Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Serenity. I Saw It, And I Still Say See It

Thank you for responding. You are on the list for the 7:30 PM show on Tuesday. Go to the front and ask for a press pass.


So I email them a day or two later, when I still had no email from them. And emailed Big G, asking if he knew if I should be getting some email instructions.


An email arrives, with specific instructions. I am confirmed and on the list.


Another email arrives, in response to the one I sent. This email says thanks for your interest, but we're all full.


I write back, informing them I got the instructions in the meantime after all.


A third person writes back, saying I'm on the list, but not guaranteed a seat. I could make the trip to the theater (close to an hour), but I might be turned away. This email is cc'd to Big G, who in a fit of divine intervention, has apparently forwarded what I wrote to him, to them. It's up to me, third guy says, if I want to take that risk.


So Miss Tori and I are in the car heading up to the theater from Bunktown. Third guy had reiterated that I should get there at least 45 minutes early. Who knows how traffic will go, so we end up being a little more than an hour early. The Brownshirts are there. This is a fan club with a big block of tickets for their members, and another lady named Dianne, possibly, so let's stick with Dianne. She fetches the Universal rep, whom I've been instructed to contact, and he arrives. Sure enough, I'm on the list. The guy has a number of tickets, maybe ten or fifteen, extras apart from the ones for the bloggers who have been guaranteed tickets, cause they're faster and I suck. He peels off two, Dianne asks us to follow her, and we're in the lobby.

It's been years, but in the past I had been to this theater dozens of times, so I'm a little concerned when i see the line in the lobby. You see, the particular theater we're going to is way down at the end of the building. This is one long line. And I say to Dianne, "so that's the line huh?" Oh, I love it when a plan comes together. Dianne says that is the line, but we won't be waiting for it. She escorts us down the line, past all these people, and into the theater. There's like only twenty people in there, about half of whom are local radio people, comic book store owners, and Universal people in charge of the assorted promotions that got all these people here to see the movie. I can taste the sweet justice. Or maybe it was the Snickers Popables I got at the snack bar. Either way, it rocked.

We saw the preview for Doom. Not too impressive. Maybe it will be all right, but any movie derived from a video game leaves me with a huge negative bias. That was the only preview. At this point, I should tell you that I watched the series when it was on the air, but don't have the DVD's with the extra unaired episodes. Nor did I read the comics that served as a bridge between the series and the movie. So I came in with a familiarity with the crew of the space ship Serenity and some of the major plot points of the series (small fry former rebels on the run from the big megacorp type government, the weird girl who is a mystery, the strange race of zombiefied bad guys that swoop in from time to time out of nowhere), but not much else.

You can imagine that the movie begins with some introductory scenes that help establish the characters. I learned a few details about some of them that I either had forgotten, or perhaps hadn't been visited fully when the series was cancelled. I wasn't bored during the catch everyone up on who these people are scenes, is what I mean. You may recall that Miss Tori, when I mentioned this movie to her, asked if it was the one with Joey, because the guy playing the captain also played some guy Joey on One Life To Live in the 1990's. Her comment: "At the beginning, Joey seemed so mean!" He redeemed herself in her eyes by the end of the movie. I asked her if, as a person who had never seen or even heard of the show, the movie was clear and easy to follow, or if it seemed directed to fans, leaving new audiences in the dark a little. Nope, very accessible even to a complete newcomer.

But is it so much better for a fan of the original series? Tough question. I know that for a while, it seemed a little slow. I didn't mind it, but I worried about word of mouth. Would action hungry, limited attention span audience members pan the movie for not being wall to wall explosions? The steady pace paid off, because the movie began a slow rise to extreme action that was more effective due to the earlier quiet. We had a really good chance to get to know the characters and become invested in them. The other possible problem with the first fifteen minutes or so was that a few laugh lines seemed old and tired from seeing them in the previews. I worried for a moment if all the good stuff had been in the previews already. Other people laughed, but the gags were flat for me. Having seen the whole thing, I feel comfortable saying they got rid of the preview gags early, and I laughed out loud several times elsewhere in the movie, and the whole audience roared with laughter.

One concern with a TV show becoming a movie is whether or not it was worth it. Is it just another TV episode that happens to be on a bigger screen? I was not disappointed with the plot. I enjoyed the big plot point and the revelations about the origins of some key characters. I especially enjoyed the bad guy. He not only knows that what he does is evil, he freely admits it. And he admits that because of his evil, he has no place in the society he is serving. But his belief in that society, and the necessity of his work, gives him full motivation with no qualms about the things he does. Maybe he personifies the notion of the ends justifying the means

Belief is a key theme in the movie. There are things worth believing in. There are things worth fighting for. There are even things worth dying for. But a life without belief is not worth living.

There is violence in the movie, but it is carefully edited so that more is suggested than actually seen, and gore is very minimal. You don't have to worry about sex or language. I'm not getting anywhere close to spoilers, cause there are a few shocks, but this was a very satisfying experience that can be enjoyed by old fans and new audiences alike. I was not disappointed in any way with this movie. Oh, except that the theme song from the series never got played, unless it came very late in the closing credits after we had left. I really wanted to hear that song again. If you go to this movie, you might find yourself wanting to see it again as well.


A copuple of tidbits from Dianne. First, the series is unlikely to ever come back with new episodes on TV. Contracts and rights are involved that will prevent new TV episodes for ten or twelve years. Second, Universal needs at least $80 million to consider a sequel. While there are die hard fans, and there are sure to be new fans who see the movie and want more, $80 million is the number they're looking for before they will even consider another Serenity film.


Full Disclosure: As you saw at the top, I got in thanks to a few very kind people. I got in for free. The exchange was to write about it here on this blog. Having said that, I'll also say that the review above is genuine, and my opinions of the film expressed above weren't influenced by the free tickets. Having said that, I'd also like to say thanks to Ted, Dianne, and the others who ran the promotion, and to the Big G for whatever part he played in all of this. Hey, I just realized I was compensated for something I wrote. It wasn't exactly money, but it's still pretty sweet. Almost makes me a professional, which is certainly something no one reading this blog would ever expect.
at least you didn't have to write the poop that this blogger was told to.
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