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Serenity Thoughts - Salvador Dali in a lawn chair.
I'm invisible without 3D glasses.
lost_angel
lost_angel
Serenity Thoughts
I've been leaning away from writing personal movie reviews, because it always feels like I'm writing pointless fluff that no one else will read. However, I had mixed feelings at first about Serenity that resolved themselves in about twenty minutes after the movie was over. Plus, I'm going to wind up talking about this with friends for the next couple of weeks, so I might as well committ it to text.

When Wash died, I was pissed. I thought, "That's it; it's over. There will be no more FireFly because Joss is going to kill every single one of them."

And that was the point. We were supposed to be scared about the characters, because that's how dangerous the situation was. Joss took FireFly out of the safe TV zone where all the plotlines are tidily knitted up with the picket fence ending and into the realm of movies where characters can die and the crew may not be around to fly the ship for one more adventure.

And it reminded me that Zoe is one tough bitch. She survived a war and the Battle of Serenity Valley where she watched her camrades and compatriots be butchered by the Alliance. She watched her love die and knew his body would be eaten and desecrated by the reavers behind them. But she's a survivor, and she kept fighting, perhaps with more recklessness than usual, but with every ounce of believable vengence.

If Joss had left FireFly in fluffy, TV candy-land, then the movie would have sucked and there would be no hope of subsequent movies. Some people believed that the tv series might one day be revived, but without convincing new fans to love FireFly by selling them with a hardhitting movie, there won't be any more movies, much less a new tv series. No, I don't think that he sold out his fans. I think he gave them the real, gritty, true-to-the-'verse story in which their favorite characters actually risk their lives.

Yes, it was a shame that Shepherd died before we could learn more about him, and some of the other characters were glossed over. But by giving us this hard-hitting movie, Joss gives us the best possible chance of a future for our beloved FireFly. And there's nothing stopping him from making one of those subsequent movies into a prequel to this movie.

I've heard from many people that Joss is always willing to sacrifice a character to guarantee the future of a show. That doesn't mean he kills characters at a whim, but that they are servants to the story. Although I have never cared for Buffy or Angel, it is for this dedication to story and character (i.e. being true to the characters), that I adore Joss Whedon. At least with Wash, Joss gave him the flight of his life and saved the crew from both the Alliance and the fleet of Reavers before he expired.

And honestly, the response I've heard most from people who hadn't seen FireFly at all is a genuine and burning interest to go back and watch the series. And that's what the future of FireFly depends on.
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Comments
From: navydave Date: October 3rd, 2005 03:21 am (UTC) (link)
I am really baffled by the notion that the movie would have sucked if Wash had lived...
That seems to be the gist of what you and Kirk are both saying with comments to the affect of:
If Joss had left FireFly in fluffy, TV candy-land, then the movie would have sucked and there would be no hope of subsequent movies.
He gave up fluffy tv candy land in the whole plot. Entire villages destroyed. Dead children onscreen...
I'm hardly a pop guru... but killing off main characters in the 'opener' movie is not a historical norm for movie series' to my knowledge.

I'm not nearly as offended or upset about this as some folks are, but nor do I agree that 'someone had to die'.
lost_angel From: lost_angel Date: October 3rd, 2005 08:38 am (UTC) (link)
I don't think someone had to die, either. But I do think that Wash dying succeeded in making me truly afraid for the lives of the characters.

Sure, it bothers me that Wash may have been used as a plot pawn. But people die for stupid, needless, wasteful reasons every day. Why not let Wash die for a good reason: saving his crew, saving his wife, and bringing awareness of injustice to the universe.

We watch countless examples of doom and destruction and violence and rape on the news every day. But it doesn't quite feel as serious as if it happened to someone we personally knew, or especially someone we care about. It doesn't make it less tragic, but it does make it more real.

And since I can't respond to Jessica's comments because she won't listen, I'll respond here to those who are interested in the conversation. I don't think that the death of Wash and Shepherd ruled out the possibility of a series. The crew doesn't have to be in the exact same condition and make up for the story and the world to continue. And to expect the crew to endure such trying circumstances without any damage or repercussion would make light of their experiences and cause the series to lose credibility altogether.
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lost_angel From: lost_angel Date: October 3rd, 2005 08:55 am (UTC) (link)
I'm hardly a pop guru... but killing off main characters in the 'opener' movie is not a historical norm for movie series' to my knowledge.

