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.
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?
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!