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August 28 2005

"Serenity" sideswiped by "NY Daily News". The NY Post Daily News rips Hollywood for recycling television shows into movies, in an article entitled, "Will nostalgia trips end?"

Where is our Big Damn Movie mentioned? Here:

This fall will see "Serenity" (the cinematic leap of the failed TV series "Firefly"), and next year will bring "Miami Vice," starring Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx.


(The NY Post, FYI, is owned by Rupert Murdoch... the same as FOX, who of course was resonsibile for the show "failing" in the first place.)

(Late-night posting makes me say "Post" when it's the "Daily News" -- thereby making my own little sideswipe at Murdoch entirely meaningless.)

I don't think you can put Serenity in the same class as "Bewitched", for example, which was an adaptation of a 40 year old tv show. Serenity is a continuation of Firefly. Not some rehash of old material because Hollywood has run out of ideas.
Murdoch described himself in his appearance on "The Simpsons" as "evil media tyrant" or words to that effect. I'm not arguing.
Are we confusing the NY Post and the NY Daily News here? The article is from the latter, which to my knowledge (and the Wikipedia's) is unrelated to the NY Post, FOX, or Rupert Murdoch.
Yes. Sigh. Fixed (tho I did a strike-out to be transparent about how dumb I am when it's late at night).
Hollywood has always taken ideas from elsewhere. Movies have been based on books, myths and legends, news stories, wars, you name it. I have no problem with a movie being made based on a TV show, I have a problem with a movie being made based on a TV show and done badly. Where it's a studio led project doing nothing but chasing a focus group approval and made with no real creative spark the result usually sucks. But that rule applies to any movie, no matter what its source.

Where a movie is based on a TV show and made with passion and conviction, by someone with talent who is allowed to create his vision without the studio demanding that he make the story easier to understand and remove any trace of moral ambiguity or political metaphor, then it can be great.
There must be an example of this, let me think...
I do have a problem with the huge number of unoriginal films over the last decade or so. Whether it's a remake of an existing film, or an adaptation of a book or comic, or a film version of a TV show. I'm not attacking the quality of these films, because some of them are very good, but the fact that there is such a sheer number of them. There is such a lack of original ideas.

Serenity, however, is a completely different beast. Remakes are usually uneccessary because the film probably had to be pretty good to want to remake in the first place. It's not based on a book, but an original idea. Yes, it may have started off as a TV show, but it's a completely new story, basically like a longer and more epic episode. This is one of the only truly original ways of making a TV show into a film, as opposed to Dukes of Hazzard or something which basically just takes the same idea and repeats it.

And to be fair, I don't think the newspaper is really attacking Serenity. It lists it among the films based on TV shows that are being released, but only as an example. It doesn't say that it is neccessarily a bad film, although it would be nice if it had mentioned that Serenity is actually a film with intelligence and originality, a continuance of one big story, as opposed to a quick way to make a cheap buck.

Personally, even though I'm fed up of unoriginal ideas, I would be delighted if there were more films that were in the same vein as Serenity, coming up with something new and interesting and a continuance of a TV series. Like what we'd hope for in a Buffy or Angel film.
This is mainly about sit-coms, and my friends, Firefly is not a sit-com.
Firefly is not a sit-com.

Well who did all that clapping and WhoHoo-ing every time Mal appeared?

Or was that just me?
Not just you zz9. I loves me some Mal. Or maybe I just loves me some Nathan.

Serenity seems like such a strange bedfellow with the rest of these shows, though. I've always had a difficult time classifying Whedon shows - Sci-Fi? I suppose. Drama? Absolutely. Comedy? You betcha. The man can bring us to tears and have us laughing 30 seconds (or 3 seconds) later. Writing about Firefly in the same article as Bewitched and Miami Vice is like comparing a very fine apple pie to a pile of rotton crabapples, in my humble opinion.

My guess is that the author simply ran into someone's office and said "Please give me the name of a modern tv show that's been turned into a movie!" whilst writing the article.
Of course Serenity is part, and in parts, like all Whedon work, but, like all Whedon work, it is much, much more.

And, it's hardly a rehash (can't believe I even feel it's necessary for me to make the point, but the author really blew it on this one) when the *entire cast* is reunited to pick up on where the show left off. As noted above, this is a continuation of the story, not a cheesy retelling or, in the cheesy Hollywood cliche of the day, "reimagining" of an old TV show.