The reason I fell in love with FireFly in the first place is because it wasn't "the norm". I get bored when new shows and movies follow the same repetitive pattern for plot and character that I've seen a thousand times before. They feel cheap, as if they were just spun out to sell more commercials. I'm not saying that similar is bad, but that original, or at least effective, is better.

Notice that one of my other favorite shows is Battlestar Galactica, and that's not a happy show, by any means. It's also very different, and they started off by killing people and characters the very first day.
everraven From: everraven Date: October 3rd, 2005 04:24 am (UTC) (link)
I don't think I agree with Dave at all - Killing people made it real. Joss loves real. He wants us to be truly afraid, truly scared that Kaylee or Zoe or River might be next. He wants it to be clear as glass that happy candy endings don't happen in Joss world.

They never did - they never will

Book died, as is my understanding, at the behest of the actor. He really didn't want to come back for the movie - the cancelling of the tv show made him retire from acting I have heard. Now that is rumor, but it does make sense. Wash on the other hand - he had a warrior death. He did what was needed, he kicked ass - and died quick, knowing he had done his best for his comrades.

When Wash died, I freaked. I didn't know it was coming - and with Joss I should have. I should have seen that everyone wasn't walking away untouched from a Joss show. He believes in real stories, real pain, real victory. Not glossy Episode one and two Star Wars crap.

The crew of Serinity are more heroic than Anakin ever thought about being - even when he was trying to be a good guy. There is something much more powerful about a group of normal folks truly walking into a situation knowing that hell waits on the other end. Rather than some "I'm the best of the best of the Jedi knights" doing the same thing. I guess I just find it much more heroic to take an asskickin' and still swing and fight - than enter an even squared fight.
lost_angel From: lost_angel Date: October 3rd, 2005 09:19 am (UTC) (link)
There is something much more powerful about a group of normal folks truly walking into a situation knowing that hell waits on the other end... I guess I just find it much more heroic to take an asskickin' and still swing and fight - than enter an even squared fight.

You expressed my feelings perfectly.
sxyblkmn From: sxyblkmn Date: October 3rd, 2005 05:12 pm (UTC) (link)
I should have seen that everyone wasn't walking away untouched from a Joss show. He believes in real stories, real pain, real victory.

totally.

that whole last half, during the Reaver Siege, i really thought that they wouldn't make it. i thought mal would pull off the plan, but he would have to deal with the fact that his crew had to die to do it.

i never would have felt that way if wash hadn't died right at the beginning of the Seige.

and how sweet did it feel when they did survive it?

how many other movies would actually make you feel that way about your heroes?
From: navydave Date: October 3rd, 2005 08:53 pm (UTC) (link)
I'm getting the feeling here that you guys are all much more involved with your shows/movies than I am. Not just you; but the whole string of folks who basically respond to the effect of 'It sucked, but it made me feel so much more...'

I'm not terribly distraught over Wash's death. It's a TV show. It's a movie. Neither of which do I take very seriously or attach to very much. I enjoy them on occasion, I even count myself a fan of the series, but I'm not nearly so interested in the finery as some folks seem to be.
I think the result of that difference is that his death didn't add anything for me. I don't share the opinion that if he had lived that last fight would have been less intense and less believable. Zoe's part in it would have changed a bit, sure. But there's no way anyone can now offer an unbiased opinion as to whether that would still have worked. I contend that it would have worked just fine. The only real difference being that Zoe might not have jumped out front that way. I know there are folks that are going to maintain that they were genuinely fearful for the characters as a result of Wash's death immediately beforehand... and that, too, is a difference in how we watch the movie. His death didn't make the likelihood of theirs any more real to me.

As for the statements that seem to imply that if Wash had lived it would just have been another cliche piece of tripe... because heaven forbid the good guys merely be wounded and beat to shit. Hell no! One has to die or the show is unbelievable crap! And I know I'm exaggerating the sentiment a bit... but is that not basically what is being said?
I don't buy that either.

Yes, Zoe was rendered more interesting for having seen her reaction to it. Yes, it opens up options for her in the story. But it also closes off options. And you have to admit... Wash is decidedly less interesting dead than he was alive. I have no idea where the story is going or who Whedon might bring in as a replacement. It's entirely possible I'll like him even more than I did Wash...

everraven From: everraven Date: October 3rd, 2005 09:39 pm (UTC) (link)
I'm not saying anything sucked. Yes, it pained me to see Wash die. But, um that was kinda Joss point I'm quite sure. It attests to his ability to make a real and loveable character that I cried at the end as Zoe put flowers on his grave. I cried when the killed Ol' Yellar as well... and the dog died merely to progress plot, didn't he? Did I get mad at the writer for making such a heroic doggie contract a disease while protecting his family and then have to be shot dead? No. I cried mind you - but that is the point of the story. To evoke emotion.

