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June 10 2005

(SPOILER) Negative review of Serenity. This guy seems predestined to hate it before it even started. Some minor spoilers about the plot.

I wouldn't call that a review in the traditional sense of the word. And remember no bashing (i.e. name calling etc) of the reviewer, we don't go for that sort of thing here.
I can't seem to get the invisitext thing to work, so I'm deleting this entire post till I can get my html skills up to those of a 6-year old...

[ edited by Chris inVirginia on 2005-06-10 19:44 ]

[ edited by Chris inVirginia on 2005-06-10 19:47 ]
Interesting to note that he didn't hate it (just the fandom). I'm going to be unpopular and suggest that a lot of his dislikes are the same concerns I have when trying to evaluate how this movie will play for non-fans.
Second, if your show gets cancelled, move on. Yes, it is disappointing when a show you loved gets the axe. But another one will be along soon to take your mind off of it.

Ooh, them's fightin' words! This guy certainly doesn't get it.

I'd say this article has more than minor spoilers. The basic plot is lined out. If you want to stay unspoiled, don't read it.

Chris in Virginia, if I were you, I'd invisi-text those spoilers. People will come to this thread only expecting minor spoilers, because of the subject line. Just a suggestion.

[ edited by electricspacegirl on 2005-06-10 18:34 ]
I second ringworm's sentiments while agreeing in spirit with Chris in Virginia's and esg's. I loved the movie. I thought it was wonderful. I had some quibbles with it but I loved it. But I worry about my capacity to detach my analysis of Serenity from my being drenched in love for and knowledge of Firefly. To say that this guy didn't "get" Serenity - well, part of me agrees but part of me worries whether Serenity is the kind of movie the numbers we need will "get." I also worry that it's too easy to dismiss criticisms of the film by saying that a reviewer doesn't "get" it. Perhaps one needs the full Firefly backstory to really "get" what Joss is trying to say, to really have it mean something. You can perceive the deep things that Joss is trying to say (and I think says beautifully) but find the way in which he executes his vision to be mundane, predictable, done-to-death, whatever.

I'm not going to bash the reviewer. His attitude towards "fanboys" is harsh and all the fanboyism he perceived at the pre-screening obviously put him in a grumpy mood. His anti-fans rant is a little much. But I wouldn't say that means he was predestined to hate Serenity before he saw it. He wasn't a Firefly fan but thought it was decent enough. And he didn't entirely hate Serenity, unlike another web reviewer whose withering anti-Serenity/anti-Joss rant was pretty difficult to read. (Said review was posted here a while back; alas, I forget the name of the reviewer and its date. Must be PTSD.)

This reviewer is entitled to his opinion and there were things he didn't like about Serenity. Period. One can disagree but I agree there's no need to bash him for not liking it as much as I did. What concerns me is that some of the elements he found problematic are identical to some of the other negative reviews out there written by Whedonverse newbies. I'm not going to write an analysis of his every point or a rebuttal to them. But I will say this, I'd really like to read a glowing review of Serenity written by a web reviewer who's a Firefly newbie. I don't want to read another negative review that reiterates the specific criticisms that this guy raises. I don't like patterns. They make me very nervous.

Sounds like Universal is offering some web reviewers tickets to the pre-screenings, and has done for some time? Interesting.

[ edited by phlebotinin on 2005-06-10 21:32 ]
I agree with your points completely, CiV, and think he missed the point on that criticism (though I second esg's suggestion Ė There might be some people who don't click on the review itself because of spoilers, but are interested in the comments here Ė I'd say keep your post, just inviso-text it).
Despite the guy's immense dislike of fandom, though, he does have a few reasoned points, both positive and negative, about the movie. A couple of the things he mentions are concerns I have as well, in terms of how the movie will play for a wider audience - I think he's right about why it's so hard to adapt a cult phenomenon for the mainstream. He has an enormous chip on his shoulder about the fan community in general, and sci-fi fans in particular, but it didn't seem to me like he was totally predisposed to hate the movie - just approached it with some skepticism. He admits to liking the few episodes he caught on TV, and clearly likes Buffy.
Once you cut through the intro-rant, which I agree seems unnecessarily harsh but there we are, I think the reviewer actually vocalizes some legitimate concerns. As I've said before, the blanket dismissal of anything negative as "s/he just didn't get it!" sets my teeth on edge. I didn't see anything in this guy's review that indicated he didn't "get" the movie. (The fandom perhaps, but the two are ultimately separate entities.)

In fact, I think his points about . I let it slide because there's so much else concerning that which does work, but I can understand a less forgiving viewpoint.

