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I am horribly, HORRIBLY disappointed in Serenity. It sucked. Mightily.

EDIT: I'm making this post public because, thanks to [livejournal.com profile] partywhipple, I've discovered that there are a lot of Firefly fans out there that agree with me, and they want to read my critique. So here it is.



That was spectacularly BAD. The movie bore almost no relationship to Firefly, except that the same characters were in it. Granted, I will say that I am tired and cranky today, but my criticisms are solid no matter what my mood might be.

Let me count the ways in which the movie was entirely awful.


1. The dialogue.

What the hell?!?!? I always thought that Joss wrote GREAT dialogue. But he blew it here. Did anyone notice how Kaylee and Mal were the only ones using "frontier" talk -- and they did it constantly for the first half of the movie? While the rest of the cast rarely did, if ever, which made these two sound even stranger????? Not to mention that the words didn't really fit into Mal's mouth. Or Kaylee's. I don't know if it was the actors or the writing, but I'm betting it was the writing. When did Kaylee ever say, "Don't fret"?????? It was weird. Just weird.

And there were some mighty strange lines spoken by other characters that barely made sense, even if you had preknolwedge of the characters. Such as Wash's "I'm a leaf on the wind." Yeah, it was sort-of a Wash-type statement about his flying, but there was nothing in the movie that established that character, so the line just hung there. Repeatedly, since he said it THREE TIMES. It didn't show who he was, it just made it seem strange that he was on the ship.

Then there was a horrible exchange between Mal and Inara, when she actually said, "I don't know who you are. I keep seeing different sides of you." The whole conversation was so bad, it wouldn't even make it into a Harlequin novel. And it damn well didn't convey the complexity of the characters or their relationship. Where did all the nuances go??????

Not to mention that Joss made the same mistake THROUGHOUT the movie that he and Tim Minear made in "The Train Job" -- too much telling, absolutely no showing. The exposition through the first half of the movie, before the extreme action kicked in, was badly done because it didn't establish the characters. That's what ACTION does. Dialogue means nothing without action. (Something I learned at the writers' conference, actually, but it's true with every form of writing.) Granted, it's not like Joss had the leisurely pace of 15 hours of TV to show us stuff, but there was no excuse for any of this.


2. The characterizations.

Did Joss completely forget who these people were on the small screen???????

Kaylee was NEVER shown as a competent mechanic, let alone the genius she was on TV. Add in the fact that her dialogue made her sound like a hick, and she became the stupid, wimpering girl on the ship with no grit at all.

Mal was shown constantly as a petty dictator of his ship and crew -- what happened to the man in the TV show who went back for Simon and River when they were kidnapped? That action showed who Mal was at heart. Here, however, we see him REGRETTING not taking that guy away from the Reavers, and THAT'S what was supposed to spur him to keep River and Simon with him. Um, NO. He kicked that guy down because he had to get his crew away from the Reavers; Mal always protected his crew. Which is what made his initial decision to toss River and Simon off the ship so strange. Were we supposed to have collective amnesia that Mal ALREADY considered Simon part of the crew?

Oh, I could go on. Zoe came across as a tough bitch for just about the entire film, and we never saw the tender side of her and her marriage to Wash. Wash came off as a complete flake. Jayne wasn't nearly as mercenary as he was on Firefly; in fact, except for one tiny moment of rebellion, he just followed orders. That's not the Jayne we know and distrust! They all came across as cardboard cutouts of the real characters on Firefly.


3. The deaths.

By killing off Book and Wash, Joss removed two of Firefly's best subplots! Perhaps he had to get rid of them because the actors had other stuff to do, but come on -- he could have established MUCH more story with both of them before they died. As it was, there was no reason for someone who didn't know the TV show to even care that they died, except that the deaths were senseless and spurred the other characters to action. You know what other writer kills off major characters to move the plot along? DANIELLE STEELE. I kid you not.

I take issue with Book dying before we got to learn who he really was. And Wash's death made sure that Zoe stayed a one-dimentional character.

Killing off Mr. Universe makes sense, though, because his only purpose in the entire script was to have the technology available for Mal to send out the info on the Reavers.


4. The story.

Apparently Joss saw no reason to maintain continuity from Firefly, since SIMON DIDN'T TAKE RIVER OUT HIMSELF. He got her from people who smuggled her out. Yes, I could see why Joss made this choice -- it gave him the chance to use exposition (BADLY) to explain River's condition, and do it quickly. He also skipped right over how they ended up on Serenity. Why do that??????? He rewrote the story's beginnings, which did not bode well for the rest of the movie.

The only thing Serenity did that Firefly didn't have a chance to was explain the existence of Reavers. Which, honestly, took all of five minutes of the whole film. Since the outer-rim planets were the only ones affected by Reavers, why would it make any difference that Mal broadcast the fact that the Alliance made them? That fact is not going to topple a civilization.

And I *really* think Joss missed the boat by making the Reavers the point of this movie. Yeah, it gave him a good reason to have all the whiz-bang action sequences and to put the cast in harm's way from monsters instead of a monsterous government. But the plot shouldn't be driven by the action! ACTION DRIVES PLOT, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND!!!!!!!!!!!

The movie I would have rather seen was what the Alliance did to River and the other kids, and WHY. What are the others being used for? What's behind the plot of it all? Evil perpetrated by thinking, powerful human beings is MUCH scarier than violence perpetrated by people who have gone mad because they inhaled some kind of chemical. I'm sure that Joss intends to tackle the reasons for River in the second movie, then bring that together with the Reavers for the third movie. But WHY? Because he wanted to make three mediocre movies instead of one good one?????????

One last point: What happened to the "Western" part of this "Western in space"? There was no explaination of why Serenity was out in the border planets thieving -- not even righteously, which would at least have made Mal more likeable! -- or why Mal and Kaylee spoke like they were riding the range. What in the hell happened???!?!?


5. The ripoffs.

The last scene, between Mal and the assassin -- did anyone else get reminded of just about all the endings of the original Star Wars films???? Oh, and how about the action in the hallway with the Reavers -- anyone else think of the Alien movies???? Wow, there was almost NO originality here. Joss jettisoned everything that was original, that made Firefly so special, and why? Because the studio made him? Because he thought this was more "commercial"?????

Here's the thing. Stories are driven by characters. Plot is driven by the actions of the characters. The reason that Buffy and Firefly worked so well was that the main characters were DEVELOPED. They weren't two-dimensional. Why in heaven's name did Serenity not get the same treatment???? If the difference between BTVS the movie and BTVS the TV show are anything like the difference between Firefly and Serenity, I now truly understand why the studio was confused by BTVS the movie!!!!


The bottom line:

I understand that Serenity was made to appeal to a broad audience. But Joss totally jettisoned everything that made Firefly the underground hit that it became! This was a mediocre story, badly told. I expected better than this.

Perhaps Joss needs to stick with the small screen. He does a beautiful job with dialogue, characters, stories, plot and pacing if he has a 24-episode season to get them across. The man should be kept away from movie scripts forevermore.

Maybe fans of sci-fi in general and action-movie fans can be happy with Serenity, but after knowing how wonderful Firefly was, I sure can't.

Will I see the next movie if it gets made? Only if you all go see it and tell me that it was better than this drivel.

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goodgothgirl

March 2007

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