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10/03/2005 Archived Entry: "Why I was disappointed by Serenity"

NO, SCOTT. I did not take those two controversial plot developments in Serenity personally. (Link is to Scott Bieser's thumbs-up review of Serenity, which contains spoilers.) Not even close.

Completely aside from any Firefly-driven expectations or attachment to individual characters, Serenity is simply a so-so piece of work.

I was disappointed by the (surprisingly) uninspired writing, cliched and derivative plot elements, artless lighting, uninteresting art direction, lack of character development, "chain-saw" editing, cheesy special effects, and general lack of anything that raises it above an ordinary SF shoot-em-up.

Is Serenity better than Star Wars, Episode I? Yes. Is it better than half the Star Trek movies? Yes. But then, so is a root canal.

Definitely, there were good elements. Nathan Fillion has real star power, as does Adam Baldwin. A few Whedon-Fillion lines were absolutely classic. The awkward dialog between Mal and Inara (with the Serenity crew listening in) was a beautiful, promising moment (whose promise was unfortunately never fulfilled, as Inara spent the rest of the movie standing around with nothing to do). The overall message that government do-gooding is a dangerous thing is welcome and I hope 100 million people see the movie and get it. But look for the elements that make a really great example of filmmaking ... and you'll look in vain.

I realize most people don't sit in theaters and analyze a movie's lighting and editing. I don't, either, unless I'm either bored by mediocrity or dazzled by outstanding talent. But a great movie has got to have an extraordinary combination of elements, both technical and artistic. A movie doesn't have it if it doesn't have it all. And Serenity doesn't. As I keep saying: Not a horrible movie, but not an outstanding one.

Posted by Claire @ 08:45 AM CST

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