I'm rather shocked at the rave reviews for this film on salon or the nytimes. Happy in a way. Hopefully if the movie has legs, they may make more and that would make me happy.
If you read my earlier Firefly entry, you know I'm a big fan, but as I expected, Serenity is Whedon's first film foray, and like his first comic book attempt, Fray, he's not quite comfortable with the genre. But as Whedon demonstrates in the latest X-men comic, he learns quick. The next one should be better.
This film though was over edited, too polished. A whole season crammed into 2 hours. Salon calls it subtle, I call it inelegant. The story was railroaded along, without the lackadaisical cowboy jauntiness that characterized the show (and without the quirky folksy campfire theme song).
The style wasn't quite on, but there was some semi-interesting cinematography, and the fight choreography was passable, (which says a lot given how high Hong Kong cinema has raised the bar in that realm).
I was finally appeased when I was jolted into memory the character upon which the movie's main antagonist "The Operative" is based. Mustafa Mond, of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. The man who believes in the Utopia he is creating so much, that he is willing to sacrifice himself to create it, becoming a monster that has no place in such a space.
I am, perhaps, being overly harsh. As Salon pointed out, the film's writing is infinitely better than any of Lucas' drivel, with characteristic Whedonesque comic-book style quips, and a firm grounding in big ideas. I especially appreciate the subtlety; Whedon gives credit to the intelligence of the viewers and his crew, where obvious traps are obvious to the characters as well.
As the Salon critic said, this would have been a lot better as the second season it was intended to be. But I hope at least it will be good enough to follow the show's Star Trek-style fairy tale, and continue the franchise.