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The Film Serenity Only.
Watching Serenity without ever having seen the series Firefly, I have come to the following conclusion: Don't watch Serenity without first watching Firefly!

It really makes all the difference. With no knowledge of the plot or story of the series, I went into Serenity completely unaware of what to expect. The film is thankfully straight forward enough in exposition and story to make Serenity understandable to the outsider. Unfortunately, nothing else works. Fans of the series will love Serenity's quirky dialogue, larger-then-life characters and boisterous action. I hated it for all those reasons. Occasionally the dialogue was funny, but more often then not it sounded stupid to the extent that I'd write the whole script off as a dreadful case of Narm. Fans may treat every repartee or exclamation as a crowning moment of awesome, but I was appalled when confronted with lines like this:
The Operative: Do you know what your sin is, Mal?
Mal: Aw, hell...I'm a fan of all seven.
[Mal headbutts the Operative and pulls the sword out.]

Then there is the issue of the villain. The Operative (perhaps better known as Lando) along with the Empire Alliance, is largely evil just for the sake of it, elaborately murdering defenceless scientists, drugging little children, and murdering colonies. Most of it seemed completely pointless. The actor was doing his best to make the Operative intimidating, but his character's excessive behaviour and pretentious dialogue completely undercut any chance of him being perceived as threatening. Even the little mad girl, Rivers, came across as more intimidating (and for good reason). They say a flick is only as good as it's villain. The Operative sucked. Do the math.

I can't stress how much difference it will make, watching the series first. Outsiders like me will not empathise in the slightest with the characters or the story without first getting to know the character progression throughout the series. If you are a Fan of Firefly, you'll probably love the film. If you aren't, you'll absolutely hate it.

They say a flick is only as good as it's villain

Who says that?

comment #454 BringTheNoise 18th Jun 09 (edited by: LeighSabio)
Roger Ebert I believe.
comment #456 maninahat 18th Jun 09
As a counter point to the above, I saw the film first and absolutly loved it. Didn't see the series itself untill much, much later. Film's better if you've seen the series, but it's still great otherwise.
comment #458 81.103.50.226 18th Jun 09
I agree. I like honest people.
comment #465 alcatrazz 19th Jun 09
He may have been a defenseless scientist but he sure wasn't no innocent scientist. He was a Torture Technician and a Dirty Coward.

In any case it was a Karmic Death. The man's job was to build people like the Operative. For all we know the Operative could easily have been one of his earlier "students"
comment #502 76.115.13.222 28th Jun 09
Besides his sin really was pride. It's hard to see what else could make him treat a little girl as a lab rat.
comment #504 76.115.13.222 28th Jun 09
I'd have to disagree - I saw the movie first, and only tracked the series down later. Although I'd already heard of a few of the ideas, like the Reavers, from this site.
comment #550 124.187.98.167 6th Jul 09
I saw the movie first as well, although in my case I didn't track down the series so much as recieve it as a gift, although I had also heard a few of the ideas from Slashdot(as I hadn't heard of this site yet)
comment #553 WilliamWideWeb 6th Jul 09
your issue with the operative i think is a little skewed by a misunderstanding of the character, he doesn't do evil things for the sake of doing evil things, he believes that the greater good of the future is worth the price of evil action in the present. as a result he commits horrible acts without pausing becasue no matter what he is doing he believes he is right in doing so. when Mal calls him on his actions saying "So me and mine gotta die so you can live in your perfect world?" he replies "I'm not going to live there, theres no place for me there." He sacrifics morallity and even a sense of self (he doesnt actually have a name) to make a better world for others.
comment #586 99.254.234.251 12th Jul 09
I would disagree with Ebert. All of the Firefly arc including the movie ran on it's heros. They had very good characters and good interaction.

As for the Operative I think they could have done him better and made him more of a Magnificent Bastard. I think he depended more on his mooks then a super assassin should and this caused a bit of Villain Decay . Too bad.
comment #783 jason taylor 11th Aug 09 (edited by: jason taylor)
I saw the movie before the TV series, and I agree with the review. A 90-pound girl who spends all of her time wangsting can kill a room full of reavers who have just taken out the rest of her nakama? coughAngstySuecough Don't get me wrong, though. I'm a fan of Firefly, but the movie is narmy without the context of the show. You have to see all of River's struggles, and what the others sacrifice to protect her, before you can appreciate the CMOA at the end of Serenity. Otherwise, it just seems like a dues ex machina.
comment #835 whatjusthappened 17th Aug 09
I saw the movie first, although I did some research about the series before watching it. It was very enjoyable and singlehandedly convinced me to buy the series on DVD. Going back to watch it later, I realize that while I missed some of the Continuity Nods, the characters themselves are easy enough to appreciate: the roguish captain, refugee doctor, messed up girl, flaky pilot, Action Girl, Heroic Sociopath, and classy courtesan. Together they reveal The Truth to the masses and win a moral victory over the oppressive Evil Empire.
comment #853 Fighteer 19th Aug 09
"A 90-pound girl who spends all of her time wangsting can kill a room full of reavers who have just taken out the rest of her nakama? coughAngstySuecough"

Yeah, I agree. Just quit whining and wangsting already! So, you were tortured to insanity and people are trying to recapture you and kill your brother. Oh boo-hoo, I'm soooooo sorry. People have had worse days!
comment #859 LeighSabio 20th Aug 09 (edited by: LeighSabio)
I think he was talking about the total implausibility.
comment #860 Mr. Lostman 20th Aug 09
I just saw the film without watching the show, and I enjoyed it immensely! All those lines didn't seem narmy, and I was laughing at most of the jokes. It's going to be weird seeing Alan Tudyk on the show, though, knowing he got wasted near the end of the movie.

