In 2002, Joss Whedon’s brilliant TV show Firefly was cancelled after only airing 11 episodes. Nothing short of tragic, this loss was of a show that had the potential to reach the heights of Whedon’s other work, and perhaps even go beyond them. The fans, and Joss himself, did not give up. Thanks to remarkable DVD sales and the absolute refusal to accept defeat, the film Serenity rose from the ashes of Firefly. While moving to the big screen meant some big changes, Whedon was able to recapture the heart and soul of the franchise.
Serenity is as fun as movies can get. Behind Whedon’s token wit are the usual dark themes he likes to explore (and is doing so in no-holds-barred fashion on the current TV show Dollhouse). The main cast of characters, the crew of the spaceship “Serenity”, live independently of their government, and even aim to take it down. “The Alliance”, the government portrayed in the film, subtly uses and controls its citizens. Whedon shows us a world where one can never trust anyone but themselves, and their crew.
I have not seen Firefly or Serenity, but I’ve heard they are fantastic, I will definitely take the recommendation.
Have you seen “Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog?” It’s hilarious and surprisingly good, really makes me want to see more of Whedon’s work.
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog is brilliant. My second favourite film of last year. I can definitely vouch for all of Whedon’s work be it film, TV or comics.
Also, check out this amazing speech he gave for Equality Now
I really like serenity
I watched Firefly in a couple of days and had the wonderful theme song in my head for weeks. The film was a great transition from small screen to big, and thankfully Book took a backseat (I always hated his character), but I was real sad to see Wash get washed out.
You didn’t like Book? You crazy, yo. But yeah the transition from small screen was great, and no doubt difficult. BTW, Patton Oswalt is writing a Wash comic book that should be out in a few months.
I watched the whole series and then the film maybe 3 months ago. It was interesting enough to be worth my time but nothing about it really stayed with me. I only remembered it as soon as I saw this thread. It struck me a well done exercise in mixing genres and concepts but that’s about it. I know Joss Whedon is god to some so I apologize in advance.
I had no urge to see this when it came out, as I dont follow that Whedon fellow.
But I may have to give it a look. I am a sci-fi fan most days of the week.
I liked the show quite a bit but the film didn’t do much for me. I read Whedon’s reasoning for what happened with Wash but it just seemed like an unnecessary stab at tragedy to add some kind of depth to a 2 hour version of a much longer story.
NEH, you’d need to watch Firefly beforehand, but of course I highly recommend it.
After many Star Trek films disappointed me, I thought: “Why can’t they just make one of those two-part episodes (i.e. the Borg battle) into a film?” For most the part, Serenity seems to be exactly that—and I was satisfied (7/10).
Mike, you should put a spoiler warning. But I sort of agree with you.
It just seemed like he wanted to go out in a blaze of glory by killing off a bunch of the characters. On the other hand, I had heard that, originally, Whedon didn’t want a big crew on the Firefly. So maybe his killing off some of the characters would allow him to re-start the series (if the film did well) under that set-up.
Love both! I was severely disappointed to see ‘Firefly’ get cut, but the film was a wonderful follow-up.
I’m in the minority here, but I’ve never found any of Wheedon’s creations of interest to me. I’ve tried hard based on friend recommendations, but the wow factor has never been there. I’ve found the low budget look a little oft-putting. I think I try to give it a chance based on the fact that I think I like WHAT he’s trying to say, but I’m just not moved by how he does it. (knives coming out)…..
Never heard of Whedon, or Serenity, but I’m guessing I’d second Pierre.
Firefly is one of my favorite shows, but i despise all of whedon’s other work.
I’m assuming you like sci-fi, otherwise I think that could explain your reason for not liking Whedon. Relative to other sci-fi, I think Whedon does a good job of writing dialogue—especially the witty/snarky variety. He’s also knows how to develop a plot. Of course, if you don’t find the dialogue or the overall writing interesing, then, yeah, you’re not going to be into him. Did you watch the Firefly series first and then watch Serenity by any chance? This would make a difference bececause Serenity is essentially an episode of Firefly, so not knowing the characters and their backstory would probably diminish your enjoyment of the film.
