Allow me to respectfully second that, Sir.....;-) I think I actually felt some braincells die when I sat through that.
Zoic_fan:

I agree. I went to the camp that the movie Camp is based on and I love musical theater. The movie was pretty much crap-plus nothing like the American Pie films.

I'm excited to see Serenity. I'm only loosly familar with the characters, seeing each episode once if even that. I admit in the beginning episodes I got pretty bored, but was getting into it towards the end. I really need a Joss fix and the moment. My Angel dvds are gettin' worn out.
Oh lord, this infamous review has been doing the rounds for a while. I wondered if anyone was going to link to it. Anyway, don't bash the reviewer. It's not what we do here at Whedonesque.
i think i just threw up a little
Huh, well I didn't read all of it, but what I did read was just so ludicrous that I couldn't take it serious enough to be angry... or even irritated.

[ edited by TVsBrent on 2005-05-28 19:06 ]
Yeah, I couldn't really take this seriously at all. When the review can't get basic elements of the film in question correct, then there is either some sort of agenda, or just a lack of professionalism that disqualifies it from serious consideration.
I'm getting a little nervous here. I'm afraid that those of us who love Joss (and please count me as one of them) will find ourselves getting hostile towards anyone who says anything bad about this film out of loyalty to Joss and love for Firefly. I just saw the second screening, and to be frank, the movie has flaws. I don't think it's altogether a bad movie. But I do really think it will be hard for newbies. River IS taciturn and weird. But we all understand that (and she's made remarkable progress) because we know her backstory. People seeing her for the first time? They don't. Bad dialogue? Think back to the first time you saw Firefly. Didn't it take you awhile to adjust to the Westernized future-talk? It's not bad dialogue- it's brilliant, but it certainly isn't simple declarative sentences. The lack of character development is attributable to the fact that Joss has a cast of NINE to work with. That's a good number for a tv show, but it's a Lot for a movie that centers on an action movie plot. I think there's a lot of good in this movie. But I don't think it's Perfect. And I think the Joss Fans need to be aware of that. Trying to convince someone who has Seen the movie that they're wrong takes a lot more finesse than "You just didn't GET it!"

All that said, the review made almost no reference to the fact that he saw it at a TEST SCREENING, and he seems to have very different standards for films than I do. I mean, having just come out of Sith- The dialogue in Firefly is a brilliant epic POEM compared to most movie dialogue.

And I admit that Mr. Universe is a dumb name.

[ edited by pixxelpuss on 2005-05-28 22:00 ]
Right there with you, pixxelpuss. Nothing sets my teeth on edge more than "They just don't GET IT", whether I'd be counted with the "they" or against. I seriously doubt anybody was ever persuaded in any argument ever by those words. Given that we're trying to pitch Serenity to the masses, an elitist phrase such as that reads grossely antithetical.

There will be people out there who just don't like it. If everybody loved the 'verse, it would still be on TV. There are some who will be determined not to like it, no matter what they see. But there are also going to be those who have a valid opinion, even if it's negative.
Well, I certainly wouldn't tell someone they "don't get it", as part of a discussion where my intent is to persuade this person to give anything a chance. I have better communication skills than that. And I'm with you, Jet Wolf, that will shut me down immediately.

As relates to this article, this guy overlooked mentioning things that may have had an impact on his opinions (fx not completely done yet, for example.) This seems like a purposefully hateful review from someone with an anti-Whedon agenda. There's no point having a discussion with him.

The Whedonverse is like a member of my family, I can pick out flaws, as I see them, but my fangs tend to come out when someone speaks ill of it (without what I think is a proper foundation with which to speak ill). You know, you're not part of the family. Don't say shit. I know many are the same. But if I told anyone that, I would get very far.

I look forward to debating the merits and faults of the film with anyone who has a well thought out opinion. Hell, even those without a well thought out opinion, provided they at least have an open mind. With some people, there's just no point.

We can be an intimidating fanbase. I get that. We can also be, um, vehement. And preaching and people who don't welcome it can, and often does, backfire.
Hmmm. I've not seen Serenity but that comment by this reviewer, about "cute one-liners" . . . that comment gives away that the reviewer doesn't "get Joss," as so many of you have said. There is no such thing as a toss away, cute one-liner in a Joss script. That's the genius of the guy. He can be very funny while never losing sight of his major themes, in every shot, and every line. And that part about having similar complaints about Buffy! I don't know if I'm going to like the movie or not, but I give no credence to this review.

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