There was a reason FIREFLY was cancelled after eight episodes…

I saw SERENITY last night.

I know I’m in the minority here, but I thought it was a loud, boring, uninspired mess…that played like what it was: a hyped up episode of a not-very-interesting TV series. Even so, the movie wasn’t nearly as well-written, well-acted, or exciting as a typical episode of the new BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (proving, once again, that what’s on TV these days is better that what’s in the theaters). It had a real TV pilot feel… despite an entire universe to play with, the action was mostly limited to four soundstage sets that looked like soundstage sets.

The cast, with the exception of the captain (Nathan Fillian) and the bad guy (Chiwetel Ejiofor), have no discernible range and no chemistry with one another.  The characters themselves are one-dimensional cut-outs that only a true fan of the short-lived series could care about.

The special effects had a cheesy, computer-game feel…as did the story  (the bad guys, the flesh-eating RESIDENT EVIL-esque zombies, are just so much target practice…and blandly reminiscent of the cannibal aliens on STARGATE ATLANTIS).

The action set pieces and the plot seemed cobbled together from STAR TREK episodes, old westerns, and Hong Kong movies and I got tired of the constant  "take-a-cliche-line-from-another-movie- and-add-a-petulant-whine-to-it" style of dialogue ("Do you want to be Captain of this ship?" "Yeah, I do." "Well, uh, you can’t.")… when they weren’t using phrases from old westerns or speaking Chinese. 

I really wanted to like this movie but came away disappointed.

21 thoughts on “There was a reason FIREFLY was cancelled after eight episodes…”

  1. I wanted to love this movie too, but the constant plot holes kept getting in the way, not to mention the ultimate big secret reveal that the evil, evil, evil Alliance more or less (spoilerish)… put flouride in the drinking water.
    Plus, there is the very fluid morality. The Alliance is bad because they are willing to kill an innocent teenage girl to protect their (very lame) secret. But the people protecting River are good. Even though, by protecting her, they cause the death of several hundred innocents. Hmmm….
    Plus, from a man who idolizes Sondheim – NO MUSICAL NUMBER????

  2. If you never watched the TV show, or were a fan for that matter, then your most likely not going to enjoy the movie.
    The movie was made for the fans of the show. Period.
    I’m sure Joss Whedon and the studio would say that they were creating a sci-fi film for all fans of the genre etc….but it would just be a lot of b.s.
    I have always been a Joss Whedon fan but even I never bothered to watch the TV show Firefly until it was on DVD. I enjoyed it and found everything about it to be just like Joss Whedon’s other shows…dialogue,characters,storylines etc etc.
    I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if the dialogue in Serenity drove you nuts then you’ll probably never like anything Joss Whedon does…cuz all his characters talk like that.
    Whedon has a small but loyal following and that is who Serenity was made for. That is also the reason it won’t make much money and is a one shot deal.
    A small group of fans fell head over heels for the characters and story of Firefly, and somehow through their and Joss’s passion they suckered a studio into making a failed TV show that nobobdy watched into a 40 million dollar movie.
    My friend who had never seen any Joss Whedon show went with me, I had warned him he probably wouldn’t understand half the story, and he seemed to enjoy it….but he didn’t understand a lot of it.

  3. Whew! I thought I was the only one who wasn’t in love with Firefly/Serenity or any permutations thereof. Tried to watch the series. Not liking the cowpoke dialogue. I thought Whedon was channeling “The Night of the Hunter” – that movie was wacked but it had more entertainment value than Firefly.

  4. I loved the series and liked the movie. I think the chemistry between the characters was much more evident on the tv series though.
    From what I heard, they studio decided to make the movie in part based on how well the DVD of the series sold. I guess they figure they at least have a built in fan base who will not only see the movie but buy the DVD. And in this day and age 40 million doesn’t seem like a lot of money to throw at a science fiction movie.
    But I do agree with you that Battlestar Galactica is a great show that has raised the bar on science fiction, tv or otherwise.

