"Find hungry samurai" -Gisaku

00612 – SERENITY

MovieHype00612 – SERENITY

I’ve been sitting here for almost two hours trying to come up with great words with which to pen my SERENITY review. Some movies lead me to lyrical jazz-like riffs, poetry really, as if the movie flows through me into the words even more then their constructed meaning.

This time—through no fault of the film I saw earlier this evening—I can’t get that going. No poetry. No cool bass player in the corner laying down a backbeat over my vibes. Nothing.

Well, there is this:

I can’t promise you a rocking good time watching SERENITY. I’m fairly sure that fans of the TV franchise FIREFLY will love this film. Then again, they’d probably go ga-ga to see the cast on INSIDE THE ACTOR’S STUDIO. I know that as a major fan of the short-lived Television series, I enjoyed SERENITY. I liked seeing all the characters back again, even if it’d been three years and haircuts were different, the film quality a tad more colorful; did that guy gain weight?

I know that I preach from the mountaintops that movies based on books cannot be compared to the books. You just have to take the movie and enjoy it. Or not. The same applies (perhaps even more so) to movies made from TV shows.

And yet it so hard! These characters I got to watch over 14 episodes. Not that long, true, but long enough to form lasting bonds with them. To come to love them, laugh with them, maybe even shed a tear or two. That’s the beauty of long-form television.

A movie is just a different world. The budget is much bigger. The explosions have to be louder, amped up. The subtleties that can develop over several episodes of a TV show? No time for that here. You’ve got to make your point and quickly.

All of that made SERENITY a tad frustrating for me. I wanted to see certain story lines play out. I didn’t get my way. I’m not hating. (Believe me: after listening to my people try to change my script six ways to Sunday, I’m not hating on what Joss Whedon wanted to do.) But still. I guess my biggest problem is that I kept thinking, “If the TV show hadn’t been cancelled by stupid *^&% FOX, these scenarios could have played themselves out. Instead we are rushed to get a story in.

I did worry that non-fans of FIREFLY might not “get” it all. Oh, they do a great job of catching us up with a nifty back-story at the beginning, but there just wasn’t time to flesh the characters and how they play off of one another. I worried that people wouldn’t quite get the entire history of Mal and Inara unless they’d seen the TV show. What Shepherd means to them. The emotional desolation of a man who can’t give up a war that’s been fought and lost already.

Maybe I’m paranoid. But I did read reviews from neophytes who said some of these very criticisms. I got mad. “They don’t know the story!” I fumed to Critty, my hippopotamus. And yet, in a way the naysayers are right. SERENITY may be enjoyed by a non-fan. But I know in my heart they’d enjoy it so much more if they knew these characters as I did.

Since I’m on the subject, let me take a moment to once again get down on my proverbial knees and BEG you to watch FIREFLY. Rent it, buy it, write and ask me for the money; I’ll pay. It’s required viewing. And when you’ve seen it, by all means enjoy SERENITY like a prisoner’s last meal.

For while there may be short-cuts with characterization, if you already know these guys it won’t matter. The humor will be tripled because you’ll know why it’s funny. You’ll be into it with them.

Can you like it anyway? You’re asking the wrong guy. I can’t imagine not having seen FIREFLY. I don’t know what someone might think, and why they’d watch the movie and not the TV show. I don’t want to know these people!

Last (but not first), I’d like to mention the “big picture.” Another casualty of FOX’s early cancellation is that we never got to see the Arc of the series. Obviously writer/director Whedon cares passionately about that, and so he chose his one shot at storytelling here to focus on the conspiracy. And while I was sad other things got shorted, I was humbled by the message of the film. The idea that there are things worth fighting for. The concept that humanity has to overcome obstacles, or sink slowly into death. These themes were done with style and flair, and yet deeply and meditatively in the best Science Fiction tradition. The kind that hits you several hours later sitting alone in the dark trying to write about your feelings.

Well, I do have many things in this world I’d fight for. But seeing as how none of them are happening this morning, I’ll content myself with this: go watch FIREFLY, and then SERENITY (after FIREFLY you’ll have no choice). Then write and tell me what you thought.

At least it’s a start.


October 01, 2005

Again, big Thanks to Marcellus for letting me borrow FIREFLY

Thanks to Grendel, Ziggy and my sister for watching the movie with me

Sorry to Ajax it didn’t work out to see it with you, but I’ll go again

Thanks to the entire Colorado’s staff for making the “before” part of the movie very much fun. That’s a whole column in and of itself if I can get it written.

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