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September 28 2005

All the Serenity reviews you will ever need to read. For the time being, all links to online newspaper/magazine reviews of Serenity are to be posted in the comments section of this thread.

Right here's the deal, there's rather a lot of reviews of going about. And so I'm asking my fellow posters to post the links to reviews they find in this thread.

So here's what we could go with.

Post the link and where it's from i.e. the New York Times.
Include a brief blurb if the reviewer liked the movie (find a quote you like).
Indicate whether the review has spoilers in it (minor or major).
And please do not talk about spoilers in this thread.

Simon, would there possibly be a way to pin this thread to the top of the main page of Whedonesque? Or should we just bookmark it?
See it how goes for the time being. Remember those threads we used to have for the Serenity fans screenings back earlier in the year? Same sort of vibe for this thread :).
Serenity review in Portland, Oregon's Willamette Week.

From a non-Firefly fan: "Delivering the sort of fun entertainment the last three Star Wars movies failed at miserably, Serenity is quite simply a damn good movie."

Minor spoilers, only revealing what you'd already know from the trailers.

[ edited by electricspacegirl on 2005-09-29 00:21 ]
I'm beginning to wonder if 'critically acclaimed' can be tagged on the movie now. Seems to be a lot of reviews liking Serenity.
Absolutely it can, Simon, no question of it.

New Yorker
The Village Voice
Michael Medved

And many more to come. This is much more impressive than the online citations from the original trailer.
Wait, I missed a Michael Medved review? Or did I see it and somehow it faded from my memory.

Also, re Simon and "I'm beginning to wonder if 'critically acclaimed' can be tagged on the movie now." -- that's why I changed the front page of PDX Browncoats into a fan poster which includes review quotes. Gives me goosebumps.

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2005-09-29 00:49 ]
Oops, New York magazine, sorry, Phleb (she and I are going to see the movie in DC Friday afternoon!) I will be interested to see if the New Yorker does a full review. I think it's a possibility.

theonetruebix, he was quoted as calling it great science fiction (or words to that effect), so it stands to reason that he'll give it a positive review.

God, I think being a movie critic must be the worst job in the world. Apart from being a TV critic!
Nope, no Medved review missed. Look under the Sydney Morning Herald thread: I mention that I found a snippet of Medved praising Serenity as "a terrific sci-fi film" in a recent article otherwise having nothing to do with Serenity, Joss, etc. As far as I know, Medved has put out no review of Serenity yet. But it certainly sounds as if he'll write a great one when he does....
I wish Rotten Tomatoes would catch up a bit. Right now they've only posted 8 fresh/3 rotten reviews.
I also think it's a possibility that the New Yorker will do a full review, CiV. The film is great, plus it has a great cinderalla story. Fingers crossed. Can't wait until Friday afternoon!
This post's link contains Medved referring to River thusly: "In the upcoming sci-fi adventure Serenity, it's ballerina Summer Glau who plays a telepathic tootsie whose phenomenal fighting abilities will decide the fate of the entire galaxy." in an article on leading ladies.
Just a reminder that, as others have noted, Metacritic has posted four reviews, which means that Serenity now has a rating, currently a 72, or "Generally favorable reviews." That'll be a good place to look for the big mainstream reviews. I'm guessing (hoping?) it'll end up between 75 and 80, which would be terrific.

And 46 user votes are recorded, for an average rating of 9.3 out of 10.
The Onion AV CLUB has a review up now.

"Serenity is still taut, immersive, and alternately hilarious and heartbreaking, a well-balanced blend of whooping Wild West action and space opera. If it has trouble standing on its own, that's just because it's carrying out the full promise of a terrific series, which it does with reckless brio."

Nothing spoilery.
ETA-- this was noted in the link SNT refers to above.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2005-09-29 00:59 ]
*sniff* Probably the only thing I'll ever able to post something on the front page, and it's gone. Gone, gone! *sniff*

AP Review of Serentity

The opening is probably the best:

You can see how "Firefly," the short-lived TV show that provided the basis for "Serenity," could have gotten addictive if given the chance. The movie is a spirited mix of the familiar and the futuristic, of fast-paced chase scenes and butt-kicking brawls, of witty banter and well-drawn characters.

There are definitely some spoilers in this review, so beware.
electricspacegirl, great review! And ya gotta love their review of our supposed competition, Into The Blue:

Paul Walker and Jessica Alba star in what appears to be a sort-of remake of The Deep (not to mention a piece of crap). Don't bother looking for a review.

For those who missed them earlier, here are short, positive reviews in The Village Voice and The San Francisco Bay Guardian (you have to scroll down a bit to get to the Bay Guardian's).

