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"Serenity"--a gun slinging libertarian western in space (SPOILERS)

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Cosmoline, Sep 30, 2005.

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  1. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    I'm spinning this off into a new thread from the TV show thread.

    [MINOR SPOILERS]

    I was very pleased with it. The spirit of the show remains intact, and the political message comes through much stronger than it did on the show. Happily, it's not a left wing message--it's a LIBERTARIAN message. The Alliance isn't the Empire of "Star Wars." It's much closer to the governing elite of our own world--of all political stripes. The Alliance wants to make people better. And if they don't comply, there are punishments. As Mal says, it's a mistake to try to make people better. It only leads to greater evil. Folks should just be LEFT ALONE. Wow. Not a very typical message from Sillywood.

    The plot is somewhat uneven. It's very, very tight in places but there are some TV-like slow spots. Whedon is still trying to find his big screen footing. The film would have benefitted from another edit, I suspect. Lisa Lassek is listed as the editor, and her IMDB sure enough shows she's one of Whedon's people from "Firefly." A better move might have been to team Lassek up with an editor with more big screen, high concept experience. But for a first time effort she did a good job.

    The script was great, but you can see the seams. By that I mean you can see all the various episodes of "Firefly" that were planned in Whedon's mind but never got made. The "Mr. Universe" hacker character would have had his own episode or two. The Operative would have chased them around for a season, and the ultimate Big Secret in the film would have taken a year or two to get to.

    The cast continues the top-grade job they did on TV. Baldwin and Fillion make the jump to big screen well. Ron Glass also does well, though he doesn't have much screen time. Jewel Staite and Gina Torres don't get that much screen time. Though I suspect if you timed it Baldwin isn't getting any more lines or time than Torres. On the big screen, though Baldwin is totally at home. He has twenty five years of extensive film experience and the difference between his ownership of the screen and the more timid approach from other actors is interesting, though not distracting. Fillion claimed to be trying to channel Harrison Ford through the whole thing, but I'm happy to report he FAILS in that effort. He's not Han Solo--not by a longshot. His character is darker and more scarred than Solo ever was.

    Chiwetel Ejiofor does a good job reprising the heartless bounty hunter role of Richard Brooks' Jubal Early from the final episode of Firefly. Only this time he's an unnamed operative from the Alliance. The only quibble I have about the character is that he only has a limited amount of time to flesh out and in the end his development seems rushed. It seems like Whedon had a lot of plans for this character or one close to it.

    The action is a bit of a let-down, though still good quality and well worth watching. Whedon uses a lot of trendy quick cuts, though in the end again this is something that the editor needs to watch. There's entirely too much fishtailing and whirling about and too little solid combat. This goes for both the high atmo space battle and the hand-to-hand fights with reavers. Part of the problem may be the fact that they're trying to sell the notion that a 90 lb. girl can kick all kinds of hiney. If you slow that down it doesn't always work well. Still, I think in more experienced hands it could have been done better. Admittedly, doing it right would also have earned them an "R."

    The firearms are still cool, though they got a special effects upgrade for the film and a lot of the western elements are replaced with more high-tech autos and lasers. But there's still some cool stuff including mare's laig leverguns, modified trench guns, an AR-18 with weird stuff on it, and some neat sidearms.

    All things considered, it's an excellent start. Though the film makes little internal reference to a sequel, the door is not closed and I hope it does well enough to get the Serenity back up into space.

    The unexpected political undertones of the film coupled with the fresh writing and dynamic energy make it worth catching. The guns make it a must-see for folks on this forum.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2005
  2. ZeroX

    ZeroX Member

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    I love Firefly and I highly recommend Serenity as well. Great plot, characters, action, jokes, music, message and special effects.
     
  3. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    While I enjoyed the film greatly I found most of the firearms silly (M97 Trenchgun with a scope :banghead: ) and much of the firearms handling disappointing. The tactics used in the big combat scene were nothing short of stupid (you want your attackers crammed into a narrow linear space not your defenders).
     
