If You Build It, They Will Come.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Andy, you're a star in nobody's eyes

I just watched tonight's all new episode of Lost, which promised that the fate of all the survivors would be revealed. ABC promised. ABC lied.

During the show there was a commercial for Serenity. Now if you live in my house with my roommates, you know what Serenity is. I live with two big Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans. Buffy was written (as was the original Luke Perry movie as I have just found out) by a guy named Joss Whedon. Joss has written a few episodes of Roseanne, was one of four screenwriters for the original Toy Story (which was written mainly by John Lasseter and Peter Docter), he wrote the unfortunate Alien Ressurection, he did the spinoff show Angel, and has written and directed the soon to be released Serenity. Serenity is a movie version of a Joss Whedon TV show called Firefly that was on FOX for a few episodes before it failed and was cancelled.

The movie comes out on friday. I think it's doomed.

On IMDb, Serenity is listed as an 8.4, which is an amazingly high number. Higher than The Godfather III, The Maltese Falcon, last years best picture Million Dollar Baby, Aliens, A Clockwork Orange, LA Confidential, The Wizard of Oz, Jaws, 2001, Gone With The Wind, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Exorcist, and Return of the Jedi.

Pretty awesome, considering the movie doesn't come out until FRIDAY.

The movie has had prescreenings for a while now, and people left the theater and rated it on IMDb. As of this moment, it has 2,660 out of 3,334 people voting it as a perfect 10. Did you go to one of these fan screenings? Neither did I.

I think there may be some bias in these rankings.

At any rate, back to the Serenity ad. It starts out showing the same joke Serenity trailers always have (which is ALWAYS a bad sign) about the captain asking the other guy if he wants to run the ship, and the guy says yes, to which the captain, obviously thrown off his guard by this response replies, "Well... you can't." But then it goes into the typical of good movies voice over that starts out "New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, USA Today and the LA Times..." but then it takes a very interesting twist, "...have all written about the buzz surrounding Serenity."

Now of course there's a buzz surrounding Serenity. Joss Whedon has an entire legion of fanboys, and they're all over the internet. If you were to go on IMDb, and put forth the opinion that the movie doesn't look good, they will retort with such violent and gruesome imagery that it even makes ME blush. It'd be like going to a Star Trek convention and saying that Gene Roddenberry is kind of lame. They would all set phasers to kill. I'm not sure, but I think they wrote about the buzz because it's frightening.

The other thing you notice though. They started the ad out like they were saying critics really liked it. But they never said that. I've not seen an ad out yet that said anyone really liked this movie. Nobody except 2,660 Whedon fans who already saw it. See, they made it SOUND like they were going to say that, but they didn't. Another sign that it's not that good.

Derek Elley from Variety writes: "Nobody seems to have told Whedon that many U.S. sci-fiers were already Westerns in futuristic dress, and that cross-cultural Eastern-Westerns were invented 40 years ago. What may have seemed fresh on network TV doesn't look quite so fresh on the bigscreen. Still, what makes "Serenity" refreshing is its avoidance of CGI, which gives the pic a much more human dimension; the evident chemistry between the cast; and a humor that doesn't rely simply on flip one-liners. None of these smarts, however, may be enough to satisfy mass auds.... Sets look considerably airier than in the TV series, though Whedon directs his interior sequences in a visually constricted way that shows his small-screen origins. Colors have a mostly dark, unappetizing look that becomes a tad wearisome over two hours, and David Newman's score does the business but never elevates the material."

And Variety was the only reputable and seemingly unbiased critique I could find. Others came from sources like "Moviegeekz" and "Ain't it cool news." I'm never one to buy into critics opinions, frankly, as they say, everyone's a critic. But it makes you a little skeptical when critics have avoided it. You'll find no critics opinions on the cover of Gigli either.

Basically what it comes down to is this. This may be the highest budgeted, best quality, made for TV or straight to DVD movie ever.

Why spend this much time writing about it? I don't know. I got carried away. I may have been too harsh. I know both of my roommates are probably chomping at the bit for friday. Or at least the one with the Serenity sticker on her door is. I sympathize. But relatively unknown cult status material is not something that is going to be accepted by a wide audience. The reason I sympathize is because I was there too.

I'm a MSTie.

I belong to another cultish inside group of nerds who could quote every line from a show, started a tape collection, and generally annoyed the hell out of everyone around me who didn't know what I was talking about. My poison though was Mystery Science Theater 3000.

MST3K was a little underground, it wasn't exactly a pop culture MUST. Same with Firefly. (Although Firefly lasted 11 episodes and MST3K finished 10 seasons and 197 episodes) Similar as well is the fact that MST3K also came out with a movie that played in theaters. Don't remember that? Maybe you were sick that day.

It bombed. And bombed like hardcore. If you have a film that 10,000 people are going to go see opening day because they're such huge fans of the TV show, and no one else has even heard of it... it's going to crash and burn.

There's more fans than that in both groups. You get my point though.

Like I said, I sympathize. But even being a big fan of MST3K, I knew at the time, the movie was a bad idea. Serenity is also a bad idea.

6.1M opening weekend. That's my guess. If I'm wrong, I'll admit it on monday.



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