So I watched
Serenity a few nights ago.
It was ok, better even than most of the crap science fiction movies that are released. Way better than anything George Lucas has done in twenty years.
I don’t want to be too hard on it because it wasn’t bad, it just… wasn’t great either. The funny bits weren’t all that funny, the scary bits weren’t all that scary, and the action bits weren’t all that action-y.
I liked the show, and looked forward to spending more time with the characters. The problem is that the whole thing just felt rushed. There are so many characters, and each of them just got a minute or two to do their thing before then we moved on.
Worse still, there were some plot points that were just dumb.
The ending was ridiculous, and <spoiler>they killed my favorite character</spoiler>. On one of the Buffy commentary tracks, Joss Whedon talks about how he always wanted to kill a character who is in the title sequence. His intent was to raise the stakes for the audience, and make the show more engaging. Ok, great, so you raised the stakes on me. The problem is that I like that character, and the story is less appealing without him.
It’s worth renting just for the feature commentary, which is a model of the form. Whedon is an engaging speaker and gives you enough detail that you feel like you understand better what a director actually does. He discusses nuances in the story that I hadn’t picked up on when I watched the movie, and it really leaves me disappointed that the show didn’t continue. I think, actually, that this might be the core of my problem with the movie. He’s created broad story arcs for all of the characters, and each is interesting. The demands of a movie, however, mean that he has to set up a dramatic conflict and resolution for each of them and clean everything up in 90 minutes. That’s not really enough time, and it feels shallow.
If you liked the show, it’s good enough that you’ll probably enjoy it as well. Heck, if you liked the show then you’ve probably already seen the movie. Go watch
Veronica Mars or the new Battlestar Galactica
If you haven’t seen the show Serenity is based upon,
Firefly, watch that. It’s out on DVD and it’s better.