  4. I enjoyed it. I thought the spoilers that occurred made it very realistic for the situations.
     
  5. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    HSO--you have to get into the spirit of firefly guns. It's the sort of spirit that leads one to put tactical lights and red dot scopes on leverguns. Something I'm planning to do to the Marlin 1894 I've got on order :D

    However, I must say I liked the combat of the TV show better than that of the film. The TV show's shootouts were more fun and involved more common sense. In the series, for example, Mal is confronted with a hostage crisis and blows the head off the hostage taker without missing a beat. In the film he seems to have forgotten about body armor, but it's still well worth seeing. Whedon was confronted with a massive and difficult task with "Serenity," and I think he pulled it off.

    I'm actually kind of hoping it does just OK at the box office and perhaps he gets to do a new string of episodes for cable. "Firefly" could still be one of the best TV shows ever. If it does too well he'll be stuck doing more features and I don't think thats his forte.
     
  6. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

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    I'd give it a 4 out of 5 stars.
     
  7. M-Rex

    M-Rex member

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    Great. A political movie. Super.

    Can non-Libertarians enjoy the movie?
     
  8. Strings

    Strings Member

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    it's a small "L" libertarian movie: you SHOULD enjoy it.

    Spoon and I did... personally thought it made the jump to the big screen just fine. There were a couple shockers (that's all I'll say), and some things get revealed that I've been DYING to see (like actual Reavers). And I'll probably go see it again, if for nothing else than to see River go Quisanart... :D
     
  9. M-Rex

    M-Rex member

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    No doubt I will, as I enjoyed what I saw of the series. However, good sci-fi or not, I have no interest in paying $9.50 to see an indoctrination film.
     
  10. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    It's not a "political movie" in the same sense that 90% of leftist Sillywood junk is. This is a film with a very simple political message running through it--if you go around trying to force people to "become better" you will end up making things far worse. I actually don't see that as a political message so much as a fundamental truth. The centralized state has no business telling us how to live our day to day life, esp. out here on the real rim of the real 'verse :D

    That said, people from all political stripes seem to have enjoyed the series and I'm sure you don't have to believe in the fundamental evil and futility of centralized government to get your dollar's worth of entertainment. I just find it refreshing to see, for the first time in my memory, a concept coming out of Hollywood that I actually agree with and sympathize with on such a fundamental level.

    And it's SMALL-L "libertarian." Nothing to do with the political party.
     
  11. M-Rex

    M-Rex member

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    Well heck...I've sat through worse, I suppose.
     
  12. Justin

    Justin Moderator Emeritus

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    M-Rex, I'd say it's far less heavy-handed than your sig line.

    I saw the movie this evening and really loved it. For a movie, Whedon still was able to cram an amazing amount of characterization into a much shorter story arc.

    Cosmoline, you might want to put a warning at the beginning of your post stating that you include some minor spoilers in your review.
     
  13. M-Rex

    M-Rex member

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    Granted.

    Riddle me this.

    Pick up the DVD's first -or- go ahead and see the movie first?

    I watched a few of the episodes when they were on the SciFi Channel last weekend and I liked them. I'm a 'big story arc' guy and I don't want to miss any nuances that might be in the film.
     
  14. zastros

    zastros Member

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    Most of the critics that I've heard say your watching experience is enhanced by catching the DVD's first. I just think you'll really dig 'em.

    zastros
     
  15. Rob1035

    Rob1035 Member

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    DVD first for sure.

    Tried to make it out tonight, Mrs. 1035 was ill, so no go. Perhaps tomorrow night


    How have the opening night shows been? Crowded? Crazy?
     
  16. Hardware

    Hardware Member

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    I'll say this about the crowd in the theatre I saw it in last night. We weren't crammed in there to capacity, but the theatre was comfortably full. If you came in late you sat down front in the neckache seats.

    The crowd laughed at the jokes, When was the last time you saw a movie that made you laugh out loud? There were audible gasps at shocking moments in the film. And finally, the crowd applauded at the end of the movie. Pretty positive reactions all around.

    The political message could boil down to "Do as we tell you to do vs. I don't like being pushed around." I think it's a message a lot of folks on this board would take an interest in.
     
