After I finished watching Joss Whedon’s Firefly, there was one more thing to do, watch the movie with the same characters.  As such, here is my review of the movie.  All of my other posts talking about Firefly can be found here.


After watching Firefly the next step was of course to watch the movie based upon the show.  I’m not directly spoiling anything in the movie, but I do talk about it in a manner that will be unclear if you aren’t familiar with both the show and the movie.  At this point Firefly is 10 years old and Serenity is 7 years old, and there is a statute of limitations on these things.  Also, they’re both very good, so why are you still reading this if you haven’t seen them before?  Go watch them.

Serenity was shot a couple of years after Firefly was cancelled.  At first I thought that it was an attempt to bring closure to the series, but after watching it, it seems like another couple of episodes set in the Firefly universe.  I just watched the series for the first time, but for fans that watched it when it was originally run I’m sure the movie was a very welcome addition to the world.

Personally, I think the movie got off to a very rough start.  When I talked about the show, my first comment was that the actors needed no time to get into the characters, from the first episode they were immediately in character.  Especially early on in the movie, they just didn’t feel like the same characters.  As it went on, they got much better, but the differences seemed very big early on.

The biggest difference with any of the characters, and the biggest problem was Simon.  In the opening half hour of the movie, he’s a much stronger character than he ever was in the show, to the point where he is willing to call out Mal for the way he uses River.  Along with calling out Mal, he was also a very different character when he was helping River escape.  The confidence that he showed in that scene didn’t exist in the early episodes of the show.  I was also puzzled by the fact that he knew a ‘safe word’ to knock River out.  There were more than a couple of times in the series that he would have used it.

I was also troubled by the visual style of the movie.  It’s definitely darker in tone than many of the episodes, but the visual style was strangely different to me.  If it has been a while since you’d seen the show you probably wouldn’t notice, but if you’re watching the show in order and then immediately watching the movie like I did, it’s kind of clear to see.  Even the interior of the ship looked different to me.  As I got further into the movie, I got over it, but in the beginning it was troubling.

I’m also a little unsure of where this fits in relation to the series.  It’s obviously after the end run of the series, but I’m not terribly sure how far after it this story takes place.  The most noticeable part is that Shepherd Book is off the ship.  I was really upset with that.  I said repeatedly throughout my comments of each episode that Book was probably the deepest character, and they didn’t have time to explore him at all in the movie, so he was essentially cast aside.

Although River played a stronger part in the movie than she did in the show, I was a little upset that more of her story wasn’t covered.  I was hoping that the movie would explain everything about what happened to her and exactly what she was being created for, but instead it revolves around something that she gleaned from the mind of one of the higher members of the Alliance while they were observing her treatments.  It left the movie a little flat for me.

Along with going in a direction that wasn’t much explored in the show, there were also a couple of characters that weren’t in the show at all that played a big part.  I’m fine with the twins on whatever planet that Mal had a deal with, but Mr. Universe is someone who probably should have been a bigger part of the universe before the movie.

Part of the problem with the movie is that there are too many loose threads that I didn’t think were covered in the original run of the show.  I think that Joss had a bunch of ideas about where the show was going beyond the first 14 episodes, and when writing the script for the movie he put a lot of the ideas in.  Ultimately I think it was about 6 or 8 episodes of the show crammed into a two-hour movie.  I’m glad the movie got made because the characters were a lot of fun and it was a great chance to sort of ‘get the band back together.’  But ultimately I think it would have worked better stretched out over the course of a season, which I’m sure was the original intent.

(Note: I wrote this review immediately after watching the movie a couple of weeks ago.  Since then, I’ve found places online where they say the movie takes place about 6 months after the end of Episode 14.  Joss had originally intended the events of this movie to take place at the end of the second season of the show.)

Overall Grade

The movie was good, but the story would have worked better had Joss Whedon been given the chance to tell it over the course of several episodes rather than in a single movie.


So what’s next?

I’ve enjoyed taking the time to talk about something different, and there are a couple of other TV shows that I’d like to watch.  So I’ll continue to have my posts talking about TV shows.  I’m still going to plan having them posted on Mondays and Thursdays.  So then, here’s the question, what show is coming up next?  I’ve got three shows I’m considering now, A Game of Thrones, Dollhouse (another Joss Whedon show), and Breaking Bad.  I haven’t watched any episodes of any of the shows yet (although I have read A Game of Thrones) so for now I’ll just ask what you think I should watch first.

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  1. hannahrose42

     /  August 4, 2012

    I agree that the movie had a completely different tone from the show. I could never put my finger on why that is… I also asked around for people who had seen the movie and not the show to see what they thought of characterizations, because no one seemed to me like they should be. I’m glad you saw that, too. I think the one thing I really enjoyed about the movie was finding out the origin of the reavers. I would watch the movie again, just for that part. Note: If you really do want to find out more about Shepherd Book, there is a graphic novel about him called, “Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale.” There are also two Firefly-based graphic novels that are quick, but worth a read.

    I am also planning to watch Game of Thrones, since I am partially through Clash of Kings now. Breaking Bad is a pretty solid show, though I only got through the first season.

    • At this point I think I’m going to watch Dollhouse, largely because it’s complete already. After that I think I’ll start watching Breaking Bad.

  2. I didn’t have the same problems with Serenity though I certainly understand your points. I thought it brought some nice closure to the series without entirely closing it, which is not what I think any of the fans wanted as there is still this ridiculous hope that the show will come back. I thought I’d read somewhere that there was a reason that Book wasn’t in the show much that had to do with the actor but I’m not sure now if that is true or not.

    I think some of what he did with the movie that may have not worked as well had to do with the need to try to make a film that was watchable for audiences who hadn’t seen the show, and in some ways it is too bad that this was the case as it may have felt like a more complete part of it had he not chosen to do that.

    Glad you finally watched all this, it is an amazing, if too short, story.

    • I can see that part of the problem was having to reintroduce the characters, and because I thought the characters were so different from the show I think that the movie actually works better as a stand alone than in tandem with the show.

      *Spoiler if you haven’t seen the movie*

      The only thing I’ve found online about the actors related to their screen time involved both Book and Wash dying. Apparently they weren’t able to commit to potential sequels for the movie, and as a result they were killed off. I think it really shows because their deaths are both kind of forced and don’t really affect the story as a whole.

      I really enjoyed the show, and I’m sure it’s something I’ll watch again in the future.

      • I definitely didn’t think it was worthwhile to have either character die. Book’s makes a little more sense because I think it does impact the story. Book is often trying to get Mal to talk about his beliefs, etc. and I think his death is a believable catalyst to push Mal more towards the guy he was in the battle of Serenity Valley than the guy he had become. Wash’s was more about a statement about being willing to kill off characters, in my opinion, and I’ve never liked that part of the show.

      • Killing a character just to show the audience that you’re willing to kill a character is one of the stupidest things that a writer can do in fiction. Wash’s death was pointless and added nothing to the movie. Had there been sequels it would have been very interesting to watch how Zoe changes, but during the course of this movie it was worthless.

      • Wash was all about shock value. I remember being so surprised in the theater and kept thinking that he would end up being alright, and then at the end he is really and truly dead. I also think that if the actors who played Book and Wash did actually say they didn’t want to do any more future shows I still wouldn’t kill them because, lets face it, people change their minds.

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