Sunday, October 02, 2005

Serenity: The Movie

I was a big fan of Joss Whedon's space science fiction series, Firefly. I was disappointed when it was cancelled after less than one season. The series DVD with its unaired episodes helped to feed my fix. Now the new movie based on the series, Serenity, has completely satisfied it.

I saw the movie Friday at the late show in downtown San Diego. There was a pretty big crowd consisting mostly of 20-something males. There were a minority of women too. The small turnout of women surprised me because Joss is famous for his heroines, Buffy the vampire slayer, for example. Perhaps the show started too late for the demographic. As for me, the cashier must have thought I'm a senior now because I got in for the discounted price. Ha! Let's hear it for the graying beard look.

The TV show made a successful transition to the movies. The effects looked very good and the film's overall look did well on the big screen. The space scenes were works of cinematic art. I think there'd be a market for some stills as framed art.

But Whedon is not so much known for special effects and cinematography as he is for his writing and character development. The movie delivered on that score as well. The plot changed the lives of the characters in dramatic ways. This was no movie about heroes who are so beloved by the author that nothing bad can ever happen to them. Whedon should be given credit for having the guts to do what he did to his characters in this movie. The love that obsessed scifi fans have for their favorite characters cannot be understated, yet Whedon took a chance on alienating his base by killing off at least one likeable character. No small thing considering how unlikeable some of the characters are in this story.

Another of Whedon's trademarks as a writer is his penchant for snappy one liners and very clever writing. This wore thin at times, especially in what should have been an emotionally weighty scene involving the character Book. The jokiness did not run true for me in that scene. But snappy one-liners goes with the scifi adventure format and Whedon writes good ones. Another thing that grates at times is the faux western dialog but that dialog goes with the western in space concept that is Serenity and that concept works really well. Holstered six-guns and all.

As a fan of scifi it was also a pleasure to see a show that takes place without faster than light travel and within the confines of a single star system. It's a geeky point, I know, but I liked it because it's not usually done.

At the end I'm left hoping the show gets picked up by Sci-Fi channel as a series with a 2-3 year commitment to finish out the development of the characters and move them into the next stage of their lives. But nothing longer than that else it'll go the way of Stargate and the imitation of all things Star Trek. A movie sequel, maybe, so long as it involves big things happening as Parliament figures out just what they should do about Serenity's crew now that it has become clear how much of a threat the crew poses to the Alliance. Or perhaps people from "Earth that was" could come a visitin'.


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Hear hear! Finally someone who has the same aspirations I have. I'd love to see Serenity do just enough business to convince SciFi to pick up a series, but not so much that Universal decides it's better as a movie franchise.

I don't want to wait two years between episodes... ;)
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