  17. LoadedDrum

    LoadedDrum Member

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    I thought the scoped trench gun was pretty funny too. They also seem to have a preference for HK 90 series rifles. What gun was the capatain carrying?
     
  18. Don Gwinn

    Don Gwinn Moderator Emeritus

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    All right, here's the thing about the DVD set:

    Most people tell you to watch it first, and they're right, really, BUT I found myself comparing the movie to the DVD (which, to be fair, is an entire season of television.) I think I prefer the series. My sister and her husband watched Serenity with us last night without having seen the DVD set, and once it got past the initial flashback, I think they enjoyed it more than I did. My sister reports it was the first film my brother-in-law has seen in its entirety in the theater in years because he usually falls asleep. Judging it by the series I've become obsessed with and have probably watched in its entirety at least ten times is unfair to the film. It's still a really good movie, maybe great.

    On the other hand, if you didn't watch the DVD set first, some of the tension of the series will be gone if you go back and see the DVDs later. What the Reavers are, where they come from, what Book was before he was a Shepherd, etc. all get answered in this film, so in effect it could be a spoiler for the DVD set. From that point of view, by all means, buy the DVD set and enjoy it before you see the film.

    I had a few nitpicks, but I enjoyed the film so much I hate to make too much of them:
    • One was the idea that Mal doesn't shoot people in the face anymore. As Wash might say, "What about his face? Is his face wearing armor?"
    • Next we have Inara. . . . what happened to Inara? She should be outwitting Mal, not going from nervous wreck to twisting around his finger. At the very least she should be giving the appearance of being in control. She's Inara! She's a highly trained Companion.
    • Poor Book got robbed in the screen time department--what the (much Mandarin cursing involving frogs and aunts here) was that all about? And did anybody else get a Willie Nelson vibe from Book? Maybe I'm just weird. On the upside, Ron Glass did a great job.
    • I've never understood why Reavers don't kill, rape and eat EACH OTHER. But if they did, they couldn't fly spaceships, I suppose, and then where would the story be?

    On the other hand, some great things happened, and it was still far better than anything else I've seen in a theater in the past few years:
    • I hated some of the more extreme surprises, BUT. . . .do they or do they not make the story stronger and easier to believe? I'm thinking of Wash's moment near the end, for instance. I didn't like it, but maybe it's good that Whedon was willing to be brutal enough to rub it in my face anyway.
    • Jewel doesn't seem to get much credit for Kaylee in the film, but I thought she was great.
    • Jayne is Jayne, and I could watch Baldwin play Jayne all day.
    • We still see glimpses of our beloved Captain Tightpants (as my wife calls him.) Not to spoil too much, but when The Operative makes his grand gesture and says "I am not here to harm you, I am unarmed . . ." and Mal interrupts with "GOOD!" you know what's about to happen, and by God, it happens. That's a great moment. That's what I think Fillion was talking about when he said he was channeling Han Solo. The REAL Solo shoots first. So does Captain Tightpants.
    • River's madness is well-depicted here. I should have expected that since it was so well done on the series, but it's nice. A lesser group would have thrown it in there and let it lay.
    • The cruddy fighting and gunplay. . . . well, yes and no. Someone said the series had better gun-handling. I don't buy that. Watch "War Stories" if you need to--Zoe actually leaps into a forward roll, comes out of it and stands back up, awkwardly draws two huge pistols from two shoulder holsters, aims and fires--all with her opponents standing there five feet away, armed, and apparently dumbfounded. Crappy gun-handling was just something I was willing to accept. Whedon hates guns and fighting (or so he says, anyway.)
    • I don't believe The Operative is a simple retelling of Jubal Early. No way. The Operative is a fairy tale about the dangers of absolute, blind belief. I see him more as an illustration of where Book comes from; they're the same steel with different tempers. Jubal was the kind of sadist The Operative couldn't be. Jubal would never have given that final order. Ever. He's incapable of it. Jubal would have said the lines about how what he does is evil, but it has to be done, but he doesn't really believe that. It's his excuse to inflict pain and control people.
    • I thoght the space battles were actually very cool.
    • I was impressed with the way Whedon could have The Operative foiled a few times (surely that's not a spoiler, right?) and never lose his menacing relentlessness. It would have been easy to make him comic relief and turn him into Colonel Decker, which has been the sad fate of many a promising villain.
     