  5. I think even FIREFLY fans (I’m one) knew the show wasn’t long for the air. My initial worry was that there were too many characters in too small a space (the ship). FOX didn’t help matters asking Whedon and Tim Minear to write a quickie second pilot when they got cold feet about the first, then airing the episodes out of order.
    There was good chemistry on FIREFLY, and I simply carried that over to SERENITY, but I also think the characters didn’t have much time to develop on the show, hence the actors didn’t live with their characters very long.
    I found a lot to enjoy about SERENITY, but someone new to the whole thing could get lost. Then again, as Bryan said, most people interested in the movie will have been fans of the show.

  6. I didn’t get lost…the plot wasn’t that complex…or entertaining. In fact, it was rather simple and derivative. I got tired of watching one scene after another lifted from other movies (including GALAXY QUEST!). My problem was there really wasn’t a movie there to get lost in. It’s a one-joke/one-conceit concept (a “western in space, with cowboy dialogue and everything, pardner”) that doesn’t go any where beyond that.

  7. I liked it, had no problem following it and had never seen the t.v. show. So I dunno. I thought the writing was excellent. I loved the acting. Yeah, the story was simplistic in hindsight, but at least it made sense–not like Star Wars or War of the Worlds.
    I can’t really comment on the soundstage issue b/c I don’t know much about the technical side of movies, but I did notice there weren’t very many big special effects.
    Lee you and I tend to be polar opposites when it comes to films. Everything you seem to like I don’t care for and vice versa.

  8. I hated FIREFLY. I have no idea why people praised it. It was insipid. BATTLESTAR GALACTICA is in another league all-together. Now THAT’S a terrific show.

  9. Dude, you still have no taste. I still don’t know how or why they showed your dumb DSV show on TV, or why it lasted as long as it did. So now you’re kissing up to RDM? LOL, not that I like him, or his show anymore, but even he wouldn’t touch you! LOL
    Your site here isn’t very intuitive BTW. You might want to give up playing webmaster and get someone else to do it for you.

  10. Westy: Lee gave a series of reasons why Serenity didn’t work for him–these are not the comments of a person with no taste, rather it is the opinion of someone who is working to a set of aesthetic criteria.
    Too many people lambaste a TV show, movie, or say, web site, without any good good reason other than they’re peeved and like the sound of their own voice (or to see their words in print, perhaps). I’d prefer to see more informed opinion like Lee’s on the web (even if I don’t agree with it), rather than the mindless vitriol that is far too common.

  11. Lee wrote:
    “It’s a one-joke/one-conceit concept (a “western in space, with cowboy dialogue and everything, pardner”) that doesn’t go any where beyond that.”
    While there was some joking in FIREFLY/SERENITY, at heart it was the story of Mal Reynolds’s life after losing everything he believed in/fought for. The show and movie weren’t about good vs. evil. Unlike the STAR WARS Rebels, Mal wasn’t trying to beat back the Alliance. He had no grand plan except to keep his spirit from bending to Alliance rule.
    The secret at the center of the movie wasn’t earth-shattering in the larger scheme of things. Mal’s purpose was simply to reveal something the Alliance had covered up. This way people would have more information with which to make their own decisions.
    Moviegoers might not “get” any of this and still enjoy SERENITY as a western in space with cowboy dialogue. Maybe it doesn’t go beyond that, but does it have to?
    I don’t doubt there are many people not into FIREFLY. Its ratings speak to that. I’m not sure why certain shows appeal to me and others don’t. I like the concept of the new GALACTICA, but I can’t get into it. Does the new show hold to some darker, more serious intention of the original creators, ala BATMAN BEGINS? Why not create a whole new concept and avoid comparisons to an old show? I could go for that.

  12. That is also the reason it won’t make much money and is a one shot deal.
    Actually, my understanding is that this is meant to be the first in a trilogy, depending on how sales go. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for it to sell huge.

