Stephen Speicher

Serenity (2005)

Rate this movie   59 votes

  1. 1. Rate this movie

    • 10
      33
    • 9
      10
    • 8
      9
    • 7
      4
    • 6
      1
    • 5
      1
    • 4
      1
    • 3
      0
    • 2
      0
    • 1
      0
    • 0
      0

Please sign in or register to vote in this poll.

76 posts in this topic

Soooooooooo good!

I want to rate it an 11, but I'll settle for a 10.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Joss is boss.

Thanks - my name's Joss too.... :):)

I really enjoyed the movie, but I think it isn't as good as the TV show. Hopefully, there will be follow ups where the characters are developed even better.

They did a good job of writing a story which worked both for TV show enthusiasts and total newbies.

I rate it a 9 (I rated the TV show a 10...)

MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW

I can't believe they killed Wash and Sheppherd Book. Wash was an important character in the TV show, and I really liked him. And Sheppher Book was interesting and I wanted to understand what his background was...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Spoilers follow:

Am I the only one who thinks that killing the Wash character was malicious and gratuitous? It served no plot point, it wasn't the logical consequence of a previous event. It was purposefully portrayed for shock and horror, but no other point I can see. Maybe I missed some relevance, but to me, it was an immature act of surprise for surprise's sake, and it undercut all the plot thereafter.

In spite of that very big disagreement, it was a very good movie. I think the TV episodes are the best thing I've ever seen on a TV screen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

MAJOR SPOILER to FOLLOW:

Spoilers follow:

Am I the only one who thinks that killing the Wash character was malicious and gratuitous? It served no plot point, it wasn't the logical consequence of a previous event. It was purposefully portrayed for shock and horror, but no other point I can see. Maybe I missed some relevance, but to me, it was an immature act of surprise for surprise's sake, and it undercut all the plot thereafter.

No, it serves the very useful purpose of telling the audience that no one is safe, and yes, they're very capable of killing off your favorite character, so in the very next sequence, when the crew is stuck in a hole fighting reavers, you better not get comfortable because Joss Whedon is capable of killing Kaylee or anyone else you like.

If you think everyone's going to live, then that scene has no suspense.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

SPOILERS FOLLOW

The death of Wah felt forced. It didn't serve any specific purpose in the story. It would have been more natural when they're all barricaded against Reavers, or at some other point. In fact, it wasn't a particularly heroic death.

To me, the goal of Walsh's death was to free up space as pilot for Mal / River. If you think of Mal as being the equivalent of Han Solo, it's weird to have someone else pilot his ship (although it did work great in the TV show). Alternatively, it's possible that there were a fall out between the actor and the director, or simply that the actor couldn't agree to more movies, or something of the sort.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Warning: There are spoilers about this movie in this post.

Wash certainly did die a hero. Did you SEE his piloting job just prior? What could he have done that would be more heroic?

I think it would have been kind of ridiculous if everyone among the crew managed to live through the situation; it would have undercut the gravity of Mal's decision to fight the Alliance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I gave this movie a 10. This is an important film. The level on integration between the story, themes, and style was brilliant. I'm glad he made it a westerny-science fiction film, because I think it would have a mediocre film without it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I saw it today...it was excellent. A ten.

Having received many recommendations, I bought the entire series on DVD three weekes ago and basically lived in that world for two weeks. I found myself singing the series' theme over and over in my head:

Take my love, take my land

Take me where I cannot stand

I don't care 'cause I'm still free

You can't take the skies from me

Take me straight into the black

Tell 'em I ain't comin' back

Burn the land, boil the sea

You can't take the skies from me

So, naturally, I was excited to see it. And I wasn't disappointed.

I guess seeing the series before watching the movie would help, since the characters become like family, and their fate assumes a greater dimension in your mind. If you like drama where the characters are always dead serious, then viewing the series first is probably required.

I believe the series dramatizes the virtue of independence, while the movie dramatizes the role of spiritual values in human life.

Of the series' episodes, my favorites are: "Serenity - Part 1 & 2", "The Train Job", "Out of Gas", "War Stories", "The Message", "Heart of Gold", and "Objects In Space." (Heart of Gold, Objects in Space, and War Stories stand out.)

