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January 16 2006

DVDFile posts a review of Serenity DVD... finally! Normally I'd think we'd probably had enough of these reviews, but this is a great one from a reviewer completely unfamiliar with Firefly.

Ah yes. Very nice review. I agree with him as well about the confusion of what exactly Mal breaks of the Operative at the end. It was not until I read the script in the Visual Companion that I understood it was supposed to be his arms.
We immediately learn that Earth had become uninhabitable due to nuclear war.

Wha?
I think it was those explosions on the Earth-that-was, that confused him, because they do look like nuke clouds. They were in fact launches for colonizing ships, but it is understandable for a first viewing unfamiliar with the verse where one might come to that conclusion.

Another few misconceptions(understandable of course), was that the Browncoats resisted Alliance control, in part due to the destruction of Earth-that-was(it has become a myth when we joined the crew), and the notion that the crew of Serenity helped rescue River out of the Academy.

[ edited by kurya on 2006-01-17 02:22 ]
The white flashes on Earth's surface at the beginning?

Even though the teacher says "Earth-That-Was could no longer sustain our numbers we were so many," and we assume the flashes were the ships taking off.

Hey, maybe it's commentary. We can see how history has already been manipulated by the Alliance. They left Earth because we were wiping ourselves out, but the history books say, "No, no. No nuclear holocaust. Not us. Nuh-uh. Overpopulation. Yeah, that's it." ;-)
It's probably too much to ask that a reviewer unfamiliar with Firefly get any MORE right than that. I snickered a bit at his assessment of Kaylee, in addition to the minor interpretation variances already mentioned, but at least he didn't think Jewel was Joss' wife! Likewise, his assessment of Jayne is a tad shallow... but I can't even imagine seeing Serenity without "Jaynestown" and "Ariel" or even "Our Mrs. Reynolds" for Jayne backstory.

Still, 100% terrific, mostly accurate review that's spot-on on a number of points. I get the feeling the reviewer will watch the Firefly DVD set.

And so it begins... (whoops, wrong show)
Well actually thats a good point, First Weevil.... Joss could easily change the story of how/why the habitants left Earth for a new solar system, because everything involving the Earth-that-was seems like a mystery, a myth, and you have to be sure anything taught in an Alliance classroom would have to be questioned. Plus with the Alliance publishing the history, things would have been changed in the history book la 1984.
About the Kaylee thing, it's interesting that the way it was worded was "the horny ship's engineer" rather than "the ship's horny engineer." By not familiar I'm kinda assuming that maybe this person might have caught a portion of Objects in Space, where it seems like River McGuffin has become the ship? ^_^

While some of the stuff seems to be pulled out of nowhere, there's a lot of understanding that wouldn't have necessarily just been pulled from seeing the film itself. The pillow geisha description of companions wasn't really that clear in the final cut and now I see myself longing for Memoirs of a Companion...
It's always fun to see an outsider's point of view, even a nuclear one ;)
I think he got that from looking at the deleted Inara scene, Orange.
For example, when the Serenity wants to avoid the Reavers, the crew thinks in two dimensions, not three.

So ... is he saying they should been able to figure out a way to get through the Reaver zone to Mr. Universe's world by going above the zone? Below it? Or what?

It's good to see objective reviews from non-fans. I'm so used to talking with other Whedonites who loved Serenity, if they've seen it at all, that a positive opinion from someone without vested interest feels especially validating.
Yeah, basically, that's what he's saying, Wiseblood.

Or even, for that matter, to get TO Miranda, they could have flown above/below/around the Reavers (unless the Reavers were actually surrounding the planet, which they weren't).
Thanks, Septimus. I was a little fuzzy (possibly due to running on minimal sleep today), but am glad to know I gathered the general gist.

Being that there is no actual "up" or "down" in space (although I guess any ships out there must navigate based on some kind of x/y/z axis-grid, or something), but many directions from which they might have made their planetary approach, I actually do remember wondering why they had to go through the Reaver zone, now that I think about it, though it was just a quickly passing thought.

Being the broke-ass travelers they are, it's easy enough to fanwank that they were likely low on fuel and chose to go the route that would get them from point A through pointy-stuff B to point C as expediently as possible -- or that they were saving said fuel for extra thrust against Miranda's gravitational field in case an atmo-burn getaway became necessary.
Yes they could've avoided the Reavers, but once they get to Miranda the Reavers could detect them and then attack. The point was to fool the Reavers into thinking that Serenity was part of their fleet. This was done not only to pass through the Reaver armada, but they needed to avert any suspicion while they're on Miranda.

Oh and also the reason the reviewer probably thinks Serenity crew helped River escape is because that ship that pulled Simon and River up looks awfully lot like one of Serenity's shuttles.

[ edited by delirium_haze on 2006-01-17 07:57 ]

[ edited by delirium_haze on 2006-01-17 07:57 ]
I wish he had known that the zoom in special effects camera was originated from Firefly and not BSG. Other than that and the few misconceptions and errors about the story, it was a great read and good to hear from a non-fan.
Well, Firefly (or Serenity) have never been fantastic on the science part of science-fiction (as Joss has admitted several times himself) tho' I think you could make a case that a) they needed to get to Miranda quickly so a straighter course is better and b) even if they did try to go over/under/round the reavers presumably their scanners would detect Serenity anyway, hence the need for deception. Also, the battle afterwards is 3D in a way it took Star Trek years (and several films) to manage.

