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Sunday, October 16, 2005

Joss Whedon's SERENITY

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I saw this film on Monday, which is six days ago, and I should've reviewed this if I've not been so busy dealing with the issues plaguing the production of my short films, and also the two assignments I have to work simultaneously on for my Shakespeare class (a Titus Andronicus oral presentation and a Midsummer Night's Dream critical review). Look at the entries during the past week and you'll understand what I mean.

Serenity is by Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy and Angel, both TV series I like. However, I am sceptical about this when I heard about this movie few months ago because:

1) No matter how good Joss Whedon is, his medium is the small screen, what can he do with the big screen? Buffy in space?
2) Good sci-fi films are rare these days. SW: Episode 3 is a guilty pleasure.
3) It's based on a cancelled TV series I've never watched, Firefly, and I wasn't sure whether the fanaticism displayed by its, er, fans, stemmed from blind loyalty, or the quality of the series itself.
4) I've never even watched a single episode of Firefly, man.

As months gone by, the trailers don't really do much to impress me either. I see some waif-like girl kicking ass, and that's it... really, Buffy in space?

However, reviews for this film are unexpectedly good, scoring a high 81% in Rotten Tomatoes' Tomatometer. Which left me rather intrigued. And frankly, when I went to see it, this wasn't even my first choice, I missed 'Cinderella Man', thus I chose this instead.

My reaction for the film was rather peculiar. Perhaps watching the series might allow me to be more well-versed regarding the character backgrounds, but it wasn't long before I myself was totally immersed within the universe of this film and these characters. Serenity is a spaceship, and this story is about its crew, a band of misfits (... we see them a lot these days, don't we?) who are into smuggling and robbing, each of them possessing their own quirks that make them instantly likable and recognizable less than ten minutes into the film.

The trailer and the poster gave me the misconception that it will focus solely on this kungfu-fighting telepathic teenage girl, River, but this is very much an ensemble flick where all the characters here had their own moments to shine. In fact, River only had TWO fighting scenes in the film (both are great scenes, by the way, especially the second one). Yes, I am surprised to see all these nameless actors and actresses putting up such solid performances in the film, but the one person who attracted my attention most was the film's villain played by Chiwetel Ejiofor. Smooth, polite, dignified, dangerous, cold and, er, many other things, he's definitely badass. But instead of being a mere cartoonish villain, throughout the film, he will reveal hidden depths rarely seen in such roles in other film.

A well-paced film with some nice plot twists and turns that made my viewing experience increasingly enjoyable, when it ended, I knew that it was a pretty damned good film I've just seen, perhaps one of the better films of the year. Many critic reviews have said that this film deserves to become a franchise, the next Star Wars or Star Trek, and that it has more heart and soul than SW: Episode 3, I think I might agree with it. Although I still find it difficult to decide which is the better film, but Serenity is good enough to lure me for a second viewing on DVD if I want to.

Whilst checking its domestic box-office figures, I found out that it had merely made a wee bit more than 20 million, only half of its budget, and since it had slid to no. 9 in the charts (falling from no. 2 the week before), it'll take a miracle for it to not become a box-office flop. Which is quite a pity, really, for a film as good as this.

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