I was hugely looking forward to Serenity, and this probably resulted in my mild disappointment in the film. I guess I really should have watched Firefly first to clue me in, but I didn’t so there we go.
There was nothing really wrong with it – in fact there was an awful lot right with it, and I have to say I was hooked the whole way through (and ended up watching the end half of an episode I came across on Sky One). In general I liked the characters, and the plot was fine – in fact it had me guessing once or twice. I liked the ‘bad guys’ aspect of the protagonists, and the special effects were unoticeable, which is my definition of a good special effect. There was some fantastic moments (the bit with the Reaver fleet is awesome), and I guess the impact of the River/Simon back-story and her .. erm.. prowess would have been greatly enhanced by having seen the TV episodes first. In fact I think the film would have seemed quite different if I’d have seen the TV episodes – I only just found out that the film is set after the last of the TV episodes! Coming at both cold, the film reads very much like an introduction to the Firefly world, and not its epilogue.
In fact, even I was write this, almost all of my objections to the film fall away, given that it was made on the back of a TV series, and not a stand-alone film in it’s own right. Things that seem disjointed or poorly explored has presumably already been introduced on the TV? So I would definitely say that you need to watch a TV episode before plumping for the film.
What was good? Well, the acting, special effects, story.. it doesn’t shy away from the realities of war. I loved Chiwetel Ejiofor as The Operative (awesome character and acting), and when River’s “Big Moment” finally came it was carried out to perfection.
You knew it was coming the whole way through the film, and in anything it was left too late, but that’s just opinion.
What was bad? Well, the “Big Shocks” were mainly duds if you weren’t already familar with the characters from the TV, the thing became just a bit too much the “lovechild-of-Friends-and-Buffy-set-in-space” at times (for instance, Mal (angry, but comic angry) “Do you want take command?” Jayne: “Yes.” Mal: “Well…. (looks around desperately) you can’t!”.. but then a bit later Mal threatens – seriously – to shoot any his crew who get in the way of the mission). At times it was a bit confused too, I felt.
So it was very Joss Whedon (and I say that as a Buffy fan, at least the earlier series), an entertaining enough way to spend a couple of hours – no, better than that suggests. One to watch, but try to catch an episode of the TV first!