Tuesday, 29 November 2005
Serenity: A Review
So, I finally got to see Serenity. They had the OV on at the Megaplex in Linz on Monday. Serenity, as I'm sure you all know, is Joss Whedon's movie based on the pre-maturely cancelled TV show Firefly. Also, I'm sure the regular readers of this site know I'm a Joss fan verging on fanboy. I've got all of Buffy and Angel on DVD and I know which lines he wrote in the X-Men and, of course, I have watched Firefly five or six times on DVD.
Serenity, eh? Just an overblown two-parter really. You could tell Joss only directed for TV before because of the way he kept cutting to Kaylee (Jewel Staite) for reaction shots.
Nah, just kidding. It was good, bordering on great and, without hesistation, about twice as good as all the good bits from the recent Star Wars movies put together. It had the dark version of Captain Mal Reynolds, played to great effect by Nathan Fillion, last seen in the Pilot episode of Firefly (and, briefly, in War Stories), some fine work by the rest of the cast (though not enough Kaylee, in my opinion, even if she had lost a little too much weight) and it had Joss's almost-trademarkable witty dialog.
It also had Joss's hackiest ever plot. Two of the fun things about previous entries in the Whedon oeuvre was that he, and his other writers, invariably found ways of confounding your expectations of the way the plot should go and the seemingly effortless way that he would give viewers, to paraphrase Joss himself, what they needed rather than what they wanted. Here it seemed that he had a big checklist of "beats" that he had to hit and he hit them with a crisp regularity. The beats included a long loving ship flyby (OK, I loved that bit), a fight over a big spinning thing (didn't Galaxy Quest kill this off?), the big device that reveals everything (They Live and countless others), shock death of a beloved character (twice, perhaps two and a half times, Simon even got a deathbed speech), robot sex doll (Buffy, repeatedly), an unstoppable Boba Fett-like character (Objects in Space, OK so ripping off your own finest moment is not necessarily a bad thing seeing as that episode never got aired) and the Big Inspirational speech (didn't he get tired of these after Season 7 Buffy) all made an appearence.
Still, it had Mal as an occasionally nasty, opinionated, curmudgoenly, bad tempered, out-of-his-depth rogue (but, you know, loyal, lovable and honourable) and if that was the only twist on the usual space opera that Whedon thought he could get away with on his first movie then maybe it's enough. The slightly warmed-over feeling of the plot was more than compensated for by the characters, anyway. Though there wasn't time to dwell on more than Mal and River, the cast as a whole seemed to have an ingrained knowledge of their characters and how they would deal with things and none of them sounded a false note. They each had their moment to shine and that was all you could expect with such a large ensemble.
So, yes, I enjoyed it. I laughed, I may have cried, I wandered round the Megaplex looking for Serenity posters to steal. Here's to a sequel.