I echo phlebotinin's desire to see more reviews by complete Firefly virgins. Those who know nothing or next to nothing about it. And then I'd like to see some positive ones, because I think really, those are the individuals who will make this movie the success we all want it to be.
When I said the reviewer doesn't get it, I was referring to the complaint that when our favorite show is cancelled, we should just get over it. (Sorry I didn't make that clear in my post. I just woke up, sleep deprived and my brain just ain't working properly at the moment.)

What he doesn't get is that to most of us, there is nothing, or very little else on TV, that compares in quality to the Jossverse. In my experience, after getting hooked on all of Joss' shows, everything else on TV (with the exception of Veronica Mars) pales in comparison. Now it's more difficult to fall in love with a TV show, and that's why it's painful to let these shows go.

But apparently that's just a silly "fanboy" response and it don't mean nothing. :(
Yeah, his anti-fan rant bothered me too, esg, particularly the part where he rags on us for not getting over Firefly being canceled. Your response means something here!
He makes some valid points, but as mentioned above he is very focused on his fanbash rant. Space that could've been dedicated to more constructive criticism about what he liked/disliked and would've lead to a far more helpful review. Aside from his 'if your show gets cancelled let it die' screed, I can definitely understand some of his anti-fan rant, but like I said above, it makes it difficult to sort out whether this is supposed to be a review or his personal vent blog against fandoms.
I've completely deleted this post. Anybody who has seen the movie and wants my take, shoot me an email.

[ edited by Chris inVirginia on 2005-06-10 22:43 ]
Well, I wont 'bash' him, but this reviewer really did annoy me. His intro rant runs for almost as long as his actual review.
This in particular:

This last point comes from hearing the self-righteousness of geeks who insist that this movie came to life because they wouldnít let Fox off the hook for killing their beloved show.Personally Iíd say itís a lot more likely that Universal saw an opportunity to stick it to a rival studio by grabbing a disgruntled former employee in Joss Whedon. I really donít think they gave a ratís ass about the immense devotion of the brownshirts to their buried show.

Self-righteousness. Hmmm, I would rather think 'sheer joy' would be a better way of saying that. And honestly, is Universal so successful that they can risk millions of dollars just to 'stick it' to another studio?
The cynicism and over all tone of this review just reaks of the kind of elitism that this reviewer slams. It is not an unbiased review. Altho there are some valid points raised, also by my fellow Whedonesquers, the truth is, it is science fiction, not everything needs to be explained. As we've all agreed, there is so many things that are just so good about it that the weaker points you just let slide. It really is a rather pointless review, more designed to get a rise (and therefore perhaps more visitors to that website) out of all the geeks he so dislikes.

His one positive remark: Did I hate this movie? No. I just found a bunch of irritating shit that distracts from the good stuff.
That's kind of how I felt about his review.
I haven't read the review because of spoilers, but nixygirl did he actually call us brownshirts? Cause um. Click here to see what a "brownshirt" is.

[ edited by eddy on 2005-06-10 20:04 ]
You know, I don't think I would say that this is an extremely negative review. As acp said, he had admitted to liking certain eps and was just taking it from the perspective of a non-fan, which is something I'm interested in.

It sounds like he would give it a C rating. My only concern with the film was the editing as well, which he pointed out. It seemed slow at some points, then flew by too quickly in others. Hopefully they will do something about that.

While I loved the movie, i know that there are certain things that will not grab the audience.

[ edited by Simon on 2005-06-10 21:40 ]
Yes eddy he did say Brownshirts. I had copied and pasted that piece. I hadn't really noticed that until you pointed it out, I was blinded by my annoyance. He was obviously giving another 'dig' at the fandom; because earlier in his review he writes this:

The evening progressed steadily downward as it became apparent to me that not only was this crowd an obsessive sci-fi geek squad, but they called themselves browncoats, a reference that had me thinking of them as some sort of pitiful offshoot of the Hitler youth.
So therefore the latter reference to them as Brownshirts, now seems rather pointed.

Also Blindhawkeyes, I'm almost a non fan as I've STILL only seen one episode on Firefly and I absolutely loved the movie. I do really believe his whole disgust at the geek squad sullied his review. Valid points or not, if he had seen this on a DVD at his home I wonder if he would have enjoyed it more.

[ edited by nixygirl on 2005-06-10 20:26 ]
eddy, yes, he was comparing us to Nazis. We've pretty much established that tact & good taste aren't his strong points...
As someone who has read pretty much anything and everything I could about the Holocaust since I was a teen, the brownshirt reference took my "Huh?!" response to the fanboy rant up a notch.

