*** Official SERENITY Review Thread

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Robert Crawford, Sep 30, 2005.

  1. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator

    Dec 9, 1998
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    This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "Serenity". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.

    Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!

    If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.

  2. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator

    Jun 30, 1999
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    This is my original review from May, but for a spoiler-less review, it covers most of the bases:

    This is a dark and gritty film, but the dialogue sparkles, and final stanza is pretty good.

    I think non-Firefly viewers will have a little bit of a problem keeping up with who is who and the relational aspect, but Whedon did what he could to bring them up to speed in minimal time.

    I'm going to give it a B+ for now, but I think Firefly fans will enjoy it.

    The rest of my reaction on my 3rd viewing last night with a crowded theater of Browncoats are in the Serenity discussion thread, with a whole lot of spoilers, so be forewarned when you check out that thread.
  3. Steve Y

    Steve Y Supporting Actor

    May 1, 2000
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    I just saw Serenity today. First some background: I've seen all of "Buffy" (I own the first five seasons and and the last two, uh, "extended story improvisations" on DVD) and have seen two full seasons of "Angel", but I only got as far as the TV promotional ads to "Firefly". I did know the basic actor lineup and the premise to the show beforehand, but that was about it.

    You can tell this film was shot on a budget. It really has that "Sci-Fi Channel" look about it -- keep in mind this isn't necessarily a bad thing -- and on the plus side, this means it's not overly stylized. It's charmingly home-brewed, just like the spaceship after which the movie is named. The fight sequences are just fantastic. They make the tightly-shot and quickly-cut sequences in other action movies seem lazy and forced.

    Some of the Firefly fans have been wishing there had been less "action" in Serenity (isn't that what I'm hearing in the discussion thread?) but I think a movie like this is struggling upstream from its first shot. It needs constant activity to sustain its forward momentum (whereas a TV series always has breathing room). Besides, Joss Whedon can do great character strokes in the midst of action setpieces with just a few wry strokes of his pen.

    I tried to view this film as an outsider might. And the first half of Serenity I found to be just a little meandering and episodic -- after the dense introductions (cleverly done) I kept wondering how much I was missing. And then wondering: so where are they now? Which planet? What exactly are they doing here? People are annoyed and there's some danger, or something?

    But once the main plot is unearthed, you suddenly realize the movie is really about something. It's affecting. It has narrative drive (phew!). The characters begin to crystallize (double-phew!). And it becomes very very compelling and even moving. Chiwetel Ejiofor in particular nailed this one. It's impossible to look away from him, even when -- especially when -- you hate him. His exchanges with Mal (Nathan Fillian) are just about the best things in the movie, which has a lot going for it apart from that.

    The biggest cypher for me was Jewel Staite's character Kaylee. She just seemed a bit of a vacuum for me, didn't do a whole lot, and some of her reaction shots and line-readings seemed a little false. Another reason to rent the series and shed some light on these characters...

    Someone made an interesting comment earlier that Joss Whedon tends to undercut intense drama with jokey comedy, and vice-versa, sometimes to the detriment of both. It's the taffy-puller method of dramatic effect: pull 'em in, hook em easy, then punch them in the face; or send them into a dark haunted house and then suddenly turn on the lights and give them confetti and a standup routine. If you don't "get" Whedon's particular brand of rhythm and dialogue, i.e. if you're just walking into this flick "bare", you might not understand exactly what's going on. Whedon seems to be afraid, as others have noticed, to sustain an emotional note. He's afraid you'll groan at the emotion (or the joke) so he has to keep pulling the rug out from under you. Unfortunately, if you're not bored in the first place, it can be very disconcerting, to say the least.

