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Damn. That's a good movie. Part II

I've seen "Serenity" a modest and not-at-all-obsessive nine times now, and I'm here to tell you that it truly doesn't pall.

Sure, certain slight plot holes begin to reveal themselves at that level of scrutiny. For instance, how does Mal get back inside after firing that cannon at the Reaver ship?

And it's just barely possible that a couple of scenes may begin to seem a bit slow in comparison to the meteoric pace of the rest of the movie. Mal's second fight with the Operative, and the "phone call" between Mal and Inara (though it's easy to just tune out and look at Nathan's pulchritude there).

But amazingly, what's good about the movie stays good, and gets stronger, and you realize that it's a handcrafted, one-of-a-kind item--imperfect, but with a patina and strength and purpose that make it more beautiful and valuable than the glittering, machine-made entertainment we're usually subjected to.



If the moment of Wash's death had only shock going for it, then it wouldn't continue to make my heart hammer after nine viewings. It's the extreme contrast of humor and violence, right on top of the extreme contrast of the crash landing with the red-lit, pseudo-peace that follows, that makes it so visceral.

The funny lines remain funny--though it gets more interesting to listen for audience reaction when you know what's coming. The biggest laugh has uniformly been at Kaylee's "twixt my nethers" line, though I have to say that Mal's "God! I can't know this!" reaction is almost funnier.

The great serious lines get greater. "Maybe that's why we lost," and "So here's us, on the raggedy edge," and Mal's whole speech in the dining room, and, oh my God, "He ain't comin'" and "Please God, make me a stone."

And the poetical, Jossy, Firefly-isms get more beautiful. "Not that to see you ain't--well, you look very fine," and "In earnest, Mal, why'd you take 'em back?" and "I'm a hairsbreadth from riddling you with holes," and "That was a piece of mercy."

Oh! And the little details you start to notice. Like Jayne's demon cup. I love Jayne's demon cup! That demon cup is an icon in the making.

And the fact that Jayne must've ripped the patch off the head-banged guard's t-shirt during the heist, because he's wearing it on his shirtsleeve in the Maidenhead. Sometime after cleaning up the Reaver mess in the cargo bay and having his harpooned leg stitched up by Simon, Jayne must've found time for a little sewin', and that's just all manner of adorable.

And the way the ship rattles and vibrates as Zoe and Mal discuss the man they left behind on Lilac, then the rattling stops and the daylight fades as Serenity leaves atmo, and suddenly Mal's all blue. Take me out to the black.

And the sheer damn unbelievable length of Nathan Fillion's eyelashes as Mal looks out at River and says, "I really don't." (Okay, nobody ever accused me of being consistently deep and thinky. I refrain here from talking about tight pants. But oh boy howdy, I could. A lot.)

And hey! It's Inara who shoots down the Reaver who cut Zoe's back open. (Many people objected to Amazon!Inara, but I'm not one of them. Who cares that there's no explanation for that outfit? It's hot. Maybe Morena Bacarin should play Wonder Woman. That girl's been working out--did you see her shoulders?)

And, holy crap--at the very end, Zoe's repairing the hole in the cockpit where the big stake came through. That's not symbolic or anything.

And did you love the way Mal turns his head aside just before he explains to River about love keeping a boat in the air, as if he's a little embarrassed to be saying such a sentimental thing?



I'm gonna be thinking and talking about this movie for a long time. Brace yourselves.

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( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
gatezilla
Oct. 5th, 2005 07:21 pm (UTC)
Oh, man. I wish the movie was an actual tangible thing that I could hug.

And the way the ship rattles and vibrates as Zoe and Mal discuss the man they left behind on Lilac, then the rattling stops and the daylight fades as Serenity leaves atmo, and suddenly Mal's all blue. Take me out to the black.

I loved that. It gave me chills.

I'd missed Jayne's patch! That's hysterical and I'm totally going to be looking for that during my next viewing. And Zoe and the cockpit. Sigh.
emeraldsedai
Oct. 5th, 2005 07:24 pm (UTC)
And the demon cup! Don't forget the demon cup!
emeraldsedai
Oct. 5th, 2005 07:49 pm (UTC)
Oh, and hugging? Would totally lead to other things.
gatezilla
Oct. 8th, 2005 04:54 am (UTC)
Heeee. Yes, you're right, of course. There would definitely be some innapropriate groping.
vampirefan
Oct. 5th, 2005 08:34 pm (UTC)
someone pointed out somewhere... inara's bow changes from a little wooden bow to a high tech bow...

and i love all the things you have pointed out! i can't wait for the dvd to come out so i can pause and go back and stop and etc...
emeraldsedai
Oct. 5th, 2005 09:57 pm (UTC)
I noticed that too, but wouldn't have if I hadn't seen it mentioned on the NewB in a thread for "mistakes in the movie."

Joss has said that early test audiences responded badly to Amazon!Inara with her primitive archery kit, so they CGI'd over it with the high-tech thing. Obviously they didn't get every single frame, though, because when she shoots the Reaver that sliced Zoe, I think it's with the primitive version.

I hear that originally there was a scene (filmed and in early rough cuts) that had Inara teaching archery at the training house. I hope-hope-hope that it'll be included in the DVD. It would provide some clues to the mystery of Inara.
vchrusch
Oct. 6th, 2005 01:37 am (UTC)
There was. The shooting script has it and there's a wonderful line about her having a torrid affair with that "pirate" Malcom Reynolds.
emeraldsedai
Oct. 6th, 2005 02:17 am (UTC)
Yeah. I miss that bit of dialog, even though I never heard it uttered. I do hope the scene will be included on the DVD.
(Deleted comment)
emeraldsedai
Oct. 5th, 2005 11:25 pm (UTC)
I think it's far from a lost cause!

