23 October 2005

Serenity Roundup.


The movie Serenity (trailer), which I saw today, by the author of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is something of a cult classic. It is fairly low budget for a science fiction film (about $40 million which puts it on a par with films like "The Punisher"), did poorly in the box office, and hasn't gotten a great deal of media buzz (one blogger goes so far as to call it "a catastrophic failure of marketing and promotion"), but is the talk of the blogosphere and has a loyal core of fans who respect its artistic and literary values (a phenomena discussed by this blogger as similar to that of Howard Dean's Presidential campaign).

It is a sequel to the cancelled, 2002 Fox series Firefly, set about six months after the point when the series was cancelled at 14 episodes. The series had loyal fans and has done well on DVD, but when it was on broadcast TV got little respect from Fox.

Rather the primarily talk about it myself, I'm going to round up (and I'm not the only one to do so) some of the notable blog posts on the movie, because they illustrate something that the blogosphere does well, which is sustained analysis, that the mainstream media does very poorly. All but the most A-list movies never get more than a brief "Should you see this movie this weekend" class review, one of which is nice, but there is a very thin reservoir of serious literary criticism and analysis out there for contemporary publications, which is something than an increasingly college educated generation of astute observers of the media find lacking. So, here we go.

On the scientific front, one blogger explains why the large number of planets in a single solar system found in the movie is actually not implausible.

Another blogger takes on the awkward political aspect of the film for liberals -- on one hand exalting someone who easily fits the type of an ex-confederate soldier, on the other hand strongly anti-imperialist, and also throws in some analysis of the allegedly racist undertones of the Lord of the Rings by Tolkien. Another blogger appreciates that the good guy liberals are not elitists.

Yet another makes the cogent observation that it is entirely possible that are protagonists, thought they seem like good guys from their own perspective, are not actually clear forces for good saying: "that the alliance sees itself as representing a force for good and progress and is willing to commit any number of atrocities and crimes to further those ends. It's an idea that has enormous historical resonance, from the white man's burden of the British Empire to the Soviet Union and the current American Empire. On the other hand, as a theme it seemed underexploited; in opposing the Alliance, Mal is surely perpetuating the anarchy and violence that seems to thrive outside it."

One points out some elements of the movie that are fuller if you have seen the TV series.

Bill Wallo has a length review of a book of essays based on the original series, a new trend, which is particularly notable for a new series and probably an offshoot of the nascent literary specialty of "Buffyology".

One blogger seperately blogs the bad points about the film (its familiarity to cliched themes) and the good ones. His point about not watching the original canceled series because "I still suffer over my wonderful, cancelled VR5", is one I relate to as a fellow VR5 fan (a sci-fi mystery with a progressing story arc in 1995). I also regret the early cancellation of Birds of Prey, a Batman spinoff.

One post is not itself notable, but does point to an interesting interview with the creator of the movie, Joss Whedon, and graphic novelist Neil Gaiman with Time Magazine, whom it calls the most interesting people in popular culture right now.

Several bloggers, including this one, note that it has elements of Western/Sci-Fi crossover. Some, including this one, noted the film's strong Chinese aesthetic, although there are no important Asian characters in the film.

In addition to comparisons to Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica, there are a number of comparisons to the obscure BBC series Blake 7, including this detailed one. Others compare to the Maxtrix trilogy of films. And one, quite aptly, to the space opera Starcraft. (Surprisingly, I saw no comparisons to the also quite similar movie "The Fifth Element").

One fan even has a humerous 2000 words of less synopsis. Another hits some of the best of widely praised dialog from Whedon, one area where this movie clearly exceeds the otherwise great original Star Wars series.

The movie even has its own role playing game.

There are, of course, plenty of "it's good, it's bad" reviews out there, one of the best ones is here, but where else can you find more of that. And, that is the point. The Blogosphere adds depth and democracy that allows a rather diffuse public to interact with the rest of the media. Where else do you see that?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thank you for that post and collecting all those links.