So I already talked about my experiences with Firefly. That I watched Serenity before ever seeing the series. I’ve since watched both more than once and actually recently finished watching everything in order in a couple of, so I’ll kinda look at the movie from two sides: as a movie and as the film picking off where Firefly ended. Oh and beware of spoilers throughout.
Serenity essentially picks of where the show stopped. It’s “in the future” to some extent, but I don’t remember whether they specifically clue us in to how much time may have passed. Serenity is also kind of an attempt to explain everything from the show. There’s a lot more back story given for River and we learn about Reavers and whatnot. As dense as the show could be, the movie jus increases that.
That is my biggest problem with the movie. When I watched it the first time (remember I never saw Firefly before) I was able to enjoy it, though I had no idea what the hell was going on. There’s no explanation really. The movie really relies on you having seen the TV show. The back story information wasn’t for people like me, but for the fans of the show. For someone unfamiliar with the canon it just made things more confusing (although it did sorta help clear up River’s role). Oh and a few characters die (wont go into that much). The point there is that I didn’t really care. People familiar with the series had more time to know those characters. In the span of the movie there wasn’t enough of a connection built for them (especially the first one) for me to care at all. Lack of knowledge of the characters also makes some of their decisions harder to grasp. Despite all of that, I was still able to enjoy the movie, I just was completely lost like someone watching a Harry Potter film without reading the books. Best comparison I can make.
Having seen the movie a couple of times since as well as watching the show more than once, the movie makes more sense. It’s still pretty heavy, but at least I know who the characters are and have some basic understanding of the canon. The character’s deaths I mentioned have more of an impact. And while it was better having that canon knowledge, it didn’t really improve the movie a whole lot.
I’m torn on this because as a fan of the show I want to say I really love the movie. Unfortunately it has to many problems for me to really say that. The whole story just bugged me. It seemed like Whedon tried to cram part of a second season into the movie. He went and found a bunch of stuff he would’ve continued exploring and stuff that people wanted answers to and put them into a 119 minute movie. On top of that everything is for lack of finding an appropriate word, the content is heavy. There’s a lot to it. The movie just felt really bogged down in information that was crammed in there for fans since the chances of the show or another movie being picked up seem slim.
The River stuff I liked. I’m glad they continued to play with it. Honestly, that would have been fine for the movie if that was all there was to it. It’s where the show was heading and most of the movie does revolve around River in someway. The Operative was a great character and it would have been nice to have developed him hunting them down more. Actually, it would’ve worked even better that way as a segue from the series end with the bounty hunter there.
The Reavers. That’s really the next big part of the movie. River and Reavers. In the show we know very little about Reavers. I liked that. I like not seeing the scary monster because nine out of ten times that monster just sucks when you see it. It’s the thrill of the unknown that makes it scary. It’s why we’re afraid of the dark or what’s in our closet or under our bed. The Reavers back story really was a letdown. I didn’t want to learn that much about them. I didn’t want to see that much of them. As interesting as that background story is as far as bringing up some philosophical and whatnot questions, it was a let down.
And now here’s definitely that spoiler. I’m going to talk about the deaths, so skip this next paragraph if you want to miss it.
The deaths of Wash and Shepherd. Wash makes sense. The nice guy that is pretty universally loved tends to get killed off. It pulls emotional strings that way. Going back to Harry Potter, it’s like Rowling initially wanting to kill Mr. Weasley, but couldn’t because she liked him to much. Wash is that character. However, his death seemed unnecessary. Yes it was neat that he died randomly, that it was not at a time where you would expect it such as when they’re trapped fighting Reavers in the building. Still, it wasn’t needed. It didn’t really change how Zoe or anyone acted that much. Shepherd was the first kill though and I kinda understand it. It’s similar in a way. It gives some sort of reason for Mal to get all angsty. It makes more sense for him to kick the bucket as well considering we don’t see him much in the movie. He’s no longer part of the crew.
So yeah. My biggest problem with Serenity was just the content in it. It’s all connected, but some of that seems a bit thin at times. I also felt like there was too much jumping between the story-lines. There was just too much crap in it. The show was always nice and relaxing as far as pacing and stuff. The movie just seemed like it was on speed trying to get to everything.
Outside of that the movie is great in other technical areas. It still looked great and sounded great. The choreography for the action sequences where nice, especially Rivers. The characters all pretty much remained as solid as they where in the show other than we finally got to see more of River, which still wasn’t enough for me. The only downside character-wise (apart from the deaths) was that I still think the Operative should have gotten some more time. He was an interesting character that didn’t get his “episode” to spout his philosophical beliefs the whole time.
So I’m still torn. It is a good movie, albeit it flawed. I think someone unfamiliar with the canon of Firefly can still enjoy it, as I did. It helped finally push me into watching the show. Unfortunately you miss a lot. It’s definitely better to watch the show first. Even for fans, I feel like it wasn’t as good as it easily could have been. Suffered from trying to explain everything from the show and trying to wrap everything up in one two-hour movie.
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