The naysayers are an even more limited group than the fans. It's the general public, knowing nothing of either side of the pro-Joss, anti-Joss argument and don't care, who will keep this movie alive long enough to get us our sequels.

At the showing I went to yesterday there were at least a handful of first-timers, and a couple of them were obviously general-public types just out for a matinee of a movie they'd heard was good.

I asked my coffee guy today if he'd seen "Serenity" yet and he said no, he was waiting to hear from someone he trusted that it was as good as the reviews said it was. So I told him that it's awesome.

I think quite a few people will see it this coming weekend who gave it a miss on opening weekend for various reasons. Please don't give up yet. Joss hasn't.
(Anonymous)
Oct. 6th, 2005 12:23 am (UTC)
Purrrrrrrrrrr!
Thanks for pointing out those treasures spouse-o-mine! I'll be watching for them when I drag Becky off to see it this Sunday. I was forced to tell her the entire plot over lunch today as she has zero tolerance for suspense - seriously. When she reads a book? She skips to the last page to see how it ends, and then goes back to reading the rest of it. I had her in tears explaining the scene with Zoe "he ain't comin". God! Poor Becky was hyperventillating by the time I finished recapping the BDM for her. She's so excited to see it! I can't wait!!!!! Serenity Forever!!!!!!
emeraldsedai
Oct. 6th, 2005 02:23 am (UTC)
Re: Purrrrrrrrrrr!
Aw, I knew it was you by your indelible mark!

You have captured the essence of this movie's arc: sell it to the uninitiated, get 'em all out for the second weekend, make 'em fall in love, so they drag all their friends to it the third weekend.

Hee! I went and visited my young gay boyfriend at Seattle's Best Coffee this afternoon and said, "So, have you seen Serenity yet?" and then kinda sold it to him on my assurance of it being "awesome."

I almost started describing Simon, but contented myself with saying "It's full of really good looking people too." He said he was planning to see it anyway. Now I suspect he will.
owzers
Oct. 6th, 2005 12:25 am (UTC)
That post was from me. D'oh!
Forgot to log in. Heh heh. Serenity squeeage kinda shorts out my brain.
(Deleted comment)
emeraldsedai
Oct. 6th, 2005 04:08 pm (UTC)
You're right! Those are very similar moments--of course, at identical points in two stories with a lot of parallels.

I've begun noticing any number of resonances--if not actual parallels--between the movie and various episodes, particularly the ones Joss wrote (though we know he had a hand in all of them).

I think some of that resonance is just the writerly "thumbprint"--the fact that we know Joss's work so well, and recognize tiny motifs that he always comes back to.
(Deleted comment)
emeraldsedai
Oct. 7th, 2005 05:32 pm (UTC)
The more I think about that metaphor, the better I like it. Everything about the movie--how and why it got made, and for how much, and by whom--seems to parallel the things in the movie--"so here's us, on the raggedy edge" to the point where the movie just becomes a metaphor for itself.

God, stop me before I get metaphysical!
communicator
Oct. 7th, 2005 01:47 pm (UTC)
Thanks for these magic insights, which will enrich my next viewing. I am pleased that at last I can read the livejournal reviews without spoiling the suspense.
emeraldsedai
Oct. 7th, 2005 05:28 pm (UTC)
The things I'm most eager to see again (besides Jayne's demon cup!) are Simon's big dying scene, just 'cause it's so pretty; and Mal's broken stagger through his newly reaverized ship, because I have a missing-scene story in mind for it.

It's the strangest thing with this movie: there's almost no moment of it that I don't look forward to seeing again--for the tenth time.
(Anonymous)
Oct. 16th, 2005 09:15 pm (UTC)
Non-Browncoat Reactions
Emeraldsedai talked me into skipping out of work a coupla minutes early on Friday so I could join her in (for me) an unprecedented fifth viewing of Serenity (I think it was, like, her ninth). I can't believe how gripping that movie is even after so many viewings, and how quickly it seems to go by. It still feels like a forty-five minute show to me, though I've been assured time and again that it goes for nearly two hours.

I took my brother and his wife to see the BDM on opening weekend. Early in the show, my sister-in-law leaned over and said of Mal, "I'm supposed to like this person?" I just said "You'll come to . . ." and let it go at that. I think she came to like Mal before the show's end. My brother, after the whole thing ended, simply said it was a good movie but he was having a hard time relating the characters. I heard them both gasp, though, when Wash was pierced. My sister-in-law was upset that the Operative referred to himself as a monster. She doesn't think monsters generally recognize themselves as such. You know, like George Bush. I thought it was just fine that he recognized himself as something unique, apart from society, doing evil because he believed it would make a better world. He embraced his monsterdom.

I took my nephew and his wife to see it. They both watched the Firefly pilot beforehand. They both thought the movie rocked, especially the wife, as she likes things with a wild-westy feel about them. Interestingly, they are both moving to Yuma in a week, which, from what I've seen of it, resembles some of the sets from the movie! They, too, were deeply moved by the loss of Wash. They had no criticism whatsoever. They both thought it was a tight, exciting, compelling flic.

Completely off the subject, but maybe not, there was a freighter at anchor in Stumptown a few weeks ago with the interesting monicker of Epiphany. Interesting name.

emeraldsedai
Oct. 16th, 2005 09:22 pm (UTC)
Re: Non-Browncoat Reactions
Actually, it was my 13th, and I think final, visit to Serenity on the big screen. Even movies that I own and love, I haven't seen that many times. I have absolutely no objectivity about it--always a good balancer to hear about other people's reactions.

Epiphania turned out to be pretty interesting.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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