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

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.

Hm... Inara is more like a courtesan, or a high-flying escort - she does provide services of a sexual nature... (That's not evident in the movie, but is made clear in the TV show.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder if we'll ever see mass distribution separately from TV and theaters. Direct-to-video movies are very small productions typically. I wonder how much sales would be required for a follow up to the Firefly series to be very profitable without TV distribution...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would like to ask a question that was recently posed on HBL. How do Serenity fans perceive the totalitarian Alliance? Does it target Bush and the Conservatives or does it target the Left? As the poster on HBL pointed out, the Alliance's goal of making "perfect beings" is more in line with the social engineering fantasies of the Left. The Conservatives consider humanity inherently depraved only to be redeemed by God and religion. I would imagine that Wheedon is directing this at the Conservatives but I'm not 100% sure (even though all my liberal friends who have seen the movie think so).

Also, in relation to this, I was wondering if my interpretation of the Reaver plot arc is correct. It seems to me that Wheedon is likening the Reavers to Islamic terrorists. It also seems like he is making the libertarian argument that the West (and the "pro-business" Alliance-like Conservatives) are responsible for the creation of modern terrorists by their "intervention" into middle eastern politics. I can't help but feel Wheedon is saying that we brought this on ourselves; but again I'm not sure. There is an anti-government theme that runs throughout Firefly. Sometimes I feel it borders on an outright advocacy of anarchy and that the Alliance's deepest sin is that it is a government, period. So I don't know if Wheedon is attacking government in general or just what he considers Conservative-run government.

Lastly, what are some opinions of the metaphysical worldview of the operative? I found it interesting that he fought for a perfect world of no sin but that he himself "could not live there". In my view, I think that Preacher Book was an older version of the operative which is why he knew so much about the "kind of man" that the Alliance was going to send. Also at the end of the film I sense that the operative had ended up just like Sheppard Book years ago, disillusioned and broken; especially when he says "there is nothing left".

All in all it was a good film.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oakley,

Personally, I think you are reading too much into the movie. The Alliance seems to be both militaristic and socialistic (public hospitals, government sponsored immigration, etc). I would classify them as Fascist, probably not Nazis (the social engineering reeks of Nazi-style eugenism, but it's lacking the pogroms and extermination camps).

Their isn't enough religious references to convincingly say that Wheldon was trying to portray social conservatives of the Republican sort. The militaristic tone makes it very different from the Democrat-style Socialism, and the discources of the Operative lack the workers / proletariat rethoric of the Communists.

The fact that Mal & Zoe were war prisonners but survived (and the lack of reference of any mass executions) suggests a regime slightly less criminal that the Nazis or Soviets. Again, I get a sense of "stern, authoritarian paternalism" more in line with Fascism than anything else.

I don't see any similarity between Islamic terrorists and the Reavers. Furthermore, I don't see the "pro-business" connection in what caused the reavers - my understanding is that the initiative is purely governmental (but maybe I missed something).

Again, I don't think that there's enough material in the movie to say whether Wheedon is advocating Anarchism or simply against Fascism.

The idea that the Operative at the end becomes like a younger version of Sheppherd Book is interesting. I think it has some merit - there are major hints in the TV series that Book knows his way around weapons and had an important status with the Alliance's military. I often thought that he was a retired general, or something of the sort.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Furthermore, I don't see the "pro-business" connection in what caused the reavers - my understanding is that the initiative is purely governmental (but maybe I missed something).

I was actually thinking of the Blue Sun Corporation. Although the Blue Sun corp was ommitted altogether from the movie.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I was actually thinking of the Blue Sun Corporation. Although the Blue Sun corp was ommitted altogether from the movie.

size=5]Warning: There are spoilers about this movie in this post.

I think there may have been a Blue Sun logo inside the ship which was sending out the beacon on Miranda, but I'm not sure.

I don't think Firefly or Serenity, as they stand, have any sort of anti-business message (even if any of their creators are themselves suspicious of business as such). Blue Sun exists in the context of a fascist society, not a free one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hm...  Inara is more like a courtesan, or a high-flying escort - she does provide services of a sexual nature...  (That's not evident in the movie, but is made clear in the TV show.)

The Companions are a mixture of things. Geisha, courtesan, therapist, ambassador. On the DVDs the commentaries make specific mention of the influence of the Geishas on the creation of the Inara/Companion characters. Not only in the kimono-like clothing she wears, but also in the fact of her having gone through training, like a Geisha (Geisha: "a Japanese girl or woman who is trained to provied entertaining or lighthearted company especially for a man or a group of men.").

