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August 24 2005

Serenity tops Edinburgh 'exit' poll. 'The Movie Blog''s author is surprised by the outcome.

They know nothing of our world. Good to see it at number one.
That's an awesome review.
That's the kind of review I've been waiting to see, Trienco. Very nice.
Trienco, great review. I especially agree with the line "(Joss) obviously has such a pure belief in the value of storytelling, characterisation and witty dialogue..." Because that is why I love his shows. Among other reasons.
Thanks, Trienco, that's my kind of review!
Wow, what a fantastic review. This person got what the more negative reviewers missed -- Joss is "quoting" from other films and genres to twist things around a bit and give us something new. And I love the way the reviewer points out that the actors are actually responding to each other, and not to an object held up while shooting against a green screen. A return to old-fashioned personal interaction in film. What a novel idea!
This review is perfect...it captures the feel of the movie without really giving major plotlines away, and, more importantly, makes the case for the non-Firefly fan to see it.
That is indeed a fabulous review -- I liked how it dealt with the movie as a whole piece of entertainment, rather than a comparison to the failed TV show or as a low-budget cousin to Star Wars or something. I agree with him that the movie's strengths are in its wit, character-interaction and ability to twist cliches. For such a dark film as well, it has an oddly buoyant feel.

This is the review I'm sending to people in order to build anticipation.
Does anyone know how this 'exit poll' worked? I assume it's a survey of those people who actually saw the screening(s), which would have been heavily waited toward Firefly fans I imagine?
trienco - that's a stunning review - it's gone straight to the top of my list of links to send to 'newbies' when I start to organise the big group outing at the end of September.
Here are two more reviews (I don't think they are spoilery but clearly I am not a good judge of that), both very positive: Neil Young's Film Lounge and Sci-Fi London.

Young rated Serenity as his third-favorite of the festival so far, and his review is surprisingly intelligent. Like yesterday's negative IOFilm review, he compares it to Blake 7, but entirely favorably instead of negatively. Both reviewers loved both the dialogue and the humor and Young really appreciated Jewel's acting (unlike some of the previous reviewers).

"The script is so well constructed even those coming to it fresh will quickly feel empathy for the whole of the motley crew," says the Sci-Fi London review. Both reviewers are newbies and both loved it.
Trienco, that really is a spectacular review. I especially love this:

...he obviously has such a pure belief in the value of storytelling, characterisation and witty dialogue that he makes concepts and ideas that we've seen a million times before feel fresh and new.

This would be an excellent rejoinder to the reviewers who insist Serenity is nothing more than a retread of things that have been done a million times before.
I love that review. On the topic of the exit poll, I imagine that the fan response would have pushed it to the top, but Neil Gaiman and David McKean's Mirrormask would have that same "fan-devotion" going for it.

However, I've slowly ceased to worry about how the casual movie-goer is going to enjoy this film. Over the last month, I have mentioned Serenity to the vast majority of my friends, and not a single person besides the few who already loved Firefly knew what it is. This "viral-marketing" may work wonderfully with the fans who frequent sci-fi or Whedonverse fansites, but I think the issue isn't going to be if they respond to it, so much as if they even bother to check it out.
Best review I've read so far.
Seems I accidentally hijacked the comments. Actually, I would really love to see someone make a movie that is 100% original and new. Bet 80+% would just go and hate it for being so different.

However, I notice that almost all reviews by newcomers have at least one detail wrong about the plot. Be it the suggestion that the crew are openly rebelling against the government or even that Serenity would be an old warship. Or in this case, the "subtle mind control devices", though I'm not absolutely sure if he meant that literally. If he did, I think I know which line must have confused him.

But generally it seems that the "rating" of a review is reciprocally proportional to the number of errors in the plot description. Leading to the assumption, that those who pay attention and don't walk in with any prejudice can definitely enjoy it.. even without knowing anything about it before. Could it be the "but the show was cancelled, so it can't be that good"-syndrome?
The factual errors bug me too, although I think we have to accept that some of them (not those on the order of Jewel being Joss's wife, but those dealing with mythology or plotline errors) are inevitable. Firefly fans are pretty rabid, and *extremely* familiar with the minuntiae of the world Joss created. For a reviewer going in with no prior knowledge, it's a lot to take in, often covered in a very quick, rapid exposition, and like most sci-fi mythologies, it's a pretty complex and often convoluted world.
I think the cutting of a wee bit of slack is in order (again, for the small, easily understandable errors, like Serenity being a warship).

It does seem the negative reviews have proportionally more errors, but it might just be an indication of those reviewers' general unfamiliarity with or aversion to sci-fi films, which can make getting the details right even harder. I'm perfectly ok with some reviewers not liking Serenity for totally legitimate reasons everyone's taste varies, and even as a huge fan of the film, I don't think it's perfect.

nice, though, to see some positive reviews from total Firefly newbies, who still totally *got* what Joss does with characters and dialogue. I particularly like the one you posted Trienco. Encouraging, to say the least!
It seems like such a simple thing to point out, but in an age of over-detailed CGI worlds full of digital characters and acors reacting to nothing, watching a chase sequence shot in a physically real location, featuring honest-to-god real live tree, and actors talking to each other, actually feels revolutionary.

