I liked Serenity, but it felt rushed. It seemed like they tried to fit the entire second season of Firefly into a single two hour movie. They lost all of the subtlety and ambiguity; pretty much every character's quirks were laid out for you right on the surface. At least some of this was no doubt because they felt the need to have a lot of exposition for the benefit of people who hadn't seen the series, but still, it was annoying.

One of the best aspects of the show was the clever, bantering dialog, and there wasn't too much of that.

It was nice to see the story get (mostly) wrapped up, but I guess it just wasn't terribly satisfying, since I could see how much better it would have been if they'd had half a dozen more episodes to flesh it all out. So I feel like I'm being extra critical of it, not because it's not a good movie (it is) but because it wasn't the second season that it could have been.


<LJ-CUT text=" --More--(51%) ">

Book's character was totally wasted. We never ended up getting any backstory about him at all, and he had the potential to be pretty interesting.

The new Reavers origin story ("it was teh drugs!") was much less interesting than the old one ("space madness!") I also found them much less scary than in the series. The very first Reaver attack, on the bank-robbery planet, was really well done (mostly because you hardly saw any of them.) But after that, they just seemed like the Borg's slightly retarded cousin. And in the big, alegedly-climactic space battle, I couldn't tell whose ships were whose. (Sorry, Brian...)

I fully expected the sexbot to be a Buffybot. How could they pass that up!

The "secret radio station hidden on the other side of the Death Star Shaft in the basement" was just total fucking idiocy. Give me a break. That whole scene was intelligence-insulting and a waste of time.

Also, haven't I seen that endgame in another movie? Oh, yes. Hackers.

Tags: , ,

61 Responses:

  1. kap_ says:

    I only went through the series on dvd once, a few months ago, but Book seemed pretty interesting. Old dude, found faith, but still pretty intense, and fuck, he has SECRETS, like all old men should.. and yeah, they wasted him. At least he didn't take as long to die as Trinity did.

    More Kaylee would've been nice :(

  2. One of the best aspects of the show was the clever, bantering dialog, and there wasn't too much of that

    that's pretty much how i felt, too--i got all excited when it started in the intro (jayne: "but i don't WANT to explode!").

    it petered out a bit, in favor of more explodey things, which was a bit disappointing. but still, good.

    book TOTALLY had the potential to be interesting. i also find it interesting when they kill off major characters without fully developing their story arc--more like real life that way, i guess.

    oh yeah, and the death star shaft. HAH.

    but i like the new reavers story.

  3. mackys says:

    Book's character was totally wasted. We never ended up getting any backstory about him at all, and he had the potential to be pretty interesting.

    I think that the whole movie is basically Book's backstory. Consider: What do you think "the Operative" did after the end of the movie? He'd just been shown that everything he ever believed in was wrong. Do you think it's possible he maybe decided to atone for his sins by "getting out of the world for a while" and perhaps "finding religion"? Yeah, that's right - I think Book was an Operative before the beginning of Firefly. It explains why he gets royal medical treatment from the Alliance in the episode "Safe" and how he's a total badass with a gun during "War Stories." Also why he flat refuses to talk about his past in the movie and the TV series both.
    The only thing that doesn't necessarily square about this theory is when River reads his mind during "Objects in Space" and he thinks "I don't give a damn whether you're innocent or not, so where does that leave you?"


    Having seen it twice now (once at the preview showing, once this Saturday) I still think that killing Wash was both unnecessary and ruined the ending. Supposedly Joss says he did it to "raise the stakes" but if you ask me the stakes were already plenty high. Mostly it just left me in shock and I barely comprehended the last part of the movie because of it.

    Other complaints? Well, everyone's charaterization was flat. Mal's not a good-hearted crank, he's merely a crank. Kaylee isn't a great mechanic AND a simple backwater girl, she's just a simple backwater girl. Jayne wasn't violent and funny, just violent. Inara no longer had a crush on Mal, she just fought with him for no reason. Etc, etc. Chalk it up to the lack of time in a movie for character development.

    I don't mean to bash Serenity unfairly. I like it, it's a good movie. But it's not as good as the show was. I still hope it makes enough money so they can make another (couple of) movies though, since Fox are bastards and won't give up the TV rights - seemingly for no reason at all. And I'll be going to see it a third time next weekend, just to try and do whatever little I can to keep the box office grosses as good as possible.

    • charles says:

      I disagree about killing Wash. With Wash dead so pointlessly, suddenly nobody else was safe. If nobody had died yet going into that standoff, you wouldn't have that nagging voice in the back of your head wondering if everyone else was going to be killed off.