The diction used by Mal and his crew takes some getting used to, but Nathan Fillion, who plays Reynolds, employs it fabulously in his portrayal of the metaphysics of a man devoid of guilt, pity, or fear. And Chiwetel Ejiofor (Dirty Pretty Things) delivers yet another superb performance as a man utterly dedicated to his values.

But the greatest glory belongs to the primary creator: Thank you, Mr. Whedon!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Major Spoilers Follow

I greatly enjoyed the movie. I think the ultimate example of what Malcolm Reynolds is like is the scene where the assassin, who is holding Inara hostage, tells Mal he just wants to talk and is completely unarmed. Mal says "Good," and promptly shoots him. Classic Malcolm Reynolds.

The theme of the movie, I think, was that no government has a right to force its citizens to conform to some government mandated philosophy of life, in this case, passivity. In other words, people should be free to live their lives as they see fit. In the flashback scene, a young River Tam objects to the government always meddling in people's lives. She says the Alliance "doesn't have the right" to do so.

And on the planet Miranda, the government somehow (I can't remember if it was some sort of medicine, or what) caused all the people there to lose their drive, their passion, their aggressiveness. Ultimately, the people lost the will to live, and died---except for the ones who reacted in the opposite way, and became Reavers.

There was the usual sprinkling of Whedon humor throughout the movie. In the opening heist, for example, Mal ordered Jayne not to bring along grenades, since he already had plenty of weapons. Then when the Reavers showed up and Mal and crew had to flee, Jayne commented: "It sure would be nice to have some grenades now, wouldn't it Mal?"

I certainly didn't like seeing Wash killed. It was so shocking I didn't think he was actually dead until Zoe announced he wasn't coming with them. After thinking about it, I would at least have liked Wash to have been allowed to live long enough to say a few parting things to Zoe, his wife. Instead he was there one second, and gone the next. When Shepherd Book died, he was allowed to communicate with Mal for a couple of moments, and it softened the blow of his death for the audience and for Mal. Zoe just got nothing. It was very sad.

I would like to have seen more of Inara and Kaylee, but I guess there's only so much time to go around for so many characters.

But overall, it was an excellent movie that I enjoyed watching. I hope there will be sequels.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't read any of the spoilers. But I have read the non-spoiler threads...and I've seen the polls. The responses to this film amaze me. Would somebody mind summing up just what is so great about this movie? Without spoiling the movie, would it be possible for somebody to tell me what about this movie stands out and makes it so great?

I'm very tempted to go see it!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I haven't read any of the spoilers.  But I have read the non-spoiler threads...and I've seen the polls.  The responses to this film amaze me.  Would somebody mind summing up just what is so great about this movie?  Without spoiling the movie, would it be possible for somebody to tell me what about this movie stands out and makes it so great?

I'm very tempted to go see it!

Basically, it is about a group of people who refuse to accept a tyrannical solar system wide government. A couple of them fought in a war against the Alliance government. Having lost the war, they are now living on the outer fringes of the solar system, in a Firefly class spaceship called Serenity, a cargo ship, not a military ship. They live by transporting cargo, passengers, or by robbing from members of their enemy, the Alliance.

Their captain, Malcolm Reynolds, is a refreshing thing in fiction, a man of quick and remorseless justice. He is very protective of his crew.

His first mate is a woman named Zoe, who was a soldier with him in the war. She is married to the ships very highly skilled pilot, Wash.

There is a mercenary named Jayne (male) in the crew, who is of sometimes questionable loyalty.

The ship's mechanic is a woman named Kaylee, who is pure sunshine.

The ship also has a Companion aboard, a Companion being comparable to a Japanese Geisha. She often acts as the ship's "ambassador" opening doors that might otherwise be closed to them.

A passenger who decided to stay aboard is Shepherd Book, an elderly religious "shepherd." All through the tv series, Firefly, Captain Mal was shown to be rather unsympathetic to religion, He wouldn't allow Book to say Grace at their meals, for instance. But Shepherd Book has a mysterious past, which seems to include some kind of military knowledge, and some connection to the Alliance.

