Home > Film, Opinions (Film) > Film: 30 Movies in 30 Days: Day 06

Film: 30 Movies in 30 Days: Day 06

This post is part of a month-long project, answering thirty topics about movies over thirty days. The subject for the sixth day is:

Favourite made for TV movie

I had trouble even thinking of anything that counts. Being in the UK we don’t quite have a TV movie system, at least not that I can think of. The UK system isn’t quite as rigid as the one in the US seems to be, with its focus on seasons and set numbers of episodes, so we get lots of movie length dramas but they’re not quite TV movies. Some people who participated in this project went with things like Band of Brothers or Angels in America but they seem too long to me (more a mini series), so I’m going to admit defeat and go with a movie of a TV show instead:

Serenity

Serenity

(Click the image for a link to the source)

Serenity was a rare instance of a movie being made out of a TV show that had been cancelled for a few years (and never had particularly impressive ratings). The series itself, Firefly, took its time making its way to the UK, only being broadcast on the UK’s Sci-Fi Channel after Serenity had finished its run at the cinema, and at the time the idea of watching a movie sequel to a series I hadn’t seen just didn’t make sense and I skipped it (Update: A look on Wikipedia tells me that Sci-Fi UK did actually show the series back in 2003 and ran it again to coincide with the film’s release, but apparently didn’t advertise it very well because I never knew). It was only later that year after watching the series (and going through the obligatory outrage that something so great had been cancelled and messed around so much by the network) that I bought Serenity on DVD and loved it as much as the series. In fact I’m struggling to think of a sci-fi film from the 2000s that I enjoyed more.

Picking up a little time after where the series left off, Serenity has the crew once again in a lot of trouble because of their fugitive crew member, River Tam. Subjected to experiments to enhance her physical and mental abilities by the Alliance (the ruling government), River psychically read the mind of a visiting member of the parliament and picked up on a big secret the Alliance doesn’t want anybody to know about. To stop the secret getting out they send the ruthless Operative after River.

As is standard for a Joss Whedon project it’s the characters who really make the film. Mal Reynolds, the stubborn, principled captain of the ship is matched perfectly by the ruthless Operative, who believes the goals of the Alliance are honourable but accepts that they need evil men like him to bring their goals to fruition, and there’s a great piece of dialogue where he makes that clear:

Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: I don’t murder children.
The Operative: I do. If I have to.
Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: Why? Do you even know why they sent you?
The Operative: It’s not my place to ask. I believe in something greater than myself. A better world. A world without sin.
Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: So me and mine gotta lay down and die… so you can live in your better world?
The Operative: I’m not going to live there. There’s no place for me there… any more than there is for you. Malcolm… I’m a monster. What I do is evil. I have no illusions about it, but it must be done.

The rest of the returning crew from the series are as great as ever. The film is funny, intense and exciting, making it all the more disappointing that the film wasn’t much more of a success than the series, only just about making its money back with DVD sales and ensuring the series likely won’t ever return outside of comics.

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  1. July 22, 2010 at 15:40

    Firefly is a tragic story. It’s an incredible TV show with instant chemistry between the actors, but it was canceled way too early. I actually don’t remember the show itself when it was aired on TV. But when I found out about the show, I fell in love with it, and I think it’s a miracle that Serenity was made.

    The film itself is actually pretty amazing. The characters are all amazing, and the fact that Joss isn’t afraid to kill some makes the climax of the movie the more believable and intense — you have no idea who’s going to be the next to go. But I remember when I first saw the movie, there was a clear demarcation in the film, when it wasn’t fun and games anymore. It’s actually the part where the quote you posted comes from. The movie, at that point, enters a very dark place, and it gets darker until the end. I think it’s a very well made movie, and it really is too bad that it basically was made just for the fans of Firefly. I think most people had no clue what this movie was or they probably didn’t even hear about it.

    There probably won’t be another movie, which is sad, but at least there was the one movie. And there are some comics; I’d be grateful if more came out. But I do feel a sense of closure now that Serenity is out. I love seeing a Firefly/Serenity post! Thanks!

    • July 22, 2010 at 17:39

      Thanks for commenting!

      I think Firefly is going to forever live on as a perfect example of when a studio doesn’t understand the product it has. It seems so obvious that it was a great show and that messing around with the episode order would kill it, but somehow Fox managed to miss both those points and gave it no time to build its audience before getting rid of it. It’s bizarre.

      The film definitely does get pretty dark towards the end but I think it’s something Whedon has always handled well. Even though each series he writes is quite light-hearted and features lots of snappy banter and jokes there are always darker elements running through them, and at times there will be storylines that get quite dark indeed and really put the characters through hard times. It’s not something that ever feels out of place, which is actually quite an achievement.

  2. July 24, 2010 at 13:20

    Yes, I definitely agree with you. Life does take us down some dark paths, and Joss knows how far he can push it to stay in the realm of believable (for the most part). And I think Firefly and Dollhouse are two examples of great television shows with great potential that FOX just destroys. I wont’ lie; I wasn’t on board after the first couple episodes of Dollhouse. Then I actually watched the whole season and I saw 1) how amazing it actually was in terms of intellectuality and storytelling ability and 2) I saw INCREDIBLE potential. And I mean supremely awesome potential. That first season opened up so many exciting doors. Then FOX cancels it halfway through the 2nd season, completely oblivious. O boy. I could rant forever about this haha. At least FOX didn’t play Dollhouse out of order. What a complete mess. O well, thanks for the comment back! And I hope to see you around on your and my blog!

  1. July 22, 2010 at 20:04
  2. August 3, 2010 at 15:01
  3. August 4, 2010 at 15:01
  4. August 12, 2010 at 15:02
  5. August 18, 2010 at 16:43
  6. September 16, 2010 at 14:14
  7. April 3, 2011 at 15:51

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