Serenity: Sometimes the lady is right . . . .

Good day all,

It’s been a few days and I’ve been basking in the bright light of freedom. I know it’s a psychological play: leave him the things he likes, let him feel free within the confines of the bunker, disorient him to the point his will breaks and then cut his legs out; truthfully, I don’t care. I know it’s just the Stockholm setting in, but I must admit the lady is right from time to time. You see she is a big fan of the Whedon. Back in the day, when we were dating and she was earning my trust, she introduced me to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. I enjoyed them a great deal, but could always find elements to find fault in (see the speechiness in season seven of Buffy or the whole Connor/Cordelia thing in Angel). I never really thought these minor criticisms detracted from the shows’ overall quality, I just didn’t want her to be right. Then she showed me Firefly. I couldn’t find anything wrong with the show, even picky things to make her less right. I’ve heard told that Mr. Whedon sold the show by describing it as Han Solo never meeting Luke and continuing to fly and smuggle and live. Enter the Fox network to put the show on Friday, air the episodes out of order and, essentially, kill a wonderful thing (Mr. Murdoch’s mission in life apparently). Fortunately, there was a movie that kept the story going without answering the questions we really wanted (which is the definition of great writing). Seeing Mal try to really enjoy the diminishing freedom left struck a chord with me, especially since my recent Shanghai-edness. It seems fitting to watch a film about striking back at an oppressive force, even if it means admitting that your own oppressive force was right.

Now before I jump into this I want to say one thing, I am not a true believer. I am a fan of the Whedon and enjoy all of his projects I have seen, but I am not all knowing of all things the man creates, and his fans have a tendency to take things pretty seriously. This is just a simple guy, drunk on freedom, commenting on a movie. I may be a little off on the characters you love and my take on the message, but it’s just one guy’s opinion. Recognize that I am an admirer in the world of zealots, but recognize the quality that fuels your Whedonlove.

The first thing I have to say about Serenity is a characteristic of all Whedon projects; strong women. I work in an industry, as I’ve mentioned to regular viewers, that is a little behind the times on social issues (like full of guys that are intimidated by gays and powerful women and anything that doesn’t fit the man as god of the house thing). The oilfield is full of guys that know the world entirely, they simply attack anything that does not fit into their notion of how shit works. I’ve been the target of these attacks for defending crazy, left-wing ideas like equality and now take pride in pissing them off. I see this in Mr. Whedon’s work. The women are usually the central power, and the men that work with them have to accept that the woman is boss (or at least important) in order to help the greater good. Men are not lesser or weaker or subordinate, they just have to realize that women have the same, or in some cases better, capabilities. I have endured a special lesson about underestimating the female and find myself having to respect my captor. This lesson has helped me to appreciate Whedon’s women.

All right, now that I’ve placated the rabid fans I can get to a great flick. First of all you have bogeymen, and the Reavers are effective bogeymen. Any race of men relentlessly bent on rape, cannibalism and general nastiness is scary (especially if they eat you as they rape you). You have a group of small-time brigands pulled into big-time political affairs, you have a merciless killer on the hunt, you have your throat sore from cheering and your heart broken by losses (the fans know what I mean by that one). You are forced to love the crew because of their flaws rather than in spite of them, and you have believable characters in a believable world fighting a believable fight. It lacks the melodrama that I could find a way to criticize the other Whedon projects for and undercuts the serious moments with well-timed, well-written comedy (I accept all fan-hate for the criticism). But I think the most engaging quality, for me, is that the characters care about one another and are willing to make a stand (or suicidal pass through Reaver territory) because it’s the right thing to do. It’s hard to create a world full of gray and still define some lines of right and wrong, but this flick does it. I won’t get into the plot, or how the bogeymen tie to the larger, political story, because you need to see this movie if you haven’t, and to ruin anything would be like punting an infant (firmly). Just trust me, it’s worth a watch.

Finally, the fighting. I grew up on kung-fu movies, good and bad, and have come to appreciate well choreographed violence. The fighting, and action sequence in general, are great. Each of the prominent fighters has a distinctive style that speaks to the character. When River fights it’s like she’s dancing her fists and feet into the faces of the opponent. The agent is controlled in every movement, mechanical in everything he does. Every word, punch and strategic play is controlled and measured; the complete opposite of Mal. The showdown, you’ll see it when you see it, finally gives Mal the credit he deserves as a recognized BAMF (I apologize for quoting Dane Cook, or whomever he stole that from, but it is a fitting term). His fighting is rough, his movements uncontrolled, but his will is unbeatable. The sheer strength of belief and perseverance carry his actions and establish him as a true hero (or as close as believable reality can give). There are specific scenes early that set-up the later events – like my old English teacher said, I should have read Lord of the Flies (something about Roger throwing rocks at the start of the book) – which make the resolution a lot more meaningful. Basically the action, like everything else, is spectacular.

Well that’s the that. Jayne is great for comic relief and doubt among the crew, Zoe is the woman that should have kidnapped me, and Wash (oh Wash) is the Zen force at the helm. Kaylee is the mechanic and heart of the film and the Tams, well, are the start and end of it all (cryptic, eh?). It is a world you will fall in love with full of people you will care about and you will hate FOX forever for not letting the show become what it should have (which is a good thing, to hell with FOX).

Until I get back to you, keep the boat in the air and make a stand when you have to, because it’s the only freedom you have,

The Hostage

P.S. The lady was all in a tizzy about the whole Book story. I thought it was pretty clear; his identity got rid of the alliance in the series, he knows how the agent will come at them and, obviously, he has a checkered past. I think the agent is the new Book, seeing beyond the definition of his role for the cause and questioning, for the first time ever, that the Alliance isn’t perfect. I look forward to the true Whedonites telling me how wrong I am.

P.P.S. Dollhouse was just finding itself, and exploring some really cool ideas. FOX sucks.

P.P.P.S. I just watched the end and had to throw this on for the fans; “We’re finished” after giving the do-not-fire order. Booyah!

~ by stew37 on March 26, 2011.

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