Tuesday, August 30, 2005

You Can’t Take the Sky from Me: Serenity (2005)

Back in May I got a chance to attend a “rough cut” screening of Joss Whedon’s feature-film debut, Serenity, based on his short-lived yet beloved SF show Firefly. I was a big fan of the show and the film version does not disappoint despite some minor qualms that I had. The film opens in theaters September 30th. Anyway, here are my notes (WARNING: CONTAINS A MINOR SPOILER) that I scribbled down immediately after the screening:

Attended an advanced showing of the “rough cut” on Thursday evening. Set six months after the end of the television program, Serenity is a non-stop ride of action, great special-effects, and the fabulous writing that we’ve come to expect from Whedon. Unfortunately, in his attempt to lure new fans to the story, writer-director Whedon has sacrificed a lot of the character-development, nuance, and emotional resonance for shock and awe melodrama. But having said that, the film is nevertheless effective and is filled with a cinematic richness that the television show could never achieve because of the limitations of the idiot box medium. The acting is wonderful throughout and we generally care about our roguish heroes as they travel through even darker reaches of space than their old lives as television characters. Perhaps I’m just a tad disappointed because I wanted even more character-development than I received, but in comparison to a lot of Hollywood films—especially genre films—I have to admit the film does contain plenty to be excited about. It’s a big cast and all of the actors do get a chance to shine. I’m just greedy, I suppose, and I want even more. Yes, it’s that good the majority of the time. I do have some problems with the pacing, though, specifically during the drawn-out fight scene between Mal and the assassin character near the end. And much of that fight scene stretches credibility. Hopefully, by the time this thing reaches the screen in late-September Whedon will have edited the sequence down a bit. Overall, despite some minor problems, I can’t wait to queue up with cash in hand and see it again. Definitely the best SF film to hit the big screen in a long time. Washes away the nasty after-burn of Lucas' soulless travesties.


Dave said...

I'm betting that seeing the final cut will be a different experience in many ways.

I too wished for more character moments, but I feel like this was a limitation of the format, particularly with the number of characters and the amount of world-building that had to happen. But, yeah.

Also, Hi!

Derek said...

I totally agree. And Whedon sure did pack in a lot into two hours. But hopefully there will be more movies to flesh out those characters some more.