Tuesday, January 31, 2006

This weekend, my friends Lynn and Becky came over to my room for a movie, with their friends Darin and Jody--old high school buddies, apparently. Anyways, no one had any major objections to me putting on "Serenity," which seemed like the best choice out of all the available DVD's. I have to say, I liked it better the second time around, although I was ready to view it with a more critical eye.

Good Points
-Retention of the original, quirky, dialogue. A lot of people find the colloquial speech stilted and not wholly believable. My take: in a future universe where China and the U.S. have opted to merge into one culture instead of killing each other, I say just about anything is believable.

-The characters are still excellently rendered, and for the most part they do not appear to be caricatures or carbon copies, to their extreme credit.

-The Reavers were terrifying. The Unseen Enemy (that you eventually get to see, naturally) is hard to accomplish in these days of digital wizardry, where directors and their ilk are tempted to put everything out and leave nothing to the imagination. The fact you don't see a Reaver (except for a brief scene in the beginning where they blow one away) for most of the movie leaves their terrifying nature to the viewer's imagination. It also subtly enhances the fact that just about everyone who sees a Reaver doesn't come back to talk about it.

-None of the female characters were weak. Face it: in just about every action movie you've got at least one warrior lady (if you have any warrior ladies at all) who seems tough and hard-bitten and who ultimately ends up having to get saved by The Guy(s). In Serenity, during the final battle sequence, all the female characters are armed, even the courtesan (albeit with a crossbow). None of them shows the slightest inclination of backing down or letting the men do the fighting for them (it helps that during this scenethere are exactly two men, of which only one seems capable of really stickin' it to the Reavers). In any other movie, the women (especially the courtesan) would have been reduced to wailing hysterics by the slavering, shrieking Reavers. In Serenity, the (arguably) toughest person in the scene is a woman who just watched her husband get impaled. Wow.

-The scene near the start of the movie where Mal and part of his crew takes the runabout to rob the bank. Beautiful. The chase with the Reaver ship was brilliantly executed.

Bad Points
-Noises in space. They got it right in the series: in space, nothing goes "KABOOM." There are no bangs, no whimpers, nothing. In this one, you can clearly hear the lasers screaming past the ship a la Star Wars. Bah.

-They killed Wash. What more can I say. Killing the preacher, OK. Maybe kill off Jayne, if you really must kill off a main character. But not Wash. Wash is a leaf on the wind, remember? Leaves on the wind don't get stabbed.

-The gradual shift into high-mindedness. I think it was a big mistake to make Mal suddenly start caring about The Truth. Anytime a movie character starts yapping about how everyone in the country/the world/the galaxy/the universe has to know The Truth, I start yawning. Reminds me of the way my brother rants about how people have to know The Truth about those dastardly Jews. Spare me.

-The fight scenes. That visual enema of a movie, The Matrix (and its sequels), spawned a new generation of fight sequences in which characters engage in martial arts that would, in all probability, break bones and rupture the tissue of major organs. However, the characters inevitably walk away from these fights with seemingly no real harm to their persons--maybe a limp or a bit of a grimace, if the punch-kick-jab-slashing went on for more than twenty minutes. One of the things I liked about the original Firefly series, incidentally, was that if a character was shot, stabbed, or otherwise hurt--they were out of it. Stabbed in the leg? No more walking around for the rest of the episode. Shot in the side? Lots of crawling around, gasping, weakness due to blood loss, etc. Now, unfortunately, thanks to these tools, heroes can get shot, stabbed, cut, and punched and still be able to trade witticisms with the other characters before the credits roll.

Conclusion: I would say the good outweighs the bad in this movie. I'm willing to suspend my belief in the physiological nature of human conflict for two hours while watching Mal, Zoe, and Jayne blow stuff up. It's a damn good film, and just because it reverts to typecast in some instances doesn't change that. Watch it. Buy it. Support Joss Whedon.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

jayne??? kill jayne????? You blasphemer!!! although, the death of wash does make me want to cry lots... but Jayne is one of the best characters!

8:36 PM  
Blogger Gryffilion said...

I'm just saying, I could take Jayne's death easier than I could take Wash's. I didn't want any of the characters to get killed, but I recognize the necessity that in such a violent film, some of the heroes might die.

And I agree. Jayne gets all the good lines.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll be in my bunk.

1:49 PM  

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