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October 05, 2005
by Daniel Erenberg
Universal Pictures released Joss Whedon's feature directorial debut on Friday. I'm sure all of the readers of this column are aware of this. But if you aren't, the film is called Serenity, it's based on his cancelled television series "Firefly", and it's the best action film of the year in a year filled with great action films. Serenity is a better film than Batman Begins, War of the Worlds, Star Wars Episode Three: Revenge Of The Sith, Constantine, and Fantastic Four. It's even better than the smaller budget films I've enjoyed this year like The 40 Year Old Virgin, Broken Flowers, and Melinda and Melinda.
However, I prefer to look at the film as someone who watched "Firefly" in its original airings and has become steadily more obsessed with its universe on repeat airings of the DVD. It's a show I loved so much and so needed new stories from that I have actually begun reading some of its huge amount of internet fanfiction. I have really been desperate for my Serenity crew.
I've seen the Serenity film three times now. I've tried to gripe about it. I've tried to call the three major character deaths needless. I've tried to complain about characters like Inara, Book, and Kaylee not having enough to do in the film. I've tried to find something to complain about. I can't.
I haven't seen a new Serenity story since the three unaired episodes on the DVD, and that seems like forever ago. But the moment we are thrust back into its world in the opening moments of the film˜Simon and River's escape, the clinically clean Alliance cruiser, and finally Mal and Wash in the cockpit of Serenity˜all of these possible complaints are totally gone. I can just sit back and enjoy it all.
As a Joss columnist, I get accused of too much Joss-praise at times. Maybe next week I‚ll write a negative article, because I can't make a single bash this time. Serenity is a perfect film. I know that it's not going to win any Oscars. I know that its Box Office receipts aren't going to be huge. That doesn't matter.
Serenity made 10 million bucks in the first weekend. These aren't huge numbers, but they are exactly what Universal was projecting. 10 million isn't a bad opening weekend. The last time a sci-fi film with a cast of unknowns was a huge hit was the original Star Wars. That is something that simply does not happen in this day and age. If the film doesn't drop off too much in percentage next weekend, the studio will be happy. And the reviews have been almost universally good. Just look at a flick like The Transporter. The film didn't make huge bank, it cost the same amount to make as Serenity, it did well on DVD, and a sequel just came out that eclipsed the original in box office. We may see more Serenity stories yet.
And man I hope we do.
Serenity is a hard film to review for a huge Joss Whedon fan like myself. I am tempted to start throwing out a series of great moments from the film (Jayne caught by the Reavers, the touching funeral, the trip to Miranda, Book's exit speech, Kaylee and Simon wanting to live, or River kicking some serious ass). Okay, I just did. But what I should be doing is writing about the impact it had on me.
I was tense the whole film waiting for bad things to happen to characters I loved. And they happened. I was expecting it. Much of Joss's brilliance comes from the pain he puts his audience and characters through. After the final death, I had a big emotional moment. I was left in total tears and silence. When the film ended, I sat there motionless through the closing credits. At the end of the credits, an instrumental version of the original "Firefly" theme song came on. I sang in my head.
My third article for Slayage˜this was two years ago now˜was called "You Can't Take The Sky From Me". And they couldn't.
"I'm a leaf on the wind", Wash said to himself. "Watch how I soar".
I will, man. I will.
|Daniel Erenberg (AKA: Dan)(AKA: Nighthawk) is fairly happy with the life he lives in his house in the Yorkshire section of Lynbrook, New York. He's got a band called The Doldrums which he alternately thinks are brilliant and awful. He writes almost as often as he watches television, which any reader of his Slayage column knows is saying a lot. Beautiful girls and other types of Buffy fans can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.