  13. Serenity is a great movie! The series is highly enjoyable and the characters are all believable unlike Battlestar Craptica which has nothing more than some of the worst soap opera acting on TV. Highly unlikable, dysfunctional people on TV making decisions that no one in their right mind would ever make.
    Firefly on the other hand has a terrific cast, great writing and directing. The cast is enjoyable and more to the point BELIEVABLE, unlike those losers on BSC. The effects are so much better as well.
    When Cain showed up I was hoping she would blast the Craptica to dust. I watched perhaps 20 minutes total of the second season and tuned in because I liked the storyline behind Pegasus.
    So tell the truth. Who would you trust your life to? The dysfunctional unreliable morons on BSC or the crew of the Serenity?
    No doubt about it. SERENITY wins hands down.

  14. have to say that i profoundly disagree with you on your opinion of firefly. i had to download the series to watch it (i’m saving up for the dvd) but as i watched it was clear that this was a show of people and characters, not graphics or bigger than life stories.
    fair enough you didn’t like it, i just feel you missed the point.

  15. I love Battlestar Galactica, but it would have been canceled in midseason as well, if it had been broadcast out of order. Serial television series (is that the right term?) need to be shown in order.
    Battlestar Galactica is really just Star Trek Voyager with the Borg in almost every episode. In contrast, Firefly is pretty unique. It isn’t about the big-shot captain of a military or exploration vessel or space station. It’s about a bunch of nobodies trying to survive in the rough-and-tumble world of frontier space.

  16. Battlestar Galactica is really just Star Trek Voyager with the Borg in almost every episode.
    Talk about missing the point.

  17. I just finished watching the series of Firefly on DVD, and it has to be one of the best TV shows I have seen. I saw the movie Serenity before I saw Firefly and I didn’t much like it at all. All of you who have seen Serenity please don’t just judge this amazing series just on the movie. Give it a chance it’s Great. I’m kinda sad now because it’s all over.

  18. Hm, I saw Firefly awhile ago on DVD, but couldn’t be bothered to watch all eps, it looked just so cheaply made. Serenity otoh looked pretty well and I enjoyed it for what it was, an entertaining little movie.

  19. Serenity is a great movie! The series is highly enjoyable and the characters are all believable unlike Battlestar Craptica which has nothing more than some of the worst soap opera acting on TV. Highly unlikable, dysfunctional people on TV making decisions that no one in their right mind would ever make.
    Oh bite me! Firefly was great, but so is battlestar. You simply didn’t like that fact that lee criticized your show. Grow up, little guy!

  20. you guys don’t know what your talking about
    firefly is awsome not really a big fan in sci fi.found star trek and even battlestar
    quiet boring after a while but firefly had a bit more realisum in it in terms of story actors and didn’t have silly alien like creatures in it even thou i have already watched it over and over again i just cannot stop watching it again. the plot is more down to earth a realistic cannot understand these guys .

  21. Firefly my favorite show, but more importantly, the best show never to finish its first season.
    I think the point that most people miss is the simplicity of the show itself. Each episode has a simple plot, but is supposed to showcase the characters, who are brilliant (thank you Joss Whedon for caring so much!). These characters TOTALLY have chemistry. I did watch the movie first and liked it, but appreciated it much more once I saw the show.
    The movie can be for anyone, but it is really to help give Firefly fans some closure (without tying up every loose end just in case).
    You CANNOT insult the special effects if you are a fan of Battlestar Galactica. A lot of the special effects team is the same as Firefly. Just look at the scenes in space. Notice anything familiar? There is even a Firefly class ship in the first episode of BSG for that reason.
    This show, and movie, are wasted on you if you need a slap in the face to get the point. The brilliance is in the subtleties and the way the characters interact. If there is one thing we can all learn from Joss its that characters drive a compelling story more than a plot. Sure the plot is important, but if you don’t give a crap about the characters than what does it matter?
    FIREFLY RULES! End of story.


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