I feel a letter to the editor coming on, but the parochial NY Daily News usually only runs letters from NY (or tri-state) locals. But I may give it a try, anyway.
I'm starting to get sick of this off-handed negative press that Serenity has been attracting recently. It's like the positive buzz that we where expecting is beginning to bight us on our proverbial behinds. Serenity is an intelligently written and well made film, why is it attracting this kind of negativity from the press? Is it because it has a strong existing fan base and the press feels like they needs to cut Serenity down to size? I donít get it. I would rate Serenity equal to any other cult film I have ever seen. Maybe like other cult classics it will take a DVD release before it gets itís well deserved recognition. Just like Firefly Iím sure Serenity will develop an enormous following, but it might take a DVD release before it happens.

[ edited by Zoic_Fan on 2005-08-28 18:50 ]
I've also noticed a backlash starting up. Even the fans are posting things like, "Maybe we should shut up now", and "We need to show less enthusiasm". Less enthusiasm?

Frankly, I don't get it. We've had to wait a damn long time for any new Jossy goodness, and now it's nearly here! I think we're entitled to our glee. And isn't that the whole point about all this cool marketing? Aren't we supposed to spread the word?

The negativity is irritating. I've got a few issues with the movie myself, but it's a Whedon project, it's very good, and I'll support it wholeheartedly. I plan on going many times, and dragging as many butts with me as will go.

What's wrong with that?
I must agree with comments in the room. 'Serenity' isn't a rehash of a retired series. Rather, it's a series that came to an untimely end due to bad management of its home network. I've a feeling 'Serenity' will do very well at the box office upon release. Then, several of these news sources will be changing their tune. And Joss can kick back with a big,"I told you so!" smile. 'Course we'll be smiling with him.
OK, I didn't particularly like the way Serenity was lumped in with the rest of the films listed, and I agree that Serenity is not a rehash, but a continuation of the series, but otherwise I don't disagree with this article. I think Hollywood has a tremendous lack of creativity right now in terms of mainstream films, and it has gone to the well of rehashing favorite TV shows a bushel too many times. I think there are a number of reasons for the dearth of creativity, which I won't go into here, but the end result is a lot of crap being produced, and people staying away from the theaters in droves. We may be on the cusp of a huge change in the way people consume movies -- which may actually be a good thing for creativity -- but only time will tell. In any case, I don't think fans should get too down because of some negative reviews. The positive ones still outweigh the negative, and the negative ones are not saying the film is a waste of time and unworthy of seeing. (I certainly have not seen any Howard the Duck comparisons!) So, all things considered, I think we should be pretty happy.

On a completely different note, may I say to any Whedonesque members living in Louisiana and Mississippi that my thoughts are with you. I know that IH10 which runs through my city is pretty packed with evacuees now, those that got a healthy head start, yet I see the news showing so many people going nowhere on the highways in Louisiana, now that a mandatory evacuation has been ordered. I hope all of the evacuees make it to safety, and my thoughts are with all the people caught in this terrible impending natural catastrophe.
And how about TV ripping off movies? For example, do you remember when they made a TV show based on a C movie? Something about a vampire killer named Muffy I think.
Palehorse: "but otherwise I don't disagree with this article"

You will probably get no argument from most Whedonesquers on that score. But the whole point of this thread is not that Hollywood recycles crap (axiomatic, that), but rather that "Serenity" was outrageously lumped in with the crappy remakes.

Reviews count for a lot. Especially early on, when public opinon and perceptions are formed. That's why we're so antsy about negative commentary, especially when it has no legitimate basis, as in this case.

rkayn, I think you're was a werewolf executioner named Daffy, I believe....yes, Daffy the Werewolf Executioner, I'm sure of it.

[ edited by Chris inVirginia on 2005-08-28 20:14 ]
I am also bugged by this negative backlash lately against Serenity. I opened my newspaper today (Toronto Sun) and there is this huge article about the ten most anticipated movies of this fall. Is Serenity on this list? No. It is mentioned in a little "also ran" kind of way. Would you like to know what kind of movies beat it? Well, Into the Blue was number ten on the list. The reviewer admits that this movie is likely going to suck, but, Jessica Alba in a bikini and Paul Walker saying retarded things in interviews makes it an anticipated flick. Seriously. I nearly wretched.
My take on the tv-to-movie thing is that I really don't care. I don't plan on seeing any of them. I was a little interested about Bewitched because I watched that show religiously growing up, but I guess they screwed with the premise, so I'll wait for pay-per-view.

