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September 14 2005

(SPOILER) Dark Horizons Review of "Serenity". "It's a hard film to review...". According to the reviewer, non-fans will have some problems enjoying the movie.

Can't get through to Dark Horizons for the life of me. Question: is the reviewer a Firefly fan who thinks non-fans will have problems enjoying the movie? Or is the reviewer a non-fan who is reporting on his/her own actual experience with the movie?
I got the impression he was pretty much a fan who was maybe overthinking the whole thing way too much. Playing the same game a lot of have of "how will the masses like it." I'm more worried about his non-fan buddy who he said didn't like it.

However, I wonder if I'm the only person who's ever noticed that if people go to a movie together, they often tend to have roughly similar reactions. One time I and three friends went to see "Sammy and Rosie Get Laid", which was not a particularly big hit in the State with audiences or critics, but we three all thought it was a borderline work of genius.

Another time, I talked up "Toy Story" big-time to a friend who is not particularly fond of cartoons, at the height of it's massive success. He went with three friends, according to him, they all disliked it -- one of the most universally popular, beloved films of the nineties.

The easy response is "birds of a feather" or people trying to ingratiate themselves with each other, but I think it's something subtler. Like "good movie" or "bad movie" pheramones or something.
Used to read Dark Horizons every day but haven't really read it regularly for a few years now. Garth was always a big Buffy fan, not sure about his views on Firefly but this isn't a very good review.
Still can't get through to Dark Horizons. Must be heavily trafficked at the moment.

bobster, I think you're right. I have gone to see movies with friends and we've had very different reactions, but often in the process of hammering out our differences we come to some sort of consensus. Even more often, though, as you point out, my movie partner(s) and I will have roughly similar reactions. Hmmm.

I'm getting heartily sick of the game of "how the masses will like it." It's an understandable game and I've played it, but at this point when I read a review by a fan, I want to know strictly what they thought of it *themselves.*
Most of the negative reviews to date say the same thing...TV and the movies are different. I get that...actually I have six dogs and I'm pretty sure they get that! Folks continue to wear their expectations on their sleeves...if one wishes to like something, one will; unfortunately the same applies when one wishes to dislike something. Again, at least this guy didn't express a dislike for Joss' wife, Jewel.
Its interesting to me that so many of the 'non-fans won't like it' reviews are from fans who are overthinking it. Then we get reviews from non-fans (like Film Review UK) who give it 5/5 and gush about it. We are our own worst enemy...
Garth had a similar reaction to the Farscape TV movies "Peacekeeper Wars", which I thought were excellent with high production values all round.
Well, Garth's reviews were never the reason I went to Dark horizons and this one reminds me why. It's not badly written and he makes a valid point here and there, but overall, his main complaints are things like: 'it wasn't even like the show as much as it should have been'.

Sigh. No it wasn't, Garth. It can't be. A movie has a totally different story dynamic than a TV show. A totally different pace and different possibilities for character development. If you can't grasp that I wonder what you're doing running a movie site.

And of course the other one: 'But there should've been more Inara, because she was one of MY favorites.' Sigh. Yes, Garth, every character will have a group of people who call him/her their favorite, but you can't equally feature 9 characters as leads in a movie of 2 hours. If you can't grasp that, then...(see above).

Kind of dissappointing. As I said I've never been impressed with his reviews but I still expected better of him than this.

(PS How was Wash' banter any more or less 'lamer' than in the show??)
EdDantes, maybe he's referring to that episode where Wash had a speaking role! (where Mal's ear was cut off)
Some fans are actually proving their worst enemy here, as said above. The amount of reviews I've seen by people familiar with Firefly that have said 'Non-fans won't get it!' is unreal. Here's the deal: an awful lot of UK critics have seen the film. Few knew what Firefly was. Few have had a problem with the movie from an accessibility point of view - you just don't tend to hear the 'non-fan' line except from fans, and that's because they're seeing the dinosaurs and going 'Non-fans won't get that! They won't be experiencing it as well as I am!'. Duh.

The best reviews of the movie, in my opinion, are the ones which have reviewed [i]the movie[/i], not the series, or the link to the series, or Joss, or Buffy, or Angel, or anything else. I want to read about the quality of the product when I read a generic film review, personally, not hear predictions about non-fans.
Both are excellent (Serenity's better), but Serenity, is much, much kinder to newcomers than The Peacekeeper Wars.

