Joss Whedon really is a talented bastard.
Not content with creating the Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel phenomenon he went one better by creating a great but ultimately doomed Sci Fi show called Firefly. Doomed because he foolishly gave American television an intelligent character driven series at a time when they were much more interested in 'creating' lowest common denominator shows. Firefly was only ever partly aired and even then in the wrong order - TV executives not really understanding that whole story arc thing - before it was cancelled. Then a funny thing happened. The DVD sold like hot cakes filled with crack cocaine.
Universal showed they had much bigger balls than FOX and took the 'failed' show and Joss under their wing and financed a movie. Since then nothing about Serenity has been normal and in the way that the DVD sales have forced a discussion about the future of how TV is made and distributed, so too has the irregular marketing campaign for the movie also set a few firsts. Last night's screening in London happened at the same time as screenings in Birmingham, Manchester and Dublin. This was the first time outside of the Edinburgh Festival that the final finished cut of the movie has been shown and the fans were out in force.
We were on hand to be interviewed by geeks with iPod dictaphone attachments, watch shy nerds meet up for the first time offline and be thankful that no one showed up in costume.
We got a nice thank you from the UIP rep and then a filmed introduction from Joss Whedon before the movie started.
Once the film was over in wandered Joss Whedon with his leading lady, Summer Glau for a little unscheduled Q&A.
Spare a thought for the staff at the West End VUE who are probably still trying to get the stains off the seats in Screen 2.
As for the film itself, if you haven't seen Firefly at all then it works really well as a stand alone movie BUT you will miss a hell of an emotional punch once things get past the half way point. If you've never seen the benefits of buying TV on DVD then we'd urge you to reconsider and check out the Firefly box set. The movie only opens in October so there's plenty of time for terrestrial TV to get its act together and show the damn thing - it's a LOT better than Lost for example. In fact the final part 'Objects in Space' is about as perfect as television ever gets and it's not even our favourite episode.
Those enlightened souls who have already familiarised themselves with the show are in for a hell of a treat once this opens.
Transferring mediums usually means a certain amount of dilution and change resulting in something new that fails both the original fans and the new audience. Whedon manages to pull off a neat trick here by remaining true to the heart of the show without alienating newcomers. Universal has backed him to the hilt and the full cast is back. He did mention afterwards that they asked for a really famous actor to play the bad guy - instead because they had a relatively small budget they simply went for the best actor around instead. Chiwetel Ejiofor nails this part - in fact he's almost the best thing in the movie.
There's a political element to the action that is nicely done amidst the explosions and mayhem, but as with the show everything here is about the characters. Whedon can write which puts Serenity way ahead of most films released this year. We're not going to go into ANY detail because we know we'll be hunted down and reaved if we spoil things, but we can feel very satisfied that we asked the first question of the night:
Londonist: Do you find it easy killing off cast members
Joss Whedon: Have you ever seen my stuff?
We'd love to reveal the rest of the answer and the rest of the Q&A in detail, but it was all too spoilerific. Be satisfied that if you're still mourning Tara from Buffy then watching Serenity isn't going to make you feel any better...