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October 05 2005

(SPOILER) National Review Online Review of Serenity. Another review, which I ordinarily wouldn't post, but this is interesting--a stunningly favorable review on the conservative magazine's Web site. Moreover, it's from a Firefly (and Joss, for that matter) virgin.

Killer quotes: "Serenity is an unexpectedly quirky and entertaining film. It captures the camaraderie and energy of more famous sci-fi films while never falling into any of the usual traps inherent to the genre. If you like wit, thrills, heart, and space battles, you’ll just love Serenity."

His take on Chinese dominance of the Alliance is perhaps debatable, but it doesn't mar an otherwise completely positive review.

"UPN cult series"? *pssst* Bryan, its FOX... good review, though, and great to see this come from a 'virgin'.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2005-10-05 16:11 ]
Yes, while some areas of the Alliance are Eastern-dominated in their influences, there's others that have a more Western-bent.

Joss has said that the main core planets of Londinium and Sihnon, representing "West" and "East," respectively, as we all know cause we're Firefly geeks, govern in harmony as one, and have for a while. But no, that doesn't come through in the film much.

Another interesting thing for a sequel, would be the effect on the 'Verse of in-fighting between the two sides. Because, you know, history repeats itself, one stone is all it takes to cause ripples, etc. etc.
Great review. Thanks for posting this, CiV. I love reading glowing virgin reviews. Nevertheless, I'd say that his take on a Maoist-Chinese dominance of the Alliance is most certainly not what Joss intended, at least according to the interviews I've read.
Is it just me that sees the funny in someone saying they have never watched Buffy but on the same line used the phrase "blank slate"? He could have said Tabula Rasa and we'd have got it.
pet32082, that is a fascinating possibility, especially with the Operative having notified Parliament that the Tams were no longer a threat, damage done. There has to be a lot of blame game going on after a fiasco (from their perspective) of such proportions.
I told a friend that you can tell whether a reviewer voted for Kerry or Bush by whether they call the Alliance fascist or Marxist.
Allyson, maybe sometimes, but not always. I've never called the Alliance either. One of the things that always puzzled me about the Alliance was that the relentless and brutal hunt for River seemed at odds with its otherwise rather benign despotism.

In fact, if I had to weigh down on one side, I'd probably see it as leaning, ever so slightly, toward the fascist side, but I'd still be very leery of labeling it fascist.

[ edited by Chris inVirginia on 2005-10-05 16:48 ]
Fascist or Marxist - 6 of one, half a dozen of the other.
I'd say the Alliance is sort of semi-benignly fascist (definitely a Kerry voter here!) -- but then I'd also say the current Chinese government is essentially (not so benignly) fascist. I've always liked Joss's idea of the Alliance becaise, especially right now, I could easily see both the U.S. and Chinese governments, which at present are both essentially corporate-cerntered, moving in similar directions to where, after a hundred years or so, they'd be essentially identical except for some vestigial rhetoric.
I had typed up something similar, bobster, but you said it better and beat me to the "post" button.

Good review. I hadn't really connected the "pluckiness" of the music with the plucky bravery of the crew, as I had been thinking a little more literally, I guess, regarding the Western theme. But the music does work on this level, as well. Nice connection.

And, phleb, pardon the peculiar bent of my mind today, but I can't help thinking about critical reviews of "glowing virgins" after reading your post. (There are lots of "glowing virgins" in the history of Christian art, for instance, but of course there are other contexts). I didn't get enough sleep last night, apparently.
Could you take some of your description and move it to the extended description section so that it doesn't take up so much room on the homepage?

I've only watched Firefly on dvd once and have seen the movie twice (so far) and nothing about it suggested to me that the Alliance was dominated by the Chinese. I figured, that English and Chinese were the two dominant languages on Earth, therefore they would be the dominant languages of people who left Earth to populate other planets. Given the world today, its not an unreasonable presumption that of the languages that will survive years into the future those two would be among them. Also, that as cultures mingle they begin to use each other's language.
True Killinj but keep in mind, the Chinese is only used to curse & cuss (primarily) and English to communicate.

