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Serenity Review! BEWARE SPOILERS BEHIND THE CUT - Light One Candle

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October 1st, 2005


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08:57 pm - Serenity Review! BEWARE SPOILERS BEHIND THE CUT
All right. Here we go. I have much more that I could say, but this will do for now. I'm putting my general (ie, unspoilery) reactions first, and then lj-cutting the actual spoiler bits.

I’ve been eagerly awaiting this film. I have to say, first, that I am glad I did not go to a preview screening. It was better for me to be delighted, shocked, and pulled along for this wild ride with all my friends along. Both scionofgrace and lizamanynames have said that Serenity is more "emotionally engaging" than any movie they’ve seen since The Return of the King. At first I thought that was an exaggeration, but the more I consider it, the more right I think they are. This film grabs your gut and heart and drags you along with Mal and his crew.

Two of the friends in my group had not seen any episodes of Firefly, so there was much discussion afterwards about the difference in viewing experiences. The non-fans were impressed; one loved it, the other thought it was pretty good, and both felt that they understood the world and plot, and were emotionally moved. For fans, the emotions are probably racheted up five to ten times as high, and there are many things that resonate with moments in the series. Joss may just have pulled off the nearly impossible–-a fan-based film that other sci-fi, fantasy, western fans may really love.

Also much commented upon: Joss’ respect for his viewers’ intelligence. I have to agree; the hints and half-scenes that tell us all we need to know worked brilliantly.

I am incredibly happy that I avoided most spoilers. Therefore, the rest of my review is going under a cut. If you value your first viewing experience, do not click through! You can come back after you’ve seen it.



Wash! Noooooo!

I completely did not see that coming. I’d heard that someone was going to die, so after Book bit it (was I the only one relieved that Haven was hit by Alliance, not Reavers?), I figured that was that. Not so. I am a leaf on the wind... *wham* I rarely react physically when I’m watching a film in public, but I gasped, jerked forward, I think I may have actually said his name out loud.

I know why his death was necessary, for the film, for the story, but wow. I haven’t grieved a character like this since....oh....Marcus Cole (Babylon 5), probably. When Serenity was sliding along in her crash-landing, breaking off bits, I kept thinking, "They can fix that. Surely, they can fix that." Then Wash...and "Oh, oh, shit, they can’t fix that!"

Both my favorite characters died in the same movie! Joss is brilliant and evil.

[And I will refrain from trying to read any meaning into the fact that I think Wash is Joss’ avatar.]

I really enjoyed the whole plot, the idea that they go from protecting River and themselves to trying to work against the Alliance. Can’t stop the signal! It’s the battle of Serenity Valley all over again, isn’t it? I had chills when I realized that.

The dialogue was fantastic. I love Joss’ penchant for turning everything on its head. If I start quoting I’ll go on forever.

Though I did just realize that one bit will have a whole other meaning when I rewatch this:

Wash: This is going to get interesting.
Mal: Define interesting.
Wash: Oh God, oh God, we’re all gonna die?


Gah.

I thought the effects and so on were pretty seamless, but boy, Joss enjoyed having a movie budget to play with. How ‘bout that long (what was it, like 5-minutes long?) shot at the beinging, taking us on a tour right through Serenity? So. Cool. Plus stuff like the scene on Miranda where River is freaking out, and the camera is spinning around them, and then Jayne breaks in and it stops on him. There’s so much cool stuff like that.

The pacing was so quick, for the most part (broken only by scenes of discussion, or something like the scene between Mal and Book), that there was no room to NOT suspend disbelief. I did note a couple of potential deviations from canon, though. In the series, Simon didn’t know that River had undergone neural stripping until he scanned her brain in "Ariel". Here we are to accept that he heard that when he broke her out. *shrug* Necessary exposition, I call it. Also, we were never told in the series that humans bascially inhabit the worlds surrounding ONE star. Hmm. Interesting. Not sure I buy it, but interesting. Pretty much everything else was the same as in the TV show, iirc.

Oh man, I love how Joss uses every little detail. Mr. Universe is integral to the plot, but at first I assumed that his love-bot (geez, Joss is a fan of this idea, isn’t he? *snerk*) was just another Joss-joke. Instead, she became the means to communicate the secret Mal needs to accomplish his task. I was also very amused that David Krumholtz played Mr. Universe–-I watch him in the show Numb3rs, where he plays another geek. Type-casting! :-)

Someone has to screencap this film as soon as it hits any medium where that’s possible. I want icons. I want a Wash background. I want that image of River looking through her imaginary console at the planet Miranda.

