Joss made a movie. Not a two-hour episode, but a bona fide film with enough exposition to allow those unfamiliar with the 'verse to follow. It was exciting, action-packed, heart-stopping, funny...everything you'd expect. I honestly don't think I can say anything that will affect whether or not you will go see this movie, so I will get right down to the discussion.
I thought the opening exposition was pretty cleverly done, moving from a classroom lecture (Walt's mom!) to River in the Alliance facility to the video being watched by the Operative. Funnily enough, the scene with River in the Alliance facility is the one scene more confusing to fans of the show because, what the hell is Simon doing?! Pretty cool to see the breakout. Simon used to be a badass!
I really liked the Operative as a villain. An over-the-top evil guy who's not really evil even though he acknowledges he's evil and...he's an amoral guy doing his job. And he really likes killing people. He's also a damn good fighter. Who, when it comes down to it, is terrified of Reavers just like everyone else.
I also liked Mr. Universe, who seems like he might have come in handy back in the days of the show. Much like Simon's fucking safeword. Yeah, Simon, maybe instead of all that wrasslin' with your sister you did, you could have just put her to sleep.
I was really confused by Mal's attitude toward Simon and River. The show spent a great deal of time integrated Simon and River into the crew. "Ariel" cemented their positions as members of Mal's crew, to whom no harm should come. "Objects in Space" was symbolic of his acceptance of River. And now, suddenly, it's all, "You're a guest, not part of my crew, I hate you all, let's kick you out." It felt inconsistent, but of course, it's nothing I'm allowed to criticize when evaluating the movie as a separate entity.
I thought it was a very well put-together movie, not that I really expected it not to be. But it moved along, it had setups and callbacks, it had themes and shit. Love is good, belief is good, drugs are bad.
Our audience was very receptive to the humor. Lots of laughs all around, even for the lines I'd heard many times in the trailers. Even some of those laughs where you miss the next line.
I wonder what a non-fan would think of Book. He has one scene, and then he's dead. What character development! I was a little surprised, but not too surprised, by Book's death, as he was the most expendable. But I thought we were going to fucking explore his secret past at some point. I remembered people urging everyone to remain unspoiled, and now I knew why. There was death!
Same thing for Inara. It's hard for me to fathom the way these characters would come off to someone unfamiliar with them, who doesn't know all their history and backstory. I mean, I don't think she's ever called a Companion. I liked that the fact that Mal and Inara didn't fight was a dead giveaway that it was a trap. And it was kind of cool that they didn't just make up at the end. They left that for Simon and Kaylee, which, aww. peri_peteia was happy, I'm sure. Although Kaylee didn't get a whole lot to do besides be horny for Simon. She got to be a mechanic with her line about not flying in ships with a certain engine because they just fall right down.
The River plotline finally let us know why the Alliance wanted her back so badly (and explained why the men in "Ariel" had to be killed just because River may have spoken to them), although I'm not sure it was big enough. Especially since the information only ended up "damaging the regime," or whatever. I think it's cool that the Alliance created the Reavers (which explains their constant denial of their very existence), but I assume Pax did some major genetic modification; otherwise, how could the Reavers breed? Also, it's pretty clear that the Alliance has been in touch with Rambaldi and his Big Floating Red Ball of Doom.
We don't know, however, what the Alliance really wanted with River in the first place. What they were planning to use her for, planting subliminal messages in cartoons and all.
Random: the Mule flies now! What the hell? I miss the old Mule. This one has Hindi on it for some reason. I couldn't figure out what it said, though. Wasn't a word I was familiar with.
Dude, the Operative annihilated Whitefall. Patience is dead!
Mal's idea to bring the Reavers to the Alliance fleet? Fucking sweet.
And then. No! Ow! Ah! Not the—no! I was literally cringing and whimpering at Serenity being broken. It affected me more than Book's death.
This was the thought in my head, that this breaking ship was hitting me harder than the death of a character, right before MY HEART FUCKING STOPPED BECAUSE OH MY FUCKING GOD HE KILLED WASH OH MY GOD WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED. The entire audience fucking gasped.
For the next ten or fifteen minutes, my chest continued to feel faint, heated, dead, I don't know. I couldn't get my head around the fact that I was now living in a World Without Wash.
Now I knew why people were strongly advising not being spoiled. As a result, I knew Joss meant business, and maybe he figured that since he couldn't get his show back, he'd just start killing people off. Maybe it would make a sequel easier to greenlight. Fewer actors.
When Zoe got sliced in the back, I thought she'd join her husband. When Kaylee got hit in the neck, I thought she was a goner. When Simon got shot in slow-motion, I thought he wouldn't make it. Wash's death raised the stakes, confirmed that, yes, these people's lives were actually at risk. This may not be war, but there will be casualties.
River being a badass will never stop being cool.
That Mal hit the floor in the exact same way he did in "Out of Gas" was fucking awesome. I wish there'd been some more throwaway references like that. Come on, couldn't Jayne have been strumming "The Hero of Canton" on that guitar?
So. Did I love the movie as much as others seemed to? I don't know. I didn't really expect it to be the awesomest movie of all time. I did get a damn good movie, though. Didn't really have any major problems with it. The last thirty or forty-five minutes were killer. I hope it makes a lot of money, and I hope people who don't know the show see it and enjoy it.
Now, all you bitches who already saw the damn movie long ago (some, MULTIPLE TIMES), link me to your spoilery reviews so I don't have to go hunting, dammit. I must retroactively squee with you.
I eagerly await Serenity II: The River Is Gonna Get You.