      Then again, I never saw the TV series, so I had less time to grow attached to him.

      As for the rest, the fact that it still managed to be a good movie despite being two seasons of TV crammed into one relatively low-budget movie is something of an achievement.

      • fnoo says:

        Agreed. After Wash died, and then after Kaylee was hit with the darts and Simon shot in the stomach, I honestly thought that Joss was going to kill off half the cast at the very least.

        If Wash hadn't died I would have still had that "Oh, they'll be alright in the end" feeling.

        • Ditto. "Holy shit, is he pulling a Blake's Seven?" Actually, I'd even had the identities of the dead characters spoilered for me several months ago, then forgotten the details, and I still wondered if he was gonna kill everyone.

      • revglenn says:

        i've seen the show, and i was very attached to wash... and more so to book. but i agree here. killing book seemed like the standard thing to do. but once wash was down i thought that the movie was going to end with everyone dead. it gave more urgency to the battle.

        i was a little bummed that they toned down the western aspects so much.... and i did think it was scarier just to have the reavers be a boogyman no one ever sees... but other than that i thought the movie was awsome.

        • toned down the western aspects so much

          During the credits they had the standard "no animals were harmed" type disclaimer, and the friends I was with suddenly went, "hang on... where was the livestock?" We couldn't think of a single horse or cow or anything in the movie. Maybe there were, but we didn't notice them. The only animal we could think of was a goldfish.

          Good thing they put that disclaimer there. For the goldfish.

    • justbeast says:

      Oh I LIKE that thread of thought, that Book might've been an operative.
      I, too, was seriously pissed off that Joss wasted the potential of his backstory, so now I'm gonna use this as backstory in my mind. :)

    • It was a personal problem between Whedon and Tudyk why Wash was killed off. No other reason. Tudyk was the last holdout for the film, he was asking for more money than the others. Whedon, to make sure that didn't happen again solved the problem by killing off the character.

      Whedon does not like sharing his pie.

      Why do you think Buffy ended? Because Gellar wanted a producing credit, something most stars in a series get after the series has run four or five seasons. A producing credit means more money for the actor in terms of ancilliary sales and royalties during reruns. A producing credit is given a sa reward to the actor for helping the shows success. Gellar wanted a producing credit. Whedon wouldn't give her one. Gellar walked. She would have been happy to continue with Buffy for a few more seasons (at least until a season eight) had she been given her producing credit at the start of season six.

      Whedon is a bit of an ass when it comes to sharing his pie.

      • xoruglm says:


        Whedon has said Tudyk and Glass will be back for a sequel.

        Also, Buffy's conclusion seemed to be a natural one to me. They were even stretching it a bit, with the second half of seventh season.

  4. khephra says:

    And in the big, alegedly-climactic space battle, I couldn't tell whose ships were whose.

    Nope we were saying it too, the original pre-viz vs what ended up on screen was...well apples and oranges.

    Too bad as well, we had some SERIOUSLY big gozilla balls shots.
    Budget was also a major factor. 9 mil for VFX. That's not a lot.

    • jwz says:

      Do you have any hopes for the DVD restoring some of your stuff?

      • khephra says:

        Nope, it didn't even make it to final rendering/comp before it got yanked.
        Shame really, they were HUGE.


        • marcus132 says:

          Judging from context, you might be able to answer this. If not, just ignore me.

          When the Reaver ships bust through the spooky planet cloud, was one of them the Battlestar Galactica (from the new series)?

          I could have sworn that I saw it in their fleet, but I might just need to get out more.

          • khephra says:

            Actually no. We do BSG here at my shop as well.
            The Galactica model is huge (Geometty wise) and it would have bogged down an already huge scene. There is a large Reaver ship with 'outriggers' on it though, which may cause confusion, but they don't look at all alike.

            • xoruglm says:

              Hello, Zoic person! Love your work.

              You DID use a Reaver ship from the original series, am I right?

                • xoruglm says:

                  ... not the original Battlestar Galactica, the original Serenity (the Firefly pilot). I'm pretty sure there's a shot of the first Reaver ship when the armada comes out of the clouds.

                  The original BG was shot in the 70s, well before CG work. I'm not THAT stupid ... although I'm sure it often appears that way ... : P

    • sheilagh says:

      What was the pre-viz like?

  5. twid says:

    Also, haven't I seen that endgame in another movie?

    Also, Johnny Mnemonic. (cringe.)

    Intelligent Dolphin In Tank = Mr. Universe.

  6. andrewducker says:

    Actually, I was much happier with the new reavers explanation - the reavers were one of the things that pissed me off before "There are a bunch people out there who have been turned into psychotic rapist cannibals by being alone too long." set of all my bullshit detectors.