But, more than anything, Serenity made me want to watch Firefly even more. I wish I had money, or a faster computer, cause I so want to see it now.
comment #927 Roker 4th Sep 09
I saw the film first without knowing Firefly, or Joss Whedon for that matter, even existed. I then saw it two more times and hungrily searched the series out.
comment #1139 TakerFoxx 14th Oct 09
I also saw the film without knowing about Firefly. I loved it. I then waited months to get my hands on Firefly. It totally failed to live up to my expectations, so I pretty much hated it. I know it was meant to be a Space Western, but overall it seemed that when the story was set in space the episode would be pure sci-fi, if they landed on a planet it'd be a straight Western. With a spaceship. Not particularly cohesive genre-blending.That I was told it was one of the greatest shows ever made was probably counterproductive.

Incidentally, the Operative is one of my favourite villains. He was not evil for the sake of being evil at all. As he constantly reiterated, he was trying to make a better world. He just used utterly ruthless methods.
comment #1140 Xi Whoeverski 14th Oct 09
I saw the movie after having seen the first episode of the show when it first aired. I remembered thinking the show was kinda interesting, but I think the reason I never watched it was because it came on on Fridays and I was in high school. The thing I remembered most from the show was the plot with the crazy telepathic girl and her brother, which I thought was one of the most interesting aspects of the story, but I wasn't familiar with anything else and I picked up on everything in the movie quick enough.

I remember liking the movie, but it's been a while since I saw it, and I honestly don't remember a whole lot from it. I decided recently that I would check out the show and watched the first two episodes online (and was confused that the first one wasn't the same one that I saw on TV, and I read on this website about how apparently they got the order wrong or something). My thoughts on the show were similar to my thoughts on the movie. Space Opera isn't really my thing, but I like that it's funny, and the most interesting plotlines are Simon&River and the Reavers. The humor is a bit over the top at times, and one thing that I thought about that I remember thinking about when I watched the movie was that it's hard to care about River as a character since she doesn't have much of a personality (being crazy and all). What would be interesting is if we got to see what River was like before, therefore we could see why we should sympathize with her as a character, and also understand why Simon cares so much about her. Presumably we do get to see some of her in flashbacks later in the series, I don't know. Like I said, only seen the first two episodes.

Also, the person who commented before me hit on something else that struck me about the show. I find that the problem with a lot of genre-blending fantasy/scifi is that the blending tends to be kind of scattered, and that is true for this show. It doesn't really work as a combination of genres. The characters are vaguely like western archetypes and talk like cowboys, but the setting is squarely space opera, and the shots of open space overlayed with western music are rather jarring.
comment #1143 24.211.187.98 17th Oct 09
I saw the movie as a high school freshman having never even heard of the show. I didn't even watch TV back when Firefly was on. I loved Serenity and went about the business of watching Firefly relatively soon afterward. I loved it too, though it definitely helps to watch Firefly before Serenity if possible.

I could throw in my critical opinion and arguments with what other people have said here, but I'm not a very good critic and I don't feel like arguing, so I won't. Well, except for one statement: I have an unusually high tolerance for narm and imperfect genre blending.
comment #1245 frog753 8th Nov 09
"What would be interesting is if we got to see what River was like before, therefore we could see why we should sympathize with her as a character, and also understand why Simon cares so much about her."

Aside from the fact that duty can induce a care of it's own and the fact that if you give up your whole life for someone you are going to take extra care of her, I always thought it was because he was lonely. He always acted lonely, he was likely lonely before. And just maybe, River had been the only one that really understood him.
comment #1387 jason taylor 27th Nov 09 (edited by: jason taylor)
"Also, the person who commented before me hit on something else that struck me about the show. I find that the problem with a lot of genre-blending fantasy/scifi is that the blending tends to be kind of scattered, and that is true for this show. It doesn't really work as a combination of genres. The characters are vaguely like western archetypes and talk like cowboys, but the setting is squarely space opera, and the shots of open space overlayed with western music are rather jarring."

Well many western archetypes are transplantable and even existed long before westerns. For one thing The Old West was never the only semi-civilized frontier area, it is just the most famous. And Space Opera will often tend to overlap with westerns for that reason. Focusing on frontier=western is paradoxically Americanocentric and gives Americans too little credit at the same time. It is the former because others have frontiers to. It is the later because in many ways the Western is our own adaptation of the theme is our native folkmyth, and is to us what the sagas are to Iceland.

As for the accents, etc, while those are rather blatantly drawn from Westerns. Either you take them or leave them.
comment #1388 jason taylor 27th Nov 09 (edited by: jason taylor)
As someone who also saw the movie before the show, or having ever heard of Joss Whedon, I can say that I liked the movie more than the show. The movie was fun for me even though there were some continuity things I didn't understand, it was fast-paced and action oriented which I enjoyed. Once I heard the show I couldn't wait to see it.

Then I watched the show on Hulu, and was very disappointed. I found it very tedious and slow paced. Too me it was just meh, neither good or bad, just meh. Also having gotten on this sight the sheer trope overdose of Firefly has given me quite the [1]. So all in all still like the movie don't like the show.
comment #5052 MaggieDynamo 5th Nov 10
@ takerfox

are you me man?, because that's pretty much what happened, although i can understand why someone would feel like the review said.

but i always thought that most of them were Aceptable Braks from reality
comment #5195 juancarlos11 21st Nov 10
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