Both reviews have minor spoilers about the general story, the Voice moreso -- people who want to stay pure before watching should steer clear of the Voice review until afterwards.

From The Bay Guardian:
Fun, action-packed, and full of bizarre future-Mandarin curses, Serenity is sure to please anyone who likes adventure stories with brains.

AP Review of Serentity

Ah yes, the lesser known porn-cousin of our beloved Serenity..
It's bizarre, and slightly ironic, that the critics who're familiar with the source material complain about the lack of character development, while those new to the 'verse commend it for being more character study than action extravaganza.

Sadly, I have only to add that The New Yorker probably won't give the movie a full review -- this week's review is solely of Oliver Twist, which is a shame b/c I really enjoy Anthony Lane's work (not for his taste in movies, oddly enough, I just think of him as a witty essayist who just happens to write about movies).
Here in Australia I suspect the main competition will be Cinderella Man with "our" Russell Crowe which is also out this week (Into the Blue is merely coming soon). Cinderella Man has the most screens and is all over the TV ad breaks.
Ah, dottikin, you are almost certainly right...the New Yorker will defer to Polanski, damn it all to hell.

But I am very encouraged with the reviews so far. Hope Stephen Hunter does the Washington Post review. He's also a novelist who appreciates intelligent dialogue and story lines, and he has an appreciate eye for what used to be called the well-turned ankle.

Lots of that in Serenity, as well as lots of great dialogue and a great story, too!
Here in Australia I suspect the main competition will be Cinderella Man with "our" Russell Crowe which is also out this week (Into the Blue is merely coming soon). Cinderella Man has the most screens and is all over the TV ad breaks.

I think Cinderella Man has already come and tanked here in the US. How come you're just getting it now??? now has 'Serenity' as their featured film. But I must ask, how on earth do they choose which reviews count towards their Tomatometer? Particularly this drek by Victoria Alexander? (There's a BIG SPOILER under the spoiler alert at the bottom.)

[ edited by Ronald_SF on 2005-09-29 02:20 ]
Rogue Slayer - We get most overseas films months later than the US unless there's a push for simultaneous worldwide release. Although CM tanked in the US there will be many who think that that was a reaction to our local bad boy star(albeit really from NZ) throwing a phone (if they remember or even were aware that the film did badly in the US) and will give it a chance anyway. Plus, it has actually had some good reviews in local media.

Anyway, it's half term and mid-semester break in much of the country with a public holiday on Monday so there should be plenty of moviegoers to share around.
TVsBrent, don't cry; I know for a fact it was a front page item, I read it there and then wondered where it went! Great review!
Rogue Slayer - We get most overseas films months later than the US unless there's a push for simultaneous worldwide release.

I'm surprised that Serenity will get a simultaneous release when CM didn't, especially because of the 'local boy' element!

BTW, I've nothing against CM. I plan to rent it, but I don't know much about it. I think Russell is an amazing actor, if not quite a perfect gentleman :~P
Ronald_SF: I peeked at Ms. Andrews' reviewer profile, and apparently she was a fan of Stealth and The Island. 'Nuff said.
Dallas Observer: Serenity spins a classic tale way out west
Questions the production style/quality, but says it fits the story. This positive review upped the metascore to 74.
The spoilers are about the same as in the trailers.
BBC Online have published their fantastic review.
I LOVE the BBC's review. Love it. Thanks for posting, gossi.
New Yorker could still review Serenity if it becomes a sleeper hit. They reviewed 'The 40-Year-Old Virgin" two or three weeks after it came out, because it was doing so well. Although, there were also a dearth of good films in late august/early september, which may have been a factor.
Given the differences in how Rottentomatoes and Metacritic tally their review scores/rankings, they currently have Serenity at 73 and 74 percent respectively. Which translates as "Fresh" and "Generally Favourable Reviews".

Of course the big U.S. critics are still to publish their opinions, so...

Neither of the major papers in Melbourne, Australia have their Serenity reviews online, but here's a sample:

"The Herald Sun" review by Leigh Patsch -

"So to the uniformed eye, Serenity is a messy, scatter-shot affair, taking in philosophic exchanges liberally borrowed from Eastern religions, fight scenes that have time-travelled from classic westerns, and cheap-looking space sequences that belong in Buck Rogers in the 25h Century. So if you are in the know, by all means go, Serenity could be the last you ever see of your Firefly favourites. For everyone else, life will go on as normal." 2 1/2 stars

