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June 25 2005

(SPOILER) More 'Serenity' Reviews From AICN.com. There are four new reviews at the site, including a "Totally Objective One From The Author of That New SERENITY Book" (major spoilers in the reviews and in this thread as well).

Haven't read the reviews myself, because apparently they contain major spoilers. Beware!

Good reviews. They pick at the good points and bad points. I was just thinking on the movie and this just came to me. Where did Inara go during the final battle? I don't remember seeing her with the others. Where was she?
eddy: she was in the chamber w/the whole gang, she was huddled with the group that Jayne figured he could out live (LOL). I'd have to watch again to see if she picked up a weapon or spent all her time trying to help the wounded of the group (but I plan to rewatch many more times so that won't be inconvenient for me).

I loved this review, and I don't think it is in anyway unreasonable to write an essay on 'Firefly' without having seen the movie 'Serenity' which obviously hadn't even started advanced screenings when the book of essays was published (that seemed like a weird criticism from Herc IMO).
Inara had a weapon. It was some sort of metallic auto-crossbow thing. Very elegant. Put a few steel shafts in the Reavers when they were first coming through the door.
Hope you all enjoyed my review. I really loved the movie. Yeah, I was surprised that Herc was busting my balls over that. After all, our essays were all due last fall, way before a first edit even existed. Also, Jane Espenson clearly writes in her introduction, "The authors of the essasy in this book haven't seen the film." Of course, I would have liked to have seen the film earlier ... but I had to wait till it came to my town like everyone else. Fine by me. I'm just happy Pittsburgh got a screening this time around. "Serenity" plastered a smile on my mug that still hasn't left. For those of you who haven't seen it, don't be afraid by the slight backlash. The movie is as shiny as you hope.

[ edited by bobtaylor on 2005-06-25 15:24 ]
For a book that Herc has supposedly been hawking heavily on his site, he doesn't appear to have read it. "Finding Serenity...." is not about the movie "Serenity." It's about a little series called Firefly in which there is a spaceship *named* Serenity. There is a difference. That Robert Taylor and others wrote essays on Firefly for this book has nothing WHATSOEVER to do with the film. I can't believe Herc would get this so wrong. It's extraordinarily annoying to read someone get on their high horse so nonsensically.

Anyway. Great review, bobtaylor! Also, if I remember correctly, great essay in "Finding Serenity." (I lent the book out a good while ago and am now having trouble putting names to essays. Which one was yours?) I'm confused, though. What is this "slight backlash" you refer to? I mean that in all seriousness. Who are the backlashers? Disgruntled Firefly fans who find the movie disappointing? Or the seemingly hordeish numbers of Whedon bashers who I didn't know existed until I glanced at AICN's talkback? Jeez. Who are these Whedon haters? Are they for real or are they just trying to provoke?
Phlebotinin -- My essay was the (hopefully funny) one about how the gals of Serenity could pretty much kick the fella's asses at any given time. It talked a bit about the role of women in the sci-fi genre and how Firefly completely turned it upside down.

As for the backlashers, I wasn't talking about the Whedon-haters, but instead a small group of vocal "Firefly" fans who have openly protested the death of ... a certain dearly-loved character. (I guess we should still stay largely spoiler-free here.) It may be a small backlash -- but I've read some harsh posts on the subject. Still, add them to the Whedon-haters bashing "Serenity" for no reason, and I worry people might get the wrong idea about how damn good the flick is. That's why I felt compelled to send AICN a review after Thursday's screening.

[ edited by bobtaylor on 2005-06-25 17:58 ]
I think the backlashers were expecting 'Firefly The Movie', what they got was 'Serenity'. Once Serenity has come out and the dust has settled, I'd like Joss to tell us if any ideas for the series (had it still stayed on the air) were incorporated into the movie.

And Herc should really check his facts (I know he lurks here, maybe he'll amend the article).
Ah yes, bobtaylor. That's the essay I thought you had written. Loved reading your insights. Thank you for that. As for Serenity (the movie), I am one of the lucky ones who have seen it. I agree with you on its quality - except maybe "shiny" doesn't quite cover it. Just an outstanding flick, imo.

