Author Topic: Serenity  (Read 9380 times)

snowcat

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Serenity
« on: February 06, 2010, 11:53:14 AM »
Ok this is a discussion about the film Serenity, reviews, questions, new discussion points are all welcome but our main question will be

Did Serenity start a sci-fi revolution for which it has never been credited?

Let the arguments and discussion begin!

Najemikon

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Re: Serenity
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2010, 01:34:07 PM »
Thank you, Emma!  :clap: I haven't watched Serenity recently and will do over the next couple of weeks. But for now, these are the general points I wanted to make. Don't worry, it's entirely spoiler free...

Whatever Serenity did or didn't do, it was actually an extension of Firefly and I think you can see a shift in tone in that series that has gone on to be an influence. Of course it was cancelled before anyone really noticed, but Serenity -simply by being a movie- had more exposure to a more generalised audience. It was able to take the style and streamline it and I think find a more adult tone for science fiction.

Because of what had gone before, it spends very little time on exposition and just gets on with it. While you could argue it doesn't quite work (Emma's comments will be interesting as she is starting with Serenity), this is far more sophisticated than big-hitters like The Matrix and from all accounts, Avatar. A more elegant example would be Star Wars in that the narrative is incredibly simple, but the background is rich with complicated history that importantly, is not forced upon the viewer.

Serenity's dropped-in-the-middle plot might have been forced by circumstance, but Firefly had already built itself in that manner. Small details like the fact they speak a common language of Chinese, suggesting that super-power influence has changed dramatically. Interesting that China seems to have weathered the recent recession better than anyone and may be considered more healthy than most. "Ta ma de!" indeed... ;)

As well as a brave approach to modern narrative, at least so far as being character driven and flying in the face of spoon-fed blockbuster nonesense, the use of special effects is pretty radical too.

In the making of Wall.E, they specifically built computer programs to mimic cameras. By which I mean they recreated the "faults" and limitations of traditional lighting, lenses and weighty cameras to create a realistic film feel despite it all being CGi and therefore technically unlimited in such ways. They asked for help from cinematographers, who found it funny, because you could say that photographers have been trying to hide depth-of-field and focusing defects since day one!

I think Firefly might have started this way of thinking and as before, Serenity demonstrated it theatrically. Pay attention to albeit brief moments where action is almost handheld, with middle-distance ships dropping in and out of focus. You can trace some of these elements back to anime like Akira and Ghost In The Shell, but they are smoothly stylised whereas Firefly, Serenity and Wall.E are old fashioned.

That of course, is not a critiscm. Rather it makes science fiction more approachable by being familiar.

I think it's time to pay the piper. Joss Whedon gets a lot of quiet respect for Firefly. Quiet, is boring.

Offline goodguy

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Re: Serenity
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2010, 02:04:45 PM »
I may have to say more at a later time, but for now...

Because of what had gone before, it spends very little time on exposition and just gets on with it.

I think I mentioned a few times that I like the TV series better than the movie, but I have to admit that the multi-layered opening is pretty impressive. It actually doesn't just get on with it; there are roughly 10 minutes of exposition that never feel that way, because the context is changed abruptly at least three times and it pushes and pushes forward and never loses momentum.
Matthias

snowcat

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Re: Serenity
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2010, 07:41:20 PM »
Well, I will be watching it over the next few days so ill have my opinions in then!

interestingly enough, (I watched a couple of minutes yesterday) I think im going to compare it to other films... the bits I watched just kept reminding me of something


Critter

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Re: Serenity
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2010, 12:09:31 AM »
I studied this film in my Year 10 English class a long time ago and had to write an exam on it (my teacher at the time was a huge Whedon fan). I have seen it a lot of times but I think I also will have to have a rewatch to refresh my memory.

Offline Dragonfire

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Re: Serenity
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2010, 03:42:39 AM »
I'll probably watch this again soon..I might even watch Firefly again first too.

snowcat

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Re: Serenity
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2010, 10:47:52 AM »
Right, Im gonna watched Serenity in the next few days. I have a week off now.

Offline Tom

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Re: Serenity
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2010, 12:22:00 AM »


Title: Serenity
Year: 2005
Director: Joss Whedon
Rating: 15
Length: 119 Min.
Video: Widescreen 2.35
Audio: English: DTS HD Master Audio, Spanish: DTS 5.1, French: DTS 5.1, Japanese: DTS 5.1, French: DTS 5.1, German: DTS 5.1, Italian: DTS 5.1, Spanish: DTS 5.1, Commentary: Dolby Digital Surround, Commentary: Dolby Digital Surround, Commentary: Other, Commentary: Other
Subtitles: Chinese, Commentary, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish

Stars:
Nathan Fillion
Gina Torres
Alan Tudyk
Morena Baccarin
Adam Baldwin

Plot:
Joss Whedon, the Oscar® and Emmy-nominated writer/director behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, now applies his trademark wit in this breathtaking epic. Captain Malcolm Reynolds, a hardened veteran (on the losing side) of a galactic civil war, now ekes out a living aboard his ship, Serenity. He leads a small, eclectic crew, but when Mal takes on two new passengers - a young doctor and his telepathic sister - he gets much more than he bargained for. The pair are fugitives from the coalition dominating the universe, and so Serenity finds itself caught between the unstoppable military force of the Alliance, the horrific, cannibalistic fury of the Reavers - and another danger lurking at the very heart of the spaceship...