    Whereas the 28-days-later explanation meant I got zombies!

    Mmmmm, Science-Fiction Western Zombies.

    • charles says:

      From the POV of someone who hadn't seen the series, the moment the reavers were introduced in the movie my sci-fi-plot-o-meter told me that they'd eventually turn out to
      be the creation of the big bad government. So when it happened, I assumed it was one of those things that had been planned from the outset.

      Although my theory was that they were created deliberately to be a plausibly deniable way to commit atrocities against the independent planets.

      What really pissed me off was that on the planet from which the reavers supposedly originated, a great deal of attention was paid to the fact that all the bodies were lying peaceful and undefiled, with no visible cause of death. Didn't someone tap Joss Whedon on the shoulder and say "Er... hey?"

      • alamais says:

        Those were the 90% that just lay down and died. I gathered that either these were too boring for the Reaver 10%, or that they took their first meals with them when they left Miranda. Remember, they like their meat extra fresh.

        As Serenity passed through the Reaver cloud on the way to Miranda, there was screaming coming in over the radio...made me wonder just how long captives had to wait in the pantry/how often the Reavers go grocery shopping.

    • sheilagh says:

      You might like the shirt offered behind this spoiler-warning :)

      • logruszed says:

        That's pretty much the same side effect list of the meds I'm taking right now. Except my apetite is pretty much normal, I always like the taste of people to begin with.

  7. lroberson says:

    Indeed, your complaints are valid. I can't believe how simple River's secret was, and furthermore how it seemed to "cure" her after they brought her to consciously realize/experience the secret. Or at least, it looked like she was a helluva lot more "normal" afterward.

    I really figured the sexbot to be a fembot knockoff... programmed for seduction and assassination.

    Well... I think the movie was rushed, for sure. As for the Death Star shaft, I was thinking the same. I wonder why the Op. didn't shoot mal again with the stunner while he was climbing on the convenient beam to the center. As well, though, the DS scene at the end I think was a nod to fans... you probably noticed that the power reactor was essentially the same set from the Russian mobster dude's space station, just as something in the beginning that Kaylee picked up off of the cargo bay floor was the whatsitspart that they needed in "Out of Gas."

    Lastly, for an original remark, I'll say that I was frustrated at not having any basis for expectation on what a fatal wound would be in the movie. We saw people get patched up from being impaled, shot, skewered, and the list goes on during the series, but as the crew would get pelted through the movie I was sitting around with a confused "so... did they die?" reaction. At least with character X it was pretty clear (at least to me, though my friends give me guff) that he was gone, but everybody got a good deal of fucked up.

    Oh... and what was with Mal's new quasi-futuristic superplastic suspenders??

    • ged says:

      "I was thinking the same. I wonder why the Op. didn't shoot mal again with the stunner while he was climbing on the convenient beam to the center."

      According to the novelization, Mal shot it out of the Operative's hands, thereby breaking it.

      Of course, the whole shaft reminded me of Sigourney's line from Galaxy Quest when she's running through the rotating knives: "This episode was badly written!"

    • I can't believe how simple River's secret was, and furthermore how it seemed to "cure" her after they brought her to consciously realize/experience the secret. Or at least, it looked like she was a helluva lot more "normal" afterward.

      Through the series, River seems to get better and worse as the plot requires, so I would assume that while she's less tormented now, she might still "either blow us all up or rub soup in her hair" at any moment.

    • River. It annoyed me most that Whedon through out the entire Blue Sun storyline for this watered-down version of River's origins.

  8. It seemed like they tried to fit the entire second season of Firefly into a single two hour movie.

    Joss Whedon said it was more like seasons two through seven packed into two hours. I suspect 'seven' is an ex recto number suggested by the Buffyspan, and the truth is he'd have spun it out as long as he needed to. So no wonder things seemed rushed.

    I did like the movie, despite flaws; given the constraints Whedon was under, I'm not sure how he could have improved on it. In some alternate universe, he made the movie "just another episode" of the show. I'd really like to pop into that universe's Metreon for a couple hours...

  9. Book's character was totally wasted. We never ended up getting any backstory about him at all, and he had the potential to be pretty interesting.

    Ron Glass and Alan Tudyk are each signed up for three Firefly movies. It's likely that we'll get more back story for Book in flashback form at least. Perhaps we'll get some explanation of how Mal and Book got so buddy-buddy between the end of the series and the movie.

    • colonwq says:

      They could do an out of order series of movies just like Indiana Jones.

