I am very tired, but happy. I have much to say. I'll try to organize it in some sort of reasonably coherent fashion, but I can't make any promises.
It was simply a lovely and memorable weekend. Thomas, who is an old college friend of David's, flew into town from Pittsburgh on Friday night just so we could have a little mini-reunion with mumpish and his wife.
Saturday was Movie Day. At 1:10 pm, we saw Serenity. At about 3:18 pm or so, we heard the last bit of music rolling the end credits for the BDM along, and I just felt joyful. It was worth the wait.
At 4:35 pm, we saw MirrorMask (and a tiny girl in a very large Death shirt: Proto-Goth! Her mother told me her plushie Delirium was her favorite toy. I was amused.). Saw, but didn't get to try, Mighty Leaf Tea. Must make a note to do so, if only because I love the name.
After that, we headed to The Melting Pot. Good conversation on wine (I ordered a bottle of Chateau Greysac) accompanied our fondue. Thanks to our kindly bartender, we tried two fondues that weren't on the menu. One was garlic-cheddar and the other was spinach-artichoke. Both were darned tasty. Speaking of the bar, D. and I sampled Hangar One vodka in our martinis. Not bad at all: very soft and velvety. I still prefer Belvedere, though.
The best part for me was just getting together and really spending the day with old friends. We had a delightful time. Like Thomas said, "Good company, good food, good conversation -- what more can you ask for?"
I quite liked MirrorMask. I found it to be arty (almost Dadaist at times), and refreshingly different. I can't universally recommend it to everyone, but it appealed to my quirky side. D. and I both noted that the young woman who played Helena resembled the actress who played Door in Neverwhere. The script is infused with a healthy dose of British humor, and I was quite charmed by the musical mice pictured below:
Serenity: I really liked it. I'd say it beats the tar out of Revenge of the Sith, but, as a co-worker pointed out, that would be damning it with faint praise. :)
It's not perfect: like the ship itself, the script has a few pieces that are bumpy and scraggly, but it still runs and gets where it needs to go. My primary quibble is the bit with Simon and Mal being at each other's throats: it just doesn't sit well with me given the way the series ended. Also, Reaver society doesn't make a lot of sense. The whole chaotic evil bit, in my opinion, doesn't reconcile with them working with one another as a unit (even a squabbling unit) and having this fleet of ships. I guess I can rationalize them as scarier, more bloodthirsty pirates of a sort. In my opinion, these are minor flaws, and they don't really damage my enjoyment of the flick. In fact, I believe Joss has much to be proud of.
I think The Operative was a good and believable villain, though I wasn't surprised by that, given Whedon's ability to write dynamic characters. I wanted Book to have more screen time, not just because I like the character, but also because I was concerned that audience members new to the 'verse wouldn't understand his significance.
I am not all up in arms about the deaths like some fans are. At DragonCon 2004, I heard that at the time they were getting the cast on board for the film, Alan Tudyk had too many professional commitments (most notably, Spamalot) for him to be able to easily commit to a sequel, and that Ron Glass asked to be written out due to some uncertain health issues. While these things both make me sad, they do ring true to me. As far as I'm aware, Joss has never fully written out a major character without that actor asking or needing to leave for one reason or another, -or- it being the end of the entire show. I'm thinking of Seth Green, Kristine Sutherland, Amber Benson, and Emma Caulfield on Buffy, the actor who played Doyle on S1 of Angel, etc. He also usually leaves himself a way to put them back in the game, if need be (Sutherland was in "Conversations With Dead People," and Benson was supposed to be, but it ended up not working out). So, I'm thinking if the timing permits, Tudyk and/or Glass could be back in a flashback or in a dialogue as Mal's conscience or something.
I think Joss cares about and respects his people and his characters far too much to recast them once they've made a definitive mark. Frankly, I deeply appreciate that about him. I wish JMS had left well enough alone with the Ivanova/Lochley step-in.
So, given that he can't have these two actors due to real life issues, what does he do? He makes lemonade out of lemons, using them for very powerful emotional impact. I don't know about you, but at that point, my "oh, he can't kill so and so, he's the star of the show, yadda" cynicism was completely shattered. For the first time in years, I was on the edge of my seat, saying "Holy crap, he's going to kill everyone!" I felt real risk.
Is it what any of us wanted? No. I don't think it's what Joss wanted. He obviously cares about this SO incredibly much: how much do you think it hurt him emotionally to kill those characters off? He wanted to tell Book's story, and killing Wash is killing himself on-screen. You don't think geeky Wash marrying Amazon Zoe is a bit of wish fulfilment? :) Sheesh. I have no doubt that it pained him greatly to go down that road. It hurts. It's supposed to. Like the rep said, something would be wrong if it didn't hurt. But he used what he had to work with to what I think was the best effect possible, and I really respect him for having the courage to go there.
I'm also not freaking out over the first weekend's box office numbers. The per-theater take was higher than that of Flightplan. Jodie Foster's movie was simply in more theaters, and it had the buzz of the previous week's word-of-mouth.
A little optimism, if you will, please: Ebert and Roeper gave our BDM Two Thumbs Up! That's pretty darned good. So, everybody go this weekend and take some friends. I know I've played cheerleader plenty to friends and office mates alike. One of my co-workers is even planning to take her mom. :)
I'll close with a transcript of the message Joss recorded for fans who attended the special preview screenings:
"Hi, my name is Joss Whedon. Before we begin the special screening, I
have a little story I want to tell you. It's about a TV show called Firefly.
Firefly went on the air a few years ago and was instantly hailed by
critics as one of the most cancelled shows of the year. It was ignored
and abandoned, and the story should end there, but it doesn't, because
the people who made the show and the people who saw the show (which
is roughly the same number of people) fell in love with it a
little bit too much to let it go, too much to lay down arms when the
battle looked pretty much lost. In Hollywood, people like that are
called 'unrealistic' ... 'quixotic' ... 'obsessive'.
In my world, they're called 'Browncoats'.
Whether you've watched the show, or saw the DVDs, or whether you've
never set foot in the Firefly universe before tonight, the fact that
you're here means that you are part of something...something that is a
little bit remarkable. This movie should not exist. Failed TV shows
don't get made into major motion pictures unless the creator, the
cast, and the fans believe beyond reason.
It's what I've felt. It's what I've seen...in the DVD sales, the
booths at the cons run by fans, the websites, the fundraisers... all
the work the fans have done to help make this movie. It is, in an
unprecedented sense, your movie...which means, if it sucks, it's your
fault. You let us down, but let's not dwell on your failures because
the work is not done.
I have to finish making it. [This is] Obviously not quite the final cut and you
will notice some placeholders in music and effects, but we're very
close. Once we are finished, we have to get people to see it. Now,
obviously the studio is going to do their thing. There will be ads and
trailers and all that joy, but this movie doesn't have stars and it
doesn't have a giant mega-budget or even a simple salable premise.
What it has is us, the people who believed unreasonably.
If this movie matters to you, let somebody know. Let everybody know
Make yourselves heard. If you don't like the movie, this is a time for
quiet, silent contemplation. But, when the unfinished credits roll, if
you still call yourself a Browncoat, remember the millions of people
who don't...who might.
I want us to do this together. The cast is going to be appearing
wherever they can. I'm going to be blogging and stumping and whatever
I can think of. We've got Can'tStopTheSignal.com up and running...I'm
fairly certain. We're all doing everything we can to make this the
event that it should be.
Just remember, they tried to kill us...they did kill us...and here we
are. We have done the impossible, and that makes us mighty. Thank you
for helping to get this movie as far as it has gotten.
Welcome to Serenity."
I'm going to see it again. Every year in Hollywood, crap gets made for audiences comprised of the lowest common denominator, which I find insulting. My husband teases me about being very selective about what I bother seeing in the theater, but the fact is, the majority of movies made today aren't worth the celluloid they're on. We get umpteen Friday the 13th sequels, but we have to fight to get one single film like Serenity made. Fine, I'll keep fighting, because to me, it's worth it. I'll buy some more tickets and keep spreading the word. I may well buy another set of the DVDs so we can finally have a "loaner" copy. I'll do what I can, because I want more.
It's frustrating, though. I am tired of having to lobby the networks to keep shows that I enjoy on the air. I'm tired of stories not getting told the way they were meant to be told because of short-sighted executives (Alias, Twin Peaks, Babylon 5, Firefly), problems with actors (Alias, Bab 5, Stargate SG-1), off-screen liaisons and romantic burnouts (Alias), and other factors. Yeah, I know: it's life. Doesn't mean I have to like it.
Still, with Serenity, we have a second chance. No, the story won't be told the way we wanted it told, but it's better than getting nothing at all. So, I'll keep fighting. I hope you will, too.