"The Age" review by Philippa Hawker -

"Serenity has some busy action sequences, and CGI dogfights that have a touch of Star Wars Lite about them. Although they're capably done, they tend to distract from the pleasure of the film: this is a rich, tricky, smart and complex compression of past, present and future worlds, a creative enterprise given a welcome extension of life on the big screen." 3 1/2 stars
ok, gotta say, simply from watching that clip from the film which is online... the spaceship stuff doesn't look cheap...
Which should discredit Patsch's entire review! His reviews generally tend to trying to be clever (and/or funny) rather than critically interesting or informative - so take it with a grain of salt. I just love that it's worlds away from "The Age" review which is positively glowing.
Personally, I'm interested in reading Harry from AintItCool's review of the BDM. And though I'm sure he'll have one, I'm definitely not excited to read Quint's review... I think Harry was seeing the film tonight, so the review should be up sometime soon...
I just saw a new tv spot on TBS during "Sex and the City" that mentioned different publications being "on board with 'Serenity'". I'm not sure if that was exactly what was said, but that was the jist of it. No quotes from any reviews, but showed images of articles and mentioned that this friday "the next great science fiction adventure begins." Not alot unlike the internet advertising I've been seeing. Seems pretty close to "critically acclaimed" to me.
Adding to the spot you mention, optimistic, there was a full color poster in last Sunday's LA had had the whole backstory of the preview screenings (although curiously, without mentioning Firefly, which made it kind of unclear why the showings all sold out so quickly), and then ended with something along the lines of "come see what all the fuss is about. this friday, the next great science fiction adventure begins."
That backstory ad in fact appears to be the new print ad, the one that runs right above the showtimes in the newspaper, because that's where I saw it today in The Oregonian Willamette Week.

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2005-09-29 05:10 ]
Optimistic, they showed that ad during "Lost" tonight too!
Massawyrm has posted his review on AICN. No Harry yet though.
Optimistic, they showed that ad during "Lost" tonight too!

During the first-hour rerun of the premier, or during the second new hour?
A pretty popular righty blogger's review:

"I never saw more than five minutes of Firefly, so I have no idea how this fits in with the series. I can tell you that this may be one of the better sci-fi films I've seen in the theaters in a long time. It has some flaws, but they remain minor and do not interfere with a movie that does not take itself too seriously but also does not kneecap itself by insulting its audience with dumb gag lines, either."

(Edited link, with thanks to jam2)

[ edited by rkayn on 2005-09-29 06:25 ]
The ad was during the new hour of Lost. It basically says "see what everyone's been talking out", about how the media has covered the story behind the movie, it wasn't saying "critically acclaimed" because the major publications they listed haven't reviewed it yet.
And another fantastic review from yet another popular right leaning site:

"I didn't mention this to the PR person for Universal who contacted us about reviewing Serenity, but before tonight, I haven't gone to a movie in well over a year. So there is no reason why anyone should pay attention to my opinion about a film.

Further disclosure: Serenity contains more violence than all of the movies I have seen in the last twenty years, combined. Still more disclosure: the last science fiction movie I've seen in a theater was Star Wars. The original Star Wars, which I think came out around 1977. So I'm not exactly the target audience for this film.

With all disclaimers out of the way, how did I like the movie? Quite a bit. A lot, actually. When I watched the trailer last week, it struck me as a Star Wars knock-off. And there are many parallels and what can only be conscious homages. But the emotional content of Serenity is considerably darker and, if you will, deeper than Star Wars. And the script is funnier. It's very funny, actually. And the characters are better."
rkayn, I'm starting to think you and I have different political views. ;-)
Oh, by the way, your other link isn't right, it just points back to this page.
Devin's review Devin gave his review over at (extremely spoilery).

[ edited by GimpyD on 2005-09-29 06:18 ]

[ edited by GimpyD on 2005-09-29 07:45 ]
Where are the lefty bloggers? Kos is already on board with Firefly (though he likes BSG a little bit more, I think).

But, again, I await the word of what the really big SF geeks used to call "the mundanes."

[ edited by bobster on 2005-09-29 06:15 ]
Just a plea from those of us who are very excited but wont see the BDM for another six weeks, please say if your link has spoilers in it, eg Devin's review. I've got so far, the next wee while is going to be a spoiler minefield... :{

Also, Gossi, is the BBC review spoilery? I'd like to read it but am afraid to click.
re: the PowerLineBlog (is that one word) anyhoo...

they mentioned Summer Glau as an asian american actress
I've been afraid to read any of the reviews for fear of getting spoiled this close to seeing the film. I am looking forward to reading all the reviews afterwards so thanks for this specific thread Simon! It will make it much easier to find them!
Serenity review in Brisbane (Australia) street press, Time Off.

Glowing review (5 out of 5 stars!) with no spoilers.

