First off, I'm a HUGE fan of both the 'Firefly' series and the 'Serenity' movie. Any criticism is purely constructive and loving.
I'll open by explaining that when I watched 'Serenity' with my wife (who knew nothing of 'Firefly' prior), we saw two completely different films. My movie was an appendage of the 'Firefly' series, with hilarious dialog, fluid character relationships, and eye-catching action/adventure. Her movie was a disturbing horror flick, complete with flesh-eating zombies. She's now scarred and refuses to watch it again.
While her reaction is (in my mind) a BIT much, I have to admit that the movie seemed to be a bit of a departure from the series on TV, where we NEVER see an actual Reaver; the closest we got were shots of their ship in the premiere and a psychologically-fried victim who had begun turning himself into a Reaver ("Bushwacked"). For me, it took the story from a space/western into more of a space/horror genre, which (for me) wasn't a beneficial departure.
Now again, I still enjoyed the movie and wish there was a sequel. I'd just be interested to hear what others thought of the gear-shift.
First; make no mistake. I love the series and the movie! While a lot of the characteristics of the series were present in the movie (dialog, character relationships, etc), the tone of the movie overall was definitely darker. That tone and the situation the crew was placed in made me think of a crucible; no one was going to come out the same.
Especially without being familiar with the series, I could see how the Reavers in the movie might call up zombies-in-space comparisons. (Shame on you for traumatizing her!) For me, not seeing the Reavers made them more horrific in the series. A fertile imagination could take the unknown and run with it. Kind of like Pitch Black, where for most of the movie, you didn't get a clear look at the creatures. So seeing the Reavers didn't hit me as much as the change in the emotional intensity of the characters. In scenes like Jayne actually challenging Mal; the friction between Mal and Inara in the scene back onboard Serenity. It felt more raw and intense than during the series.
That may just be my perception at the time. Our Browncoat friends (proud to say we contributed to the addiction of many!) used to refer to my husband and I as Wash and Zoe. We saw Serenity shortly before he passed away of a terminal illness. (He loved the series and the movie, so it has special associations for me.) Relationships were very much on my mind at the time; maybe that why that's what sticks in my head.
I'm wondering if this discussion might bring on another shift in my perspective. I'll be curious to read how others saw it..... and, well...any excuse to watch it again.... :-)
There were many things about the show that I missed in the movie. I missed the song in the opening... I missed the shepard and Inara being part of the crew. I thought Mal was great, but a little darker, and I had a hard time rearranging the whole 'how River got to the ship' sequence in my mind. The movie was an ending and a beginning (or it was supposed to be) It was the end of the series.. but it was supposed to be the beginning of the movie sequels. One of the hallmarks of the whole series for me was how incredibly prescient the whole thing was. The seemingly natural use of Chinese words (think about it, the whole world order changed with China as a superpower.. seem like a possibility?) The complete avoidance of any aliens, the shots in space where there was no noise.. I loved it all. I agree about showing the actual reavers, though. They were really frightening while they were left to the imagination.. but there were a whole host of other things they could have kept going with. The blue hand men..... *sigh*
Maxie says: "I missed the song in the opening... I missed the shepard and Inara being part of the crew. I thought Mal was great, but a little darker..."
I'd say the whole whimsical side of 'Firefly' was sacrificed to the ultimate 'Serenity' storyline: demonstrating the lengths to which the Alliance would go in order to control its "citizens," including what they did to River. In 'Firefly,' the lightheartedness filled the gaps between the drama and action, creating the perfect balance; in 'Serenity,' I think there was just too much drama required to tell the story, which left little time or place for appropriate lightheartedness. They didn't have enough time to insert the proper amount of levity (although they did a ruttin' good job with what they had!).
I've always considered River's presence to be a serious-o-meter for 'Firefly;' pretty much any time she was onscreen, the mood changed to serious drama. When you consider that 'Serenity' is almost entirely about River's situation, it only makes sense that the mood is going to be considerably darker.
And what was up with the Wash scenario?!? Trying not to leave a spoiler, but COME ON! That was just CRAP! If I had to pick favorites, they're Mal, Jayne, and Wash; screwing around with any of those characters like that is just blasphemous.
Oh, yeah, I have to agree with that one, JQ. It was bad enough with the shepard, but WASH???? Where exactly was he going to go with it from there... that affected every part of the story line, but most of all the whole Zoe thing. He humanized her, gave her the feminine side she needed away from the whole military angle.. how could that possibly improve on that story line? And Wash was always the one that brought them back to reality when they started going off the deep end, with his humor and sometimes his temper. I hate it when they ruin a good story line for the sake of drama and surprise.
Sometimes, though, River was the one to bring a quick splash of humor in when everything was getting real serious. Like when the shepard stuck his head out of his room with his hair down and she went off screaming.. throwing up in Simon's bed.... and the ultimate.. "I think I swallowed a bug" during the really tense scene after the heist.
"Sometimes, though, River was the one to bring a quick splash of humor in when everything was getting real serious."
Good point; I was actually thinking of that very scene with Book's hair ("River, honey? He's putting the hair away now." "It'll still be there....waiting.") when I wrote that. I guess River wasn't ALWAYS the harbinger of doom; just more often than not.