Personally, I can swear in 4 different languages.
I contacted the writer to thank him for the review, and also to let him know about the UPN error--he takes responsibility for it, but adds that he had actually caught it and advised the site's editors, but apparently too late.

bobster: "I could easily see both the U.S. and Chinese governments, which at present are both essentially corporate-cerntered"

Yes, and that's what makes this whole scenario so compelling: the total plausiblity of it all.
Common ground....Joss has created a movie that American conservatives and liberals can both embrace, that alone secures it a place in history!! Who cares what political twist the person puts on it...he liked it, he actually liked it!!
What a wonderful review! For a Firefly newbie, he seemed to understand all the points that other newbie reviewers professed not to get -- the relationship between Zoe and Wash, for example.

As for the politics of it, I can't see any practical difference for ordinary citizens between a Maoist dictatorship and a fascist one, or between any of those -isms that caused so much destruction in the 20th century. Individualists like Mal would want to be free of nanny-statism of any stripe. And the "Not Mandatory" notice in the Oaty Fruity bar commercial suggests that the Alliance is nanny-statism run amok -- though of what political stripe wasn't clear.
I'm aware of that alexreager. Chinese is also used on lots of signage throughout the verse and it seems to be part of the curriculum in the education system. Besides, I wasn't saying Chinese was the dominant langauge, but rather a dominant language. It doesn't seem to be so pervasive as to suggest to me that it dominates the Alliance, which is why I was puzzled by the author's comments.
Rkayn -- in practice, you're frequently right. But the goals of the two philosophies are pretty different. And, in facism, corporations thrive. Under Soviet-style communinism, the state is basically a big corporation. (True Karl Marxist communism has never been practiced and is supposed to be ultimately ultra-democratic after a brief "dictatorship of the proletariat.")

[ edited by bobster on 2005-10-05 19:12 ]
It doesn't seem to be so pervasive as to suggest to me that it dominates the Alliance, which is why I was puzzled by the author's comments.
Remember the reviewer called it "Red Chinese". He was clearly not in favour of the Alliance and therefore, it had to be more strongly Chinese influenced than U.S. Or that is my take on it.
I think the guy calls Jayne a jarhead simply because the trailer for Mendes' JARHEAD came before the film.
I could easily see both the U.S. and Chinese governments, which at present are both essentially corporate-cerntered, moving in similar directions to where, after a hundred years or so, they'd be essentially identical except for some vestigial rhetoric.

I was just saying the other day that the Alliance is basically the US with better technology! It's all very plausible.
That was a good review, despite the mistake of the UPN reference. I hope this gets some people in the seats who wouldn't otherwise go.
As soon as I saw "red Chinese" I thought yup, conservative review all right. (Not that I was bothered.) Which brings us to an issue I've always had with Firefly/Serenity. Where are Chinese characters? Even if the main characters aren't, I expected some peripheral characters to be Chinese or Chinese-ish, and the last name Tam doesn't cut it for me in this Universe. Peripheral characters so far are very Western. I have a feeling if Sihnon can be explored more, we would see places with a much more Chinese feel and then see that while the two cultures overlap, they maintain distinct concentrated populations elsewhere. I think all we know of Sihnon is Inara's description, "It's like an ocean of light."
As for the labels, I always describe the Alliance as "Anglo-Sino". Eliminates politics.
ETA: *conservative reviewER

[ edited by April on 2005-10-05 23:16 ]
I've always thought the Alliance was a 50/50 combination of the USA and China.

Since half of the Alliance system is Chinese, and China is starting to make some excellent films these days, I wonder if that leaves Joss the option of making a sequel in China, which might be cheaper :)
Does anyone else have a list of conservative/libertarian bent reviews? i saw it somewhere but I can't seem to find it now.
I've always thought the Alliance was a 50/50 combination of the USA and China.



That's Joss' intention, at least per the companion book. The world he has mapped out is very intricate. It's amazing.

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