Awards:
Empire Magazine Awards2006NominatedBest NewcomerNathan Fillion
Empire Magazine Awards2006NominatedBest Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Hugo Award2006WonDramatic Presentation, Long Form
Saturn2005NominatedBest Science Fiction Film
Saturn2005WonBest Supporting ActressSummer Glau
Scream Awards2006NominatedBest Sci-Fi Movie


Extras:
BD-Live
Commentary
Deleted Scenes
Featurettes
Outtakes
PiP
Scene Access

My Thoughts:
In preparation for watching this movie I have watched the complete Firefly series for the first time these last few days. Of course being a big Buffy fan and also a Sci-Fi fan, I had given this series a chance when it first aired. But I had stopped watching after the first three or four episodes because it just didn't click for me. I am not a fan of western and I didn't like the western setting this series chose to do.
Now having giving this series a second chance, I must admit that I enjoyed it. Although still not keen on the western setting, it did work well in this series. As a matter of fact, it hardly feels like a science fiction series, it is just set on a spaceship. Great exchange in the last episode:
Wash: "It sounds like science fiction"
Zoe: "Honey, you are living on a spaceship"
Wash: "And your point being?"
So I can definately recommend this series to Western fans.

I love how the series has a real life feel to it instead of some futuristic feeling to it. I especially liked the Serenity set. It just really feels like a "lived-in" ship. And the characters were fun also (and you definately see that the actors had fun doing this series). I also like the fact that the series had the guts to do a soundless space, even with action scenes in space.
As I said, this series had a great ensemble cast, which were used very well. Sadly they didn't get around to really start the River storyline. Which brings us to the Serenity movie.

As I hoped, the movie finally brings the River storyline to the foreground. What started slowly building up in the series, is just now fully there.
The movie starts of great, though then it felt to me more like the standard sci-fi fare. Almost gone is the western ambiente, this movie feels more like the standard science fiction movie. This is how I originally hoped the Firefly series to be, but now I just feel like it missed capturing the series.
Also I don't feel like this movie is a good place to start. There is no introduction to the characters. It just continues on where the series left off. Good for the fans of the series, bad for the casual movie audience.
Besides River the other characters just don't seem to recapture the series. It was not obviously out-of-character, but they feel more one-dimensional here. In my opinion the captain was the most out-of-character. He was more the captain like Joss Whedon originally imagined him (if I go by what they said in the making of of the Firefly set), and not really the same as Nathan Fillion made him out to be in the series.
I also didn't like the fact
(click to show/hide)
.

Though it sounds like I didn't enjoy this movie all that much, this isn't correct. I liked it, but I would have liked it more if they followed more the spirit of the series. More drama than action. I give this four stars, but barely.

One thing I forgot to mention: I love the theme song of the series. It just captures the mood of the series perfectly.

Rating:



Offline Achim

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Re: Serenity
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2010, 04:49:22 AM »
I also didn't like the fact
(click to show/hide)
.
Same here! Almost made me press Pause for a moment when I first saw this happening, I was in utter disbelief.

Offline Dragonfire

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Re: Serenity
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2010, 05:14:01 AM »
I also didn't like the fact
(click to show/hide)
.
Same here! Almost made me press Pause for a moment when I first saw this happening, I was in utter disbelief.

Me too.  I saw the movie in the theater and I actually heard most of the others there react to it.  And yes it made me cry.  I'm still ticked about that.

lovemunkey187

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Re: Serenity
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2010, 11:23:36 AM »
One thing I forgot to mention: I love the theme song of the series. It just captures the mood of the series perfectly.



It is indeed awesome.

Offline DJ Doena

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Re: Serenity
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2010, 12:27:34 PM »
Or as sung by The Whedon himself:

Karsten

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Offline Tom

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Re: Serenity
« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2010, 08:46:15 PM »
I also didn't like the fact
(click to show/hide)
.
Same here! Almost made me press Pause for a moment when I first saw this happening, I was in utter disbelief.

Me too.  I saw the movie in the theater and I actually heard most of the others there react to it.  And yes it made me cry.  I'm still ticked about that.
Even sadder
(click to show/hide)



snowcat

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Re: Serenity
« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2010, 10:44:13 PM »
Im gonna watch it tomorrow :p I promise!!

Najemikon

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Re: Serenity
« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2010, 01:13:20 AM »
I’ve been trying to find clips to demonstrate what I mean about how different Firefly/Serenity handled the space sequences. Couldn’t find what I wanted, so I’ve done it meself! :training: I haven’t uploaded to YouTube before, so I’ve kept these private (let me know if the links don't work and I'll publicise them), and excuse any issues with quality as the first two are quite big and are “still being processed” apparently.

Tom has already mentioned how they obey the laws of physics and not blockbusters, bravely using silence correctly. The first clip is from the pilot’s post credit sequence as the crew salvage a wreck and shows this perfectly. Completely not spoilerific, people! Fun sequence anyway.

While that clip does show what I’ve been talking about in regards to adding photography faults, the second clip from the Firefly pilot is much better. It’s when Mal asks Wash to pull a Crazy Ivan. While still not spoilerish, it is better enjoyed in the episode. But what I’m trying to show you is only 20 seconds or so in.

Look at how the chasing ship is roughly switched into focus and how they use zooms to avoid cutting. I think it’s quite superb and not something seen in Stars Trek or Wars, Babylon 5 or the original Battlestar at least. It has been seen since though (WALL.E, Avatar). It gives the CGi a rawness and character and a willingness not show the carefully rendered footage perfectly, helps disguise that it is CGi at all. Is this point in particular that I think Firefly has influenced the genre without recognition or even success.

The third clip is very brief, but a cute little three step zoom, again silent and again avoids cutting, as Serenity docks with a stranded ship in Bushwhacked.