I personally thought that every thing a viewer would need to enjoy this movie was provided, there was enough retelling of what had happened leading up to and during the series to get new viewers in without making Firefly fans go "Hurry up, we already know all this". Sure, they will probably not enjoy the movie as much as people who watched the show, that's to be expected, they haven't had nearly 2 years of waiting to see these characters again, and there are a few lines that they won't fully understand, but nothing huge.

Hopefully the movie'll be a success, maybe stores will run some sort of bundle promotion on buying the TV series with the movie, and by the time the sequel rolls around everyone will be up to speed.
The thing about non-fans and thier opinions of the movie are just ALWAYS going to vary, no matter what. I get caught up in the whole over-analyzing thing myself, but when I took my non-fan cousin to both screenings that we have had up here in the Great White North, he loved it both times and would recommend it highly to anyone who just plain likes good movies. I suspect that the masses that we are not going to get coming out to see and ultimately enjoy Serenity are the same people who allow tripe like Dukes of Hazzard to rake in over twenty million dollars.
Can I just ask how spoiler heavy this review is? Like is it just small, trailer sort of stuff, or major plot lines?
I can see why he made some of his comments, although I don't agree with them. But calling the humor lame? To me, Firefly was funny, but never as funny as either Buffy or Angel. Serenity, on the other hand, had more good laughs in the first half hour than the first five episodes of Firefly combined....and that's just comparing it to the show. Compare Serenity to other recent Sci-Fi films that take themselves way too seriously: Stealth, the Island, Star Wars, even the Matrix triology, say what you want about their differences or similarities, but Serenity is much, much, funnier.
I think, especially for fans of the series, the movie has an expectation problem. His review seems to be just that, a disconnect between what he wanted the movie to be and what it is. I've had that problem with a couple movies before (not this one) and I always found that if I took it in a second time, I really appreciated it. The expectations were out of the way.
Razor, there is a hint toward a major spoiler in this one - I wouldn't read it.

I just want to say I really appreciate everyone's comments for being balanced in their criticisms... I had a similar churning feeling in my stomach while reading this review but was afraid I'd go overboard in my own evaluation. Kudos to Whedonesquers!
I appreciate the fact that he found the humour lame. That gives me a vantage point from which to judge his review. Like many here, I liked the humour. The lines we have gotten to see in the trailers are some of the best but by no means all of them. So if he didn't like the humour, then the dramatic parts didn't stand as stark contrast to the wit.
I agreed with some of the criticism about it ocassionally feeling like TV but this is Joss' first time directing a movie. I forgive him!
Some flans who are anxious about whether the wonderfulness of Firefly will be seen by the masses are forgetting the very likely scenario that Ghost Spike mentioned above: the movie does well, people love it, and THEN go see the series. No, the movie can't be the T.V. series, but with its great characters and mixture of pathos, action, and wit, it can be a great commercial for it!
The main thing I agree with regarding this review is that it is a hard movie to review. I thought it was pretty fantastic, but had to admit to myself afterwards that I was completely unable to approach it objectively and remain intellectually honest about my feelings. I'm nervous about the reception it'll get from the mainstream reviewers. If Ebert gives it 3 stars I'll be elated.
Thanks for the advice, Ronald_SF, I will avoid this one. I'm not staying 100% spoiler free, I'm comfortable with the trailers, but I'd rather not know much else.
I took 2 non-fans with me to the screening in Houston. Afterwards, one of them said, "I didn't expect it to be so funny."
I was worried about how newcomers would perceive the movie too until I took a person, a friend of a friend, to the 6/23 screening that I would never have thought would like the show, and she liked the movie muchly and eventually became a fan of the series. I think the movie plays well to newbies because while some of the emotional cues won't be as intense for newcomers, they still work. It's strange -- I've heard the criticism of how the movie feels a little bit like TV to some people (which I don't find too valid, b/c I think TV and movies are moving closer together in terms of production values, and in many ways, TV is the superior creative medium these days) but nobody has talked about how every scene in the movie has energy and wit.

A lot of movies look pretty and movie-ish, but some scenes just lie there like a dead dog with no energy. Like, all this motion and storm with no underlying meaning to it. Even the weakest scenes in Serenity have purpose and energy. Which I think a lot of traditional critics and new viewers will respond to.

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