"Serenity" finally came to Middlebury's two-screen theater this past weekend, and I figured tonight would be as good a chance as any to go see it. I just got back. Some thoughts (minor spoiler warning for "Firefly" fans who haven't seen it yet, all three of them):
1. Jesus Christ, it's not a movie to go see alone on Halloween. It's not a horror movie by any means, but the origin of the Reavers...
2. It was a good movie. The plot stood on its own, was not overused by any definition, and the characters (those from the TV show, at least) were more than just plot devices. On the "show, don't tell" theory, here's how good it was: I was surprised by the deaths, even though I had been told that some characters wouldn't make it. More than that, I hadn't even tried to predict them. And I don't know if this is because of my own cynical detachment, a universal trait, or my cynicism magnifying a universal trait, but I'm almost always doing that. Will Jayne of all people sacrifice himself nobly? Will Inara and Mal have their long-delayed heart-to-heart while one of them is bleeding to death? Which main character from the series is most expendable to make things look serious? Stuff like that. But here, I didn't get to thinking like that once. There were no unnecessary "gotcha" moments telegraphing imminent crises. And the few clichés in it were either not important to the plot or were sudden and final.
3. Complaint: I missed the theme from the TV show. The song in the credits of the TV show might not have been appropriate for whatever reason, but they could have at least used the tune and as far as I could tell they didn't. Oh well.
4. At the end, I had an interesting thought which I really hope to see in a sequel - sequels - and at the very least it's sure to pop up in fan fiction. At one point Mal has this little speech about how what keeps Serenity flying, and ships in general, is love. For the ship, for the wild blue yonder, etc. This isn't new for him, but saying it out loud is. When he gives the speech, River is sitting next to him as copilot, though we don't know if this is a permanent role or not. Well, in the season [series] finale, there was a part where it looks like River had become one with Serenity - discorporated, assimilated herself into it, something like that. And there she is in the movie, sitting next to him as he talks about love for the ship. In fact, here's how that speech begins. He says, "You know what I'm going to say," and she answers "Yes, but I want to hear you say it."
5. The one season of "Firefly" plus this movie probably had as much Deep Thought (TM) as five seasons of the other major creations of Whedon the Great and Powerful, "Buffy" and "Angel." You could write volumes about the philosophy of it. But doing so would be hard, because the world it's set in is basically a translation of the Wild West - with the protagonists as Confederate veterans of the Civil War. The characters were racially diverse so we're obviously not meant to take any messages like that from it, but other stuff?
6. Fun ride.