Finally, two refugees from the Alliance are being sheltered aboard Serenity; Dr. Simon Tam, and his gifted sister, River Tam. The Alliance government had chosen River to perform experiments upon, until Simon rescued her. She is psychologically damaged, and subject to "mood swings of a sort."

The movie Serenity finds them continuing their struggle to resist the Alliance's tyrannical government. The Alliance is constantly after them, because they want River Tam back at all costs.

As Mal likes to say: "One thing I know, I aim to misbehave."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are no movie spoilers in this post, but there is a TV spoiler marked at the end.

I haven't read any of the spoilers.  But I have read the non-spoiler threads...and I've seen the polls.  The responses to this film amaze me.  Would somebody mind summing up just what is so great about this movie?  Without spoiling the movie, would it be possible for somebody to tell me what about this movie stands out and makes it so great?

I think it has such rabid fans because of the world Joss Whedon has created and the characters he put in it. This show gives me the opportunity to see people I can look up to, not down on. Watching it makes me actually want to be on the "boat" and around these characters in real life. I believe this appeal comes from a single source: on this show, no one acts purposelessly--not the heroes, not the villains, and not even the minor characters.

First, all of the characters are very moral. They are not altruistic at all, but they are not militantly egoistic either. (They don't self-consciously announce the philosophical justification for their actions any more than most people do.) In fact, what it most reminds me of is what AR said about Hugo: that what he portrays is not "what great values man fights for," but "how great man is when he fights for his values" (paraphrased).

Mal, Zoe and Book, in particular, are portrayed with a strong sense of what is right (though not the same sense). In fact, it is the clashes between the characters, when each is acting from his own code of values, that makes for the best drama. You can appreciate both sides of the confrontation, and it makes the tension that much more enjoyable.

Furthermore, all the characters are focused on reality. Part of this comes from the fact that they are usually in a spaceship in outer space, but this is true even on the relative safety of ground.

Finally, the characters are so consistently drawn that you really get to know them. Thus when they act true to nature, you find it funny for the same reason you find a friend's odd-but-familiar style of humor funny. There aren't any "jokes" in Firefly/Serenity, but I found myself laughing along with the movie quite a bit. It's clear the actors enjoy being their characters.

In summary: I'd definitely recommend you see it, if you are interested in seeing a movie. You probably won't like it as much as a fan of the show would, but I don't think you'll regret the money or time spent. And the movie doesn't really spoil the TV series, so you can go back and enjoy them (available on DVD) if you like the movie.

***** MINOR TV SPOILER *****

This is my favorite exchange in the series, that concretizes just how well the dialogue is written. It's from the episode "Ariel," after the captain Mal finds out that a man named Jayne on his crew has turned in another member of the crew to the government. Mal decides to keelhaul him for being a traitor, but Jayne doesn't understand why Mal is so bothered by what he did:

Jayne: I'm sorry, okay? Be reasonable. What're you taking this so personal for? It ain't like I ratted you out to the feds.

Mal: Oh, but you did. You turn on any of my crew, you turn on me. But since that's a concept you can't seem to wrap your head around, then you got no place here. <pause> You did it to me, Jayne. And that's a fact.

Mal's performance here gives me chills every time I see it (in fact, just re-reading the words makes the scene real to me again). Now there is a man who knows exactly what he is doing and why.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is the movie based on a novel worth reading? Or is the basic story idea original to TV and cinema?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The movie is based on Joss Whedon's original tv series, Firefly. Joss Whedon wrote and directed the movie. It is his original work. There is a novelization of the movie, which is basically Joss Whedon's script in novel form.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

People - this is a $9 movie ticket and a couple hours of your life. Go see it, you won't regret it. At the very worst, you'll find that OK entertainment, at the best, it will keep you smiling for days.

oh, and rent the DVDs. I suspect you'll want to buy the set once you've watched a couple episodes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Spoiler free

JRoberts -- a non-spoiler overview of what makes Firefly/Serenity so fantastic.

