Friday, November 11, 2005

You can't take the sky from me

If you didn't know what the subject of this post was going to be from the title then you are probably too cool to read my blog.

Serenity opened today and so I went to see it; I'm a Joss Whedon fangirl (I know it's shocking that a feminist blogger could possibly be into something like that - but there you go).

I was a little bit anxious before I went into it. I wanted it to be good, but I wasn't sure it was going to be. I was never a huge fan of Firefly - I liked the concept, but the execution was often a bit rocky. I loved some of the characters & relationships (Kaylee, Wash & Zoe, Simon & River, Jayne), and hated some others (Book, Mal & Inara, Simon & Kaylee).

Well I should never have doubted Joss - it fucking rocked. You should go see it now. I don't care if you haven't seen Firefly, go see it anyway. It looks fantastic, the dialogue is great in a very Jossian way, the plot is compelling, the characters are all as interesting, or more so than they were in the series, and the acting is amazing.

There is something about being a Joss Whedon fan that makes you kind of evangelical. I'm not sure why, but I'm sorry if it's scaring you.

That's the general review, I do have some specific comments. I was quite heavily spoiled for the movie (I'm really bad at not being spoiled - I considered myself unspoiled for the final episode of Buffy when I knew who died, and all about the magic scythe power-sharing thing), but if you like being surprised (a feeling I don't really understand), then read no further.

I think the real strength of the movie was the richness that comes from having 9 core characters. It meant there was always so much going on, because they had the ability to show different reactions and different views.

I think it was Kaylee that made this most clear. About twenty minutes in I started to get worried that they were under using Kaylee, particularly as I knew she didn't play a huge role in the plot. But she does get used, because her viewpoint is always there, for every event (Jewel Saitie was excellent).

I thought both the new characters were awful. The movie needed some plot devices, but the way you hide the fact that people are plot devices is you make them into normal people - you should try to avoid using them to make philosophical points.

They made me like Kaylee and Simon! I always found that relationship annoying, because the only reason I could see that Kaylee was so into Simon was because he was male. Which is fine - her options were rather limited and she's well into sex, but then why did it take so long, and why should I care? But because he gave a reason why he hadn't seemed that into Kaylee, and because there was the great Joss undercut it worked for me.

I think I've come a little bit used to Joss's writing though. During the fight with The Operative at Inara's, I kept on thinking to myself "why isn't Inara doing anything?" "Come on Joss you have to get Inara to save the day in this scene" "see she could have clobbered him right then". I knew what Joss would do with the scene, and he kept on holding out and not doing it. I wonder if he was playing with us.

What is it with sci-fi geeks and fan shafts? Really having the climactic scene in a fan shaft was completely unnecessary, in fact it was stupid.

I came home and I wanted to rewatch the pilot and found I've lost my first Firefly DVD (I know I said I wasn't that big a fan, but I'm really into Joss's commentaries, and would buy most things if they came with a Joss commentary. Joss's commentary on Innocence is the all time greatest commentary in the (somewhat short) history of DVDs). I'm really worried by this because my flat is tidy, which means it may be actually lost, rather than just under something. I'm going to turn the place upside down tomorrow to find it. I have to lend it to people to persuade them to go to the movie.


  1. Anonymous11:16 am

    Serenity was so good I have forgiven you for spoiling me.

    Also I will check my flat for the first DVD - you might have left it there when you took the rest back.

  2. You go girl! All the best feminist bloggers are Joss fans.

    I have to disagree with you though about the 9 core characters adding to the film. I thought they came across as very superficial. The film format just didn't do justice to their richness and complexity

    My comments here

  3. See I think I would have felt the same way you did if the acting wasn't so good. Obviously Inara and Book were only incidental characters in the movie. And I didn't mind that because I found them various degrees of annoying in the TV series. Although Inara only when she was interacting with Mal, I liked her and Kaylee. I still thought having people we knew, in what were essential small parts, gave the movie depth and resonance, I don't know how it would have worked.

    As for the others I really felt they all go their moments. In fact I felt I knew Zoe better than I had during the series. From the argument with Mal about leaving the guy behind, to her absolutely spot-on reaction to Wash's death. I'd never felt that we got to know Zoe, because of the person she was, and we did

    Kaylee's 'heart of the shipness' might have been a tad over-played at times, and it really worked for me. Particularly when compared with Jayne's Jayne-ness. Obivously he didn't have as much to do as he did in say Ariel or Jaynestown. And I think Joss could probably have done just a little bit to bring this out as a pivotal moment for Jayne, where he does choose to fight for nothing. But that might have been cheesy, or undercut Mal's story. I think it was Jayne and Kaylee, each as a counterpoint (can you have two counterpoints - do I have any idea what I'm talking about when it comes to a music metaphor) to Mal's narrative story, that really worked for me.

    Simon, River & Mal all had more than enough to do with the plot. I can see the argument that Wash's role was reduced to make jokes and die, but I didn't mind that.

    I'm not denying that it would have been better as a season of tv, but it made a pretty kick ass movie.