To me it seemed fairly clear that Mal dislocated the Operative's shoulders (non-lethal but very hard to fight with not to mention, y'know, sore ;).

Otherwise a pretty good review. It's always most interesting to me to hear the opinions of people new to the 'verse on 'Serenity'.
"Oh and also the reason the reviewer probably thinks Serenity crew helped River escape is because that ship that pulled Simon and River up looks awfully lot like one of Serenity's shuttles."

I think one of the reasons you don't get a clear view of the actual ship that picks them up is to give new audience members the impression that it IS Serenity. It's a great shortcut narration-wise, and those who know the show will assume that the ship belongs to the people Simon mentioned in one of the earlier episodes (which it of course is).
I liked how the CGI contractors used the same camera unsteadiness and rough zooming as found in the new Battlestar Galactica series.


Which... of course... was pioneered in Firefly first.
As for the bit about going around the Reavers, there are good technical reasons for not doing that. It's tremendously expensive in terms of fuel to change course in space, and the bigger the change, the more expensive it gets. Given the economic conditions on Serenity, it really wouldn't have been an option anyway.

Minor changes in course can be done with just the engines, but really big changes are usually done with a gravity assist from a planet.

Yeah, I know that on other space movies and series, the ships change course whenever they want. They also go "whoosh" when they do it.
That's true MissKittysMom but don't they decide to go to Miranda while still on the surface of Haven (so no course changing required) ? From a fuel economy perspective they'd want a Hohmann transfer orbit from Haven to Miranda but that would take a loonnng time (even using, as you say, a gravity assist) and be nowhere near as cinematic ;).

As I say, Firefly/Serenity not so big on the science e.g. in 'Out of Gas' the ship seems to stop dead in space because the engine stops but as you imply above, she'd have a whole load of inertia and continue for a long time before that happened (leaving aside Wash making the signal 'go farther') but it's still my favourite episode just cos it's so well written, beautifully scored and amazingly acted that the nit-picks pale into insignificance (it can still be fun to 'fan-wank' as I saw it called above tho').

Maybe not great science but it sure is great fiction ;).
in 'Out of Gas' the ship seems to stop dead in space because the engine stops but as you imply above, she'd have a whole load of inertia and continue for a long time before that happened


Hmm... I may need to rewatch, but did they state with certainty that the ship has stopped moving? The whole pun in the title is that the gas they are out of is oxygen... the life support failed. "engine don't turn, we don't breath". Even if their intertia kept them moving, they wouldn't make it anywhere in time to survive. At least that's my take.
Yep, it's oxygen they're out of and you're right about the time being the issue but from the outside the ship seems to be stationary against the stars (it might anyway if travelling slowly enough but in other shots we're shown some movement relative to the starfield) and also when the 'baddie' ship arrives i'm pretty sure it just comes straight up from beneath Serenity with no obvious backwards momentum or matching of courses. And doesn't Kaylee say 'Serenity's not moving' at one point (tho' this may be just metaphorically not moving, as in her engine or heart has stopped pumping). So nothing solid maybe, just my take (tho' I think the distress signal's a fairly definite gaff we'd have missed the whole argument between Wash and Mal otherwise so it's well worth it).

Any excuse to rewatch 'Out of Gas' is a good one tho' as far as i'm concerned ;).
I love how Joss (or Tim who wrote the ep) kinda acknowledges that he's doing technobabble and plays off it with the "cause teenage pranks are FUN when you're about to die!" line. It feels more reasonable with that stuck in.

Perhaps the stars are so far distant that Serenity doesn't appear to be moving relative to them, but actually is moving. If you're driving and looking at, say, mountains that are far away, they'll appear to be in the same place for a long time. There are no landmarks (spacemarks?) near Serenity, so we have the illusion of no movement.

Speaking of which, when moving at sub-light speeds is it fudged science when we see stars move past a ship?
Agreed, AnotherFireflyfan he's kind of saying 'yes we've got technobabble but Look ! Dramatic confrontation' and it's certainly the bashing of heads and the way it shows Mal dealing with each crew member in a different way that's important about the scene (to me).

I think i'm gonna give them the benefit of the doubt on the star thing cos as you say (possibly apart from a slight parallax effect if the camera was moving) I think the stars would appear stationary over those kinds of distances.

If you mean in the sense of the ship actually passing stars at any noticable rate then, yeah, I think that's fudged. My decidedly not-a-rocket-scientist reasoning being: say you were going at 9/10 the speed of light and stars are about 4.3 light years apart (our nearest neighbour, Alpha Centauri, is about 4.3 away) then it would take us around 3.9 years to see one different star go past. It follows, therefore, that to see stars zipping by you'd need to be going much, much faster than 0.9 c (it's complicated by the fact that you'd experience less than 3.9 years due to relatavistic time dilation but you'd still have to go a lot quicker - and here we're teetering on the edge of the dark, boundless abyss that is my ignorance ;).

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