The review itself didn't seem unnecessarily harsh. I've heard the same complaints in other reviews.
I've been wondering how the Reavers will play to the general public. I'm gonna ivisi-text the my thoughts so I don't spoil anything:



Well, I've kinda lost focus on where I was going with this, so I'm just gonna stop now.
In response to DK.


[ edited by Simon on 2005-06-10 21:41 ]
Remember that this is a minor spoilers thread. Whilst I appreciate the effort people are doing to hide the spoilers, I would like it if the really big OMG major spoilers were not mentioned at all (even in invisible text). And just to clarify, mention of Reavers is not a major spoiler. So I'll give people a few minutes to edit their posts, then I will step in.

There will be opportunities to discuss the major spoilers in the weeks and months ahead.
Or, look at it this way. It's actually kind of good that not every review is glowing. For me to really enjoy a movie, whether it's "The Seventh Seal" or the latest adaptation of a 1950-70 TV show, I have to go in with the power to say, "this movie kind of stinks." This is where those post-Oscar backlashes always come in because people feel like they "have to" like/love the movie or with overamped expectation and wind up feeling inevitably dissapointed or even conned -- and, like I've said before, it would be unfortunate if the "Serenity" backlash happened before it was even released! Better it should come, oh, after a totally shocking and completely unexpected Oscar sweep. :)

[ edited by bobster on 2005-06-10 21:45 ]
I can't see Universal spending $60M+ just to annoy Fox and 'steal' Joss as this writer suggests. There's only one way studios annoy other studios. Make more money by releasing more profitable movies.


Apologies if anyone has already made this point, I've been skipping past anything that looks spoilerish.
They have made that point, and my reading of the article's point was that by showing faith in Serenity, Universal now has someone with a good amount of creative talent working for them for the foreseeable future. That is what would be annoying to FOX. Since it's more about Joss than about Firefly in particular I read the statement as very flattering to Joss.

Arguments could be made either way though.

[ edited by ringworm on 2005-06-10 22:12 ]
My apologies Simon and anyone else who may have been spoiled by my major spoilers.

Just wanted to add that I don't think things are THAT bad between Fox and Universal. I read this article today. http://www.darkhorizons.com/news05/050610h.php

I don't think two companies that would agree to rights on a movie would hate each other that much that they would get back at one by stealing Joss and throwing that at Fox.

[ edited by BlindHawkeyes on 2005-06-10 22:15 ]
Has every damn person in the 'verse seen this movie? Let's have a pre-screening here in New Zealand! I'll even skip my government-mandated bikini girl massage and foot wax!

More on topic, the review wasn't *that* negative, and it's concerns could be easily fixed by 1) having more horses (or a pony!) 2)Making sure reavers can actually pilot a spaceship and 3)less Mr Universe. I never like Arnold Schwarzenegger anyway. Well, maybe in Commando - but I was young and just experimenting with alcohol.

(I hope point 3 isn't a spoiler because I have no idea who it refers to. also, 4) no characters called Giles. Where's the love?)

And the comments beneath the article make some good points.

on preview: thanks for the link BlindHawkeyes. Most amusing.
It's not so much that this guy didn't really like the movie that bothers me, it's that he obviously has NO respect for the fandom culture. Grr!
I don't suppose anyone can tell me who this guy is? I mean notice you can never find the credentials of these so called "critics?" Until then this guy has no credibility to me.
You know, it really doesn't matter what this guy says. He's just one person, and not everybody is going to like this movie or any of Joss's work. Not everybody likes sci-fi or fantasy movies, or people like us. Lots of people hated "Spider-Man" and even the original "Star Wars" yet they still broke all sorts of box office records.

The key is getting the word out to potential fans, and the more people who see it, the more fans will be created. That's what happened with Star Wars, Star Trek, Buffy, and even "Firefly" in it's brief history. There are probably enough people out there who will "get it" and like it for the movie to be a great success.
What kind of credentials do you want from a film critic? I've done some film criticism and, unfortunately, there's absolutely no qualifications known to man -- other than the ability to write and some knowledge of movies, though too many don't even have that.

It'd be cool if we got decoder rings, though.

[ edited by bobster on 2005-06-11 00:37 ]
I kinda liked the review ~ducks~. He isn't a fan of fandom and didn't know that's what he was going to see. Its not like he chose to go see it and knew about it. I am a huge Joss fan but not a fan of what I call the "dress up". I can feel for him as I can't picture myself having to stand in line for a while with trekies all dressed up. To each their own. Although comparing browncoats to brownshirts was offensive on many levels. Also didnt agree with his opinion about Universal wanting to stick it to FOX. Side note, friends of mine have said your show got cancelled so move on already, I had flashbacks.