Serenity is based on a cancelled television series, Firefly (the story of how it went from cancelled tv show to feature film is a whole 'nother inspiring saga in itself). There is a great deal that is good about it, but overall I'd say it is creator Joss Whedon's ability to masterfully integrate character, plot, theme and style. I think what probably appeals to most Objectivists specifically (and initially) is the unabashedly, unapologetically selfish hero and the underlying theme of independence as an essential to living any kind of life worth living. At the beginning of the series, independence is the sole value the hero still hangs onto after fighting on the losing side of a war against a quasi-fascist government. He has pretty much given up on everything else (this isn't a spoiler, as this is established within the first five minutes of the first episode). Had the series continued, I think it would have been primarily about Mal (Serenity's captain) regaining his sense of purpose. This is, in fact, one of the main plot themes of the film.

That's not all, however. Joss Whedon is the absolute master of characterization and dialogue. He creates and populates a world that is all at once extremely stylized, yet very, very real. In just over a dozen episodes, the viewer becomes emotionally invested in these characters and their lives. The good guys aren't perfect. They are, in fact, criminals (though really, we only ever see them scavenge, steal from the government or low lifes, and smuggle). Overall, they are good people. They struggle, they make mistakes, but they develop and learn. You just can't help but fall in love with them, most especially rugged individualist Mal and the ship's passionate, benevolent young engineer, Kaylee, with her beautiful sense of life. The bad guys are usually motivated by very explicit (and bad) philosophy While the science is (mostly) quite solid (no sound in space!), there is no technobabble, no aliens and the story is always about the people, never the technology. Firefly is probably the most human science fiction around.

The overall style is part western, part space opera. The characters speak in an invented vernacular that is difficult to describe (nearly all of the cursing is Chinese, for example). The dialogue is witty, sharp and and often humorous, but flows from the characters and situations without undercutting the more serious themes. Even the music is outstanding. The episodes and film are well written with superb acting. The plots are always engaging, well paced and well integrated with the themes. There are ongoing plots and mysteries, but the main plot of each episode is self-contained -- there is continuity and evolution of character, but the continuity isn't like that of a soap opera. The episodes are incredibly re-watchable and filled with small details you may not notice until a second or third viewing. Joss Whedon and his team of writers never underestimate the intelligence of their audience -- probably why the show was eventually cancelled by Fox.

If you are yearning for good art with great values, Firefly and Serenity are a must see. However, I would strongly recommend you watch the television series (available on DVD and in re-runs on the Sci-fi channel) first.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you all for the replies! They answered all of my questions, and I'll probably be seeing it some time this week :).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They were #2 at the box office this w-e. They did $10M in revenue. Not bad for a $40M movie, but I sure hope they do much, much better.

JD

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I haven't read any of the spoilers.  But I have read the non-spoiler threads...and I've seen the polls.  The responses to this film amaze me.  Would somebody mind summing up just what is so great about this movie?  Without spoiling the movie, would it be possible for somebody to tell me what about this movie stands out and makes it so great?

I'm very tempted to go see it!

My favorite description of Serenity is that it's like Star Wars, only told from Han Solo's point of view.

Or to put it another way, it's what might've happened if Han Solo hadn't met that old guy in the bar.

I certainly think this is very apt. Malcolm Reynolds would have shot Greedo first.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I finally saw Serenity last night (Betsy wanted to see it with me and she has been consumed with getting out Cybernet, and with work) and I was overwhelmed. I've loved Josh Whedon's writing ever since Buffy, but he really outdid himself on this movie. The story line was brilliant, and it worked for those who had not seen the TV show (Betsy) and for those who had (me). I truly hope the movie does well-enough for Whedon to continue on with sequels. A toast to Serenity, a great film.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The story line was brilliant, and it worked for those who had not seen the TV show (Betsy) and for those who had (me). I truly hope the movie does well-enough for Whedon to continue on with sequels. A toast to Serenity, a great film.