  19. Kaylee

    Kaylee Moderator

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    You know, here I've been envying you that for months and you have to go rub it in. Ya gorram bear-chasin' pioneer, you. :neener:

    As to the movie.. it seemed to be missing something from the series, but I can't quite put my finger on it yet. Some of the warmth seems to be missing, but it could be anything from film color vs TV to more money for effects to the actors knowing the spoilers and some of it coming out in their acting, I dunno. It just seemed... off a little somehow.

    Nonetheless, no one in the theater uttered a single word as we filed out. It was a small group, so mostly Firefly fans.... and everyone was awful shell-shocked, as you might imagine.

    To the arms -- I think their extra budget helped here, making things a little less immediately recognizable. The revolver River picks up in the bar scene's a good example. And Loaded -- Mal's is a custom piece. There's more detail in the "Guns of Firefly" thread and some of the other forums out there. Basically, there's a little Taurus snubbie burried under all that old-westernized stuff. Must've made filming his gunfight scenes a pain in the tuckus. Fire five shots, take the gun apart, reload, put gun back together, repeat....

    And yeah, it don't hit you over the head with the message. No biggie.
     
  20. Don Gwinn

    Don Gwinn Moderator Emeritus

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    My wife and I talked over the colors and warmth. I don't think it was an accident of film at all. If you listen to the commentaries on "The Train Job," Whedon and Minear talk about having to write that episode over one weekend to be the new beginning of the series because the network didn't want to run the pilot.

    Specifically, they said they always intended Mal to be dark and lonely and gradually drawn out, with his only real emotional content being his loyalty to his crew. More or less exactly how he is in the movie. And in the film, the rest of the crew hasn't really gelled yet either. It's basically Wash, Zoe, Jayne and Kaylee together, with River and Simon along for the ride and Inara and Book off plying their trades.

    The network nixed that and demanded that the captain be more lighthearted, so that's what they did. I think they did the dark stuff in this one and now they've earned the real warmth that the series had. If this one makes money and the trilogy gets made, expect the warmer golden light and many shades of browns and reds on Serenity to return.
     
  21. ckyllo

    ckyllo Member

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    i had seen the series (got the DVD). went with a friend that had never heard of firefly. both of us enjoyed the movie greatly. after the movie i was asked questions about some of the inside referances. tommorow i am dropping off the DVD set to a new fan.


    watching river open several cans of whoop a$$ was great and the (spoiler) she beats jayne twice was great.

    mals rifle looked like a ar-18 with a some add ons to it.

    it was the most entertaining movie that I have scene in a long time.
     
  22. Souris

    Souris Member

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    I saw it last night. I have not seen the series. I watched it with my wife and Mother in law.

    I really liked the movie. Some of the plot seemed condensed. I felt that they did what they could with the time they had but if they Knew that there would be a sequel may be they could have spread some of the development out some. I liked the Win 1897 take down shot gun with the funky scope.
    I didn't like the fact that anytime someone handled a weapon they had their finger on the trigger. I thought it was well worth the money I spent to watch it and will probably buy the DVD.

    I am going to start watching the series today.

    My MIL and I have differing political views and often discuss them. She accepts that I am wrong and wont change and likewise. We do have some good discussions. We BOTH really enjoyed the movie. My wife thought it was ok but it was more intense than she thought that it would be.
     
  23. rbmcmjr

    rbmcmjr Member

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    As I understand it, Ron Glass had "prior commitments" that prevented him from having a larger role. Too bad, really.

    I could have done without the comic book hand-to-hand sequences, but overall it is a very entertaining movie.

    Rick
     
  24. mattf7184

    mattf7184 Member

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    Saw the movie but I missed this one. I didnt know they said what he really was. What was he?
     
  25. They did not reveal what Book was. Mal asked again, and Book declined to answer. It's still speculation at this point. I think he was an operative.
     
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