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wouldn't liken the Alliance to the Nazis, they aren't really comparable. I would say that the Alliance is most similar to the present-day governments of western Europe.

What is also interesting about Firefly is that it shows the good things which exist even under the "enemy" government. The Star Wars expanded universe does this as well, even though the films don't as much.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would describe the Alliance as vaguely fascist, but not quite on the level of NAZI Germany. They don't seem to be racist or practice genocide, for instance, though there are some vague references in the series that they were guilty of some atrocities during the war and they seem to at least allow slavery to go on as well as looting by high ranking officials during the war (thinking of the guy in Trash). I think reviewers trying to pin the Alliance on conservatives in the US are really, really reading into things. Relgion seems to be what defines our current crop of conservatives, and the Alliance doesn't seem to care one way or another about that being the giant melting pot of cultures it is. The one religious character we do see (Book) is a Christian and a good man. Mal himself was a Christian prior to the war. The Reavers are not stand ins for Muslim terrorists. For one thing, they were citizens of the very government that made them what they were. For another, they have no motivation beyond senseless destruction.

The message is really much more simple -- the government has no right to interfere in the lives of its citizens. People can't be controlled and they should not be controlled. Like the Alliance made the Reavers animals, they made Mal, an honorable man, a criminal. Both the left and right are guilty of trying to control people's lives. The Alliance more likely represents authoritarian government in general than the right or left in the US specifically. The Blue Sun Corporation, whatever it is up to, is colluding with the government. It wasn't in the film aside from the occasional logo popping up, but that's all we ever saw in the series as well. An evil, government colluding fictional corporation does not a condemnation of capitalism make.

As for the show promoting anarchism, I don't think that is the case either. The fact that there is essentially no law in parts of the 'verse seems to be portrayed as 'bad'. Mal and crew operate in these areas, but it is that or be controlled by the Alliance. Incidentally, even the Alliance isn't exactly portrayed as this monolithic entity of pure evil. We have met Alliance officials who were honorable (the captain in Bushwacked and the marshal in Train Job, for instance). Inara supported unification. Simon didn't exactly think badly of the Alliance until he found out what they were doing to River and kids like her (he was working in one their hospitals). Only the highest officials knew about the Reavers or the project involving River. My guess is the citizens of the core planets are happy with their bread and circuses and have no idea what is really going on. Now they know.

RE: Inara... I believe the Companions are based partly on Geishas, partly on courtesans and partly on temple priestesses. They seem to cover all of these functions. My take on Inara is that she's not exactly as happy as she pretends with her line of work. It certainly conflicts with any true romantic relationship she may want, with Mal or otherwise. I don't think Companions are allowed to have those kinds of ties, at least that is the way it seems from her conversations with Kaylee. I also suspect that Inara is dying and that her dying has something to do with her being a Companion. My leading theory is that Inara is actually very old and that Companions undergo some kind of anti-aging treatment. Nandi, who was a student on Xenon with Inara looks much, much older. In addition, Saffron, another former Companion, tells Inara she has 'a condition' when Inara shuts her in the dumpster in Trash. There is something fishy going on there, and the Guild isn't the group of happy hookers they pretend to be. Certainly they exert a lot of control over their members (hence Nandi leaving).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

RE: Inara... I believe the Companions are based partly on Geishas, partly on courtesans and partly on temple priestesses. They seem to cover all of these functions. My take on Inara is that she's not exactly as happy as she pretends with her line of work. It certainly conflicts with any true romantic relationship she may want, with Mal or otherwise. I don't think Companions are allowed to have those kinds of ties, at least that is the way it seems from her conversations with Kaylee. I also suspect that Inara is dying and that her dying has something to do with her being a Companion. My leading theory is that Inara is actually very old and that Companions undergo some kind of anti-aging treatment. Nandi, who was a student on Xenon with Inara looks much, much older. In addition, Saffron, another former Companion, tells Inara she has 'a condition' when Inara shuts her in the dumpster in Trash. There is something fishy going on there, and the Guild isn't the group of happy hookers they pretend to be. Certainly they exert a lot of control over their members (hence Nandi leaving).

Those are interesting thoughts about Inara. There had been some indication, I thought, that she had some disagreement with the Companion hierarchy, and that was why she had shipped out with a rag-tag crew like Serenity. I had no suspicion she might have some kind of sickness, nor that Companions are older than they appear. I'll have to watch the episodes featuring her more closely. I think one of the other Companions also mentioned Inara was actually in line to become the head of the Companion Guild, before she left the school.

