Review: Serenity – World Premier

Lurch Kimded writes, I was blessed (as were 500 other people) to see last night the world premier of Serenity at the Edinburgh Film Festival. The Cast and Joss Whedon attended and did a short Q&A afterwards which was hugely enjoyable… anyway, I though it’d be amiss if I did not try and review this amazing film. I have tried to keep spoilers out of the review so anyone can read it. I read the review before I posted it, and can testify to the mild nature of spoilers. (When I say mild, I mean that the only things revealed here are also revealed in the trailers.)

Cast and Crew

Nathan Fillion …. Capt. Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds
Gina Torres …. Zoë Warren
Alan Tudyk …. Hoban ‘Wash’ Washburne
Morena Baccarin …. Inara Serra
Adam Baldwin …. Jayne Cobb
Jewel Staite …. Kaylee Frye
Sean Maher …. Dr. Simon Tam
Summer Glau …. River Tam
Ron Glass …. Shepherd Meria Book

Written and Directed by Joss Whedon

Premise

River and Simon are still running from an ever increasing paranoid Alliance who send a deadly assassin after them who will stop any nothing to capture or destroy his target.

High Point

Trying to pick just one is quite hard, but the revealing of River after a fight with Reavers, it may be very Buffy but still it was immensely cool.

Low Point

As sad as this is, the low point is the history of why we have this film, also you could argue the film only has the proper impact if you have watched and enjoyed the TV show.

The Scores

Originality:
Firefly always felt unique to me, Serenity being a continuation continue that feeling. Although the story did feel, occasionally, like I had seen it before (although never done so well). So overall I’d say 5 out 6.

Effects:
An even higher standard than in the TV series, well, what would you expect. Not a single complaint, the subtle and obvious effects blended brilliantly. 6 out of 6 (only because I am trying not to overly judge the fact I can tell when something is CG more than most)

Story:
The plot revolves around your typical “government has messed around with smart kids and turned them into trained killers but one of them knows something” and yet Whedon (and the cast) manage to make it feel fresh and interesting. There are a lot of interesting small pieces of information (some obvious, some not so) which hint more at what the world of Firefly and Serenity are like. 5 out of 6, just because occasionally it does do what you expect.

Acting:
Was top notch, the timing of these guys is brilliant. They played off each other creating a real feeling of watching something that was happening rather than some actors pretending. Even the facial expressions and background comments were excellently executed. 6 out 6.

Emotional Response
Always the hardest to judge, if you have watched the series then the emotional impact is high and quite intense in places. The cast talked after the movies how a couple of them, even though they knew what was about to come, still held hands as it happened. If you haven’t seen Firefly (the question has to be asked, why?) then it would be slightly muted, perhaps, so 5 out of 6.

Production
Its Whedon, what do you expect, dross? The production was superb. 6 out 6

Overall:
Being at any World Premier is probably going to give a film a rosy tint, being at the World Premier of Serenity is DEFINANTLY going to tint my perspectives. Yet trying my best to be analytical, and unbiased I am still left with my jaw firmly dropped. This is one Science Fiction film that should be seen, and if we are lucky we may get more (if what Joss Whedon said in the Q&A is correct. Overall 6 out of 6

So in Total Serenity gets 39 out of 42 (and that me being probably overly brutal if I went with my heart and soul it have got the full 42 out of 42).

9 replies on “Review: Serenity – World Premier”

  1. rickyjames says:

    Felt Like They Took The Sky From Me
    I too will keep this comment spoiler free, so read on. I saw a preview showing in Memphis a few weeks ago and was totally shellshocked. Intense, brilliant film but to me it took our quirky, beloved Firefly frontier motif and turned it back into the brutality of a war zone.

    This movie is like a two hour march back through Serenity Valley. Yes, such violence is indeed a part of the Firefly universe but it’s not the part of that ‘verse I wanted to focus upon, particularly as part of a reunion I’ve anticipated for years. The whole concept of an ensemble of vulnerable people relying on each other in a lawless world is thrown out the window for a cameo of Nathan Fillion playing Captain Ahab instead of Captain Reynolds. The whole proceedings had a Greek tragedy feel where people were not masters of their own fate or indeed allowed to make any choices at all, instead just feeling the wrath and whims of of the Writer God Joss like they were all just leaves blowing in a gigantic whirlwind…

    And when the ensuing sh*tstorm finally dies down, the ending seemed just too pat – how could a group like our big damn heros possibly stir up so much crap against so many powerful players in their ‘verse and then just sort of screw on a few replacement hull plates on Serenity and fly off into the sunset without any real cares except where their next refueling was coming from? To me, the calm ending presented was the most implausable ending of all.

    Over on the Serenity Recovery Group, er, spoiler section of the main Firefly board, everybody else swears the movie goes down much better after a second or third viewing. I hope so. I love Firefly / Serenity way too much to live with the troubled mind and upset stomach this film left me on first viewing.

    • futuresmith says:

      Re: Felt Like They Took The Sky From Me

      RickyJames Please, edit your post. This was not what I would consider spoiler free at all. I am very unhappy that I have read your post as while it did not tell me anything that happens in the film, it did produce a feeling of dis-ease that will be hard to shake. Don’t do that to other fans.

      • rickyjames says:

        Re: Felt Like They Took The Sky From Me

        RickyJames Please, edit your post.

        Umm, sorry if my post has been seen by others as a spoiler. I’d be happy to edit / delete it if I could but I don’t think I can. At least I don’t see a button to do so. Site moderators / fiz / anybody, feel free to delete my post if you choose to. I recommend that everybody see Serenity, my intention was NOT to scare anybody off.

