Sunday, 15 March 2009

Firefly and Serenity

We started on Serenity, which number two brother has long recommended to me. For about a year I was slightly put off by the DVD cover art which made it look much more like Buffy the Vampire Slayer (by the same writer-director) than it really was.

Don’t get me wrong, Buffy may be very good, I’ve never seen more than snatches of episodes. However, marketing that relies on flexible female teenagers (who aren't really teenagers) doesn’t usually score highly in my book. And while I’m on the subject, the cover art for the DVD of Tremors [don't click the link if you haven't seeen Tremors - instead, stop reading this blog immediately and go and find a copy of the greatest film ever made!] is equally deplorable, surrendering most of the tension of the first 30 minutes of the film by revealing in silly picture form the nature of the mysterious threat that attacks the inhabitants of Perfection!

Back to the point…

Serenity is excellent. It has one of the highest budget-final quality ratios of any recent film and is seriously enjoyable. The script is witty and passionate, the characters are engaging, the plot compelling and the set pieces mesmerizing. It plays with action film conventions and gently mocks all kinds of sci-fi and Western cliches. There is a strong anti-totalitarian anti-interventionist flavour, which adds some spice and social critique.

The music is perfect – like American folk overlaid with medieval – or is it medieval ballads played by bluegrass types? I am suitably bemused and impressed. If you haven’t seen it, then do!

On the DVD version the extras are also good value. “The Making of…” and related features are fun(ny), and not too luvvie. Most of the cast did most of their own stunts, which prompts much amusement on set. All in all a great night in, and Mrs L liked it as much as I did.

Firefly is the short-lived TV series on which Serenity is founded. Although it is very good – as funny and engaging as the film, sharing the cast, setting and mood – I can see why some in a conservative culture might have found its open discussion of prostitution rather too much for heart-warming small screen entertainment. Still worth a look.