To get back to the original thought, I (for one) was really surprised when I learned the origin of the Reavers. To me, in retrospect, it gave some gravitas to the movie. And a real purpose. Yes, we learn exactly what happened to River to make her the way she is. Which really should make us hate the Alliance one heckuva lot. But to hear their part in where the Reavers came from? Wow. Definitely solidifies that hate.
I can understand how a newbie would be a bit put off by seeing "Serenity." Even the moments of levity are buried in some pretty horrific surroundings. But I still appreciate what "Serenity" was trying to explain for us.
And still hoping for a prequel explaining Shepard Book's crazy past. Hey, I can dream!
I rather agree. The Reavers are super scary, and I'd have preferred a different focus. Of course, we get to see just why River was so wanted by the blue hands, so that was good. I'd like to have found out more about Shepherd Book!
This has probably been said here and most definitely in other niches of the internet, but Book [insert verb that would spoil things for newcomers] meant Mal had to come to terms with his belief system and wash made the whole thing real, it made the stakes, i would have liked to see it edited a bit differently, but it was appropriate. As for the future, well who knows. River would probably be the pilot, part comic relief, part drama-meter. Mal would be mal, Jayne would get more jayne-yness, Simon would get more involved with the jobs, Inara might lighten up, and Zoe ... now there is something to be real interested in. Perhaps she would revert to super-military characteristics then, a moment of clarity, then wash comes out in her from time to time.
A great series cut short by the powers that be, but you can't stop the signal.
This was a ok movie, saw it twice, rented twice, but reavers action cool. It just needs something I do not know what to go forward for a new moive, maybe better writing. The show was kind of simple at times (since base on 50's cowboy movies) and so were those movies, not every cowboy movie was great either? Not every weekly show was great either?
I'll admit to being a bit surprised with the direction of Serenity, though I don't think I realized it until later. The movie is very tense, but the show was at times too. While the bulk of the episodes had good comedy or western caper plots, there were plenty that were very creepy and bordered on horror... the hands in blue chase at the hospital (which is what I assumed the movie would tackle but apparently I'll need to track down this comic to find that out), the bushwhacked and war stories plots were also very dark. That tone wasn't new to the series, though the pace and tension was amped up in a huge way for the big screen, and with good reason. They had a big movie budget and they opted to go for being the most exciting and tense space opera since Star Wars... and it worked in a big way.
That said, I can understand being thrown off. My gf hated war stories and other dark episodes, but still felt the movie, while scary and heart-breaking, was a much better close to the series than the episodes at the end. It's intense in ways the show only hinted at, but everything had to be bigger and better for the movie, and I think they really succeeded big time. River's backstory and tying the reavers to the alliance were great plot developments to both answer a lot of questions and up the stakes from their usual easy heist pattern and give them a bad guy frightening enough to maintain the tension for 2 hours. I mean, who would have been happy with a movie that essentially became a 2-hour Oceans 11 in space? It was the gravitas that made this movie so memorable.
I've been a browncoat since my best friend forced it into my dvd player, I said no means no but he raped my eyes...and I loved every second of it
i personally loved the fact that serentiy was darker than the firefly series, it gave you the feeling that Joss was doing it for us the fans and because he might never get the chance to finish the series like he wanted he would get to do it in a movie
I also loved the reavers they were exactly how i imagined them
I feel that this was where Joss would have pushed the show. Had it been allowed to grow itself through several seasons (instead of the one that it was given), the show would've gradually become darker instead of abruptly shifting as was forced with the film.
I know this seems a little off topic, but was anyone else kind of disappointed that they changed the entire story of how River was retrieved from the facility just for the opening of Serenity? It kind of bugged me, since in the first episode of the series River has been secretly smuggled away and then picked up by Simon on Persephone, in his version of the story. Then in the movie Simon poses as a General, waltzes into this highly protected and secret Blue Sun building and pulls a total B.A. move to retrieve her. For the writers to completely alter this singular event just seemed ridiculous to me.
That is truly my only problem with Serenity. That, and the obvious fact that it was the only movie made of course :D
I'm just curious to know if anyone noticed/had anything to add about that particular part.
Actually, the story makes more sense in movie. Given Simon's protectiveness of River, does it make any sense whatsoever that he would give some strangers money and just meekly go wait for her to be delivered offworld? That sounds like a plan to get robbed and set up if I ever heard one. . .It just makes more story sense that he would be there in the thick of the rescue. And, we know that Simon is a genius at planning from the show. . . he definitely didn't learn that from Mal. . .
It's not really much of a continuity error if you think about it, though. . .Simon, at that point in the first episode, doesn't have any real incentive to trust the crew of Serenity. . . He told them what they wanted to believe from him. . ."money". . .and that was true, just not the entire truth.
I liked this movie, but to sell it to studio heads the creators had to have a major badguy in it. The reavers are scary too, it had to exist for nonfans as well. So the story of the revears is featured here. And lets face canibalism has occured in cultures throughout the past. usually ritual cannibalism , of eating parts of the dead and not really for food hunting. maybe a few cultures hunted people for food in nonscarce food times, but the storyline is horrific and can stand alone. that's why they did it that way.. It didn't make enough for a sequel though.