Well last night, due to a handy time from my sister, I found out about a press screening for Serenity up at the one of the movie theaters by the Lincoln Center. Universal was nice enough to allow any fans who wanted to show up, free admission. Probably letting the New York Times reviewer hear the audience reaction would help them “get” the film. I did have to slip out of work a little early to get to the 6PM show, and I was convinced that it would be full up by the time I got there. But in fact the theater was only about 3/4ths full. Universal only told a few people in the Firefly Fan scene about the screening 24 hours before hand. I am sure they did not want a rampaging mob of fans- this after all is to let the huge number of NYC based national film reviewers have the best viewing experience. So in that respect the mission was accomplished, I think.
If you don’t know what I am talking about, Serenity is a Sci-Fi movie that opens in about a month in the US. It is based on a truncated TV series from 2002 called Firefly. The premise is basically if you took just the Han Solo/Chewbacca part of Star Wars, and infused it with a whole lot of Old West flavor. It centered on a cargo/smuggling ship’s crew trying to survive in a dangerous time 500 years in the future. Since the show was created by Joss Whedon, (Buffy, Angel) it had a healthy mix of humor and action. Anyway, the series only managed to get through 14 episodes before it was canceled. A big disappointment for the fan base it was able to gather over that short time. But in the end it lived on as a DVD set, that managed to convince Universal to let Joss take the characters and the storylines started in the series, and film a medium budget film called Serenity.
Having seen it now, I can say that it was worth the wait. Fans are the toughest critics, and I am sure I am no exception- I will quibble about minor details about the film for a long time, I am sure. A geek is happiest when he is quibbling with other geeks about minutia. Its what we do.
I will say that possibly the biggest problem with the film is that it is almost too much. The first hour of the film is like a condensed version of the first season’s plot twists, while the second hour is like the Season finale and resolution. A lot of things that happen in the film would have been huge in the TV series- dictating the plots of 2-3 episodes, in the film get about 30 seconds to a minute, and then it rolls on. It was a lot for a fan to absorb as the film pressed on. Hopefully regular film goers will not find it bewildering and too ‘dense’ to enjoy. But stepping back I will say that everything happened in a way that felt true to the series, and there were no cheap plot twists.
In the end the film really shows a unique vision of Sci-Fi, something that has not been presented as a feature film before. And it is not like Star Wars, or any of the other space operas out there, so I think that it will strike people as a extremely unique experience. -and hopefully a good one that they will recommend to their friends.
(Firefly fans are greedy creatures. They are happy to have a film, but now their eyes are set on getting a trilogy of films… here’s hoping.)