I think there is creativity still out there, but agree that it's infrequent. Look at Memento; arguably the most creative flick I've seen in 5 years. Big Lebowski, American Beauty, Smoke Signals...then the imports I've loved lately: Whale Rider, Amelie, and the lyrical poem of a film that was Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (oh come on - it was gorgeous!).

So yeah, it doesn't bother me too much about the stealing from tv. I just avoid 'em.
Genia - you're right, what the hell is with that? Into The Blue is 'anticpated' by whom, exactly? Yes, rhetorical, I know, there truly are some folks out there who are actually looking forward to such tripe but come on! If we, the movie-going audience, keep on accepting lousy and unoriginal productions then we're doomed to hear the tired old 'drug dealer' argument of, essentially, "bringing the people what they want."
So it's incumbent upon those of us that do appreciate quality and creativity in our movies to continue to support those shining examples like the ones listed above by Willowy (though I must apologize dear, I couldn't get in to American Beauty, but I respect that you enjoy it).
I must share this bit: a friend of mine, a film studies major (gasp!) said that The Big Lebowski is one of a small handful of modern-era films that can justify whatever little remaining faith he has in the major Hollywood studio system - a bit harsh, yes, but still funny.
Anyway, I hope I'm not giving off a "distinct aroma of cinematic elitism" (because who wants to sound like this guy...), but I highly recommend Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner - not just 'cos "hey, it's Canadian!" :-) but primarily because it's a beautiful, marvelously acted epic tale of Shakespearean tragedy (comparisons to Macbeth are entirely intentional). Does anyone else have other films titles to offer up to fellow Whedonesquers? (oh, you know you do!)
Donnie Darko. And whether you think this movie was over-hyped or not, Wicker Park was a beautiful story of unrequited love that caught me off gaurd. It has some breath-taking emotional camera work and the movie made me fall in love with the couple (and I even ship them, I'm pathetic :)).

Memento and Amelie, of course. And Waking Life. And a little IFC flick called Happy Accident starring Marisa Tomei and Vincent D'Onofrio delighted me about six months ago when I netflixed it. It's a cute little sci-fi love story.

I used to be obsessed with Richard Linklater (Slacker, Dazed and Confused, Suburbia) so I recommend his movies. Waking Life will make more sense if you see his older movies first.

I can't think of anything else. The only movie I've seen in the theater recently was Batman Begins, which I was very impressed with. Nothing has been catching my eye lately, not even the indie flicks, but I'm probably just not paying close enough attention.
gorramit, a lovely jewel of a move is "The Cup". Horribly mis-marketed (sound familiar, Firefly Flans?), it's just a marvelous, gorgeous, wonderful piece of work. Directed by one of the actors, all the rest of the cast are actual monks from a Buddhist monastery in India.

Yep, your basic stock cliche flick, about Buddhist monk acolyte soccer subtitles...seriously, just trust me on this's a fabulous movie.

I liked "Mrs. Brown" with Judi Dench and Billy Connelly, too. And "Song Catcher", too.

Will check out Atanarajuat, for certain. Loved Kurosawa's "Throne of Blood" and "Ran", so this sounds intriguing.

But do check out "The Cup".
esg, a fellow-flan sent me Waking wife and I simply could not make our way through it...creative, yes, but compelling, for us, not.

Oh well...

[ edited by Chris inVirginia on 2005-08-28 22:54 ]
gorramit, I couldn't agree more about Atanarjuat - terrific film.
I just saw 2046 last night and thought it was sublime. Wong Kar Wai is a brilliant director.
I agree with esg on Batman Begins.
I recommend these films that I was lucky enough to catch at this year's New York Asian Film Festival - Crying Fist (Korea), Hana and Alice (Japan), Mind Game (Japan), One Nite In Mongkok (Hong Kong), P (Thailand), and The Taste Of Tea (Japan). If forced to choose, I'd say P was my least favorite of the six.
I also recommend Park Chan-Wook's films Joint Security Area and Oldboy, both of which are on DVD.
I'm planning to see Grizzly Man and The 40 Year Old Virgin of films that are now in wide release.
And how about TV ripping off movies? For example, do you remember when they made a TV show based on a C movie? Something about a vampire killer named Muffy I think.

I think it was about that girl Bunny. With such an outrageous name, I'm guessing that programme sucks!
Yefa...anxious to check out some of the films on your list. Wanted to suggest you check out Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall ...and Spring (Korean) on DVD. It has not much more than a single script page worth of dialogue, and yet has more to say than I've seen in a film in a long, long time.

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