Too bad the series didn't get to resolve all these interesting mysteries.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FYI, at the bookstore this evening, I ran across the official souvenir magazine for the movie. 100 pages and lots of behind-the-scenes info. Also takes on each major character, from that of the actor and from Whedon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An additional note on Inara, after rewatching the two hour Serenity pilot for the series, and listening to Whedon's commentary upon it.

There is a scene, after they learn the Reavers are flying past Serenity and they are fearing for their lives, where Inara is shown opening a small box in her Shuttle living quarters. Inside the box is a syringe and something else, not clear what it is, some kind of medicine, presumably. Whedons says that people generally assume this is some kind of suicide kit, in case the Reavers board the ship. But, he says, that's not what it is. He said he was laying this clue in for some future episode, where its function would be explained. But of course it never was, since the series got cancelled so early. And Whedon did not explain what its function was in this commentary, hinting that it would perhaps be explained in the motion picture to come.

But it wasn't explained there either, unless I missed it. Very mysterious.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting - I wonder what it is. I had assumed that it was indeed a suicide kit. Maybe it's something that would transform her in some way? Into a fighting monster? Obviously, there's more to Inara than meets the eye (which is pretty nice already...)

If there's one weakness to the movie (OK, let's be frank, there are several), it's the gorram bow Inara carries after Serenity crashes and they're pursued by Reavers. Even though it's obviously hi-tech, it's way too cliche, IMHO.

I wonder if "gorram" is going to become a popular figure of speech among geeks. I often laugh to hear middle age people talking of "groking" this or that - they have no idea it comes from a sci-fi book!

Do people remember if in the series Serenity had those weird legs for landing? I didn't recall anything like that. They looked a bit too animal-like for my taste.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Do people remember if in the series Serenity had those weird legs for landing?  I didn't recall anything like that.  They looked a bit too animal-like for my taste.

It did not have them in the TV series, and I thought they looked rather silly. As long as we're on the topic, there's a scene in the movie which shows an external shot of Serenity as Wash is slowly landing it, and it rolls wildly to one side and then back. I highly doubt that a ship like that would be so sensitive to the controls, and furthermore, that anyone would hire a pilot who flew like that. It would be like bottoming out your car's springs because you cornered too hard while parking at the store.

But these are minor nitpicks with a show that dares to--gasp!--avoid explosion sounds in outer space.:lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thought just occurred to me that I haven't heard anyone else mention, here or elsewhere. The usual complaint is that there just aren't good roles for women anymore. But I dare anyone who claims that to look at this movie.

None of the main female characters are stereotypes, helpless, boring, or dumb. Each has her own distinct personality that would provide interesting choices for the actresses.

Inara could have been the "hooker with a heart of gold" -- but she isn't. She's too smart and selective about her customers to be a two-bit tramp. She carries herself with the pride of a queen. She's kind of like a geisha, but with a fierce independence.

River is, at once, the ultimate damsel-in-distress, the little flower under her big brother's protection, yet the smartest and least defenseless of the crew. She doesn't hide from danger; she creates it. Her emotions turn on a dime from one extreme to another.

Kaylee is open, joyous, and girlish, providing a stark contrast to the tone of other characters like Mal. Her feelings are an open book, like those of a child. Yet she is a first-rate engineer and keeps Serenity functioning. (It's interesting how these two sides are merged: it's made quite clear that it is her love for Serenity that makes her so good.)

Zoe is the Amazon of the crew, but even as seasoned as he is, there's a domestic side. The fact that her husband is not the warrior type is a nice contrast. And the shared history between Zoe and Mal made for interesting issues in the relationship between Zoe and Wash.

One big value for me is seeing the depth and originality in the characters. In one sense, the characters could come from any number of westerns: the sheriff (Mal), the doctor (Simon), the preacher (Book), the madam (Inara). Yet Firefly and Serenity are more than these characters placed aboard a spaceship.

Once again, Kudos to Joss Whedon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I found an entertaining and informative interview with Joss Whedon and the cast here:

Interview

Here's a short teaser excerpt:

How much did you guys have to practice or work out to get back into the characters and get back into the mind space you were in?

Baccarin: Well, I had a lot of sex.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, this is funny - thanks for the link:

Are you all signed for another movie or two more?

Baccarin: Two more.

Torres: Two more.

Fillion: You are? This is awkward.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Saw this last night and loved it. Mal is officially my idol.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To really appreciate this film is it necessary to have seen the sci-fi series that led up to it?

I ask this because I never watched the series, and did not particularly enjoy the movie at all. The first 3/4 of it did not even appear to have a coherent plot, and when the story finally began to develop towards the end of the movie I did not feel that the climactic events that occurred there were very significant, though in the world of the film, they were earth-shattering.

