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Member's Reviews

Serenity, a review by Jon

4 out of 5

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...

Taken on its own merits, Serenity is a great film. A wonderful unique cast of characters, sharp, witty dialogue and action scenes that are literally breathtaking. Plus a well developed back-story that stands being picked at. The only problems with the film come from it being a compromised big screen version of Firefly, so it isn't quite the second coming the Browncoat massive were hoping for, but it does reward perserverance. New viewers don't have to persevere at all and just strap themselves in! If only it hadn't have been so tough to market, a worthy franchise could have been born and the real strengths of the series could have come through in a sequel. As it is, it must have been a hard film to get the balance right.

Most of the people I know who saw this film before Firefly, did enjoy it, did understand it and did look up the series afterwards, so that tells me it did a good enough job. Plot wise it does do well to present an intricate world and introduce the characters without getting bogged down in exposition, but it does undermine a lot of the work done by the series, and that is such a shame.

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Leading on from that specific point, the chemistry between all the crew is awkward. It didn't strike me as the same group of people Mal asked "will you still be here when I wake up?" at the end of the Out Of Gas episode. Interesting that when you watch the gag reel (which you must do; Fillion always does excellent gags!), that chemistry is clearly still there, but they just couldn't quite capture it in 'Movie World' until about halfway through. Deleted scenes also show moments more typical of the series (Mal and Inara flying back to Serenity), so its clear hard decisions were being made about this screenplay.

The thing is, a TV episode plot is frequently uncomplicated, but played by complicated characters who don't change much across that one story, but tease little details into an arc over the whole run. A film is usually the opposite, with less detailed characters who are visibly altered over the course of a narrative. Think of Rick in Casablanca, or Mal's pop-culture granddad, Han Solo. By essentially resetting the crew to default settings, the film has something it can work with immediately.

The other thing a film needs is a strong lead that makes things happen and for those things to have a tabgible cost. Captain Mal usually just deals with what's in front of him, but now he's the lead character in a movie, he needs a quest and a good reason for it. For my money, I think the screenplay in this respect is quite brilliant because it's usually the thing that causes TV-film adaptations to fail so spectacularly. I'm going on about this because...

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In fact, all the characters get something to have a journey about. I think Whedon has shown a great deal of maturity and skill through this screenplay and his direction. He could easily cut it with big boys, if only someone would let him have a go! The final moments of this film are the best, possibly of the whole run, series and film together. His conversation with River, the quiet lashing of the rain and then the beautiful image of Serenity plowing through a storm. Then a typically Firefly full stop! "What was that?"  :hysterical:

I was disappointed that it had to lose some identity (it's a sci-fi action movie, with barely a sniff of a Western), but loved the film overall. The style of music is kept largely intact (all credit to David Newman, but why couldn't Greg Edmonson have got the gig?), as is the rougher CGI to some extent. And listen right to the end of the credits for a nice instrumental version of the Firefly theme...

(From Serenity on February 28th, 2010)

Member's Reviews

Joe, a review by Antares

Joe (1970) 3.5/5 - If your only conception of Peter Boyle is that of a lovable grandfather, or as a comic Frankenstein, then the indie film Joe will definitely quash that appearance. As the main character in John G. Avildsen's first feature length film, Boyle plays a loudmouth racist who learns of a secret in a chance meeting in his local bar. As Joe is spewing his bigoted bile to the bartender, he quips at the end of his diatribe, "I'd love to kill me a hippie." Seated next to him is a middle aged man who has just entered the bar in a somewhat agitated and disheveled shape. As he listens to Joe's violent request, he lets slip out that he has just killed one himself, his daughter's (Susan Sarandon in her first role) junkie boyfriend.

What follows is a bizarre story about the counter culture and right wing ideology, mixed with an awkward voyeuristic spin on class struggles. The film doesn't really get going until we meet Boyle's character, and sadly, that takes almost a half hour of exposition regarding the daughter and boyfriend's drug induced lifestyle and the aforementioned murder. But once Joe is introduced, his pathological hatred for anything or anyone who leans to the left is riveting to watch. In fact, it is probably the only real reason for watching this very dated film from the golden age of indies. Well, that and the ending kind of takes you by surprise. If you can endure a director who is learning the ropes, and the dated nature of parts of the film, I think you could be pleasantly surprised at this relic of 70's gritty independent film making.

(From Antares' Short Summations on June 27th, 2011)

Member's TV Reviews

2016 TV Pilot Reviews, a review by DJ Doena

Speechless Website
Speechless @ Wikipedia
Speechless @ IMDb

The Dimeo family has once again moved to give their eldest son J.J. a chance at a new school. J.J. has cerebral palsy*, an illness that binds him to a wheelchair and makes him unable to speak (but not to express himself).

J.J.'s mom Maya is the driving factor behind this move because her entire life now revolves around J.J., to give him the best care and education possible.

But her other two kids are slowly getting fed up with getting uprooted all the time for some perceived (though sometimes not even actual) improvement of J.J.'s life.

J.J.'s new school is very tolerant and open-minded but no one can meet Maya's standards and expectations which becomes obvious when the new school can only offer the garbage ramp for J.J. instead of a proper wheelchair access at the front door.

J.J.'s dad is a laid-back guy who doesn't really care what other think about him and he manages to counter-balance his wife and not lose focus on the fact that there are two more children to be raised.

I've already seen a few more episodes and this show manages to have an interesting balancing act.

On the one hand they actually show the problems people with disabilities have to face and oftentimes the mom comes out as a textbook Social Justice Warrior who fights the fight just for the sake of fighting the fight.

But they do it so over the top (for example, the entire school wants to make J.J. class president just because he's disabled and not based on any merits) and interlaced with good humour that they manage to get their point across without appearing preachy.

It absolutely helps that J.J. himself is a very balanced kid who overcomes his disabilities with the tools he has at hand.

While Minnie Driver's (Maya) character reminds me of her role in About a Boy (the series), John Ross Bowie's dad on the other hand is nothing like The Big Bang Theory's Sheldon's foil Barry Kripke.

*Both the actor as well the character have cerebral palsy, an illness that also afflicts Breaking Bad's actor RJ Mitte.

(From 2016 TV Pilot Reviews on October 21st, 2016)