I'd love it if Joss let us know someday what ideas for the series he had incorporated into the movie. Maybe he'll lurk here and read your wish, Simon.
Oh, hell. Now it seems I accidently started an uproar over there about the "Buffy pose" that River strikes in the film. So I posted again to clarify, but I probably made matters worse. There's just no winning over there in those AICN talkbacks!
In "Finding Serenity," Jane Espenson writes in the introduction to Lawrence Watt-Evans' essay on the Reavers that "the mythology of the Reavers on Firefly is not quite the mythology of the Reavers in Serenity." So we CLEARLY know that their history would have been at least partially different.
There's definitely no winning in the AICN talkbacks. They're not for the faint of heart, so I'm ruled out for joining in.....ever. Herc definitely has his hands full over there!

I wonder about the Reaver mythology that Joss would have built had the series continued. I always thought while watching Firefly that Joss would eventually come up with an explanation for Reavers beyond the vague "men gone savage on the edge of space." It sounds from Jane Espenson's intro that what we learn in Serenity is different from what was envisaged during the 15 hours of Firefly. But considering Joss's constant retro-expansion of the Buffy and Angel mythologies, I wouldn't be surprised if he had come up with a Serenity-like Reaver mythology had Firefly continued. The concept he came up with for Serenity is just so juicily, beautifully, ironically perfect. Pure conjecture, of course. How cool would it be to know what other ideas Joss had dancing in his head?

What does seem clear is River's arc in Serenity was very heavily hinted at in Firefly. At least I thought so.

[ edited by phlebotinin on 2005-06-25 18:14 ]
"Not Anya-in-the-Buffy-series-finale sudden, mind you. But sudden none the less."

I disagree. I think the second BDD (big damn death) was just as shocking as Anya's sudden departure.
"I disagree. I think the second BDD (big damn death) was just as shocking as Anya's sudden departure."

The BDD was actually more shocking for me, but that's probably because of naivete. I honestly did not expect any deaths in Serenity so the second BDD was horribly shocking for me. I had my hands to my face in total shock for nearly the rest of the movie. And I did wonder how many more people were going to die. My friend actually honestly believed that everyone was going to die. That's what Wash's death did. Nothing else, short of death is going to create that kind of suspense.

I didn't completely expect Anya's death, but it was on my mind. It's the series finale, of course, Joss is going to kill some characters and EC had already expressed her wishes to be done with the Buffyverse. Wash's death was like a punch in the gut, in a good way, of course. I came out of that movie and first word that came to my mind to describe it was "intense". More intense than any other movie going experience in my life.
For the record, Herc from AICN sent me a very nice e-mail saying that he was just having a bit of fun introducing my review. So I guess we can all let him off the hook now, right? (And I'm actually quite pleased he rushed some positive reviews up after the negative one that ran early yesterday. Herc is definitely one of the good guys.)
Thanks for posting here bobtaylor. Always good to hear from people who are being talked about.

I agree with foreverewes. The second BDD was much more shocking than Annya's. I had the same reaction for the rest of the movie as everybody else. Shock and OMG how many is he going to kill? Joss truly acheived what he had always been aiming for, the true perception that no one is safe.
I actually agree that the second BDD was as "shocking" as Anya's. I think the word I use in my review was "sudden," though ... which is slightly different in my mind. In explanation, I think Serenity's #2 BDD seemed to serve the story better, and the characters seemed to act more appropriate afterward, as opposed to what happened with Anya on "Buffy," which came totally out of left field and was essentially brushed off in the few minutes afterward. Does that make any sense at all?
Great review, bobtaylor. It put a Big Damn Smile on my face, reading it this morning!
First I was spoiled that there were 2 BDDs and now I've been spoiled as to the identity of BDD#2. The more people who see it the more chance of the happening, it was inevitable. However as a fan just knowing that much has set me aback. My question is can the relationships between the crew be properly set up in a two hour film so that the impacts of these BDDs are significantly felt by non fans as they are by people who have seen the series?
IMMORTAL, sorry you've been spoiled. But I've been thinking about the BDDs and some fan (over)reactions to it. Personally, I thought it was handled excellently; I had just a few minor gripes about a certain scene that comes later on. I also felt grief, long after the lights in the theater came back on. But that's what I come to expect from Joss's stories. (I remember CRYING on the subway the day after the Angel finale, due to a certain character's demise! ahahaha, BUT I thought the finale was pitch-perfect at the same time).

