Great movie, very entertaining. Much better than anything Lucas has done in the last 10 years. Go see it.
What, you want more?
Fine, fine. But don't bitch to me about spoilers.
Like I said before, I didn't watch Firefly when it was on TV or DVD, and I was never a Buffy or Angel fan, so I'm new to the whole Joss thing. But it's obvious right off the bat that Whedon's in love with his characters and their interactions. Unlike the military scifi I grew up with, the story is about the wetware, not the hardware. I was impressed that Whedon avoided the X-Men trap and didn't make a secondary character (River, the teenage psychic ninja girl) the focus of the entire movie. No, the movie is all about Captain Mal and his relationship with his crew, as it should be.
The movie is very well paced and shot, despite the confusing Western tradition of filming gunplay with alternating closeups and jump cuts. Watch a Hong Kong era John Woo flick for how it's supposed to be done.
What pdb liked:
- Dialog! The banter is witty, moves snappily and is totally believable and in character. Whedon also missed the Sports Night and West Wing trap and avoided having all the characters sound alike.
- Fights! As we all know, the problem of violence is best resolved through offering superior violence. And there is plenty of fisticuffs, swordplay and gunfire.
- Zombies! Yeah, I know the Reavers aren't real undead. But they're mindless berzerker hordes who commit unspeakable atrocities on their victims. Zombies are way cooler than pretentious vampires.
- Villian! An intimidating, three dimensional bad guy who manages to make his motivations clear with minimal monologing.
- Space battle! Lots of beam and missile weapons, explosions, and ramming actions. Very cool, even if it is hard to tell who's who at times.
- Boobies! Zoe is hawt.
- Libertarianism! No, Joss never shows us his credentials, but come on. A bunch of heavily armed spacefaring scofflaws committing derring-do for money? You expected Commies?
What bugged pdb:
- No heavy weapons? These guys are supposed to be roughneck outlaws, flying around in a system that contains the aforementioned bloodthirsty rampaging Reavers. While they've all got small arms, I didn't see anything belt-fed or crew served or even rocket launchers (the RPG-7 is friggin' 1940s technology! Surely a spacefaring society could whip something up). And not even a minigun bolted on the ship?
- I don't care how much energy you put into it, you cannot terraform the outermost planet of a solar system into a lush paradise.
- Why are there Chinese symbols all over the place, and the dialog is littered with Chinese phrases, but there aren't any Chinese people anywhere?
- If you ever find yourself barricaded and behind cover, armed with projectile weapons, fighting a numerically superior force armed with mostly melee weapons, for frakk's sakes don't leave the barricade! I would have shouted obscenities at the screen if I wasn't in fear of being pummelled to death by pasty Joss fan-geeks.
- Some of the humor, while very funny, felt out of place. Again, this could be because I'm not fully Jossified.
- No background on the civil war. Really folks, there are reasons nation-states go to war other than: "We don't like you." "We don't like you either." "Fine, let's fight!"
- Not enough context of what life is like for ordinary slobs. Some insight into life on the inner planets that spurred the outer planets to rebel would also be nice.
None of these are dealbreakers and obviously, if Whedon gets the greenlight for a sequel, I need to be his weapons and military advisor. My rates are quite reasonable.
On the pdb Entertainment Ballistic Equivalency scale (CB cap to .50 BMG), Joss Whedon's Serenity rates a .375 H&H Magnum. Good 'ol pulp scifi like they used to make. Only better.
First, I'd like to welcome my new Instapundit referred overlords.
Secondly, I stand by my criticism of no heavy weapons, despite an afternoon of arguing from a good friend. Like I said to him, it wouldn't have bugged me so much if they hadn't made a big show of ditching the flak cannon at the end of the movie. Sure seemed like a useful piece of hardware to stick in the closet, what with all the insane rampaging cannibal space zombies around!
Tertiairialy, a standalone movie shouldn't have to rely on source material for vital background. Any criticism which is answered with "Well, watch the DVDs then!" is therefore a given. I suppose this is more of a comment on the appeal of the universe that Whedon's penned, since it leaves me hungry for more information. The Fireflyverse joins the Sten books and Heinlein's Time Enough For Love universe as alternate realites that I'd actually like to visit.
Finally, as I said, I liked the movie very much, even if I'm not hoping to bear Joss' children. I eagerly await the sequel, almost as fondly as I dream of the return of Battlestar Galactica.