Also caught the Serenity blogger preview last night. Liked it, didn’t love it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fun flick with a lot of slam-bang, and as others have noted, an unusual amount of solid character writing for the genre from creator Joss Whedon.
That said, I have to disagree with Steve on one point: I suspect people who didn’t see the “Firefly” TV series (and not many did) are going to be more than a little lost. I thought the script assumed too much familiarity with the characters and their histories–although I should note that Glenn, who apparently hasn’t seen the show, liked the movie just fine, so it’s possible I’m all wet. Then again, Glenn is a science fiction fan, and this is a movie expertly tailored to the smart-SF crowd. I have my doubts about it crossing over to a larger audience, but I’d be happy to be wrong about that.
For those who were already familiar with the show, it’s great fun, even if some of the characters got relatively short shrift just by the nature of the beast (Jewel Staite’s wonderful Kaylee, for instance, didn’t have much to do in this movie, but she still gets the best one-liner in the script). I liked the story a lot, particularly the explanation of how the cannibalistic Reavers came to be (which made a hell of a lot more sense than “they just went nuts because space is so big”). It takes chances, and isn’t afraid to get very, very dark. Whedon pretty openly based his lead character on Han Solo, but for all the happy-go-lucky-ism that implies, this really isn’t an upbeat tale–and good for Whedon for dodging that temptation.
On the other hand, for all the kudos that “Firefly” received for presenting “realistic” science fiction, the movie repeats one of the show’s most annoying conceits, with characters recovering almost instantly from major traumatic injuries. Granted, that’s also a conceit of the Western, from which the “Serenity” world borrows heavily, so perhaps it’s a feature and not a bug, but it still bugs me.
To sum up: I had a good time, and if I’d paid for a ticket, I wouldn’t have regretted the time or the cost. It’s the kind of thing you’ll like, if you like this kind of thing.