    Sorry for the aside, but I think it's important to note when considering Serenity. Even when Whedon's writing is too clever for its own good, it's more fun to listen to than a lot of the mass-produced dreck coming out of actor's mouths nowadays. It's also really nice to see such a refreshing change of pace on the big screen: a fun b-grade space opera that probably won't clean up at the box office, but will sustain its fanbase for years to come, whether in syndication, on DVD, or (hopefully) in future projects. Serenity is great fun; I'd recommend it to anyone.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] out of [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  4. Lou Sytsma

    Lou Sytsma Producer

    Nov 1, 1998
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    Lou Sytsma
    Great flick and proof positive that the best movies are character driven and not effects driven. Also demonstrates that with the appropriate writer, dialogue in SF movies does not have to be crap.

    A transitional piece from TV to the silver screen, I expect that if a sequel is done, it will soar higher.

    Nathon Fillion's stock should rise quite a bit because of this movie.
  5. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

    Dec 15, 2001
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    Heart-wrenching, action-packed, and awe-inspiring. Definitely not perfect, though. Some of the camerawork was amateurish and took me out of the film. There are other moments I could nitpick, but they're just nitpicks, nothing big. Overall, a fine effort, and one I'll be seeing again in the theater.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] out of [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  6. MickeS

    MickeS Producer

    Jul 24, 2000
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    I never watched "Firefly".

    The first half of the movie is very slow, and for an "outsider" like me, not that easy to follow. It pretty much assumes knowledge of the crew and what they are doing, to give any kind of meaning to the scenes. Of, course, there is a verbal explanation of who they are and what is up, but that isn't very exciting, and it certainly does not make for a good movie. The dialogue was not as clever as the writer thought it was.

    After the first 45 minutes or so, the movie picks up, and the main storyline of it begins, which is actually interesting, emotional and full of good character moments and action. If the first half of the movie had focused less on trying to blend in with the TV shows (which is at least what it seemed to do, although I have no idea if it did), and more on trying to be a good movie, the movie as a whole would definitely have benefited.

    Grade [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] out of [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  7. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Lead Actor

    Aug 6, 2001
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    Northern Virginia
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    Chuck Mayer
    A few days late (actually a few years late), but here I am.

    I started the series about three weeks ago (having sat on my shelf with one aborted attempt when my child was VERY young...too tired to make it through the pilot). When I reached the Event Horizon of the movie, we got into the show. It didn't take long. Nathan Fillion has a very easy charm and manner, the characters are fun, and the premise was smart. It's a very good show for me...not a great show. But then, I can tell it would have been if given a little time. I did my show data dump in it's thread in the TV section. No more here.

    Serenity is an above the mark adventure film. It is not perfect, serving two masters (those who've seen the show, and those who haven't). Some characters are ciphers, or somewhat wasted. But that's to be expected. Television is not film. Films have a tighter focus, and Mal and River and The Operative get the time to shine. Inara, Zoe, and Kaylee get left behind, to an extent.

    But the movie itself uses it's "budget" effects very well. They might lack the polish of a bigger budget, but they do not lack the heart or energy (It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but...). I enjoyed the effects. The direction and cinematography is good, not great. Whedon is a talented director, but he's not a visionary. His real skill is writing, and Serenity is not his best work. But it's perfectly serviceable, with a few great moments, fewer bad moments, and plenty of others that average better than not. The music didn't do much for me (and it was something I noticed and liked on the show), because I don't remember it.

    The star is undoubtedly Fillion, who really comes into his own when the focus is on him. It's a very watchable performance, as he balances a razor-edge tautness with a sense of humor and self-deprecation. Chiwetel Ejiofor is outstanding (excepting one scene I mentioned in the discussion thread; that was the writing, not him), and was clearly kept around for another go. The others were all serviceable, with Alan Tudyk knowing exactly what was expected of him (having done more films than his counterparts, and in similar roles) and shining.

    Special notice to Summer Glau and her action scenes. Whedon does a remarkable job with these, and they are graceful, well-shot, and well-framed. Some of the best action sequences in a major release in some time. The rest of her performance was above the board as well. I was impressed, moreso than I was with her in the program.

    I have no idea how this film would play to the uninitiated. I'm certain some characters would seem frivolous and generic (poor Kaylee and Zoe). But I don't care [​IMG] We get too few pure adventure films these days, so I'll take the gems where they come.


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