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chris the cynic
10-01-2005, 02:05 PM
I hope this is all right to put here, Iím not trying to spam advertise or anything I just feel like sharing good stuff. Normally I wouldnít do this but two things make me think itís ok. One is that a while back the news linked to a Babylon 5 page, so I donít think the mod team is against mentioning other sci-fi, the other is that it seems a lot of Star Wars fans are liking the movie (a lot more than the prequels.)

The movie Serenity has come out in the US and will be coming out soon in the UK, Iíd like to leave this at, ďItís good, go see it,Ē but since when does that motivate a person?

Hereís what some professional reviewers have said with relation to Star Wars:

Scene for scene Serenity is more engaging and certainly better written and acted than any of Mr. Lucas's recent screen entertainments.

George Lucas could learn a thing or two from Whedon. Serenity flies with sass and spirit, qualities that have been in palpably short supply in that Star Wars series since, well, Star Wars

"Serenity" does for serious Lucas fans what Lucas hasn't done for them lately.
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Notice that these people are not bashing Star Wars. Well maybe the first one is, but the other two are saying that (the original) Star Wars is great and Serenity is more on par with it than the prequels were.

Other people didnít feel the need to compare it to Star Wars but still said good things.

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What makes it worth watching is the characters, which I think is the same for Star Wars. After all, who among us would have liked the Trilogy if it were simply a bunch of 2-d characters with no complexity running around destroying two super weapons and learning telekinesis?

As for the setting the simple version is that it is in a new solar system, after the world was ditched because of lack of natural resources (and a solar system with a lot of worlds and moons that could be made habitable was picked out) about six years after a civil war. And a small crew is being stepped on by things much bigger than itself. Sounds stereotypical I know, but so does everything else when you hear the simple version.

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A long version of what the movie gets across very, very quickly:

The war was the central planets expanding their rule to include the worlds on the frontier. This isnít an evil fascist empire out to rule the universe though, this is people who had medicine, technology and superior education trying to spread civilization to those who lack that stuff. Didnít make the ones being taken over like it very much though.

The reason behind the technological difference is a realism seldom seen in science fiction movies.

In real life, as some of you probably know, the most realistic plan for setting up a colony on Mars involves mud huts instead of fancy buildings. It simply costs a lot of money to bring stuff, and that isnít just true of buildings. As such a newly colonized planet would be more likely to have horses than trucks, and cattle than some complex food manufacture. (Remember how they rode beasts of burden in the Star Wars movies and Lukeís uncle farmed water?)

The result of this is that those on the planets more recently colonized donít have as much technology, medicine or time for education because theyíre worried about staying alive. That is probably why they lost the war. The film is not about rebels trying to fight the new government though, itís about people trying to survive (and, yes, being forced to fight part of that government as a result.)

Also there is another group called Reavers. They are not aliens, there are no aliens in Serenity, however they are what most would call inhuman. They rape and eat anyone they can do that to, and cut up their own bodies as well. These are not nice people. There are some theories as to how people could become like that, and some simply think they are bogeymen that donít exist.

So thatís the political and economic situation that the film manages to communicate clearly in minutes. The reason I just took five paragraphs explaining it is that itís important to understand the depth of the world shown. The Alliance (a parliamentary government) is no more an evil fascist empire than Han Solo is a mindless criminal thug. However it does have its darker parts, and the film is driven by one of those parts.

That particular part involved experiments done on a young prodigy who has been hiding aboard Serenity (a small time transport vessel where the crew does jobs legal and not) for about 8 months. Once again, sounds stereotypical I know, but you wonít find simple cardboard cutouts of situations and characters. I suppose if you went to it without paying attention you might though.

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If you have not gotten the message from my rant yet, here it is: Watch Serenity.

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I'm so bad at explaining things I'm afraid I might make people think it's nowhere near as good as it really is.

ewok mercenary
10-01-2005, 07:23 PM
Being in the UK, I haven't yet watched Serenity, but I finally got around to watching a few episodes of Firefly recently, and enjoyed them muchly. :)

In real life, as some of you probably know, the most realistic plan for setting up a colony on Mars involves mud huts instead of fancy buildings.

I personally wouldn't trust mud huts to provide an environment in which humans could survive without a pressure suit. :P

chris the cynic
10-01-2005, 08:51 PM
Being in the UK, I haven't yet watched Serenity, but I finally got around to watching a few episodes of Firefly recently, and enjoyed them muchly. :)I am happy for you, it will be out there soon

I personally wouldn't trust mud huts to provide an environment in which humans could survive without a pressure suit. :PNor would I, but it is of course more complex than that. The basic point is that it is very low tech. I haven't heard much of it in a long time, but it was pretty interesting as I recall. The way you could start with a simple concept (dirt in bags reinforced with loose dirt) and make it air tight and able to survive anything conceivable on Mars with a bare minimum of technology is amazing.

Simplicity is an amazing thing. One of the things in Firefly (and thus Serenity) that I think I forgot to mention is that they donít use lasers. I think thatís a pretty intelligent idea, I like lasers and all but I think it will be a long time before we make a weapon more useful than a rock propelled down a tube by a contained explosion. Guns will last for quite a while.

I liked that in Firefly the crew regarded high tech weapons as crap, and the only working laser (more a novelty gun than anything else), though deadly, proved quite ineffective by running out of power in the middle of a fight.