A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Serenity

November 24, 2010

Serenity

Yes, once again this is not a bad movie. We’re still watching Desert Bus but I couldn’t handle another bad movie today. So instead we’re watching a great movie. I’d like to start today with a story. Earlier this year, near the beginning of our movie-a-day project Amanda and I attended the first Pax East. It was a glorious coming together of geeks and nerds from all over the East Coast and parts beyond. At one point Amanda and I attended a late-night screening of sketch comedy by the people behind Desert Bus, LoadingReadyRun. This was around one in the morning, just before everybody was set to be kicked out of the convention hall, and when we arrived at the theater we found that a group of enforcers were already there watching episodes of Firefly. None of us, not the small audience who had shown up to see LRR and not the crew themselves, could bring ourselves to make them stop watching. Before we started our viewing we reverently allowed them to finish watching the episode they had been watching when we arrived. I tell this story to illustrate a point. Within the circles of people I respect and enjoy spending my time with there’s a kind of sacred quality to Firefly. Everybody knows that it was a great show that should have been given more of a chance to shine. Everybody knows that it was a sin that Fox cancelled the program before they had even broadcast all the episodes Joss had in the can.

This is that epic and legendary film that was made to rectify some of these grave sins. It’s a mighty task to undertake, but one that Joss Whedon pulled off with a great deal of class. The challenge is that there are so many things to be accomplished in a single film. He needs to re-introduce all the characters and the world they’re in for anybody watching the movie who was unfamiliar with the show. He needs a story worthy of this crew and this ship. And he needs to present some closure for those of us who were crushed by the show’s abortion and want to know how things were supposed to turn out.

In every way this movie is a success, at least for me. It has a huge, epic, sweeping feel to it. It has probably the most apologetically and brutally lawful evil character ever created. It has a few wonderfully cinematic moments that could not have been accomplished within the restraints of a television show. And all throughout it is clearly a Joss Whedon film in every way.

By far my favorite part of the entire film is the adversary that represents the oppressive government of the Firefly universe. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays the part with such complete dedication that it’s impossible not to get caught up in the battle of wills between Mal and the Operative. Here’s a man who freely admits that he is a monster, capable of killing innocent women and children in the pursuit of his goals. So dedicated is he to his cause that he is all the more terrifying because of it. He is not an evil man, he’s just a man absorbed by his faith. (I’m pretty pleased that he does not have the hokey blue hands of the agents in the television show.)

What do you want out of a sci-fi epic? A scrappy crew of mismatched people thrown together by circumstances battling a massive and oppressive government with unlimited resources? An awesome space battle? A totally kick-ass girl with psychic powers? Space-zombies? They’re ALL HERE!

My one word of warning would be that this is a Joss Whedon film. Of course this means that it has creative, snappy dialog that charms you and sticks in your head, which is good. But it also means that every character is mortal and could die at any moment, which can be slightly traumatic. If you, like me, are the sort of person who had to stop watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer when Tara was capriciously gunned down and cry for a week then you may have problems with some events near the conclusion of this movie. I fully understand the reasoning behind these plot choices – it’s important to ramp up the tension for the climax and drive home the point that in a Joss movie anybody is fair game – but that doesn’t make me like it.

I love the movie over all though. It does everything I wanted it to do and more. It is one of those movies I took great delight in recommending to my patrons at Blockbuster. It is a movie I would unreservedly recommend to anybody who reads this blog who enjoys the same kinds of movies I enjoy. Indeed I’d be kind of shocked to find that any of my friends reading this blog haven’t seen this movie already.

November 24, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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