And while I don't think if nobody had gotten hurt or died it would have made the movie tripe... I do think the battle scenes would have been even half as dramatic if I still had the idea in the back of my skull "Joss won't kill anyone" - You know the number one problem I had with Episodes 2 and 3? I never had any fear for ANY of the characters... I had fear that Qui Gon was in mortal danger from Darth Maul in episode one. And lo and behold he surely was. But everytime Anakin and ObiWan got into duels... no fear, we know they live. That little edge is removed. You have a safety net for your emotions... don't worry, the writers can't kill them yet.

But what it comes down to is did the writer evoke what he desired? Trust me, I have actually put down books because I'm getting pained when the writer is putting characters I'm rather attached to through a meat grinder. I have to take a break in the middle of EVERY George R.R. Martin book just to breathe. But that is what makes them wonderful - there is no safety net - every soul is fair game to the horror of life.

While I'm not in Oxpatch - I can clearly see there is a lot more debate I am missing - and it seems that a few folks are in the "Wash dying sucked and it ruined everything for me" camp while others are trying to explain that the death scene was painful, yes - but great in its own way.
I think you fall into the middle, yes?
kacarson From: kacarson Date: October 3rd, 2005 05:15 am (UTC) (link)
I have to say, as a future filmmaker, that I thought Setenity was both a well-written and technically wonderful movie. I absolutely LOVED the series (having been hooked on it only just recently) and even admit that I'm an off-again-on-again fan of both Angel and Buffy. This was the film that I really hoped it would be.

It brought neophytes up to speed on the 'verse. It twisted everyone's understanding of that world (the Reaver's origin) and it showed us another slice of the lives of characters that are, without a doubt, complex, believable, well-motivated creations. Not one of them acted against their established character, and believe me when I say, that sort of writing is very hard.

Wash's death was a punch in the gut. Yes, it may have been a little contrived, but did it serve to up the ante? You betcha. It came at the point in the movie (here I bore you with trivial details) right around the end of the third act/beginning of the fourth where the main protagonist(s) should be at their lowest point. How much lower can you go than just having seen a beloved husband and comrade get skewered out of nowhere?

I will be extremely curious to see how this weekend's results come in. I'd LOVE to see Serenity take the top spot on the strength of its fans and then retain that spot for two to three weeks.

Oh, and...

I'm eagerly awaiting the next installment...
kacarson From: kacarson Date: October 3rd, 2005 05:25 am (UTC) (link)
As an aside, I just checked the numbers...

Flight Plan is still in Number 1, but Serenity came in at number 2 with $10.1 mill.

Wooot!
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sxyblkmn From: sxyblkmn Date: October 3rd, 2005 05:20 am (UTC) (link)
No, I don't think that he sold out his fans. I think he gave them the real, gritty, true-to-the-'verse story in which their favorite characters actually risk their lives.

that's what i've been screaming too

i mean, he established in the very first pilot episode of the series that you just don't fuck with the reavers

as soon as i get paid again, i'm going back to see it
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From: spiderknight Date: October 4th, 2005 03:49 pm (UTC) (link)

*placing two pennies on the table*

For me, the only annoying thing about Wash was that I completely missed what it was that actually killed him, possibly because I was stunned when it happened. Beyond that, hell, I'll miss the guy, but I was more concerned for the guys coming up...

I mean, with Book down (I expected that) and Wash out, I figured "okay, Firefly's coming back but most of the people on this screen won't make it."

I look up after that and figure Simon's dead, River's dead, Mal will need cyborg attachments, and Zoe...Zoe's just going to become the Batman, a mythical creature in the background, brooding constantly and only coming out when the spectre of death and vengeance is needed.

And instead we got several sweet moments and confirmation that River is a 'greater-than-Spider-Man' level had-to-hand fighter.

I liked it.


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Anybody watch Smallville last week? It's not exactly Joss Whedon related, but I must speak with someone regarding James Marsters...
gigafive From: gigafive Date: October 7th, 2005 04:30 am (UTC) (link)

Re: *placing two pennies on the table*

James. James is awesome. Much love for James, but he wasn't on this week.
31 Voices in a Chorus | Lift Your Voice Aloft