Amen to that. Movie producers of today would do well in learning Joss' style. I can't recall the number of big budgeted SICFI movies of late that I really didn't enjoy because they were missing these very elements. Sure, the special effects were awesome, but the dialogue and acting were absurd.

It would be interesting to see 'Serenity' retain first place by the end of the Edinburgh event.

Trienco and chickenbird, excellent reviews.
Ronald - I've attended a film fest or 10, but not EIFF, so this is a "most likely" scenario.

Filmgoers are given ballots as they enter the theater, they are generally a "tear at the number" kind of deal on a scale of 1-5 or the like. The ballots are calculated against a formula that takes into account the number of sold tix, the number of returns, the audience score, and also the number of showings and etc. - in other words weighted.

Theoretically it gives everyone an even chance.

On the subject of reviews, I expected to see some not so favorable ones. Film festivals are usually the province of the small, artistic film, not to mention film snobs, and many people are probably less than happy to see a "Hollywood Movie" getting all that attention. I know as an attendee, that many film fest goers also have this attitude. So, if Serenity comes out with mostly positive reviews, I'll be pleased.
Quick note, just about to leave Edinburgh but just wanted to say I've spoken to a LOT of critics (they had their own private screening Sunday night). Firstly, the Sunday screening got a round of applause at the end. That doesn't happen at these things. Secondly, out of all the people I've grabbed, nobody has had a bad word to say about the movie. The worse comment: "It was okay". Vast majority have absolutely loved it. Some serious love. Great, great stuff.

The press conference Monday afternoon was very telling - it was packed out, and got really intelligent questions asked about the film. They 'got' it.
gossi -- that is great news :) Thanks for being our eyes and ears, my friend :D
a blockbuster with a heart and soul.


Abso-frikkin'-lutely. Saw it again last night and it doesn't cease to excite and touch me all at the same time. But not naughty touch. Well, sometimes...
That's great news, gossi! Thanks a lot!

On a related topic. IMDB just updated the user rating for Serenity: after 1218 votes it still remains 9.0 !

[ edited by lince on 2005-08-24 19:33 ]
What's more, there was a discussion about IMDB weighting votes in some way (to prevent coordinated attempts at raising or lowering a rating). Well they do weight averages, but at the breakdown of the votes IMDB also supplies the unweighted average, which is 9.7 (!).

[ edited by Celebithil on 2005-08-24 17:52 ]
Thanks for that news, gossi. That's wonderful!
Yes, thanks, gossi. That's wonderful to hear.

The two fantastic reviews that have appeared in The Daily Telegraph and The Scotsman have me very excited. I can't wait to see what some of the other heavyweight newspapers in the UK will print. Hopefully they sent their critics to the same screening gossi spoke of.
Thanks for the links to the fantastic reviews. Makes me smile to see them! Also, Gossi, that's so good to hear! A big relieved sigh.
Speaking of which (and forgive me if I've missed it), what's the news after last night's LA screening?

(Yay, thanks gossi!)
Even if most of the audience who are voting Serenity as their favorite at the EIFF are Firefly fanatics - it would still be a good bit of buzz for Serenity to come out of the fest as the winner of the audience award. So that's good.
BTW, they've got 10 pictures of the premiere at the official EIFF website (pics).
I don't know if this or anything like this has been posted yet but I don't have time right now to check... :)
Amazing, gossi. Applause? From critics? I know a few and they're not inclined to reveal their feelings that openly. So that reaction was genuine and unexpected, even by them, I'd wager.

Sounds like that group of critics is a little more intellectually rigorous than the usual rabble if they've figured out that Serenity is really different and "worth fighting for."

O/T: In Toronto, one critic I know has a wife and daughter who are pure and true Browncoats. Wonder which way the review will go?
Don't forget that tomorrow is the webchat at Empire Online. Nathan, Joss and Summer will be there and it should commence at around 12.15pm BST. I'll do a heads up about an hour before hand.
Is anyone maintaining a master list of the reviews?
That's not a bad idea, onetruebix. Maybe a thread at Flckr could keep a running list of them? I'm slammed with work today and leaving for vacation tonight, or I'd tackle it.
Did we just lose half a day of posts on the frontpage?
Caroline, think we lost two posts. ETA: I know there was one with a comment in it that it was going to be deleted.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2005-08-24 21:26 ]
One of them was mine. I thought it had been deleted for some reason.
Ah, I thought there had been more posts since my own.
The vixen link and thread was a virtual rerun of this thread from a few months' back. Hence, deleted.
Hijacking this thread slightly, I just got back from the Manchester screening and was very pleasantly surprised to see Gina and Adam show up after the film to answer questions.
Heh, I hijacked a different thread to say basically the same thing :)
We got Joss and Summer in London!
We got Nathan and Morena at Birmingham.

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