      Didn't the second movie happen before the first?

      • andrewducker says:

        Book joins the ship at the same time Simon/River do. Which means that an out of order one would have to be between the series and the movie, or in between episodes.

        Either one would be a bit wierd.

    • I'm pretty sure Ron Glass only signed for the one film, since he had no interest in getting involved in a franchise. He requested that Whedon end his character somehow.

      And Tudyk was killed off since he and Whedon had financial disagreements when he was signing on (he was the last holdout to sign). They gave Tudyk the bigger contract he was looking for, but they killed him off so that they didn't have to honour it in subsequent films.

  10. malokai says:

    I half expected mr universe to have figured out how to copy himself into his sex bot when she started talking. Thankfully that wasn't the case.

    I think my favorite part about the whole firefly series is that there's no concentration on faster-than-light.. It's never a plot hole as to why they can't escape from the bad guys, nor is there any central theme that the ability to create wormholes/bend space/hyperspace/whatever is how they get to point a to b. They just get there.

    • drbrain says:

      The very beginning of the movie explains why they don't need FTL travel which is only hinted at in the series. Single star system with lots of high-gravity moons.

      • logruszed says:

        There is never a real solid line on that actually. Look to the second episode, at the end the blue gloves tell the Alliance officer 'We didn't travel 38 light years to recover a box of band-aids.'.

        I think it is safe to assume that there must be some kind of FTL or 'warping' going on here. It is wisely left out of major plotlines since it's is kind of a silly notion given what we understand about physics right now.

  11. buckthorn says:

    I'm with you on most of this.

    I agree with commenters that killing Wash vastly raised the stakes at the end of the movie. I fully expected everyone wounded at that point to bite it and Mal to come back with maybe Zoe dying and everyone else dead. Does put a sequel in kind of a difficult place.

    I thought the whole "Mr. Universe" thing was fairly hokey... it's happened before in what, to me, is the only black mark on an otherwise brilliant episode: War Stories. "Are you familiar with the works of Shan Yu?" Nice that Simon and Niska both managed to come up with that at the same time. Although to Joss' credit it did allow for the later line, "You wanna meet the real me now???" so maybe there's some forgiveness there.

    I hadn't made the connection that Book could have been an operative. THAT is an awesome thing to consider.

    This had the same hurried feel that I understand went along with "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me". Hi, we've got this huge complex story to tell in the space of a Hollywood movie. Never good.

    There were so many more good lines in the movie than there were in the previews... I was worried that the trailers would spoil all the good lines but people in the theatre still chuckled at the well-worn likes of "Well... you can't!". And Kaylee's poor nethers... at least they're being tended to.

    I honestly had a hard time buying "Space Madness". But it goes along nicely with what the Alliance would SAY about the Reavers. After all, their origins would be questioned, so what better way to get the "Truth" out there than to have the "They got out to the edge of space and stopped being human" theory propogated. Would encourage people to stay close to the core planets, and not to get involved on the fringe. I understand some cults work along the same lines.

  12. 5tephe says:

    No back story on Book?

    I know others have mentioned it, but I thought that it was pretty clear that he was an 'operative'.

    He tells Mal that the dangerous thing about the Bad Guy is that he is a Believer, and goes on about belief himself all the time. And tells Mal that it is going to be his own Belief that gets him through, in almost an open invitation to discuss it, from which Mal runs like a heathen (as we all do from those street-missionary types), but then Book rebuffs him, asking: "Why do you always think that I am talking about religion when I ask you about things like this?"

    Just because Joss doesn't give you a flashback, doesn't mean that the story wasn't there. It was just done in an understated way (perhaps a better actor, or pair of actors, or better direction of that scene, or longer time on the scene in the schedule... -any of the above- might have brought that out more tangibly. Who knows?)

    As for the rest: time. Not enough time.

    Things got simplified, and sped up, and subtleties got dropped, I am sure. It is an easy guess that the River back-plot, and the Reaver origin, and all the rest would have been more convincingly fleshed out, and more intricately and believably described. But there wasn't enough time. Even the gorgeous language (which while still there, and even pushed further than the network would ever have allowed) got lost amidst the pressing need for bustle and pace.

    I think I expected it to be worse, in all those aspects, than it was. I was genuinely surprised that it didn't lose a lot more in being crunched down to long-feature length. As a result, I loved it, although I can understand why fans who liked the series for all of its series-based strengths might be dissapointed by the film, and how newbies wouldn't get what I did out of it.

    Oh, and Wash's death (even if it was for contractual reasons, as some bitter person keeps saying) worked wonders in my opinion for the suspense within the final showdowns. I thought it was very in character, and gave him a beautiful moment.

