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  • Firefly and Serenity

    Originally posted by lotjx View Post
    To be fair, Firefly was doomed day one and is even worse off now, because how terrible Serenity was. I know there are some real hardcore fans who want it back as well as some of the cast, but that ship sailed when you killed a quarter of your cast and kept the annoying quarter of the rest of the cast.
    Originally posted by Jan View Post
    'Fraid I heartily disagree with your assessment of the Firefly movie. Yeah, I wasn't happy to see Wash and Book die, but mostly because I'd've like to learn more about Book's background. I didn't find any of the characters annoying.
    Originally posted by Jan View Post
    And let's do keep the conversation mainly on B5 rather than other shows. We can always discuss the others in the OT forum.
    Originally posted by valens_shadow View Post
    You find Jayne annoying? He's one of my favourite characters and I was disappointed he didn't have a bigger role in the movie. I do agree if I had to choose one character to die I would choose the doctor. Shepherd Book definitely had a fascinating air of mystery about him and it's hugely disappointing the way he was just killed off. Still the main characters and my favourite characters are still alive and well.
    I thought I'd follow Jan's advice and start something over here since I came late to the discussion and wanted to add a couple of thoughts.

    First, I thought Serenity was a very good movie, especially given what it had to be. If Whedon had made something that could only appeal to the Firefly fans, it would never have even had a chance at success. As such, he needed to make something that was accessible to people who didn't know Firefly, or only knew it in passing. Also, he needed to condense a multi-season story line into its essentials. Both of those are challenges that would normally make the movie less satisfying to Firefly fans. It's pretty remarkable that he could work those things in and still have something that many (most?) fans loved. Some continuity was broken, and some favorites were underplayed, but all in all it was very faithful to the TV series. I went to one of the advance screenings with a varied group of people. There were hardcore fans, people with a passing familiarity and even two people who had never seen anything at all of Firelfy. The entire group loved the movie.

    As far as the deaths go, I think that was Whedon embracing the movie setting. The movie needed to raise the stakes and move much more quickly. Deaths can do that. At some level, I think most of the people I know accepted that Book must die. He was the archetype of the mentor. Mentors usually die. I really expected that going into the movie. Of course, that doesn't mean that I didn't want to find out that backstory as badly as the next person. BTW, there is now a canon source on that back story, in case you didn't know. There is a graphic novel entitled "The Shepherd's Tale" that tells where Book came from. Not what I had expected, but quite good.

    Wash was shocking. In that theater of mostly Firefly fans there was an audible, collective gasp when Wash died. At first I was upset by it. Then the more I thought about it (months and subsequent viewings later) I realized that it was a very nasty and clever trick. If Wash hadn't died, all the jeopardy at the end of the movie wouldn't have had the same impact. After Wash, everyone I've talked to about this was like "Holy $#!%! Is he going to kill everyone?" You really didn't know where he was goinig and it cranked up the tension. I don't think any other character could have done that. I really don't think Simon could have had that effect. It would be more like "Oh, they lost the spare."

    The final thought I'll put in here about the deaths is this: Whedon was never afraid of doing flashbacks. I have no doubt that if Serenity had been successful enough to spawn more movies, Alan and Ron would have had work, and not just a little. And, yes, we would have had Book's story on the screen.
    "That was the law, as set down by Valen. Three castes: worker, religious, warrior."

  • #2
    Thanks for the new thread, WorkerCaste.

    I have to admit, you've given me a new perspective on Wash's death. Frankly, I'd always felt it was Whedon being shocking for the sake of being shocking and I've always resented it a bit. You're right, it did up the jeopardy factor in the final battle because we couldn't be sure what he'd do. Only thing is, those of us who've seen a fair amount of Whedon's work pretty much expect him to be brutal to his characters.

    I don't know about how the film was marketed to the mainstream because I didn't see much of it. I did think that the prequel comics and some of the other marketing that was targeted at genre fans was quite effective. What made me sad was that it didn't do better at the box office because it would have been nice to be able to point to a cult favorite box office success and say "See? That's what a B5 movie could do." I'm sure it ended up making a good profit but it doesn't look like it happened until the DVD sales were added in.

    Jan
    "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

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    • #3
      I never understood what happened to it at the box office. It had good buzz. It had good reviews. They really did try and market it, it seemed to me. All that, and I personally know some big SF fans who still didn't go. They were "thinking" about it, but never got around to it. I was confused at the time. Well, I'm still confused. Well, I'm confused about many things, but I'm still confused about the Serenity box office. And why every culture has a version of Swedish meatballs, but that's abother topic.
      "That was the law, as set down by Valen. Three castes: worker, religious, warrior."

      Comment


      • #4
        People walking out after Walsh's death then telling their friends is probably what happened to the box office. Simon's death would have sparked River to do all the kick butt stuff that she did at the end. The reason to kill Walsh as my friend put it was tell the fans we are not coming back to TV. It would have made more sense to kill Simon or even Jayne then to kill Walsh. When Mal flies away at the end, it was basically saying, we never really never needed Walsh to begin with. If the point of the death was to kill off a character who is replacable River can easily replace Jayne or the Eva Torres character in the fighting department and to some degree already did during the bank robbery. If you wanted to shock people, kill River or Mal, no one would have seen that coming. You don't kill the fun character as well as someone with an incrediable backstory then leave Doctor Boring and Mr. I have big gun and say mean things to get some reaction, alive. If they do a sequel how they going to get in and out of the Alliance situations without Shepard and realistically not losing their entire crew? Maybe they'll bandage someone up or shove a gun in someone's face while screaming profanities at them. I am sure that will work.

        People also don't seem to understand on how Hollywood works even if the Firefly cast and fans get the money for the rights, the studio will demand more since now there is a demand for it. Same thing happened to my friends who bought the B5 CCG license. The previous company owed WB and instead of getting it from the original company, they wanted my friends to pay for it. Even after it got resolved, WB keep saying they needed more money, because they did the numbers wrong. Eventually, they gave up or waiting til they get more money. It won't matter, because once the studios own something they rarelly give it up unless, its something that is dead in their eyes or they get some money on the back end. I also think the Firefly fans are bordering on the Star Trek and Star Wars level of creepy.

        I am at the point of giving up on Joss Whedon as this creative genius. He gave the middle finger to the network with the end of Angel thus giving it to the fans as well. Probably already knowing, he was going to milk the fanbase with the comics. Speaking of the comics, Buffy is a joke right and I almost appluad Fox for rebooting the series. If you are not reading Buffy, don't. Leave it with the nice feeling of Chosen and the hints you get in Angel season 5. Dollhouse was his last good work, but that more to do with Fox telling him he was canned and they were not going to settle for him keeping the show in nuetral. I am also not a fan of Joss' every romance has to die horribly, because that is the way the world works or people who are together are boring. To me, it screams I am a TV hack who happened to get lucky with one franchise, so I don't need to grow my writing talents. Even Kevin Smith upped his game for Green Arrow and Daredevil while Joss wrote Astonishing X-Men as Buffy and Angel as mutants. Joss to me is a very good writer, but only when motivated. As a director, I am not sold and I do think he got Avengers, because he was cheap as well as work cheap. They probably canned Norton, because they thought he would out direct him at times which he probably would have and made it a better film. At this point, I am skeptical anything Joss touches including redoing a movie where he pissed off a ton of his fans.
        Last edited by lotjx; 03-22-2011, 08:13 AM.

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        • #5
          Actually, the word of Wash's death was kept pretty close. The people who saw the advance screenings were mostly fans and were very careful about spoilers. I saw it in the second round of screenings and hadn't heard a word. Even reviews seemed to avoid spoilers. Besides, the weakness in the box office seemed to have more to do with the non-fans not showing up right from the start. I doubt non-fans would be put off by some chaarcter they don't know dying.

          I still don't see Wash's death as a simple message that they weren't returning to TV. Mind you, I don't think there was any serious expectation that they would return to TV. The cast had begun to get other committments. Alan himself was keeping busy. Plus, trying to get the TV rights for a failed TV show can be pretty hairy from a contractual perspective. If you look at the mood and pacing of the last part of the movie, you been given evidence by the plot developments and speachifying that they are in a desperate situation fighting against massive odds. Essentially, you've been told, but not not truly shown and not made to feel it. Wash's death does that. You could have a whole bunch of near deaths and the audience would most likely be very complacent about it sure that none of the main characters were really going to die. After all, Book had already been sacrificed. By suddenly and shockingly killing a major, well-loved character you set the audience off balance. You make them feel and you destroy expectations. I don't know about your expereince, but the people I've talked to about this subsequently viewed the "close calls" that followed very differently. I stopped thinking everyone would be all right and started questioning if ANYone would be all right. THAT's why I think Wash died.

          Simon's death would have provided another plot mechanism and would have turned River loose, but it would have explained -- not shocked or changed perspectives. You couldn't kill Mal -- they might not be coming back to TV but they hoped for more movies. This movie was River's story, so you could only kill her at the end which would be pretty useless. Jayne or Zoe would accomplish some of impact, but they wouldn't be as shocking because they are both warrioirs and you expect casualties among warriors. Also, Zoe's death wouldn't turn Wash into a cold, fearless killing machine. Innara (sp?) is rather like Mal in this analysis - she and Mal have a future story, so if you're hoping for more movies, she's off the table. That leaves Kaylee. She, like Wash, is not as intense as the others and is a more likeable and sympathetic non-combatant, so she would've worked, too. My guess is that given the work Alan was getting, he was more likely to have scheduling difficulties if there were more movies.