I love sci-fi. I watched Firefly. I don’t care for Whedon. But it’s just fine that he’s out there doing it. There’s a lot of whoring out there and Whedon does care. He’s OK by me – but I wouldn’t call him Dostoevsky or anything. Whedon often (or always) injects this slight, sarcastic whimsy that I just don’t care for (even though I do understand where it comes from, and it’s a fun place, and that’s probably a good thing) – noted in Serenity’s opening line of dialogue (“-—what was that?”), Firefly’s wannabe-metaphysical Juble Early (“Am I lion? I do have a might roar.”), and let’s not forget the side-splitting inanity of Alien Resurrection (in hindsight, I wouldn’t nearly mind Whedon’s little jokes so much if his stories actually went anywhere. At the end of Firefly, and Serenity, a few things “in space” change but our characters are precisely how they are when we met them – with the exception of the deaths of the priest and Alan Tudyk (and thank god for that one)). There’s more to criticizing Whedon than that – the rather platitudinous insertions of “the priest” and “the whore” and “the brute” onto Serenity… yawn. MY POINT IS there are plenty of legitimate reasons to dislike Whedon without necessarily failing to appreciate his work in toto.
btw best ep of Firefly, without discussion, is ep8 “Out of Gas.” Best acting, best effects, best writing. The other ones don’t hold up very well.
Yeah, he’s not Dostoevsky, but that’s sort of an unfair comparsion, don’t you think? (Who is as good as D?) The question is besides the point, too, imo because I don’t see Whedon as a great artist or maybe even an artist, period. (Sorry if that offends the Whedonites out there). I don’t mean that as an insult, as I think Whedon is a very good entertainer—a very rare writing talent in the world of sci-fi, particularly TV and film. So, I think if you’re looking for something profound or Casavettian characters or Tarkovskian spirituality, Whedon will undoubtedly disappoint you. But I don’t think that’s what he’s going for. He’s about telling fun stories, imo—or at least that’s my impression of his primary objective. As such, I think he’s one of the best out there.
Of course, even that point is a matter of taste. You don’t like his humor and wit, so it makes sense that you don’t care for him. (Oh, I really liked Alan Tudyk—that’s Wash, right? “I’m a leaf in the wind.”) I certainly don’t think Whedon is without fault even strictly as an entertainer.
Btw, what was the “Out of Gas” episode? My favorite was the pilot episode, even though it was a rip-off of Stagecoach. I like the one with the prostitute that seduces Mal, too. (Oh, and fwiw, I thought Alien Resurrection was incredibly putrid.)
Whedon vs Dusty: Is it so unfair? They both wrote serials. Dusty is a melodramaticist and Whedon aspires to be one. And I’ll bet dollars to donuts Whedon likes Dusty quite a lot… But I see your point. And for the record I think there are a lot of authors better than D :) Whedon seems to be concerned with genre works only, and Dusty was not, so there. But hey, I love genre works… Kubrick only did genre works! (cept for Eyes Wide Shut and that may explain why it didn’t work)
I’m never looking for anything Cassavetian (that would make me mumblecore. Zing!).
“Out of Gas” is the ep where there is an explosion on Serenity but the ship has no fuel to get them to port. Mal is forced to tell the crew to abandon ship and leave him behind, and the show is mostly comprised of flashbacks detailing Mal’s best/first moments with his future shipmates. As far as I know, it’s got the most heartfelt emotional core of anything in the Firefly universe… and it even moved me a bit!
Yeah sorry I’m a bit critical of Mr. Tudyk.
“And for the record I think there are a lot of authors better than D :)
Watch out now. Them’s fighting words. :) As for writing ability, I can think of others better than D, but, in terms of spiritual insight/depth, uh, nope—or at least not many on his level. But I think I’m saying that because I share a lot of his views. :)
I just think Whedon is not aspiring to anything as serious as D was.