I second the above. After watching all of the episodes on DVD, I was dying to have the loose ends tied up, and Whedon delivered. The very beginning of the movie, briefly describing the context of the Firefly universe, was also great. In the original series it wasn't clear, at least to me, that all of the events were happening in a single star system with lots of planets - and although Kalie is really good, I wasn't buying that her duct taped engine was FTL capable ...

I've wondered why some excellent science fiction shows have poor ratings (e.g. Jeremiah and Crusade) and are prematurely killed, and others really take off and have longevity. I'm starting to think that the venue has a fair amount to do with it. If you air a science fiction show on a general kind of cable channel, the ratings will probably suffer because, statistically, it isn't the right kind of audience. Too many "I'd rather watch football, what's this??" kind of people to bring down the stats. I suspect that Firefly would have rated highly if it had been originally shown on the Science Fiction channel. Actually, they are re-running the series there (see here), and it would be interesting to know how the show ranks within the context of SF channel ratings. If it's good enough, maybe the series can be restarted.

Interestingly it looks that the SF channel is starting to hold its own as far as "mainstream" kind of numbers of viewers go. The new Battlestar Galactica is doing very well for example. Hopefully more and more high caliber shows will find a home on that channel rather than being killed in more conventional channels.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I've wondered why some excellent science fiction shows have poor ratings (e.g. Jeremiah and Crusade) and are prematurely killed, and others really take off and have longevity. I'm starting to think that the venue has a fair amount to do with it. If you air a science fiction show on a general kind of cable channel, the ratings will probably suffer because, statistically, it isn't the right kind of audience. Too many "I'd rather watch football, what's this??" kind of people to bring down the stats. I suspect that Firefly would have rated highly if it had been originally shown on the Science Fiction channel. Actually, they are re-running the series there (see here), and it would be interesting to know how the show ranks within the context of SF channel ratings. If it's good enough, maybe the series can be restarted.

Interestingly it looks that the SF channel is starting to hold its own as far as "mainstream" kind of numbers of viewers go. The new Battlestar Galactica is doing very well for example. Hopefully more and more high caliber shows will find a home on that channel rather than being killed in more conventional channels.

Being sort of a sci-fi nut, I've given some thought to all of the above. Very rarely does a genre show (going to lump fantasy and horror here as well) have mainstream appeal. For one, it requires imagination. For another, if the show is done right, it requires thinking. Even 'hits' like Buffy, X-files and Star Trek TNG have had low ratings in comparison to the big shows on the regular networks. The thing is, genre shows tend to bring in the demographics advertisers want (middle to upper income, 18-35). However, the low numbers over all and the higher expense of producing these shows mean they have a difficult time making money. Even a specialty network like Sci-fi will have difficulty. For instance, prior to BSG and Stargate SG1, Farscape was the network's biggest hit. However, because of the budget, it just wasn't breaking even and the show was cancelled at the height of its popularity, right about the time Firefly went on the air (hence the Sci-fi channel not picking it up when Fox dropped it). For a while there, even the Sci-fi channel was producing gobs of those idiotic 'reality' shows because they were cheap to make. Scare Tactics might not get the numbers Farscape got, but was a fraction of the cost to produce.

I am not sure of the exact ratings for the Firefly re-runs on Sci-fi, but I heard they were good. The show is run in a less than ideal time slot (not during prime time), so maybe that is an option for Firefly. SG1 should be wrapping up any time now, SGA is mediocre at the best of times. BSG, despite being too dark and overly naturalistic for some, is actually a really well made, intelligent series and it is getting incredibly good ratings for a genre show on a cable channel. Firefly has a great deal more in common with BSG than the Stargates and I think the Sci-fi channel would be smart to pick it up and run it in the time slot where SGA is now. That is, IF Joss Whedon and the cast are even interested at this point. I do know Whedon is about to start on a movie version of Wonder Woman and at least one cast member (Adam Baldwin who plays Jayne Cobb) is already working on a different series. The box office take for Serenity's opening weekend was lower than expected. Hopefully word of mouth and DVD sales will save it. My guess is that it will make most of its money in DVD sales. My hope is that if the film performs only so-so, it will still be good enough for a continuation of the television series. I'd be thrilled with more movies, but I think the story is actually better suited to television.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites