Stephen Speicher

Serenity (2005)

Rate this movie   59 votes

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76 posts in this topic

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.

It's contextual. The exposition early in the movie gives a Cliff's Notes summary, whereas viewers of the TV show did the equivalent of reading the book in its entirety. The summary, as such, leaves out a lot.

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FYI, Amazon.com is advertising the widescreen DVD will be available Dec. 20, just in time for Christmas.

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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.

I had just the same reaction! I was much too aware that I was missing the history of these characters, having never seen the TV show. I think this would have been a better movie if it had been made to stand on its own, and it really wasn't.

I noticed that there was no interaction between the female characters at all. I don't think there is even a line spoken from one to another--they only speak to the male characters. I thought this was strange, since the male characters' relationships were very developed.

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I noticed that there was no interaction between the female characters at all.  I don't think there is even a line spoken from one to another--they only speak to the male characters.  I thought this was strange, since the male characters' relationships were very developed.

Interesting observation. I didn't see that. With the movie coming out soon on DVD, I'll look for that.

In the TV series, there was interaction between the female characters, but then the whole pace was much better, allowing lots of time for character development.

Thinking about it now, I'd trade the movie for a second season in a heartbeat.

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I don't know, it's a tough call, Ed -- the movie was just so jam packed with stylization and the larger-than-life, that for a while after, the show seemed somehow emptier of those elements, in comparison.

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I don't know, it's a tough call, Ed -- the movie was just so jam packed with stylization and the larger-than-life, that for a while after, the show seemed somehow emptier of those elements, in comparison.

Tough call it is. Call it personal taste, but I'd prefer a slower pace, with intricate plot twists and character development, taking place over a longer period of time.

I wasn't thinking of taking just the plot from the movie and spreading it out over a season, but thinking of it now, that actually would be interesting. Some things that are hinted at could be fleshed out; Book's departure from the crew before the movie could be included; subplots in the character's relationships could be explored; and so on.

But that's just cuz I'm a greedy bastard. More! More! More! :)

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Thinking about it now, I'd trade the movie for a second season in a heartbeat.

Same here - the series was much better than the movie IMHO.

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Warning, this post contains spoilers.

Same here - the series was much better than the movie IMHO.

If one compares the whole series (14 episodes) with the movie, then I'd say of course the series is better, since it's just so much more. But I don't think two hours of the series is better than the movie.

But I do think that the great amount of substance in the movie partly is a problem. Interesting things didn't get as much time as they deserve, and I got from the movie the impression that their world isn't that big. They discover Miranda, how lucky that it happened to be located just around the corner. They want to take the tape to Mr. Universe, again - he's just around the corner. If the same plot line would have been played out in the series, the travel to Miranda could have taken 4-5 episodes (while playing out other plot-lines), and passing through reaver space 1-2 episodes. Things would have felt bigger. Not just the distances, but also the act of rebellion against the Alliance. In the movie they had to rush through exciting things in order to be able to cover it all.

But it is still a great movie though, I gave it a 10.

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Xyhm, please make sure you put up a warning of spoilers next time...

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

Anyway, right of course the entire series is better than one film -- absolutely. And likewise, the movie is so good as to be better than any two hours of the show, simply because every minute of it seems to be just so jam-packed with good things (the show has a leisurly pace sometimes).

At the same time, I don't know if the movie could have been adapted to a series format better, or maybe of course Joss Whedon could do it, but not in the ways described here. The travel through reaver territory could not have been spread out over two episodes, or even one -- it's a very tense moment, and would have been dissipated if made longer. Besides, the show was not Babylon 5, and did not appear to have such tight story arcs that would have been required to make the show work with the arcs that are present in the movie.

So, what I think happened was that Joss Whedon planned this movie from the start -- so much is happening, so quickly, on such a scale, etc, and the series (a full season's worth) would have been the emotional build-ups and character developments. And aside from being cancelled a little before the entire season's worth was shot, if this was indeed his plan then it worked exceptionally well.

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Xyhm, please make sure you put up a warning of spoilers next time...

You mean like the one I did have in the post you are responding to? Don't worry, I will continue warning people. :D

Warning: Here be spoilers. Tread with caution.

At the same time, I don't know if the movie could have been adapted to a series format better, or maybe of course Joss Whedon could do it, but not in the ways described here. The travel through reaver territory could not have been spread out over two episodes, or even one -- it's a very tense moment, and would have been dissipated if made longer.

Not all of that episode should have been of that intensity. Rather, they could have entered reaver space in the beginning of the episode and have only the last 10 minutes or so very intense. "Reaver space" should be a larger area than just the center of it. As it stands in the movie, it's like "okay, now we are at a safe distance from the reavers, they are like several minutes away" (one minute later) "ohh, reaver space, we're in the middle of lots of reaver ships and this is really dangerous".

The movie covers a lot which makes the pace rather high and the transitions somewhat brutal. In a way that's great because we get lots of answers, but at the same time we are not getting as much out of it as we would if the same basic plot would have been played out in the TV show. In fact, Joss Whedon says somewhere that the plot in Serenity basically is what would have been the season 2 in Firefly (I don't know if he meant that literally, but you get the idea, that the movie is very condensed.)

So, what I think happened was that Joss Whedon planned this movie from the start -- [...]

There is nothing to support that in the various interviews I've read with JW. The basic plot may have been planned (see above), but not to be executed in a movie.

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FYI, a friend of mine went to a one-day screenwriting workshop recently held in Hollywood, hosted by Joss, who said he's done with the Firefly/Serenity story and is moving on to other things.

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

In fact, Joss Whedon says somewhere that the plot in Serenity basically is what would have been the season 2 in Firefly (I don't know if he meant that literally, but you get the idea, that the movie is very condensed.)

Here is a segment from an interview with Joss Whedon just when the movie came out.

Yes, that was where I was going with the idea of River, and her secret and the Reavers and how it all connected. I planned to get there in a couple of years, instead of a couple of hours. Apart from not being able to service all the subplots, with all those different people, that is exactly where I was going with it. That was the easy part of structuring it and pitching it was, this is where this series was building to, and I think if you took this as a separate story it is an epic story and it has a great deal of meaning for today.

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FYI, a friend of mine went to a one-day screenwriting workshop recently held in Hollywood, hosted by Joss, who said he's done with the Firefly/Serenity story and is moving on to other things.

Oh no! I was hoping for a trilogy... :D

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Oh no! I was hoping for a trilogy... :D

Don't give up hope yet. He says in this recent interview that the future of Serenity/Firefly depends on the DVD-sales. I've also read similar things in other interviews, but also that Serenity has brought a sense of closure to the project, which I guess means that continuing isn't as important anymore.

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Time for a follow-up!

I saw this movie when it came out in theaters, and was highly displeased. To me, it wasn't the "25 10's" and High-Praise that everyone has made it out to be.

But recently, and after many requests from a good friend of mine, I went out and watched the series. After one episode, I knew that my prior evaluation was incorrect. Soon (2 days later), I had finished the entire Season, and watched Serenity again. Boy was I far off!

It is everything that you guys have made it out to be...and more. I really, highly suggest watching the series before the movie. My "converts" (my family and friends who are now hooked) thanked me for it!

:D

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I finally got a chance to watch the Firefly series and the movie Serenity – which I had been wanting to do ever since I read all the positive reviews here on the FORUM. I was hooked after the first episode, and I was pleased that the movie tied together a few loose ends from the series. I enjoyed the characters immensely, and the stories were always interesting. In fact, I was so enthralled by their whole universe that I watched the whole series in three nights and bought/watched the movie the next day. :o Thank you so much everyone who recommended this; I watch so little TV that I doubt I ever would have watched the series or the movie otherwise.

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*****SPOILERS BELOW!******

Wow, I'm glad to see that Serenity has had such a positive response amongst Objectivists. I had the good fortune to be part of the visual FX team, and I'm quite glad my first film credit wasn't on a stinker :P .

With regards to whether the Alliance government is a conservative or leftist one, I do not believe that Joss Whedon thought it out that far.

After my first screening of the movie, my first thought was that the Alliance represented the "social engineering" Left. The idea that human nature can be altered to "improve" people and to "make better worlds" or "worlds without sin", is one of the basic criticisms that conservatism makes against "liberalism", which for them includes the Enlightenment and the modern Left.

But the countervailing idea put forward in Serenity -- that people must be free to make their own way -- can just as easily be targeted against the conservatives; an example of a movie that does that, is Chocolat. Substituting an obviously conservative, theocratic government for the Alliance would be of no philosophical consequence for the characters or plots of Firefly or Serenity.

Given both the general nature of that idea, as well as the fact that it contradicts neither conservatism nor the Left so much as their common principle -- that there exist justifications for the control and manipulation of individuals -- I conclude that Serenity doesn't deal with contemporary politics, so much as it speaks out, even if only in generalities, against the dominant trends of our time. The portrayal of religion as a muted, benevolent cultural force and corporations (Blue Sun) as no better than government all indicate that Whedon's understanding just about ends there -- he expresses what is left of the American sense of life, no more.

The one thing that did make me appreciate Whedon's insight despite his philosophical limitations, was the way he dramatized the failure of the government's attempt to "meddle" with human nature. The "pacifying gas" used on Miranda was supposed to neutralize aggression, but in essence what it did was to excise all emotion and urges -- to kill an essential part of human nature, the *response to values*. If you do not respond to your values, you might as well have none, from a psychological standpoint. A person lacking that capacity exists in the ultimate state of not giving a damn, and merely lays down and dies.

When I grasped that aspect of the sequence, I thought immediately of Leonard Peikoff's observations regarding another famous experiment in "social engineering": the concentration camps:

"Hitler's philosophical experiment failed. Nature could not be defeated. Human nature could not be changed.

"Man is a rational being. He cannot survive without a mind and without values. He can be tortured, mutilated, paralyzed, destroyed, but, so long as he exists and acts at all, his identity, including the requirements of his survival, is an absolute.... The moment the victim reached a condition of perfect obedience was the moment he collapsed and started to die."

-- from The Ominous Parallels

For fans who'd like to help push for a second season, as long a shot as that likely is, go here: http://www.fireflyseason2.com/index.asp.

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Wow, I'm glad to see that Serenity has had such a positive response amongst Objectivists.  I had the good fortune to be part of the visual FX team, and I'm quite glad my first film credit wasn't on a stinker :P .

Congratulations on your first film credit, Jim. You sure know how to pick them! :)

For fans who'd like to help push for a second season, as long a shot as that likely is, go here:  http://www.fireflyseason2.com/index.asp.

Someone else pointed me to this site just last week, and I was hesitant about lending support. I noticed that there is no reference to Joss Whedon being involved in the project, or even lending his support. The website says "We are an independent production company ... currently pursuing the rights to continue the series from Fox...." The thought of Firefly without Joss Whedon is something I would question. Do you perhaps know something more about this?

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Someone else pointed me to this site just last week, and I was hesitant about lending support. I noticed that there is no reference to Joss Whedon being involved in the project, or even lending his support. The website says "We are an independent production company ... currently pursuing the rights to continue the series from Fox...." The thought of Firefly without Joss Whedon is something I would question. Do you perhaps know something more about this?

The guy behind that project says: "If [Joss Whedon] contacts me and says, 'Hey, we're not interested in Firefly anymore' or 'I'm not interested in Firefly anymore,' then I will abandon the project, and essentially it's over at that point. I'm not looking to create a cheap knockoff of the series without Joss' input. So that's not going to happen. ... If he's not going to be involved, then there is no project. There's no point."

Read more here.

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The guy behind that project says: "If [Joss Whedon] contacts me and says, 'Hey, we're not interested in Firefly anymore' or 'I'm not interested in Firefly anymore,' then I will abandon the project, and essentially it's over at that point. I'm not looking to create a cheap knockoff of the series without Joss' input. So that's not going to happen. ... If he's not going to be involved, then there is no project. There's no point."