I vaguely remember the episode you’re thinking of. I don’t see Whedon’s strong point as creating rich, complex characters or telling these incredibly powerful and emotional stories. His talents lie in the sci-fi action/adventure vein—with some moments of humor and drama—imo.
I haven’t really seen Tudyk in other roles, but I liked his smart-aleck quality in Firefly.
Nabokov is my favorite author, and in his “Lectures on Russian Literature” he, let’s say, dismantles the artifice that is Dostoevsky. I read a great deal of D and definitely love him! I also think that Kurosawa is his absolute counterpart… I think they’re so alike its ridiculous… Hm, I don’t know how I feel about Dusty’s spiritual insight… I would go to Tolstoy for that, first… poor Dusty had a life of pain, and vice. But he did get to marry his 20 year old typist in the end :)
Whedon’s talents do lie in the things you mention. J.J. Abrams is similar, I think, in that he understands what fun can be – he just needs to get people to do the writing for him…
I’ve only seen two of Abrams’ films (the monster one and Star Trek)—did not like the former, but enjoyed the latter.
People sure liked Star Trek – I wasn’t a fan, but again think it’s better than most action films – which makes it all the more baffling how awful M:I3 turned out to be.
I liked PS Hoffman as the villain in M:I3, though. He has potential to be a great one, I think. But yeah, not a good film.
He did have potential. He wasn’t really in very much of the film…
I really love the series Firefly. Was tremendously disappointed however with Serenity. Found it took all of what made the series unique, what it explored and went for the big, generic scifi action finish. Didn’t hold my interest at all. I also agree with the tragedy for intensity/darkness sake. I felt manipulated by the end of it and the intensity utterly forced onto me.
@Jazzaloha – No, I watched Firefly and I watched Buffy before I saw Serenity. I just don’t find that Wheedon’s dialogue lives up to its reputation. Sure it’s snarky, but I don’t find anything in there that I can’t find better in a Howard Hawks film or one by Preston Sturgess. This may be an unfair comparison to these legends, but it may be a game of expectations on my part.
It’s sort of the same thing with Kevin Smith. Folks wax rhapsodic about these two and it just doesn’t connect to me.
Wheedon feels like he’s imitating someone else and you can tend to get drowned out by the 300lb fan club that insists everything he does is unassailable, like Chris Nolan.
I do like sci-fi, but I wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan. In fact, most of the sci-fi stuff I like has sparse dialogue. Firefly seemed like it wanted to be a Western to me.
I am glad to hear that I’m not the only one who isn’t bowled over by Wheedon. I was thinking it could get me excommunicated from the interwebs.
I guess the dialogue is good relative to other TV shows or sci-fi films. (What are sci-fi films use humor effectively? Not many come to mind.) So, no, I don’t think Whedon is a great writer of dialogue, but he’s very good—just as the writers for a good TV sitcom are good (and I’m not belittling the talent by any means).
And, yes, Firefly was trying to be a Western with a sci-fi twist. I liked that aspect of it, although I can see people rolling their eyes.
You can’t take the sky from meeee…
I know a lot of people who regard Whedon as some kind of “savior of the screenplay” but he just seems to be ‘blah’ to me. I mean, he really deserves to be discussed in-depth as a substance-less stylist on this forum. The dialogue isn’t bad, but then again, he aspires toward a kind of conventional narrative type of storytelling and fails miserably. He’s not a great writer, but he has a relevant sensibility that seems to hit home, especially with 20-somethings. Sure, he blends Western elements with science fiction, but … so what? It’s been done before and better.
Directorially, Serenity wasn’t horrible, but it certainly is representative of the “invisible director” – maybe that’s a good thing.
From a television perspective, he’s better than most, that’s certainly true. But that’s television – a far cry from the consistency of film. It’s like saying Bush Sr. was a great president in comparison to following Republican presidents …