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Old May 11th, 2005, 04:44 AM
Shadowdancer Shadowdancer is offline
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Sorry this has taken me so long to write up, as I know there are many on here who are interested in this movie, but I've been very busy at work.

So anyway, last Thursday I was fortunate enough to be able to go to Austin to attend one of the advance screenings of an unfinished version of the "Firefly" movie, "Serenity." How was it, you ask? The short answer is, it rocks. Do not hesitate to go see it when it opens. Even if you haven't seen the series, go see it. In fact, you have several months before it opens (Sept. 30, unless they change it -- again), so go buy/borrow/rent the entire series and watch it before going to see the movie. For the long answer, keep reading.

The screening was a great experience; the atmosphere at the theater was electric, reminding me somewhat of a gaming convention. Book and Mal were at our screening, which was special. Other cast members and Joss Whedon attended other screenings across the country. Nathan Fillion (Mal) and Ron Glass (Book) spoke briefly before the screening (I believe Ron said it was his first time to see the film in a close-to-finished form) and then did an hour-long Q-and-A afterwards, then signed autographs. Very cool. Plus Universal had a film crew there filming people waiting in line before the screening as well as Nathan and Ron and others who spoke before and after.

As for the film itself (without giving anything away): I felt going into the movie the same way I did prior to the first LotR movie. I was excited, and I was very hopeful that it would be good. But part of me also was afraid; I was praying that it wouldn't suck. And the film exceeded my expectations -- and I had pretty high expectations. I laughed, I cried, I didn't want it to end.

In general terms, the situation reminded me of the X-Files Movie, and let me first say that from me that's a big compliment. The X-Files is one of my favorite series ever, and I liked the movie very much. When X-Files was at its zenith, it was better than probably 80 to 85 percent of the movies being released -- better acting, better writing, better at creating and sustaining a mood, able to do serious and funny equally well, and at the same time. So when they made the X-Files movie, I felt they kept all the things they did well and improved the things the could with a bigger budget, namely the special effects and the guest stars.

So "Serenity" follows a similar formula. When the series "Firefly" finally started to really gel, probably with the episode "Out of Gas" and continuing until the last episode, it was better than most movies. For the movie, all of the good things about the series are retained -- good acting, good story, interesting characters, memorable dialogue (there are so many good lines from this movie), creepy villians, twists and surprises, the ability to be both serious and funny (I've attended far too many so-called comedies at which I didn't laugh out loud as much as I did at this screening). It's all there. Plus they improved the series' main weakness -- special effects. Not that the special effects for Firefly weren't good for a TV show, but in a movie with a larger budget you can do more. And Joss does more. The special effects were probably the area where the film looked the most unfinished, and they looked pretty good as is. So I imagine that between now and the release date, they will be getting tweaked and polished and shined up nice and pretty. And they have some good guest stars, some of whom I recognized from other shows/movies (the mathematician brother from the series "Numb3rs" and Miss Isrinhausen from the HBO series "Deadwood," to name two).

There is a bit of a history lesson at the first of the movie that explains a little of the backstory for the setting, which is good for fans and newbies alike. Some things I had always suspected but were never explained for sure in the series were laid out at the start, so I was glad for that. Also, there are some loose ends from the series that are tied up. Ron and Nathan said the movie is one of the major storylines or arcs Joss intended for the series, condensed down into a movie. I don't know if it would have played out over the first season, or over multiple seasons, with the ultimate answers revealed in the show's final episode.

Some people have asked about can the story go on from the end of the movie. Yes, and no. I don't see it ever going back to TV. But they could make more movies, either continuing from where everything ends in the movie, or set during an earlier time. Nathan and Ron even addressed that during the Q-and-A, and said there were several options that had already been discussed as far as how to proceed with another movie, if this one does well.

One disappointment I had (and I don't really think this is a spoiler) was that the theme song wasn't used. During the Q-and-A I asked about it, and if it would be in the final version of the movie, and Nathan said no. I hope he was kidding (he did that alot -- he's a very funny guy; he should do standup). I really think they should use the theme song, even if just over the closing credits.

I've seen on the Internet that they are doing another round of screenings on May 26, this time in 20 cities. If you don't already have tickets, don't bother -- all the screenings are already sold out. I realize they are trying to build word-of-mouth as well as get the Browncoats excited in advance of the movies' release, but I'm afraid they are running the risk of some major spoilers being leaked and becoming common knowledge prior to the release date. My advice is to avoid any and all spoilers about this movie -- there are things you don't want to know going in because it will not only spoil the surprises, but probably the whole experience.
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