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Another Portland Blog

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

 

Serenity now! Or possibly later

Have you heard about this whole "Firefly/Serenity" thing? If not, whoo-eee! Lemme tell you all about it.

I've never been a fan of sci-fi TV shows. "The Twilight Zone" notwithstanding, I haven't watched anything in the genre since I was in preschool and "Battlestar Glactica" was still syndicated on KPTV. I've seen one episode of "Star Trek the Next Generation" and, maybe, three of "The X Files." I just don't have the attention span to commit to dozens of episodes of glacial pacing, low production values and episodic plotlines.

Then along came "Firefly." Like everyone else, I didn't catch the show when it originally aired on Fox. I put the show in my Netflix queue after hearing it described as "Deadwood in space." While the show falls to the usual TV trappings, it was damn entertaining. "Firefly" deserves its cult of "Browncoat", the "Joss Whedon is my master now" t-shirts and years of conventions, even for the "Our Mrs. Reynolds" episode alone.

Maybe the true secret of its appeal was its brevity. The show never got the chance to grow stale. On the other hand, "Firefly" never came into its own or received the attention and admiration it deserved. Somehow, against all odds, Whedon, scored $40 million for a follow-up released in theaters last Friday.

And it's the best science fiction film I've seen in five years, probably longer.




Unlike the "Star Wars" prequels, "Serenity"'s main ingredients are witty dialog, a great plotline and, simply put, balls. If you haven't seen it yet and plan on doing so, now would be a good time to stop reading because SPOILERS lie ahead.

If only the prequels had a character like Malcom Reynolds- a Han Solo free from the tin ear and second-guess editing of George Lucas. Imagine if Luke Skywalker had botched the Death Star raid and Solo was left to wander from petty con to petty con after the Rebellion shattered. A man with nothing to lose, he's not above strapping the bones of a former crewmate to the side of his ship in order to sneak through a encampment of bloodthirsty cannibals.

The film does the best it can with a limited budget and it's filled with great moments: River's kung-fu freakout after watching a candy commercial, Malcom's Martin-Riggs-style recovery at the film's climax, the seppuku'd bureaucrat, "I don't wanna explode," the incense bomb, Kaylee's motivation to keep shooting and Serenity's suicide-run with hundreds of Reavers in tow.

I have no idea how all this would play for someone who has never seen the series but I could prattle on about "Serenity" for another thousand words. The complaint I can muster is that Whedon took the kitchen sink approach. If the film makes enough $ to warrant a sequel, is there a story left to tell after this? And, annoying as he was, did _____ really need to take a fatal harpoon in the gut?

Anyway, if Lucas' latest efforts left a bad taste, check this thing out before it leaves theaters.

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