    Loved it.

    • wfaulk says:

      And, to be a little more simple-minded, we've seen, I believe, a total of three black men in the Firefly universe. The operative in the movie, the bounty-hunter in the last episode, and Book. The former two are explicitly after River. Makes you wonder what reasons Book may have had for being on Serenity.

  13. belgand says:

    Gotta say that this is pretty much exactly how I felt on all counts. I have to say that I had forgotten that the Reavers actually attacked settlements and until I went back and rewatched the episodes that part felt a bit wrong to me. I mean, men driven mad by the emptiness of space who then attack ships that wander out seems to be both more frightening and more of a urban legend than guys who actually do come and attack settlements. It just makes them so much harder to explain away as a myth compared to a ship that never came back... "must have been the Reavers!"

  14. xoruglm says:

    I had some of these problems to begin with, but the film has gotten better, not worse, on subsequent viewings.

    • calicyco says:

      Anyone wonder how the reavers flew their ships? They seemed just raving zombies, were they wandering around in their ships being raving zombies? If so, how did they manage to operate a radio, maintain their ships, etc. Did they have a captain raving zombie?

      • jwz says:

        Also, how many of them are there? With the new origin, it must be a small and constantly decreasing number. They're a self-regulating problem.

        • moroboshi69 says:

          The crew of serenity estimated that the recording of the woman who explained the Pax and the reavers had taken place 12 years prior, at which time the population of Miranda was 30 million (before everyone stopped caring...)

          The woman in the recording said that 1/10th of 1 percent of the population reacted adversely to the Pax -- and became the reavers.

          This means that about 30,000 reavers were made originally. They don't seem to attack their own kind -- at least, not on camera... so, perhaps they can live long and fruitful lives.

          I think we have all seen enough zombie movies to know that, as a general rule, zombies don't attack each other. perhaps reavers really are like zombies -- zombies that can fly spaceships and can make group decisions to do technical things to all of their ships -- like purposefully flying without containment, and screaming into radios.

          There are lots of other questions I have about the reavers -- the main one is this -- do they reproduce? even if a reaver-woman were to have a child, who would raise it? Would they nurture the child? Would they show it love and discipline to help it grow up to parent little reavers of its own? Do reavers follow the child-rearing techniques of the Church of Scientology?

          • xoruglm says:

            It seems unlikely that they live long lives, given that they probably suffer from radiation sickness and infection from self-mutilation. It's doubtful that they take care of themselves, either, given that they're pretty much pissed off all the time. Nutritional deficiencies from a diet mainly of human flesh?

        • xoruglm says:

          Maybe the Alliance are secretly feeding people the Pax and taking the ones that go ape-shit.

          Remember Bushwhacked? Maybe the Alliance attacked those settlers, then took the one susceptible shmuck and dosed him, leaving him behind as further 'evidence' of a Reaver raid. Maybe they're behind every raid - staging just enough to keep the stories alive.

          • logruszed says:

            doubtful, given the reaction the commanding officer had to him, or how easily he managed to kill his way back on to Serenity.

      • xoruglm says:

        A very good question ... I have some theories about this.

        The Reavers were a very effective 'security fence' for Miranda, and as such they may have been maintained by the Alliance, or Blue Sun. Remember the Blue Hands? If anyone was capable of handling the Reavers, I'd say they were.

        • logruszed says:

          I thought a good cause for the Reavers behavior and abilities (booby traps, piloting, etc) would be that the Alliance had been working on a drug to creat the classic 'super soldier', and the effect was a kind of agitated schitzotic being that was capable of some cogent acts but detached from reason or driven by psychotic violent urges.

          Possibly even so warped that they viewed all regular non-altered humans as an alien race, and they in turn were 'xenophobic'. They could even have become somewhat gifted, like River, albiet by different means.

  15. new_tom says:

    I agree with what you're saying... some what in any case. At the end the movie did seem somewhat rushed. And the story in it self was totaly in complete... However, compare it to some of the shit thats been out there latley. At least this movie didn't have a stupid open-ended conclution like Lord of War. Or just a quick ending like The Courpe Bride. And at least it didn't try to pull off a Fight Club. The movie all in all was not too shabby. Then again... I head alot of people laughing at it in the theaters and a bunch of assholes walked out on the film entierly. Everyone knows the people I'm talking about. That old couple in the front row that went to see the movie cuz the name sounded like cheeze romatic comedy. In any case, don't base the movie based on the backstory... compare it with other movies out there. This is definalty a nice movie that is very intertaning.