    • octa says:

      Re: Felt Like They Took The Sky From Me
      Uhh I think you just gave away the ending… wtf.

      • rickyjames says:

        Re: Felt Like They Took The Sky From Me

        Uhh I think you just gave away the ending… wtf.

        Not even close. Just wait and see.

    • J_W_W says:

      Re: Felt Like They Took The Sky From Me

      I too will keep this comment spoiler free, so read on. I saw a preview showing in Memphis a few weeks ago and was totally shellshocked. Intense, brilliant film but to me it took our quirky, beloved Firefly frontier motif and turned it back into the brutality of a war zone.

      This movie is like a two hour march back through Serenity Valley. Yes, such violence is indeed a part of the Firefly universe but it’s not the part of that ‘verse I wanted to focus upon, particularly as part of a reunion I’ve anticipated for years. The whole concept of an ensemble of vulnerable people relying on each other in a lawless world is thrown out the window for a cameo of Nathan Fillion playing Captain Ahab instead of Captain Reynolds. The whole proceedings had a Greek tragedy feel where people were not masters of their own fate or indeed allowed to make any choices at all, instead just feeling the wrath and whims of of the Writer God Joss like they were all just leaves blowing in a gigantic whirlwind…

      And when the ensuing sh*tstorm finally dies down, the ending seemed just too pat – how could a group like our big damn heros possibly stir up so much crap against so many powerful players in their ‘verse and then just sort of screw on a few replacement hull plates on Serenity and fly off into the sunset without any real cares except where their next refueling was coming from? To me, the calm ending presented was the most implausable ending of all.

      Over on the Serenity Recovery Group, er, spoiler section of the main Firefly board, everybody else swears the movie goes down much better after a second or third viewing. I hope so. I love Firefly / Serenity way too much to live with the troubled mind and upset stomach this film left me on first viewing.

      I’m actually new to watching this show, it was gone before I got a chance to watch it during its first run, but now I’m watching it on SciFi in advance of seeing this movie. Its an absolutely great series, but I think I can get the feel of why this movie is so loaded with action. I think that Joss just wants to finish his story but to do that in a movie hes got to cram a lot of things in. He doesn’t have time for atmosphere and foreshadowing, everythings got to happen in 2 hours or so.

      Imagine if you will that season 4 of Babylon 5 had never happened but that JMS decided to wrap things up in a movie. Even if just the end of the shadow war were involved the movie would have been absolutely loaded with stuff, jam packed with action from beginning to end. This kind of thing is a great compromise to finish the story, that is why it had to be packed into two hours, thats why there won’t be a lot of atmosphere or time to breathe. I’m still very interested in seeing this moive.

      • rickyjames says:

        Re: Felt Like They Took The Sky From Me

        Imagine if you will that season 4 of Babylon 5 had never happened but that JMS decided to wrap things up in a movie. Even if just the end of the shadow war were involved the movie would have been absolutely loaded with stuff, jam packed with action from beginning to end.

        This is absolutely what we’ve got here – trying to wrap up a seven year story in two hours. Joss absolutely does an amazing job – nobody could do better – but the transition from TV to movie requires totally different pacing that is quite at odds with the character development so key to why Firefly is so special. My adrenal glands were totally shot after watching this film.

  2. rickyjames says:

    Hey, I’m Not The Only One That Thinks So
    Lest you think that my personal observations above about the emotional state Serenity left me in must be totally off base, here’s some totally non-plot-spoiling (but again, overall emotional/ mood revealing so skip if you’re not interested in hearing such) preview excerpts from Ain’t It Cool News. Nobody would be complaining if I wrote 500 words of blissful praise here. Reviews are supposed to let you know what you’re getting into without spoiling the plot. This is what Joss has given the fans; don’t shoot me as the messenger!

    *********************

    By ACIN columnist Alexandria DuPont:

    …What I do object to is the utter lack of catharsis that the editing currently affords the audience… A couple of fans were complaining that it hamstrung their ability to laugh and thrill joyfully… and I can’t say I blame them…An ending dialogue…needs to be re-written and re-shot… For one thing, the emotions expressed during said moment are nowhere near up to the events that preceded it – wells of anger and resentment go unmarked, regrets are unexpressed, and it just emotionally short-shrifts several characters at once in ways that made me feel like I was being slapped about the face and neck with a large salmon…

    **********************

    By AICN colunmist Dem Bones:

    …as amazing as it was to see the crew come together, as fantastic as the effects and directing were, Universal has a problem on there hands. They have invested their money in an odd, dark, science fiction fetish movie expecting a new franchise–but it really only works as a finale to the TV show. As good as the film is, I do not expect it will bring new fans into the fold, except to get people to watch the DVDs of “Firefly”. I really think it is a very good film, but it has major hurdles to overcome….another problem with the film –everyone seems cold…this film needs more light. It is uncompromisingly dark–and the captain comes off as a real jackass. He is not the fun captain we expect…I think, in the end that is the sad truth of the film–it is not fun. And we wanted it to be fun–to be a celebration of continuing on, even in the face of cancellation…I am sorry that my opinion isn’t higher. I certainly wanted it to be knocked out of the park….

    ***************

    rickyjames says, me too. Me too.

    • Grounded says:

      Re: Hey, I’m Not The Only One That Thinks So
      *EMOTIONAL SPOILERS* (???)

      I saw it on the Wednesday night in Edinburgh and my feelings were mixed. On the one hand, it felt like I was watching a really great film (admittedly with a few quibbles). On the other, it didn’t seem to bear much relation to the series at all. I now feel a strong need to see it again (from a better seating position for one thing!) to try and get a better idea if my first impressions were swayed too much by the occasion.

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