          Killing Book doesn't interfere with a sequel. He never got them in and out of Alliance space anyways. His ID got him priority medical attention once, and his inside knowledge helped them deal with a crooked cop once. Nothing that couldn't be worked around, and Innara was just as effective in dealing with the Alliance. His back story didn't die with him, so that was still there. Might have actually been easier to explore his backstory after he was dead. When he was alive, he seemed intent on protecting it. And from what I've seen, Jayne is every bit as popular as Wash was, and he was also the only truly morally ambiguous character. Good for plot complications.

          I'm not sure I'd ever use genius to describe Whedon. I am stingy with that word. I like a lot of what he's done, other stuff, meh. I will say, though, I find it hard to credit an argument that he would give the finger to TV so he can make a fortune in comics. I may not be a TV insider, but I can't believe exec-producer/writer doesn't pay more than licensing fees and an occasional story credit for comics. And what I heard on Angel was that he asked that they commit to renewing in a more usual timeframe rather than waiting until the last minute as they had previously done, so the network said something like "You want an answer now? Ok. No." Doesn't seem like giving anyone the finger.
          Last edited by WorkerCaste; 03-22-2011, 09:50 AM. Reason: typos
          "That was the law, as set down by Valen. Three castes: worker, religious, warrior."

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          • #6
            I stop short of calling Joss Whedon a genius, too, though I may be shortchanging him. I just feel that too often some of his twists, turns and yes, deaths are done for shock/titillation value rather than to serve the needs of the story. With JMS, I can trust that when something major happens, it's because it was necessary.

            I'm also sure that WorkerCaste is correct that there's *much* more money in TV and film than in comics.

            Thanks to JMS's ongoing posts, folks here are probably better versed in how 'Hollywood' works than many other forums. As for the CCG license, I thought that WB had raised the price in anticipation of Legend of the Rangers becoming a series and that's when the license was dropped. That may have been a different company than the ones your friends owned, though?

            Mongoose dropped the RPG license when WB wouldn't negotiate on the license fees, too, if I recall. As JMS has said on several occasions, studios would rather own 100% of nothing than 50% of something. However, they have licensing departments because it is a profit center for them which means that they're willing to license things, but only at their price.

            Jan
            "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

            Comment


            • #7
              JMS is completely right about studios wanting 100% of the rights. My friends who bought it actually thought they had it back in I think 2004 or 2006 even threw a party with Doyle, Conway, and others. My friend tells a story about Conway going for seconds when people didn't even get their food. Apperantly, Doyle, Conway and another person were to do the autograph cards since they never did them before and a few days later I think before they began doing the autographs, WB tells them they want more money. After that, the deal began to fall apart. Now, they did get a good chunk of the back product which I now own as well as the original Masterpiece Collection printouts which I also own. I do hope that whatever gets announced in April or after April will get the ball moving again.

              Joss gave the middle finger to the network, no question about it. Did he force the issue, yes then the network regretted it later when they merged with UPN. After the early cancelations, I do believe Joss said screw it, I will finish Angel in the comics down the road and forget dealing with the studios. To me, it was him saying to the network, I will make sure at the end of the day, people will hate you, because I am going to tease them with this giant battle and it will be never resovled.

              Serenity bombed for a lot of reasons. One, it doesn't or probably will never have the Star Trek or Star Wars fanbase even as loud as they cry. Two, it didn't matter if the press didn't release spoilers, we live in the techno age were you can send one message in a theater to about 100 people. Once, it was leaked at Friday at 1 pm and the fans for that show had, I am sure everyone knew by 7 or 9 that night Walsh and Book died. Three, no one likes coming into a room while people are already talking. That is what a casual fan was thinking when he saw the ads. It looks like a good sci-fil film, but wasn't it a TV show and I don't want to get lost or feel like I am lost, so why bother. Lastly, it wasn't that good. It had some nice action moments like the two fleets colliding, Simon rescuing River and the Operative fights, but thats about it. It felt like we were missing parts of the story like how Book was now on a planet full of people, who is guy who has all these TVs and why all of sudden is the government doing a full court press on River? It just never flowed well for me and minus the shocking deaths, it just feels like we wondered into this story then when we feel ok about it, shocking death, then big space fight, then shocking death, then big melee fight and movie is over. It was not paced well or at all.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by lotjx View Post
                Joss gave the middle finger to the network, no question about it. Did he force the issue, yes then the network regretted it later when they merged with UPN. After the early cancelations, I do believe Joss said screw it, I will finish Angel in the comics down the road and forget dealing with the studios. To me, it was him saying to the network, I will make sure at the end of the day, people will hate you, because I am going to tease them with this giant battle and it will be never resovled.
                I see what you meant now. I didn't follow Angel, so I have no idea how it ended. I can see your point better now, but I still doubt it was about money.

                Originally posted by lotjx View Post
                Serenity bombed for a lot of reasons. One, it doesn't or probably will never have the Star Trek or Star Wars fanbase even as loud as they cry. Two, it didn't matter if the press didn't release spoilers, we live in the techno age were you can send one message in a theater to about 100 people. Once, it was leaked at Friday at 1 pm and the fans for that show had, I am sure everyone knew by 7 or 9 that night Walsh and Book died. Three, no one likes coming into a room while people are already talking. That is what a casual fan was thinking when he saw the ads. It looks like a good sci-fil film, but wasn't it a TV show and I don't want to get lost or feel like I am lost, so why bother. Lastly, it wasn't that good. It had some nice action moments like the two fleets colliding, Simon rescuing River and the Operative fights, but thats about it. It felt like we were missing parts of the story like how Book was now on a planet full of people, who is guy who has all these TVs and why all of sudden is the government doing a full court press on River? It just never flowed well for me and minus the shocking deaths, it just feels like we wondered into this story then when we feel ok about it, shocking death, then big space fight, then shocking death, then big melee fight and movie is over. It was not paced well or at all.
                I'm not sure "bombed" is the right word. IIRC, it grossed $25+ million in the US and nearly $40 million worldwide. Costs were estimated at $35-40 million. I have never seen DVD figures. It was not successful enough to spawn a sequel, but not what would traditionally be considered a bomb. That being said 1) at < $40 million cost it didn't need a ST or SW audience and they never expected it to garner anything near that size. 2) I was interested in this movie so I was specifically looking for information and never had it spoiled. That includes the press, yes, but also internet blogs, discussion boards, reviews, news, a fan site devoted to Whedon, etc. I understand the techno age pretty well, thank you. If I didn't get spoiled, I have trouble believing that millions of people were spoiled and decided not to see it. 3) I'll buy this one. 4) Your opinion, which is yours to have, but not shared by me, anyone I personally know who saw it, fans who have posted an opinion, or critics in general (81% fresh on the tomato meter).
                "That was the law, as set down by Valen. Three castes: worker, religious, warrior."

                Comment


                • #9
                  Occasionally you will run into someone who takes themselves too seriously, and assumes that their opinion is everyone's opinion.

                  And that's all I have to say about this thread.
                  "It's hard being an evil genius when everybody else is so stupid." -- Quantum Crook, Casey and Andy Webcomic

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Doom Shepherd View Post
                    Occasionally you will run into someone who takes themselves too seriously, and assumes that their opinion is everyone's opinion.

                    And that's all I have to say about this thread.

                    Says the guy, posting on a message board.

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                    • #11
                      Children...play nicely.

                      Yes, maybe it's obvious that each of us is stating our opinion but it's polite to remember to insert the words "I think", "In my opinion", and all the rest of that sort of thing.

                      And NEVER make personal remarks.

                      Remember, Jan hates putting on the Moderator Hat.

                      "We thank you for your support."

                      Jan
                      Friendly neighborhood moderator
                      "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Jan View Post
                        Remember, Jan hates putting on the Moderator Hat.
                        But it does look good on you.
                        The Optimist: The glass is half full
                        The Pessimist: The glass is half empty
                        The Engineer: The glass is twice as big as it needs to be

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Garibaldi's Hair View Post
                          But it does look good on you.
                          Flatterer! Okay, fine, it goes with my eyes but I still hate it so don't you think about misbehaving just so you can see me in it!

                          Jan
                          "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Just in case anyone else is interested in more of Book's backstory:

                            http://www.amazon.com/Serenity-Sheph...f=pd_rhf_p_t_1

                            This is the graphic novel. It's a good story!

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                            • #15
                              I loved Firefly deeply and profoundly, but a combination of listening to the audio commentaries and watching Serenity has actually forced me to reach the conclusion that it was a good thing that there was studio interference and that the show was cancelled before Whedon could ruin it.

                              Whedon does have some real talents, but they're marred by his belief in the Bad Writer 101 ClichÚs that so many people in Hollywood are so enthralled by. Like that mantra about stories being all about conflict, which results in Whedon bending his wonderful characters all out of shape to make them fight each other, because he believes this makes his show "dark" and "deep" - when in fact the real depth of the show came from its exploration of community, of creating new families, of friendship.

                              And then, of course, there is his obsession with killing off characters "to show how high the stakes are" and other such nonsense. Which is just sad, because several episodes of Firefly managed to be a thousand times more heartbreaking and shocking than Serenity without random character deaths.

                              (Note that I'm not opposed to character deaths or conflict. But these are tools, not principles.)

                              I'm glad Firefly didn't become another Battlestar Galactica.
                              Jonas Kyratzes | Lands of Dream

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