Serenity (4 of 5)

The back-story of this one (much like Gilliam’s BRAZIL) gives it a free half point. Joss Whedon wrote one of my guilty pleasures Buffy the Vampire Slayer (movie’¦not the show’¦which he also did) From there he puts together a smart and unique sci-fi show for Fox’¦.which they proceed to show out of order and then cancel after 11 episodes’¦.If you go back through the journals in 2002 you will see what a travesty I thought this was. Now I am not a’™ Whedonite’™’¦.but he had not flopped to this point and why the suits decided to screw with and yank this show was beyond me. Well, after shopping the series around for a year’¦and winning an Emmy for effects’¦Joss released the DVD set of all episodes’¦.the die-hards bought the tune of 500,000 copies. Universal liked the number and gave Joss 40 Million to finish what he had started.
So here we are ‘¦The ‘˜Han Solo Chronicles’™’¦placed somewhere between episode 3 and 4 of Star Wars. Well sort of’¦but it is a good description none the less’¦ Serenity is a Firefly class transport ship owned by Ex-Freedom fighter Mal (Han Solo)…his second in command Zoe, hired muscle Jayne, mechanic Kaylee…pilot (and Zoe’s husband) Wash and guests Inara (a high end concubine who uses Serenity’s Escape pod as her brothel’¦at least on the T.V. show)’¦A holy man they call Shepard, and a Doctor running from the same planetary alliance that Mal and Zoe fought a few years back as a member of the Browncoats. The doctor also has a sister, River, that he stole from an alliance laboratory and is the reason he is on the run. Ok’¦Back story done’¦So onto the flick’¦. there were two great mysteries in the T.V.series’¦what was the past of Shepard’¦and what is up with River? Well in this movie’¦we follow River’s plight. And it is a great journey with truly universal implications. In hot pursuit is an Alliance assassin hired to kill river. The crew of the Serenity has to wonder whether it is worth it to protect this sometimes-scared little girl/ sometimes-killing machine or find out why the alliance has such a high price on her head. Joss’s writing of dialog only rivals Quentin Tarentino in its depth and earthiness. Everyone has lines that define their character and provide laughs’¦.Jayne getting the best of them this time around. Joss’s storytelling follows the great movie tradition of first second and third acts each growing in size and tension till a dynamic climax. Where the movie falls short is with newbies’¦Firefly viewers know their characters and understand their unwavering loyalty to each other. Here its taken for granted and there isn’t enough time to build it up to those levels and also maintain the scope and action of the story. Instead we get a wisecracking crew you cant quite get into’¦.and just when you start too’¦bad things happen. As my Wife Deb said (she didn’t watch the shows with me)’™ there were too many long pauses of people just looking at each other’™ and she was right’¦.but this was the unwritten language of the crew’¦something newbies would have not known. If Firefly fans want you to see the movie..ask them to borrow the DVD set and watch the “Out of Gas” episode before you go. This one episode explains it all and increases the movie experience so much that it should be in place of the previews before the movie. The film itself steals a lot from other movies’¦.but in the robin hood style of stealing that you dont mind’¦.what is a western without a stagecoach chase?’¦..what is a space opera without one ship versus an armada?’¦.what is an ensemble piece without someone dying?’¦its all here’¦and used to great effect. There were a few ‘˜ Whedonites’™ in the theater and there constant high speed nerd like chattering worried me through the previews’¦. they clamed up when the flick started’¦and placed all the ohh and ahh’s in the perfect spots’¦so kudos to them. Well Done Joss’¦well done’¦can’t wait to see what you can do with a real budget. I think if they hit 60 Million they will green light another’¦and Ex-Browncoat Mal and crew can ride again.
P.S. if you don’t cheer when the blast doors open’¦. turn in your film geek card’¦. you are no longer a member.

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