I haven't seen the movie but I have heard some these same complaints before. I will judge the movie for myself. I like to read both the bad and good reviews and make my own assesments.
Eeeep! Sorry Simon and everyone else for the major spoilers. It was like 5 am and I was on my way to bed at 3am when I thought I'd just log on to see if anything new had been added. Two hours later...
I basically wrote my thoughts and went to bed.

Just to add a tad more.
I thought the review was neither here nor there for the film. However there is no reason to go online and mock any group or people for having a different culture to your own. And that is what we have when we do all get together, dressed up or not, is a culture. With even it's own languages ie: Klingon, Josspeak (ok I made that last one up but you know what I mean) When we get together we enjoy each other. Anyway, I think I've made my points fairly clearly and to keep on prattling on when I'm so tired will most likely allow me to reveal evon more spoilers!

Anakin turns evil.
Meh. Though I'm generally pretty darn geeky, there's just a few areas of the whole geek scene that I'm just never going to get. D&D, cosplay, and convening with other geeks to worship my favourite show... so I think I can understand the fellow's sentiments a bit. Though I think he's dead wrong when he says that the fanbase has little to do with the movie's existence...

All up, the review itself is decent. He admits that this is an early edit, which could be improved, so I'll give him props for that.
nixygirl - NOOOOOOOOOOOO! - 'nuff said?!
Did I hate this movie? No. I just found a bunch of irritating shit that distracts from the good stuff. This is an early print, so certainly plenty can be improved on like the editing. The pace of the movie is a bit breakneck, which isn't the greatest for characters, which should be this movie's best part. Here's hoping time will heal these wounds.

I'm not convinced that this guy actually disliked the film as much as he was implying at the start of the review. I thick this review has only one purpose, which is to get a reaction from the fans.

Serenity will not appeal to every single person on the planet, but I find it interesting that even the negative reviews I have read (like this one) in the end don't sound that convicingly negative.

I have seen far more positive reviews of Serenity than I have seen negative ones (many of the positive ones where from Firefly virgins) and I have only seen one completely negative review, which was from a guy that had very dubious taste, to say the least (the kind of person that thinks American Pie is a masterpiece of comedy).
My original point, which I've excised, is that he seems to miss, totally, the main thrust of the movie.
Hahahahahaha ;)
"Don't lecture me, Obi-Wan. I see through the lies of the Jedi. I do not fear the Dark Side as you do!"
What kind of credentials do you want from a film critic?

Well, there are press creditials that come from working at an established media outlet rather than what appears to a bunch of people who like movies who decided to put up a website. While they are a legimate media enterprise, an unknown reviewer from something called the Tuesday Night Movie Club just doesn't carry the same weight as say Ebert from the Chicago-Sun Times.
I don't suppose anyone can tell me who this guy is? I mean notice you can never find the credentials of these so called "critics?" Until then this guy has no credibility to me.

I resemble that remark.
Well, KillinJ, there's something to be said for being able to hold down a job at a major publication for several decades and, in the case of Roger Ebert, being a wonderful writer with a vast knowledge of movies which he acquired the old fashioned way, by watching them!

On the other hand, not every critic at a respectable publication is created equal.

For example, the L.A. Times is certainly a venerable paper (though not as good as it was twenty years ago, esp. in its entertainment coverage). It's current senior critic is Kenneth Turan, who's certainly a strong writer and a thoughtful guy who knows his cinema. His opinion means something. On the other hand, Kevin Thomas has been at the times since I was a wee tyke. He knows movies for sure, but he seems to like just about every film he reviews, especially if its independent or foreign. Pay attention to his reviews, and you're likely to spend a lot of time watching the bottom of the arthouse/low budget barrel. Frankly, I think he just gets off on the power of a good review to help a small film...or perhaps he just likes seeing his name in print.

My point is that critics are merely people with a very peculiar job that just about anyone who can write could theoretically do. Reading a review is essentially exactly the same thing as talking to a (hopefully intelligent and, better yet, likeminded) friend about a movie they just saw and what they liked and didn't like about it. Basically, I judge a critic's credibility not on what publication they work for, but on whether I believe they are intelligent, understand and respect movies as an art form, and whether or not I believe they have an agenda outside of discussing the movie honestly.

As to whether or not I think the writer in question makes the cut...well, let's just say that my happiness at being one of the lucky folks who'll be seeing "Serenity" on 6/23 is unaffected!

[ edited by bobster on 2005-06-13 05:44 ]

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