Did I like this movie? Heck yeah. Will I see it again, in the theater? Absolutely. Am I still kinda mad at Joss for killing Wash? Sure. But I know good storytelling when I see it. He’s getting no hate mail from me. I’ll just go buy some toy dinosaurs to put on my desk.

Can’t stop the signal!

Current Mood: moodymoody

(7 lit candles | Light a candle)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:fpb
Date:October 2nd, 2005 06:41 am (UTC)
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Notice the supposedly positive, but sneering and superior comment by the New York Times, essentially saying that this movie is good enough for fanboys and the rabble, but below the level of us clever NYT readers. I suppose there was not enough homosexual copulation to get his member up. Meanwhile, I will be downloading all the FIREFLY I can. As for Wash getting killed - remember, this is the guy who killed Tara off onscreen after losing Willow her previous boyfriend. Whedon has a habit of playing rough.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:October 2nd, 2005 05:37 pm (UTC)
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As for Wash getting killed - remember, this is the guy who killed Tara off onscreen after losing Willow her previous boyfriend.

This is true. I almost made a snide comment about it, as I did about the geek-and-his-love-bot thing, but then didn't. Still, though--I was very attached to the Wash/Zoe pairing.
[User Picture]
From:reveilles
Date:October 2nd, 2005 07:21 pm (UTC)

HERE BE SPOILERS: BEWARE

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Good review! This movie was emotionally wrenching, and it was pretty violent (though not for the violence's sake--really, you found yourself wishing, along with the characters, for a little bit of peace and quiet), and it was funny enough to make swallowing all the pain and struggles palpable. I TOTALLY didn't expect Wash's death! I think basically the entire theatre cried out "No!" when that happened. It was totally shocking, without warning. Sort of like what death is in real life, I suppose.

Is was even more wrenching for me because jcobleigh and I had just seen Alan Tudyk in person and I was really rooting for Wash a bit more on that basis. :)

I walked out of this movie a different person than I walked in, it was that good and engaging. Regarding the Firefly universe in general, I always liked how Book seemed to be a genuine Christian. It was a breath of fresh air in a genre that only tends to portray religious people as either psycho bad guys or humanists with a dollop of spirituality tossed in for psuedo-deep measure.

I'm fully intending to go see it again. :)
[User Picture]
From:scorptilicus
Date:October 3rd, 2005 02:08 am (UTC)

Re: HERE BE SPOILERS: BEWARE

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Ditto on the seeing it again thing.

You are very fortunate. I was spoiled about Wash (stupid overly curious nature! Aarrgh!!!) The moment still made me jump though.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:October 3rd, 2005 05:06 pm (UTC)

Re: HERE BE SPOILERS: BEWARE

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Is was even more wrenching for me because jcobleigh and I had just seen Alan Tudyk in person and I was really rooting for Wash a bit more on that basis. :)

Aw, how sad! Wow. I saw the movie again last night, and I am really impressed with Alan Tudyk--he plays Wash so well, so warmly, so amusingly...and there's no hint that he's anticipating his own death.

"I am a leaf on the wind; watch how I soar."
[User Picture]
From:whitemartyr
Date:October 9th, 2005 09:10 pm (UTC)
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[And I will refrain from trying to read any meaning into the fact that I think Wash is Joss’ avatar.]

Okay you have to explain that thought bubble to me...cuz Im curious!
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:October 10th, 2005 06:45 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Hum. Let's see if I can get back into that headspace. :-) I actually didn't follow that line of thought all the way, cause I wasn't sure it made sense.

Basically, it went something like this: everyone in Firefly is part of the Western archetype. Leader (Mal), 2nd (Zoe), muscle (Jayne), doc (Simon), preacher (Book), kid (Kaylee), con artist/prostitute (Inara, or perhaps River).

Wash is a different archetype: every space story needs a pilot. Some of the others, like Kaylee, double archetypes (kid & engineer), but Wash has just the one...plus being the voice of reason, of humor, and of Joss-like behavior (as Xander is on BtVS).

So was he the most expendable of the crew? Someone had to die for this story...and it's just interesting to me that it turned out to be the one who is most like Joss. And I wondered if that said anything about the way Joss views people like himself (though, of course, we also have to consider that Wash's skills saved the day 3 times during the film, heh).

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