On the Big Board
||Quite simply the best movie going experience I have had in several years.
||A great movie for Firefly fans, everything hoped for. Even non-Firefly fans will find it a terrific sci-fi action movie. Funny, smart, and surprisingly resonant. Holds up on second viewing.
||The movie has actually gotten better on repeated viewings.
Take my love. Take my land. Take me where I cannot stand.
I don't care. I'm still free. You can't take the sky from me.
The irony of the impossibly catchy Firefly theme song lyrics is that Fox Broadcasting did exactly that. After months of double speak and mixed messages in the dreaded form of network notes, The House That Murdock Built pulled the plug on one of its most ambitious programs. While certainly not the first such moronic cancellation by the network (I would list them all but you would get bored around the two dozen mark), Firefly was unquestionably one of the most puzzling.
Even the most perfunctory evaluation of the Joss Whedon production would acknowledge Firefly to be a western-themed show set in the future in outer space. The natural incongruity of a throwback style of living several centuries from now is exactly the sort of liberated creativity that has made Whedon a cult icon.
The problem Whedon faced was that Firefly was auctioned off to a group of people who lacked the rudimentary skills to decipher the show's strengths. Fox Network wanted a replacement for the recently completed X-Files or at least its passionate fanbase, and eventually its ratings. What they got was an ideological successor to The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.
In layman's terms, this is the equivalent of asking Santa Claus for a computer only to discover thousands of dollars of jewelry in your stocking. The fact that one could be bartered off for the other was lost on the organization, so the diamonds were thrown down the garbage disposal.
Fortune has smiled upon the zealous Firefly fanbase, though, as Universal Pictures has boldly stuck its hand down the drain and snatched out the elusive gem. Serenity, the Firefly movie, is a go.
That sound you hear is Joss Whedon having the last laugh.
The exporting of a failed science fiction television show into a theatrical production is an unusual endeavor to say the least. There is only one clear example of such a feat in modern cinema. That series is known as Star Trek, and its history is one with which everyone reading this has a deep set familiarity, so I won't re-hash already famous details. The only point here is that this series of events might not be completely groundbreaking, but they are the movie equivalent of Wilt Chamberlain scoring 100 points in a single game. Stating the obvious, these kinds of things don't come along every day.
So, the question non-Firefly viewers are asking is straightforward -- what is so special about this show? The answer lies at your local Blockbuster and/or Wal-Mart. The entire series is now available on DVD in a single package at a relatively inexpensive price. This is not a late night infomercial, so I will spare you the high pressure sales pitch. Suffice it to say that I own this DVD, and that I love it so much that I re-watch various episodes with some frequency. I would expect that should you take a chance in renting or buying said set, you would come away similarly impressed.
Describing the why of Firefly's enticements is a trickier proposition. The show's oddly paced, otherwordly behaviorisms are difficult to do justice in text. The first time Jayne Cobb offers up one of his Cobb-isms, though, I am certain you will instantly become a fan. The Adam Baldwin character is but one of several show stopping performances offered by the Firefly cast. As you listen to the various audio commentaries, it will become readily apparent why.
Due to the constant bunker climate of a show perilously close to cancellation from its second pilot on (yes, it has two pilot episodes), the cast members effectively had two options. They could turn on each other or they could rely upon one another for moral support during troubling times. The latter was the happy circumstance with Firefly, so the warmth the cast has for each other permeates through into the familial nature of the characters. From the abrasive encounters amongst themselves to their protective nature when faced with danger, the actual chemistry of the main cast turns Firefly into sublime, must watch programming.
Plot details are sketchy at the moment and even if they were not, I would be reticent to mention them here. Ruining the surprise would be criminal. Instead, speculation about what might be involved is more satisfying for now. I expect the mystery of River and the Blue-Handed Men to certainly be addressed. Shepherd Book's odd talents are likely to be explained as well.
The only bit I do know about the story is all Firefly viewers need to hear to sell them on the plot: Reavers.
The only way Serenity could sound better would be for the treacherous yet cerebral Early and the ever-plotting Mrs. Reynolds to somehow make an appearance. But their presence would simply be icing as the creation of the movie itself is already a sumptuous dessert.
Fans of schadenfreude take note. The greatest irony possible here would be for Serenity, the Firefly movie, to open larger than X-Files: Fight for the Future did. There would be no more satisfying success than for the Joss Whedon film to outperform the Chris Carter franchise that it was expected to replace on Fox, but never truly given the opportunity. (David Mumpower/BOP)
May 31, 2004
The Hollywood Reporter notes that the marvelous Chiwetel Ejiofor (Dirty Pretty Things, Love Actually) has joined the cast of Serenity. He'll play a character known as The Operative, an assassin/tracker who is an eloquent and sophisticated speaker (sounds a lot like the Jubel Early character, no?). (Kim Hollis/BOP)