My Entertainment Dollar

At the beginning of the show, Doughty promised we’d all get big value from our entertainment dollar, and I got that this weekend.

First was Serenity on Friday night at the Northgate. It was awesome. Sure, I’d been looking forward to it, but once I actually got there, I was going into it as critical as I get. I wanted to find stuff to complain about, if only to talk about on the internets. And I had nothing to criticize.

The closest I can get to a criticism of the movie is that it’s pretty much all science fiction — the western element of the setting gets a little bit of attention at the beginning, but is quickly lost in everything but the clothes. When you lose the “Western in Space” angle, the characters lose a little bit of their depth, because you can’t see that they’re all twists on archetypes — the embittered war vet who becomes an outlaw, the hooker with the heart of gold, the preacher, the citified doctor, the optimistic prairie girl, the untrustworthy hired gun (Jayne is supposed to be “the Bad,” I think), and the genius psychic girl with superhuman fighting abilities. (All right, that’s not Western, but it’s still a Joss Whedon production.) And the Reavers, who are central to the plot of the movie, stop being “The Injuns.”

All the characters still work, and I think they work well — except for Wash and Inara, who are left a little underdeveloped — but they’re just not as strong as they were in the series. Which is perfectly understandable, because there’s stuff you can do in even 15 hours of a prematurely cancelled TV series that you just can’t do in a 2-hour movie.

And the movie is just great. Not only did it stand up as a movie, but it tied up elements of the series. And the most impressive part about that is that it ties them up without feeling either too pat, too forced, or too final, and it leaves plenty of room to grow. I read a review that said that it felt like an expanded episode of a TV show, which is just bullshit — not only does the movie have a complete arc, but really big, significant stuff happens in it. Not significant in the sense of a series, like the “Star Trek” movies, where they blow up the ship or kill off a character just because they can’t do that on the show but can in a big-budget movie. Significant in the sense of the overall story. I loved that. We got answers to some major elements of the series, but not everything was answered, and there’s no sense of its being over. Just this part of the story is over.

Also, I never would’ve expected a large-scale space battle, and it delivers on that. Until now, the most impressive space battle I’d ever seen in a movie was in Return of the Jedi, and the one in Serenity tops that, not only in the scale and quality of the effects, but in that you actually give a damn what’s going on. It fits in with the plot and it doesn’t feel like a big battle for its own sake because they’ve finally got the budget for it. And it doesn’t suffer from car chase syndrome — usually, when a movie has an action sequence like a car chase, the story just pauses for a while to let you watch a bunch of crashes or explosions or stunts, then picks up again when they’re done.

Now I just have to figure out when to see it again. And maybe a third time.

Saturday was the aforementioned Mike Doughty concert at the Independent in San Francisco. Great show, in particular the stuff he did from Skittish and Rockity Roll was better than on the albums. He did my two favorite songs from Haughty Melodic (“Unsingable Name” and “I Hear the Bells,” in case anyone’s curious), plus his cover of “The Gambler.” Other covers were “Hungry Like the Wolf” and a little bit of “It’s Raining Men” (dude knows how to play a San Francisco crowd, I guess). The only Soul Coughing song he did was “St. Louise is Listening,” which I like better than the original but is still one of my least favorite Soul Coughing songs.

We were noticing that the whole crowd was made up of the people who are usually standing at the back of other concerts. “Lots of people dancing with their hands in their pockets,” said Mac, “and the reflection off all the horn-rimmed glasses must’ve been blinding.”

7 thoughts on “My Entertainment Dollar”

  1. Yay! you liked it! I would have been bummed to log on and see that you’d panned it after I got such a high watching it. Pa and I went to the screening 9am on Saturday (so not the way to see it, but all we could manage sans offspring). We’re going again on Saturday night so as to actually contribute to the numbers. I agree about Wash and Inara, not much there (and they were some of the more interesting characters in the series). On the otherhand, I thought River was a lot less annoying than the series River. Alas, I still didn’t buy her brother. How can someone be a genius/doctor capable of breaking his sister out of a maximum security Alliance facility and still come across as “Skippy” from Family Ties?

  2. I read somebody else say the same thing, but I think Simon’s character works. He wasn’t a total goof, it’s just that for most of the show he was out of his element. They had one episode on the DVDs called “Ariel” where they broke into a medical facility on one of the Alliance planets, and it showed how he was a lot more capable when he was surrounded by something he knew. He just wasn’t a good outlaw.

    And I definitely want to see it again; if y’all are going again then maybe I could tag along.

  3. Yeah, I peed a lot and missed the whole rousing pep rally speech because I was in the bathroom. We both could’ve used Serenity, which would’ve been a brilliant marketing tie-in.

  4. Forgot to say, Cory — sorry about what happened to you in the movie.

    (Because you look exactly like Wash, is what I’m saying. Not because of the peeing.)

  5. People have been telling me that. I guess I’ve got my halloween costume cut out for me. Now where do I find an 8 foot harpoon?

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