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February 25 2006

Three out of five star 'Serenity' review. "The plot is simplistic, hung on a series of energetic set pieces, which are let down by a lack of imagination and crude computer generated special effects."

My heart hurts when I read something like that.
Yes...a very simplistic plot indeed. One that bounces around an entire solar system and culminates with a three-pronged climax. His definition of simple is impressively complex. Don't hand this guy Crime and Punishment unless you want to hear about how amazingly straightforward its structure is.
"which are let down by a lack of imagination and crude computer generated special effects"

This is another thing I just dont get! I felt the special effects in Serentiy were some of the most life-like and realistic I've ever seen in cinema! In my eyes, Star Wars effects were crude, they look cartoony and fail completely to interat with the actors. Serenity's were stunning! each his own, I guess.
It's a wierd review because it says there's a lack of imagination but then goes on to offer examples of dialogue which seem to suggest the opposite. Also how are the special effects crude? As opposed to?
When I read these comments I thought the review would be much worst. I was surprised when I read it since it said some good things too.

"Serenity is a slickly written and entertaining romp that bears all of the hallmarks of an old-fashioned Star Trek episode (albeit with more snappy dialogue)....even newcomers to the Firefly universe will find something to keep them engaged for the two hours. "

Three out of five stars is not awful, personally I would rate the movie higher.
Yeah, that quote tends to suggest it got a bad review - not so much.

This review is the one syndicated across a lot of the nationals, unfortunately (you'll find it in Nottinghams paper etc).

The special effects do look crude when you place them against the likes of Star Wars - because they are simply not of the same budget level. And I think that's actually one of the charms of them - they feel far less grand and slightly erractic, which is a bit like the actual movie. If the 'space battle' had turned into a 25 minute CGI fest which looked stunning, I'm sure some people would have been happy - but then the movie would be called Serenity Reloaded: This Is Where We Lost The Magic.

[ edited by gossi on 2006-02-26 01:26 ]
I guess I just love the 'crude' look of them, they feel far more real to me than any star wars ones. Also the way the camera moves during say, the Reaver/serenity vs Alliance makes it feel more like your there. It moves uncontrolabley, and its more like someone is actually filming the scene amongst the chaos.
Yes, I am lovin' of the camera work during the space battle. It does actually have a degree of control - it's following Serenity, since that is the ship you care about. But the entire scene is played differently to anything I've seen before because of that, which makes it work.

[ edited by gossi on 2006-02-26 01:45 ]
Although, as I've admitted previously, I haven't as yet been entirely bowled over by the film, I didn't have a problem with the special effects. Not once was I pulled out of the film by them.

On the other hand, I was bored senseless by some of the special effects during the "island sequences" in 'King Kong', a film that otherwise I thought was absolutely fantastic. These seemed far less realistic to my inexpert eyes and therefore less impressive, despite the phenomenal budget spent on them.

As to the review, it seems okay to me. I can't say it would put me off renting the DVD - quite the opposite, actually.
The header quote was quite misleading, this isn't a bad review at all. IMHO.
I do think some of the effects were a bit crude (purely for budgetary reasons i'm sure) particularly aspects of the mule chase e.g. the barn swallow sequence. That said, it's a testament to the acting, writing and editing that it's still one of the stand out scenes in the film for me.

And the space battle at the end is one of the most interestingly shot and exciting that i've seen (doesn't hurt that both sequences afford another chance to see Wash really fly the old bucket, 'leaf on the wind' indeed). Who knew space had 3 dimensions ?

In fairness tho' that's actually a pretty good review and the line quoted above is probably the only outright negative thing said in it (well, OK the knock about characterisation being scant is pretty negative and not something I can really judge since I knew them all very well before viewing).

I do still sort of wish they could do a huge, long space scene, preferably with very little resonance, character moments or suspense, for the last film in the trilogy 'Serenity Revolutions: Where Bad Writing Goes to Die'. Then maybe for the fourth film in the trilogy 'Serenity Resurrection: Leaf on the Wind ? Lucky we took a cutting' Niska could become a cyborg and end with a slightly camp 'Nooooo!' to camera.
How amazingly jaded the world becomes when it is the CGI effects that make or break a movie in a reviewer's eye. Joss might have been able garner enough votes for an Oscar if he had made up for it (the crude CGI) with a more evocative death scene that included the admission of Book's and Mal's undying love for each other. Book could manage to choke out, "We'll always have Persephone" before dying. Oh and Book could have been played by Ralph Fiennes and Mal could have been played by Jamie Foxx in an stunning portrayal as Ray Charles.
This is not a good review by any stretch of the imagination. Not because it's partially negative of a film I love; the review IS mostly positive, after all. It's a bad review because... well, a number of reasons.

It's 8 paragraphs long and half of that is used re-telling the story. That's bad enough, but to then immediately call the plot "simple" is just silly and contradictory. It doesn't sound simple, even after you've cut away 60% of it.

The thing that makes Serenity so impressive is that it is so complicated. It's sci-fi, it's western, it's got a meddling alliance, it's got plucky outlaws, a crew of 6 with complex relationships and pasts, a plot involving a bitter captain, an insane psychic and the warped minds of space-zombie-cannibals on the edge of the 'verse. It's got jokes about poems and themes of hope and belief and applicability to modern times and, in fact, all times. It's got Mr Universe, who on his own is an interesting concept. And of course, the wonder of applicability is that it means different things to different people.

It's not a simple plot about good versus evil. This is not the grand arena.
Gonnas - I agree wholeheartedly with a your post. The reviewer does not let the reader know that this film works on many level and has many themes, and yes Mr. Universe was fantastic! Stating Serenity is "simple" is just plain incorrect.

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