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Dreadful Nonsense

"I've read your blog. it's really funny. you should write a column." - Jon Ronson

Okay then. Let's get to work. We've all seen Serenity, right? At least twice each, yes? On the off chance that you haven't already seen it and you're a Firefly fan, and you've meant to go see it every day for the last two weeks, but haven't quite got round to it, I beg of you two things:

1. Go see it. For every day you don't see it, Joss kills a puppy.
2. Don't read the rest of this. It's so filled with spoilers it's poisonous.

Last night I went to see Serenity for the second time, because it's taken me this long since the first time to get over the fact that my favourite character in the entire series (and in the entire Joss-verse in fact, save only for the wonder that is Wesley Wyndham-Price) is kebabbed by Reavers. Seriously, the last twenty minutes of the film were lost on me the first time round, such was my gasping for air and combined admiration and hatred for The Whedon. We all know, as devotees to Our Lord and Master Whedon, that he's fully capable of killing any and everyone in sight. Hell, he killed the title character in Buffy. He stuck the biggest sword imaginable through Angel and sent him to hell. He snapped Jenny Calendar's neck and sent Fred off to the great beyond - no one is safe. And for the last twenty minutes it looked like the body count of Serenity was going to build way up past Book and Wash, and I for one honestly couldn't take it.

But yes. Deaths aside, I'm so very pleased to report that watching it for the second time round is as much fun, if not a little more fun, than the first time. This time I was able to listen to dialogue rather than hanging on for dear life through the sheer exposition and eventfulness of the first viewing. I was able to notice all the background chatting that goes on between characters, particularly Zoe and Wash, who seem to spend most of the film clinging on to each other. I was able to keep a keen watch on everything that Jayne is eating at the back of almost every single scene - if the man's not speaking, he's chewing. I even managed to catch a glimpse of Joss-as-Reaver, possibly one of the greatest director-appearing-on-camera cameos in history, as he's smacked right across the jaw.

There were more Firefly references than I had previously noticed, and (almost) everything that River babbles now makes sense. This film is almost written with second and third viewings in mind. The first time I went to see it, I was so afraid I'd be disappointed. After watching it for the second time, I'm already planning a third trip. Both times I've been in the cinema to see it, there have been at least three people - male and female - there alone, and obviously not on their first trip. Last night, a lady behind me started crying at almost the same point I did - right before the slaying of lovely Hoban 'Wash' Washburn, when leaves and winds and soaring were being discussed.

It's really interesting too to take account of the rest of the audience and their reactions. You can spot a Whedon fan a mile off from the sniggers and chuckles that emanate around. The boys behind us had obviously not seen Firefly at all, but really enjoyed almost everything Jayne ever said or did. I'm lost in admiration for Joss and his ability to entertain all comers.

And now my tiny little problems with the film: I hate the re-writing of the character of Simon. I hate that it's gone from him paying to have his sister rescued to him dressing up all sharp and shooting his way out of a building. I don't like that his relationship with Mal has changed so much, because it contradicts and cancels everything that happened in the series, and lends a lie to the thought that this band of people are a kind of makeshift family - if they're supposed to have been travelling together for 8 months, they really should have gotten over the stupid petty fighting that is the main feature of the opening post-title scene. I hate that Book was so easily wiped out of the Serenity legend. And on first viewing I hated every scene with Inara, because she was totally underused to the point of pointlessness. Although on second viewing I've reviewed that slightly, since actually Morena Baccarin does some fantastic things in the back of scenes that I didn't pick up first time round.

In short, I loved it. I was afraid I wouldn't love it, and I love it more than I thought I would. I hate that Book is dead, I HATE that Wash is dead, I love that Mal refuses to change, I love that I got upset at the sight of Serenity all dressed up like a Reaver ship, I think the storyline is genius, Mr Universe would have made a brilliant regular addition to the franchise, the Operative is one of the most frightening baddies I've seen on screen for a while, no one does jumping-out-at-you-from-the-side-of-the-screen quite like Joss, and overall, it gets a massive big thumbs up from me.


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