"So, does it do the business? Well, this reviewer doesnít award five stars lightly, nor out of blind devotion to the genre. Serenity happens to be an insanely exciting, back-to-basics vision of the future. Its highly effective guerrilla marketing campaign, coupled with its delivery of the goods, could potentially make it the sleeper hit of 2005."
Philippa Hawker's positive review in The Age (Melbourne) mentioned above by Keith G is now online. Trailer level spoilers only.
here is a Serenity Primer... not really a review but I don't want to post it as a headline cause I think I read it before from here...

Serenity Primer --- weird mention about Book... it mentions that
Google News is listing Serenity reviews/news in its Entertainment Section. Pretty impressive.
I think this thread on the board would be a good place to look over the weekend. Theres already a review in it by someone who never saw the show but gave the movie a A,
Well, on Metacritic and Rottentomatoes most reviews will be collected and there's many others here already. I can post the Flick Filosopher reviewing Firefly by episodes (1-7 is up now) and she really gets the 'verse as well as anybody I've read. Her Serenity review will be up later this week.

On a negative note, I can't resist reading the negative reviews as well, and while some are honest and decently written, pointing out strengths as well as weaknesses, there are those that are not only extremely misinformed and badly argued, they get down right nasty. Here's what Steve Rhodes from Internet Reviews opens with:

"Suffering through, I mean watching SERENITY...."

Okay no matter what movie you're writing about, if you think that line is either clever or funny, I'm not sure you chose the correct profession. What really got my goat though is this bit:

"Our packed audience of rabid fans burst into thunderous applause when the words "Feature Presentation" came on the screen. Various characters from the series got similar but smaller accolades. As a non-fan, it made me appreciate the wisdom of TV executives who aborted the show.

In other words, the movie has barely started so there's nothing really he can comment on yet, but him seeing the fans happy and cheering makes him gleefully comment how happy he is that the show got canceled!


That has nothing to do with the quality of the movie or his job as a reviewer! He's basically admitting resentment at the fact that fans are enjoying themselves, and then consoles himself with the thought they at least don't have their show anymore. I've read quite a few crappy reviews in my lifetime of movie watching. But this petty and unnecessarily nasty paragraph pretty much beats it all.

Sorry, don't mean to be a buzzkill, but I had to comment on it. I swear, sometimes people 'shouldn't write words'...
At the end Steve Rhodes admits that his son and son's friend liked it though.
At the end Steve Rhodes admits that his son and son's friend liked it though.

Yeah, I suppose that's nice. But it doesn't really change anything about what he wrote. And don't get me wrong, he's fully allowed to dislike any movie he wants, same as any of us. But these bits were just ugliness unconnected to any reviewing.
I'm not defending the guy at all -- a reviewer should be more mature than that -- but there is something about being on the outside of a cult at a cult screening. If you're not enjoying the movie, all that enthusiasm has a way of emotionally backfiring and making you feel sort of irritable.

St. Petersberg Times

Innovation at warp speed


Quote: "The film, Serenity, shoots adrenaline into the heart of a genre plagued with wooden dialogue (recent Star Wars films) and ponderous opening sequences (all Star Trek movies). Whedon, whose writing earned an Oscar nod for Toy Story, delivers much-needed humor and surprising soul to a sci-fi movie."
According to Technorati, Serenity is the most discussed movie online at the moment. Firefly comes in at 2. The list is ordered by new links to the Internet Movie Database in the last 48 hours.
Harry's review and report of the screening he hosted earlier this evening is up over at Ain't It Cool.

[ edited by DK on 2005-09-29 11:37 ]
Yeah I decided to make a special case for the AICN article and make it a link in its own right.
Here's a positive blurb from the Boston Phoenix, Boston's alt-weekly. THough they didn't have Peter Keough review it. This (handing it off to lesser, unknown reviewers at a paper) seems to be a trend...
Simon, looks like this thread is about to go off the main page, and the bulk of the reviews will be out tomorrow. Do we need a Review Part Deux thread?
Minor Spoilers - nothing much to say - 4 out of 5 stars
Toronto's Eye Magazine

Other film reviews on same page including a very funny one about "Into the Blue"

If what you expect from Into the Blue's implicit promise of a sexy underwater romp is, in fact, two hours of jet-ski music videos punctuated lightly by drug crime, you won't be disappointed.
Simon or any other Admin, I think you should put a link for this thread in the site's front page. I think in that "sitch" section, that was used a couple times for those Joss' threads and other things of sorts.

This thread will vanish from the front page, as soon as the next link is posted. And it will be cool to have it in the front page, so people can keep posting the reviews alongs this next couple of days.
I've created a new thread for people to post links to reviews and there's a link to this one in the new thread.
redfern, So I take it you're saying that Into the Blue will be advertising that Toronto's Eye Magazine said " won't be disappointed." ;-)

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