That said, I think most people who are new to the 'verse won't be nearly as affected. They'll have known this character for just 90 minutes of screen time, and they'll see it as a movie death and respond appropriately; it's heartbreaking and all, but it's a movie.
I think that Serenity was the only movie I've seen in a while where I genuinely thought that all the characters were going to die after being placed in jeopardy. That second death bought mad credibility.
I also thought that everyone might die after death #2. Mad credibility? Damn straight. I was rudderless in a sea of fear for the rest of the movie after said death. Joss is one brave man. I love him all the more for it. I did feel like Serenity's death #2 was both more shocking and sudden than Anya's. I agree, however, that Serenity's death #2 served the story better than Anya's. Some have quibbled with the reaction to death #2 by the other characters but I thought it was pitch perfect.

As for how non-Firefly folk will be affected by Serenity's BDDs, I don't think they will be much. At least I don't think they'll suffer as we have. What WILL be accomplished is they'll be in total suspense about the fates of all the other characters. All bets are off after the BDDs. Oh yeah. What other Hollywood movies go this far? Not many.

Herc is definitely one of the good guys. Long may he reign.
"As for how non-Firefly folk will be affected by Serenity's BDDs, I don't think they will be much."

They will once they seek out the DVDs and fall in love with those characters for themselves.

I haven't cried yet, but I know it's coming (cried many times in Buffy, Angel and Firefly - so that's normal for me). Maybe I'm holding out for my kids to see it (I'm trying like hell to keep them unspoiled, but it's gonna be hard); I really don't understand why I haven't, but a lot of stuff has been going on with me, so that could be part of it.

My heart is broken and I'm really sad, just no tears yet. I've also been dreaming nothing but the 'verse.

Something funny, on a slight tangent: I went in last night for a sleep study (sleep apnea suspected). They wire you up with these electrodes to monitor your sleep and breathing. So naturally, I dreamed that I was being studied by the Alliance like River (but I was still me, like I was a new character in the 'verse). Apparently I woke up before the rescue team showed up.

[ edited by brownishcoat on 2005-06-27 19:54 ]
You know, I think BDD#2 actually has quite a bit of impact on non-fans. We took a friend to the last screening - he had seen the pilot and THe Train Job, but that's it. Even HE can't stop talking about that scene. . . It's a good scene. A scene that has been the cause of much Joss namecalling lately - because I can't get it out of my head and everytime I talk about the movie I have this gigantic fear I'm going to blurt it out to people. . .
I agree that the BDD #2 was needed. BDD #1 was noble and served its purpose to up the stakes a little and push the crew forward. BDD #2's suddenness (is that a word? :p) served two functions: a) to show how lethal and brutal the Reavers can be and b) to announce that all bets are off! Anyone could have bit the big one after that point. That's all that was going through my head during the end battle was if anyone was going to survive. I actually turned to my friend and asked that, too!

I didn't have a problem with either BDD. Sure, it made me sad, but there's nothing there to get angry about, IMO. My only real fear with the film concerns the Miranda plot. It didn't seem like quite enough to hinge a movie on to me. I wonder if the uninitiated will think the same thing? Is all the fighting and sacrifice Mal and co. make worth it? It just seemed a little odd to me. Especially considering we don't really see any fallout from what they did, we're just briefly told a little something about it. A News Wave or a quickie Alliance reaction scene would have worked wonders.

It's a minor quibble. I really enjoyed the film. The last ten minutes just seemed a little rushed to me, is all. Like Whedon was attempting to wrap everything up before the end credits, forgetting that in a movie, the end credits can be whenever you want them to. :)

[ edited by RogueScribner on 2005-06-26 22:20 ]
At the May SF screening, someone did ask why BDD #2 had to happen. It was answered that for the audience to really understand that the mission was essentially a suicide mission, the stakes had to be upped and someone had to die. Then Alan and Gina asked for a show of hands for how many people got really scared after that point for the rest of the crew. A ton of people raised their hands.

I really didn't have a problem as I, too, was seriously scared for a few seconds that everyone was going to die. But it was just so sudden that it didn't sink in entirely, and my friends all said that for a minute or two afterwards, they really thought it was a fakeout because it was handled so quickly.

I'm not complaining because the whole crew didn't stop the fight and sob over the BDD's corpse, like the reviewer suggests. I just wanted three more seconds of reactionary shots so I could absorb it. I knew intellectually that the death was real, as Joss isn't in the business of cheap fakeouts like that where death is concerned. But it was so fast that I didn't really feel it as a moviegoer, and it really weighed down the rest of the movie for me.

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