About a year ago I blogged about the sci-fi series Firefly, created by Joss Whedon, better known as the person behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. As I mentioned in that posting, a movie version was in production, and it was released to generally positive reviews a few weeks ago. What with one thing and another, we didn’t actually get to see it until tonight, when it was only still showing on one screen in the area. This is indicative of the general reception around the world, where despite the positive reviews, the reciepts have been lacklustre.
To be honest, it is somewhat of a shame, as those people we know who have seen it, have come out having enjoyed it, and wanting to see the series, and even tonight a number of other people in the audience were planning to search out the DVD box set. However the realities of the movie industry are that currently it doesn’t look like it’s going to make much of a profit, with the US takings predicted to be about $28 million, against a budget of $39 million. Whilst both Beth and me would love there to be more movies, or even a new series, on the current takings I’ll be surprised if there is.
Anyway, what did we think of the movie? Having seen so many TV series get messed up when they hit the big screen, we were glad to find that the essential essence of Firefly had been preserved.
The film opened with a flashback sequence of Simon rescuing River, occuring just before the events of the first episode of the series. This then led in to an Alliance operative planning to locate River, having first dispatched the scientists who let her escape, and if you’ve seen the series, failed to recapture her.
From there we cut to Serenity where the crew are getting ready to pull a robbery, however there are some notable absentees from the series – Shepherd Book someone who the series had hinted that there was a lot more about him to learn, and Inara, who as the original series ended had said she was leaving anyway. For fans of the series, both characters did appear later, as we find Book settled on a planet, and Inara returns as the Alliance operative uses her to get to Mal.
I think as fans of the series, we definitely had an advantage in knowing the characters, as there is little chance for backstory. To some extent it feels a bit like the final episode that the series never had, with resolution for a number of plot threads, and moving others along a bit further. Perhaps one of the bigger revalations is the origins of the Reavers, as rather than avoiding them as the crew did in the series, in the movie they have to go search them out!
Having said that, as with other Joss Whedon productions, he’s not afraid to do unexpected things, and although we knew that not all the original crew made it out the other end, it still came as a shock when they went, and at times you really found yourself wondering if any of them were going to make it out at all, and whether this was going to be a Blakes 7 style ending where it all ends in disater.
I read a letter in SFX magazine this month who said that they thought that Star Wars III was a good sci-fi movie until they saw Serenity. Whilst I haven’t actually ever thought Star Wars III was overly great I certainly wouldn’t disagree with the sentiment that Serenity is a superb film, and highlights what a great difference proper characterisation can make. It is really a massive shame that Star Wars III and not Serenity is the one making all the money, and whilst we have the prospect of a Star Wars TV series, I suspect this movie may have been the last we will see of Serenity. Having said that, maybe the movie will be a big hit on DVD – and certainly it will be interesting to see what the sales of the Firefly – The Complete Series DVD will be like over the next few months. Maybe the crew of Serenity will manage another escape from cancellation – we can but hope.