||"dawnbreak in the west"|
Friday, June 24, 2005
There's a movie spinoff of the Firefly TV series. It is called Serenity like the series pilot, and it is set a little after half a year following the series cutoff point, "Objects In Space". Last night I got to see it.
Personally, I liked it; but if I hadn't been such a Firefly fan I probably wouldn't have.
I'm going to try to avoid spoilers, but I will have to spoil the setup.
First, watch the series. You should do that anyway. I've seen the three unaired episodes three times each, the others four and the pilot, five times. Trust me on this one. It's good. But while the series prepares much of the movie's background, it does not do enough.
Inara is off the boat, as presaged by the series. The Shepherd is off the boat too, which is more surprising. From the crew, everyone else is here; but outside the crew, there are no "name" characters (the two Hands of Blue, YoSafBridge, Niska etc).
The captain Mal Reynolds is no longer endowed with the golden heart he'd gradually come to reveal during the series. He's reverted to the Mal of midway through the pilot episode; who acts callous, gets short-tempered with the crew, and attempts to sell out unwanted passengers. As in the pilot, this allows for maximum conflict and drama among the cast. Unfortunately this also makes Mal unlikeable - especially since Mal takes it to an extreme; and the movie doesn't do as well as the pilot in counterbalancing it. With such an ambiguous lead character, I have my doubts that the non-Firefly-fan viewer can know which side to support - which is important for newbies.
The exposition scenes required to make of this a movie in its own right do work better than those inserted into "The Train Job" to make of that a season premiere. Ignoring such exposition, "The Train Job" made for a fine episode in the series. I suspect the case is similar for the movie.
This movie instead plays like a season finale to a show that has lost four or five episodes toward the end. These episodes would seem to involve a dark and lean time which has cost everyone weight, especially the ship's mechanic; and further has broken the captain's heart. We may have had intimations of this in "The Message" and "Heart of Gold", which between them slew two people dear to the captain and drove a third off the ship.
I do not expect the movie to sell well in the theatres. It will do much better in DVD sales, where owners of the "Firefly" DVD set will have to buy it.
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