Read more here.

Thanks for the reference. I would think that the place to make his intentions known would be on the soliciting website. And, further, it seems strange to me that an "independent production company" would even publicly pursue such an idea without first getting some measure of interest from Joss Whedon, the creator of the series and the movie. (Do they even have the right to the Firefly image on their website? I don't know, but I wonder. I see no copyright or acknowledgement reference.)

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I bought the High Definition DVD and watched it last night. On the positive side are the points raised by earlier posts. The reference I have for special effects is 2001 A Space Odyssey (yes I know the story had problems).

Well, not having seen any TV episodes, I went into this movie cold, and was struggling to keep track of what was going on. I really hate that. Finally, I was able to put some pieces together, but never came to terms with the nutty Rivers Girl who had these insane moods along with powers physically unrealistic.

I have come to the conclusion that special effects that involve rapid editing are enough to write a movie off for me. It is as if the chaotic editing is meant to substitute for action. In any case the special effects are pure comic book, and spoil what was essentially a good story. I am now wary of any SF films. Will they ever approach the quality of 2001 in effects?

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I bought the High Definition DVD and watched it last night. On the positive side are the points raised by earlier posts. The reference I have for special effects is 2001 A Space Odyssey (yes I know the story had problems).

Well, not having seen any TV episodes, I went into this movie cold, and was struggling to keep track of what was going on. I really hate that. Finally, I was able to put some pieces together, but never came to terms with the nutty Rivers Girl who had these insane moods along with powers physically unrealistic.

River was nutty throughout the series, but it actually wasn't until Serenity that we found out exactly what happened to her to make her that way. In fact she didn't show any special power until the very end of the television show. The focus of her characterization was her conflict with her condition, which cut her off from others (in a way similar to severe autism) and made her unable to express normal emotions. Her brother, Simon, worked obsessively to discover what the Alliance had done to her and how to cure her. I think the movie presented the facts you needed to make sense of things, but going in "cold" might have made it difficult to relate to the characters.

Also, you learn in the movie about the origin of the Reavers, which were present but never explained in the series. This is really what pushes Malcom to stop running and fight again, and essentially resolves his personal conflict from the show. So even though the movie has a self-contained plot, it is also the climax of a larger story. Firefly begins with telling you how Malcom and the "Brown Coats" were defeated and the Alliance gained power. Having lost the war, Malcom spends most of his time living day-to-day in space and on the border planets, out of Alliance control. He's demoralized and bitter, but he's also determined to remain free and he fights to protect his ship and crew. The conflict with the Alliance in the movie is what convinces him that to remain free, he can't accept defeat any longer.

I wish Joss could have made more episodes, because there are questions he won't have the chance to answer. However I think the movie does a really good job of bringing everything to a head and giving the story an ending it deserved.

I have come to the conclusion that special effects that involve rapid editing are enough to write a movie off for me. It is as if the chaotic editing is meant to substitute for action. In any case the special effects are pure comic book, and spoil what was essentially a good story. I am now wary of any SF films. Will they ever approach the quality of 2001 in effects?

Rapid editing?

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Rapid editing?

Thanks for you explanation. My point is that one should not have to struggle to follow a story, if the story teller wants to take you along with him. I sometimes get the feeling, (actually this was confirmed by Kubrick in the making of 2001) that there is deliberate obscurity in the hope that it will lend "depth" to the work.

By 'rapid editing' I refer to the disjointed flashing of scenes for short periods of time. If you observe older films you will notice the camera doesn't jump around as much. I have stopped watching TV shows because I found the flash flash type of editing infuriating. Substituting motion on the screen for substance.

I remember waiting for 2001 to come out in 1968, and just loved the music and effects. The obscurity mentioned above, and weirdness of the ending spoilt what could have been a very realistic SF movie.

I can only hope that there will be an end to this comic book style of SF. Perhaps someone will make a good movie out of Anthem ----- no flash editing either :huh: .

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