[personal profile] x_h00ine

It was . . . I don't really have words for it. Excellent, remarkable, wonderful. They all sound a bit cool and reserved. I loved it as much as I loved the best episodes of the series, and then I loved it a lot more than that. I hadn't watched the trailer, and I guess I hadn't really formed any expectations of it. I think part of the reason for that is that I loathed the ending of Angel so thoroughly, I was afraid to form any. But this isn't my first fandom barbecue. I've lived through the Major Motion Picture stage before. And while I walked out of the theatre after MST: The Movie with an affectionate, fuzzy glow, I needed to make allowances. I needed to talk myself into being thoroughly enchanted with it. No work was required on my part with Serenity. I was very nearly as much of a wreck as I was after Chosen aired.

Ok, I just watched the trailer. It seems to have been made with Matrix fans in mind and with an eye to satisfying SciFi fans who are driven crazy by the lack of food pills and neurotoxic blasters---those who consider the persistence of ballistic weapons in the future to be an affront to the entire concept of human cultural and biological evolution (don't get me started). On that level, the marketing worries me somewhat.

One complaint that I've seen regarding trailer is "It makes the movie seem like 'The River Show'." I'm not sure I see that, but then again, I've just seen the movie. It's emphatically not "The River Show." It's beautifully, gloriously, deliberately not "The River Show."

I admit that River was never my favorite part of the series (on the front of the survey the only things I didn't check as reasons for coming to see it were "Summer Glau" and "Morena Bacarin." No big hate-on there, they just were never key to my enjoyment). That said, the movie fleshes out River's story extensively, and that's a plus. Summer Glau gets more of a chance to act and the Crazy Waif thing is not so overwhelming on the big screen. But the River Show becomes triumphantly trivial, bordering on irrelevant, as the plot unfolds around her story.

In some ways, the series is about the liminal, the marginal. Our heroes are interesting, powerful, sexy, and dangerous because of the lives they live between outposts. But that time and space they occupy---ritually charged and crackling with possibility as it is---must be transitory by nature. If it's not, it traps them, disempowering, disenfranchising, rendering them rootless and without purpose. It's postcolonial, postmodern, and fucking brilliant.

I don't if people at Fox blanched when Joss pitched a show with 8 main characters on a space ship. I sure as shit know I would've. Is every last one of them really necessary? In a very practical sense, why is each and every one of these characters here? In some ways, I'm not sure that question could really have been answered as expertly, thouroughly, and beautifully as it is in the movie.

That doesn't mean that I don't want to cut every last one of the motherfuckers who canceled this show. It doesn't mean that rootless wandering, occasional respite, and brilliant intervals of power and transformation shouldn't have gone on for at least another 12,000 episodes. But sweet jeebus is the movie a practical and existential payoff for the superficially cliched ragtag band of misfits. Can't stop the signal indeed. It's not the medium, it's the message.

Dialogue-wise, this movie works and works and works some more. There are a few spots where I can see Mal's Western-speak jangling peoples' nerves, but overall, I think this and the Chinese have been worked into the fabric of it with a bit more finesse than in the series (or, again, it may be a big screen/small screen thing). It's hilarious and touching in near-perfect balance.

The pacing, overall, is good. I'd have liked to see more of "Haven." I'm greedy for a lot more of Shepherd Book in this overall, but I also think seeing our heroes at rest and play would underscore the bonds among them that are always there, however strained they may get. I don't need convincing, but I think a more casual viewer might.

On a similar note, the Zombie King and I both wondered whether the relationships within the crew were made apparent enough. To me Zoe and Wash were very clearly established as a couple from the beginning, but he felt that a bit of elaboration was needed. In retrospect, I think this cut relied a bit too much on Zoe/Mal shorthand maybe without clearly establishing the "forged in a hopeless battle" nature of their relationship.

For as nonfocal as Inara was in the movie, the romantic subtext between here and Mal went a long way toward humanizing him. I'm torn between feeling that his solo mission to "rescue" her was a plotting mistake that took too much time away from the rest of the crew and again with the team spirit and knowing that we needed to see the well-oiled (ahem) Mal-and-Inara machine (a la Shindig) to show the potential for more than just sexual tension between them.

But how does it look, people will want to know, as I'm told that these moving pictures are a visual medium. Fantastic, in my opinion. The main set is the same old Serenity, but good use is made of the additional budget to show us more of it as a home: Mal's quarters are not so bare; there's a funky lounge-like space, and we get to see them living their lives. The Alliance spaces are nicely done (and, yes, I'm a sucker, I love the still hologram with Action!River and Action!Simon). The planetside spaces where whackiness inevitably ensues are still dusty low-down dives, but they've got just enough shiny Bladerunner squalor to bring things up to big screen snuff.

