BIG. DAMN. MOVIE!!
As the hour approached, more and more suits and other working people walked around, they had some video cameras and took shots of the waiting fans, some of them got briefly interviewed and we heard that stuff was going to be on the DVD as an extra. Cool beans. We should go in slo-mo and see ourselves standing there, hehe.
Now, as we hoped, we got to see some familiar faces, and we got lucky: we got The Joss himself, AND Summer Glau who both naturally were greeted with a roaring, standing ovation. Summer was all giddy and nervous and a little overwhelmed. Joss had the usual happy expression he gets when he knows he's surrounded by people who get his work and love it. He got a mike and made a small intro about, well... the big movie intro he did that we were about to see. He explained all screenings had that since not all screenings had the real him there. He said the 'movie-him' was more eloquent than the 'real him'. Then he said Summer had been talking some 'real dirt' about us right before she came in and with a grin, handed the mike to her.
Summer was adorable. Her voice was a little shaky and she didn't know what to say but said it anyway! She was happy to be there, so happy we'd all come, she hadn't seen the movie in quite a while herself and it would feel like the first viewing to her tonight. She was all giddy and excited and we all fell a little bit in love.
Then Joss' was on the big screen in the intro which I sincerely hope will be on the DVD because it was as profound, touching and FUNNY as Joss can be. How Firefly was hailed by critics as one of the most 'canceled shows in history' and how the people that worked on it and the people that watched it (Which, he added, was 'roughly the same number') couldn't let go and that without fan support they never would've gotten this far. How all those people who watched, or later got the DVD (which of course was a BIG number) and everyone who loved it let it be known. The fans helping out, making sites, having stands at cons, etc. how they all, along with Joss and the actors themselves, 'hoped beyond reason'.
He knew that to most people, they were called 'obsessive' but to him they were 'Browncoats'. (There was definite pride in his voice there) He said this doesn't happen, movies being made of canceled shows. This was thanks to us, and it was really OUR movie.
Then, he dryly added, 'so if it SUCKS, it's really YOUR fault.' which got huge laughs. Great little speech overall. Lots of laughs and applause throughout and at the end....
NOW ABOUT THAT MOVIE THING...
Okay I know zillions of people will be posting so I doubt this matters much, but I gotta write this. It's spoiler free so don't worry. I'll go over some of the points I think I worth mentioning. This is spoiler free, since I just don't know how to 'gently spoil' and not just tell the whole movie if I do....
THE WRITING: (FOR FANS OR MAINSTREAM?)
Okay, as the script goes, this is Joss at his best. The dialogue is to die for and his trademark humor, usually mangled and misunderstood by other movie directors and other actors, SHINES here. I think for the uninitiated it's going to be one of the biggest plusses of the movies. It's so sharp, so funny, so unexpected at so many turns.... Gawd the man can write. And he can make you laugh.
About the fans vs. mainstream thing overall... well as a fan I was tickled pink so I doubt there are a lot of problems there. Yes the movie does continue our beloved story, yes there's some introduction stuff to things we already know, but it's done so fluently, you don't mind. There's really no scene you've seen before and the conversations sound natural while doing their explaining.
It's hard for me to imagine being completely new to this, but it really should all be clear. We fans will obviously have a deeper sense of the relationships and such but everything you need to know is up there. I heard a complaint about the plot being too convoluted last week and it's nonsense. It's simply not by the usual standard formula. This isn't 'we-had-3-ideas-and-stretch-them. And it shows. The dots connect and make sense. If you don't get it you're either an idiot or just too lazy to pay attention. Period.
The plot is very rich, in the sense that it doesn't linger or drag out concepts. (One of the things I always loved about Joss' shows too). He doesn't milk something out for half the movie, the developments keep coming and surprises keep popping up. This is NOT a lazy script.
Joss has always been good with getting a LOT of info across in very little time without making it too heavy on exposition. The careful placing of lines, looks on faces, tones in voices, tell volumes about plot, people, their relationships etc. He really worked his butt off on this and it shows! Truly great, great script.
THE STORY AND THE CHARACTERS
The characters are the same as in the show, but.....bigger. Hard to explain. Joss knows what you can do in a movie that you can't do on TV and uses that new wriggling room. Everyone even looks and is more....just more. Their faces, the structure of them, their personalities.... When Mal is ragged and angry he looks more ragged and angry than you've ever seen him! Jayne looks leaner and tougher. Summer looks....well amazing. Joss really loves pointing the camera at her and really knows how to shoot her. When there's fights, people are ROUGHED UP. They are battered and bloody and it looks painful! Not in the usual hollywood way.
