Monday, 25 June 2012

Serenity

Awesome story, awesome characters, awesome world. This TV series was definitely worth resurrecting - go and watch it!




It's been a long time since my last post, and even longer since I posted about Firefly, but I've finally finished it. So here's a review of the movie that completed the story after the series was cancelled (for reasons I cannot fathom, since this show is so good!)

Basically this film plays out like a much longer episode of the show, which is both good and bad; on the downside the budget is still small by blockbuster standards, so while the effects are slicker and grander, they still feel a bit cheap and tv-ish. That's the worst of it though - all the best stuff from the show is all here; the dialogue is snappy, the characters are well defined and universally interesting, including all the new ones we're introduced to, even when they have precious few minutes of screen time. The universe this franchise inhabits is fantastically real-but-not, with a vibrance and believability overpowering any stretches of credibility.



For newcomers, this film caters for you. Characters are introduced cleverly to establish their place in this story, and it all makes sense on its own. If you haven't seen the show though, you may feel the piece is a little empty, and some characters pointless or boring. I can't help thinking that for a newcomer, Wash or Shepherd may seem insignificant or forgettable, while fans of the show have a deep sense of attachment developed over the run of the show, so some moments will really hit them hard. While it was clever of them to engineer a film that could open up a whole new audience for them, it's really at its most rewarding when you already know and love this world. It's a right shame that the movie didn't achieve the box office success to justify more movies about this world, because it really is one in which you want to explore further.

Regardless, this is a great film to cap off a great series, and anyone who is a fan of sci-fi, Joss Whedon (especially if you've only seen The Avengers), or solid character pieces should definitely watch it.

SPOILERS NOW, SO I CAN TALK ABOUT THE BITS THAT BOTHERED ME

Ok, so in my last post I railed off a list of questions that were intriguing me at that point - around episode 9 in the series. I'm glad I did that, because now I can see which ones have been answered and how.

So what happened to River? This was beautifully answered almost completely in the first few minutes of the film. While that seems a little disappointing - given that it was one of the driving arcs in the series and could have been drawn out longer to give us a gradually unfolding mystery - it very elegantly delivers those answers fans are clamouring to hear at this point, while also setting up a slightly different, equally intriguing premise for the film: what exactly does River know?

One thing I was sad not to see was the men in blue gloves. Those guys were really creepy, and it would have been great to see them pitched directly against Mal and his crew, as well as learn more about their backstory. But again, most of what there is to know about them has been answered or implied; and they are effectively replaced by the very interesting and threatening Operative.

It was a little strange moving straight from Jubal Early in the last episode of the series, to the Operative, as they're fairly similar characters. Although Early is far more menacing, while the Operative is far more capable, they're both black, physically intimidating, with quirky dialogue and catch phrases. They're both great, bad-ass villains, I just think they came a little too close together, and should have been given some breathing room in between.

In my last post I mistakenly referred to the Reavers as "Reapers". Too much Mass Effect perhaps? Nobody called me out on it though, so I guess that's ok for now.

The part played by the Reavers in this film is just great. Although it wasn't the most pressing question for the series at the time, the origin story of the Reavers made for an excellent thread for the movie to tie up, giving us the best of everything the series has established so far. The collision of the two armies was spectacular, and served as an epic backdrop to all the character payoffs that were going on around the climax. This film did over and above what it needed to in order to tie up the many loose ends left by the aborted show.

In sum, again, I love this series. It's problems all stem from studio stuff-ups, small budget, time constraints and the like. Thankfully, Joss Whedon has gone on to give us the mega-blockbuster The Avengers, and will hopefully continue to produce other fine quality works. The rest of the cast and crew have gone their separate ways, but its so cool to go through the bonus features and see their passion for this franchise, and their dedication to seeing it through to a dignified end.