I guess I just felt a total lack of context: it would be as if I were dropped into the last minutes of Iwo Jima, and I saw the flag being raised and all these spectacular things happening, but could not get any value from it because I knew nothing of the motives, background, etc.

But in all fairness I did think it was a fun experience; but a fun experience for a corny sci-fi TV show, not a serious movie. At the end of that film I felt as if I had watched a good episode of Battlestar Galactica that happened to be two hours long.

Is there something I missed in this film or what? I am just deeply confounded that the movie I saw is the same one that has received what I think to be the best ratings this forum has ever given.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In addition, Saffron, another former Companion, tells Inara she has 'a condition' when Inara shuts her in the dumpster in Trash.

The "Trash" episode was on the Sci-Fi channel tonight. When Saffron said she had a "condition" it sounded to me like just another one of her manipulative lies, like almost everything else she ever said.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
To really appreciate this film is it necessary to have seen the sci-fi series that led up to it?

Whedon tried to set the context and give all the necessary background information during the course of the movie, but there probably is no substitute for having followed the characters through their adventures in the series. You know their histories, their character, and their goals.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Whedon tried to set the context and give all the necessary background information during the course of the movie, but there probably is no substitute for having followed the characters through their adventures in the series.  You know their histories, their character, and their goals.

I completely agree. One danger of really enthusiastic recommendations is expectations are set too high. It happens all the time, here and elsewhere.

There were two things that I had going into the movie as a result of watching the series. The series let me get to know each of the crew so well that the movie was like seeing old friends. I also knew Whedon's style -- the mix of Chinese and American cultures, the mix of western and sci-fi, the witty dialogue, the tone of the characters, and so on. I had a VERY good idea of what to expect and wasn't disappointed.

Does the movie stand on its own? I'd say yes, but I can't really judge that as objectively as I'd like, since I saw it from the perpsective of a fan of the TV show. I thought the exposition early in the movie set up a lot of context for the story, so though a fan of the show would know even more detail, a newbie wouldn't necessarily be lost.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

SPOILERS!

Just seen the movie. Very impressed. Lived up to standard expected from the TV series.

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

I think Mr Whedon's unique Sci-Fi/Western blend works for a number of reasons. His version of the future isn't too far-fetched - his attention to detail in carrying on some sort of cultural continuity between present day and the future is impressive and grounds it in some sort of reality. Also, as has already been stated, the fact that his characters aren't stark black/white, good/evil - their essentially their own characters put in very awkward circumstances. Then there's the distinct absence of Aliens, and the revealed origins of the Reavers, both of which contribute to the human focus - no great leaps of foresight or imagination are required to accept these sci-fi premises - these are humans, pretty much as they are now, in a world of higher technology, spread out further.

My thoughts on the Alliance....no, there not really comparable to the Nazis in that they are not nearly as explicit in their actions. They are very concerned about their image as essentially good, and the human experimentation is highly classified and clandestine (though they are very similar in nature to those of the Nazis). They also appear to be ruled by a sort of republic/parliamentary system, one no doubt enabled by mass collusion and misinformation, as oppose to a dictator ruling by brute force/patriotic demi-god worship. Perhaps I should order a copy of 'The Ominous Parallels'....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Does the movie stand on its own?  I'd say yes, but I can't really judge that as objectively as I'd like, since I saw it from the perpsective of a fan of the TV show.  I thought the exposition early in the movie set up a lot of context for the story, so though a fan of the show would know even more detail, a newbie wouldn't necessarily be lost.

I think a newbie can follow the story of the movie, but probably will not grasp the intricacies of the personal relationships within the crew without seeing the DVD first. There are references in the movie to such relationships that developed over the course of the TV series, and the movie builds on them. See samples below.

*TV show Spoilers*

1. Mal and Zoe's wartime experience together

2. The attraction between Mal and Inara and the conflict over her career.

3. Kaylee's relentless pursuit of Simon.

4. Jayne's previous attempt to get rid of River.

5. Shepherd Book's preservation of religion while he was on the ship.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am grateful to the fans who fought to have the TV show revived after it had been cancelled. Back in 2002 when the show was going on I didn't even hear about it! Only last year when the DVD set came out I was so impressed with the reviews that I bought it and got hooked.

*Spoiler*

My favorite line in the movie is when the operative and Mal are fighting on Mr. Universe's ship.

Operative: "Do you know what your sin is?"

Mal: "Go to hell. I'm a fan of all seven."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites