Friday, September 30, 2005

Serenity at last!

It's opening night! Yippee!

Other people's obsessions seldom make sense to us. We see someone collect 19th-century waistcoat buttons or build the Taj Mahal from Popsicle sticks and shake our heads. So when I knew one Observer reader had spent $450 to attend a sneak preview of "Serenity" - that's an overnight trip to Atlanta, an unpaid day off and a scalped $50 ticket - I wondered, "What kind of movie inspires such deranged adoration?"

Local reviewer Lawrence Toppman climbs onto the Joss Whedon bandwagon after watching Serenity.

It probably isn't fair to Joss Whedon's "Serenity" to say that this unassuming science-fiction adventure is superior in almost every respect to George Lucas's aggressively more ambitious "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith." But who cares about fair when there is fun to be had? Scene for scene, "Serenity" is more engaging and certainly better written and acted than any of Mr. Lucas's recent screen entertainments. Mr. Whedon isn't aiming to conquer the pop-culture universe with a branded mythology; he just wants us to hitch a ride to a galaxy far, far away and have a good time. The journey is the message, not him.

Manohla Dargis reviews Serenity for the New York Times.

Making his feature debut as writer and director, Whedon fashions a story line that slyly mirrors his own efforts to keep his short-lived show Firefly alive. Serenity focuses on the struggles of a ragtag band of outsiders trying desperately to get a high-tech videotape played on intergalactic television. The Alliance will do anything to keep it off the air, including murdering the only independent broadcaster in the 'verse. The film, right down to the tagline ("You can't stop the signal"), is one big middle finger to Fox TV executives.

Matt Singer weighs in for the Village Voice.

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