Serenity viewing

Posted: June 24, 2005 in General, Movies/TV/Music

Last night a group of us were lucky enough to see one of the showings of Serenity (shown on Thursday in 35 cities). This would be considered a super “pre-release” since the film isn’t supposed to open until September 30.

There’s been a lot of talk in various movie sites about this movie. I’ve read a number of reviews of other test screening and after actually seeing the movie, I thought I’d offer my two cents.

I’m a geek, I admit it, but going to an even like this shows me that there are many many people out there who are far geekier than I. It’s a strange pity I feel for others and myself. For others because they are so excited about something like this that they dress up, sing songs and completely geek out. Pity for myself because I haven’t ever felt that way about a anything even remotely similar.

After a couple (not so rousing) sing-a-longs of the Firefly theme the lights finally dim and the projector starts. Joss Whedon appears and explains the only reason the movie got made (because they don’t make movies of TV shows that were canceled after a couple episodes), was because of the fan base and the DVD sales. He goes further to say that it is our responsibility to tell the world about the movie and urge others to see it.

Just a warning, there are minor spoilers (nothing that will ruin the film) ahead:

Overall, I have to give the movie a “good” rating. Overall it feels more like a series finale (which is not necessarily a bad thing). It’s much better than Star Trek Generations (which also felt like a series finale). I tried to look at the movie from the point of view of someone who has never seen the series (although if you haven’t seen it, you should go pick up the DVDs, they are quite excellent). The uninitiated won’t get some of the character interactions, in fact some of the characters may seem extraneous (and they are in regard to the plot of the movie). Without them, however, fans would be wondering “Where is…” So in the scheme of appeasing all, I think that is forgivable.

The complaints didn’t bother me at all. One is the death of characters (there are two deaths,) people complain that one of the deaths is unneeded and the rest of the cast seems unbothered by it (cracking jokes not too long afterwards.) I found that this death served a purpose, it was perfectly timed and completely unexpected. It fits within the tone of the movie, and it shows that not everyone lives (and in fact I think everyone gains at least one serious life threatening wound during this movie). My biggest complaint about (both) deaths is that the relationships of these people to the others isn’t really fleshed out as much as I would like.

My only real visual complaints were a couple of the FX shots seemed off (the chase near the beginning with the reaver ship and the “landing” of Serenity near the end). It’s not that they didn’t look good, but the physics need some fine tuning.

I have a few more plot complaints. I found the whole “Mr. Universe” thing to be a little bit too convenient and I expected a better plot device from Joss. There were a few other, less than stellar plot devices.

My last complaint is about the “Can’t Stop the Signal” tag-line. Justin turned to me and said “What’s all this about ‘Can’t stop the signal’?”, and I was wondering that myself. I’m not sure if the guys in charge of marketing we stuck and just chose a random quote (from near the end of the film) to use as a tag-line or what, but it’s pretty bad. I would have preferred something like “The law calls them outlaws, you’ll call them heros” or something that is a bit more inspiring. In the scheme of usability “Can’t Stop the Signal” is unapproachable and doesn’t add anything at all to the movie.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s easy to cast stones, and honestly I think the last movie that I’ve seen that honestly surprised me was “Shaun of the Dead” last summer. I think it’s more about the expectations of movies being great (and yet, they rarely are). I think Serenity is a good movie (certainly better than most), I think it will even play well to those who don’t have a clue what it’s all about, however it’s going to take some great marketing from Universal to get people to see this film. I hope we see another Firefly movie in a couple of years, that would be nice, but I’m certainly not holding my breath.

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