It's true what many already said; main focus is Mal as lead and the main plot is about River. But everyone has their moments to shine. And there are many, many, many great moments in this movie. The type of 'moments' I know will come when it says 'written and directed by Joss Whedon'. The timing of those moments, the humor in them, the sheer coolness of certain shots when no one speaks, this kicked my butt....
Oh yes and the Alliance guy you've seen in the trailer? Not really nearly as much like Mr Early as you might suspect on the surface. Truly great antagonist and how his and Mal's character arcs work and relate to each other's is the thematic heart of the movie. What was said in another review about that theme being belief is true. And it's handled superbly, like Joss does...
Do we need to wonder? Great all around. Mal and Summer especially shine. Nathan truly should be the next Harrison Ford, but the world probably doesn't have that much justice left. Summer is Joss' discovery (Remember 'Waiting in the Wings'?) and he knows what he found! I'm beginning to wonder if there's anything she CAN'T do. Those fight scenes were amazing. Her being a dancer obviously helped but still.....truly great work. And every time she's lit in that mysterious way and she looks up with those eyes, I felt a little tingle. Not just talking beauty here, it's also the way River as a character is both wondrous, mysterious and by times, scary as hell.
Everyone else is as good as you'd want them to be. Really all I can say.
JOSS BIG DAMN MOVIE DIRECTOR?
Yes. I was curious to see. Remember this is the first time he directs for the big screen, but I think not the last. (Okay he's doing Wonder Woman so I KNOW it's not the last but you get my drift) He really knows how to tell a story as we already were aware, but he also really knows how to think bigger for the big screen. He also has a great eye for what are simply beautiful shots, especially on Mal and River. What also pleasantly surprised me were his action scenes. We've all seen River's fighting shots in the trailer. Well, there's quite some fighting to be done (by many people;-) and it's amazingly fluent, how it's shot. It looks real in the sense that he avoids that feeling you get from other movies when it's so clear that opponents just wait, line up, and attack in order just to get slapped down. Rarely have I seen shots of one-against-many where it seems believable that the fight goes like this and is not due to the 'politness' of the opponent's convenient attack.
SO HOW DOES IT LOOK?
Well not like a Sci-Fi movie channel movie-of-the-week! I don't remember who suggested that last week but he must be getting a different Sci-Fi channel than I do! (I saw a bit of 'Man-Thing' and I'm STILL laughing my head off) This looks great. As pure SF, the space shots are everything you'd expect of a theatrical release. I can honestly say I didn't really notice any missing FX. I was so wrapped up in the story I really forgot to look and nothing jumped out at me. There was a certain 'rawness' to the images and it was a little grainy, but that could be because it's not fully gone through post-production yet, or it could be that it's partially a deliberate artistic choice on Joss' part. I'll be curious to see that come September. It works, regardless.
SO HOW ABOUT THEM REAVERS?
Yeah there in there alright! A LOT! And Joss gives people in the movie the same aura of pure naked fear whenever they're mentioned. The reasons WHY are also made very clear. They're also important plot points which was a surprise. Yes you do see them, but that's actually still the least important thing about them if that makes any sense.
ANY BIG SURPRISES?
Yes. Lots of little ones, and more than a few big ones. There are really some moments here where your mouth drops and your brain goes 'did that really just happen.....????' And the answer is yes. It did. No fake moments here. No cop-outs. And you're gonna be shocked.... Be prepared.
AFTER THE SHOW (And after one hell of a standing ovation)
Joss and Summer stuck around to sign already made Serenity prints which was really cool. I told Summer I thought she was amazing and she said 'thank you' in such a shy, hushed voice as she looked down in an adorable kind-of-embarrassed way, I melted a little. (And man she is tiny!) I said to Joss that I had a feeling writing this script probably took a LOT out of him and he laughed and pulled a very tired face at me while his eyes rolled back and he pretended to black out. Then he softly sad 'You have no idea!' We basked a few moments in the presence of The Joss, took some pics and left with big fat grins on our faces. Hell, the cameras were out again and this was Joss himself so we might have a chance when we look for our faces on the DVD extra, hehe.
Great, great evening. Completely worth the drive... Everyone go see this movie.