The big battle scenes rocked. The Reaver fleet winking into existence was probably telegraphed from a mile away, but I was too caught up to not gasp when they did. The harpoon-like weapons they use were visually way cool and made for a nice variation on the balls-out space battle.

So are there any flaws? Any at all? Well, I can see an argument to be made regarding The Operative. The actor is great and many of his scenes are a treat. He and Nathan Fillion play off one another extremely well. However, I'm not sure he's developed as well as he needs to be, given that he's the one with his finger on the big red button. The ideas are all there, but they're presented in a bit of a simplistic rush. That's less of a problem if he's going to be finished off in a big moment (although I think it would tremendously dampen the impact of Mal's actions specifically and the whole crew's existential purpose more broadly if he were), but given that he's slated to survive the movie, his practical and philosophical framework need to be constructed a bit more deftly.

Zombie King says that people were arguing about there being sound in space. I honestly don't recall hearing sound in space. I also don't give a rat's ass about it. As to where the placeholder effects and music are, again, I was far too caught up everything to really notice, so there are bound to be technical holes that others will see.

In short, I cannot fucking wait for September. In the meantime, I'll be in my bunk constructing my pink froo froo Kaylee costume for the real premiere.

Date: 2005-05-06 09:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ketzel.livejournal.com
I stopped reading where it became spoilerish. I'm glad it's not the River Show the trailer made of it. And I want to see it. Now. Wah.

Date: 2005-05-06 11:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thegoyle.livejournal.com
You have made me very happy.

Date: 2005-05-06 05:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] x-h00ine.livejournal.com
My goyle! I'm SHOCKED. SHOCKED to see you in a spoilery post. But, of course, typical of me, it's not very spoilery, is it?

Date: 2005-05-06 09:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jonesiexxx.livejournal.com
Knowing it was you writing it, I dared to read it.

Date: 2005-05-06 09:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] x-h00ine.livejournal.com
Eeek! I hope it didn't ruin anything for you!

I came to praise you, not to bury you!

Date: 2005-05-06 09:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jonesiexxx.livejournal.com
Only one thing I feel knowy about in a spoilery way - the Operative guy not dying. I'm okay with that. It's somehow qualitatively different from finding out who WILL die.

It's been bandied about forever that the Reavers would be involved and much of the rest just doesn't seem spoily to me.

I knew what I was in for when I decided to read you talking about the movie. Safe spoilers. You'd never give away Crying Game type spoilers. You wuz raised right. I credit Me, the Father. (Yes, I know, you came pre-spoilery before we met. Shut up).

Plus I was one of the ones who thought the trailer was All River All the Time, so I'm very pleased.

Date: 2005-05-06 11:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thegoyle.livejournal.com
I sort of looked with an eye on the escape pod, in case I had to make a quick getaway (cos we know THAT always works, don't we?) But having said that, while I really don't want to know what happens before it does, I loved that you got tickets and I really wanted to know what you thought. Plus I trusted you not to let on about the dancing walrus at the end.


(ooops)

Date: 2005-05-06 01:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] asta77.livejournal.com
Great review. I didn't think it was too spoilerish, but explained many of the things I was wondering about in the trailer. Speaking of the trailer, Abbylee made an excellent observation afetr it debuted that it was playing too much to the built in fan base and not doing enough to pull in a new audiance. When I thought about it I realized that she made a good point because while I have the backstory to appreciate the characters actions and humor, a lot of people (sadly) don't. From your review, it seems that a newbie can enjoy the film, but I do have to wonder about the current marketing campaign.

Date: 2005-05-06 02:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ketzel.livejournal.com
Who is this god of arms? Arms! I have a thing for well built arms!

Date: 2005-05-06 02:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] asta77.livejournal.com
No! Really?!?!? ;) The 'god' is Jamie Bamber who plays Capt Lee 'Apollo' Adama on Battlestar Galactica. Great show, but it is he who kept me tuning in until I realized it was a great show. :-)

Where were you, Boo?

Date: 2005-05-06 09:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jonesiexxx.livejournal.com
Have you missed Asta's lj for the last four months? Not saying it was ALL devoted to JB's arms... Wait a sec... Yup. Saying it was ALL devoted to JB's arms.

Re: Where were you, Boo?

Date: 2005-05-06 09:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] asta77.livejournal.com
Not ALL. You forgot about Hugh Laurie and his cane. ;)

Re: Where were you, Boo?

Date: 2005-05-06 09:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jonesiexxx.livejournal.com
I limp corrected.

Date: 2005-05-06 11:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jennipher.livejournal.com
I sort of skimmed this post, just in case, and was very relieved to read that the River story isn't the entire movie. Like you,I don't dislike River, she was just never my first(Jayne), second(Mal), or third(Kaylee),interest.

Fuck, it's going to seem like stair stepper time all the way until November.

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