Movie Review – Serenity


Directed by Joss Whedon

Starring Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, Adam Baldwin, Jewel Staite, Sean Maher, Summer Glau, Ron Glass, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and David Krumholtz.

So I’m a latecomer to this whole Firefly thing.  When the show was having its incredibly brief run, I was teaching English in Japan, and making due with geeked-out online reviews of every episode.  I didn’t get to sample it until a little over a year ago, when Space: the Imagination Station started showing it in reruns.  And you know what?  I liked what I saw.  It took me a while to pick up on the whole concept of “a western in space,” but once I did, I got into it.  Granted, I’m not a ravenous fan, but I was enough of a fan to go check out its rebirth as a feature film, Serenity.

500 years in the future, the human race has colonized a neighbouring solar system, and its ruled by the Alliance.  Now, the Alliance has done some nasty experiments to people, trying to create super-soldiers and all that, and the result was one very messed-up girl named River Tam.  River was eventually rescued by her brother Simon, and ever since, they’ve been hiding out on the cargo ship Serenity, headed up by Captain Malcolm Reynolds and his ragtag group of roughnecks.  They do all sorts of jobs to make their living in the universe – most of it illegal.  But, this movie tends to focus on River.  See, one of her powers was that she’s now telepathic, and as she was being shown off to some higher-up government officials, she accidentally read some minds that she shouldn’t have, and now she knows too much.  And now, the Alliance has dispatched a shadowy figure known only as “the Operative” to find and silence River Tam once and for all.  And before you know it, Malcolm, his ship, and his crew, and thrown into the midst of a galactic conspiracy that threatens the very fate of the universe.  Can they uncover the conspiracy and escape from the Operative before it’s too late?

First, the bad news.  As a sci-fi film, this really offers up nothing new and dramatic in the way of a plot.  It’s a fairly routine conspiracy-type thing that we’ve seen before.  But the good news is very good news.  The dialogue is incredibly sharp.  There is a very wicked sense of humour to these characters who always find a way to crack wise in the darkest of situations.  (One of the best parts of the show, too.)  A friend saw the trailer and remarked that the dialogue was little more than “geeks in space,” and I guess that’s a fair description.  The movie also moves amazingly fast. (Whedon mentioned that this film does encompass the broad mythology he had planned for the show – compressed into 2 hours.)  It’s just so frickin’ fun.  And quotable.  It’s also surprisingly scary in some points.  (The Reavers, cannibalistic savages who roam the spaceways, figure prominently in the plot.)  But this is a very enjoyable, very fun movie.  You don’t have to have seen Firefly to enjoy it…but it helps.

3 Nibs


Lucky There’s a Family Guy

Chaos in Print

I’ve been debating recently as to the future of this column.  I feel as though it has stagnated.  I feel as though I need to take it in a new direction.  After a lengthy discussion with my best friend, he felt that I should spend less time recounting adventures in my life and more time on analysis.  So, that’s what I’ve resolved to do.  I’m going to press forward, pose the questions that no one dare ask, and attempt to come to a resolution.  For example, why do people in the animation industry hate Family Guy so much?

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Movie Review – Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride

Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride

Directed by Mike Johnson and Tim Burton

Starring the voices of Johnny Depp, Helena Bonhom Carter, Emily Watson, Richard E. Grant, Albert Finney, Joanna Lumley, and Christopher Lee.

OK, so one of my favourite films is The Nightmare Before Christmas.  The soundtrack was the first CD I ever bought.  The imagery, the songs, that film just haunted me.  So, when I learned that Tim Burton was doing another stop-motion animated film that was thematically similar, I was overjoyed.  I couldn’t wait to see what he’d cook up next.  More cool images, more twisted Danny Elfman songs…just more.  And I saw the result today:  The Corpse Bride.

Victor (Depp) and Victoria (Watson) are about to be wed.  Things is, they’ve never met each other.  Victor’s parents are lower-class but stinking rich with “new money.”  Victoria’s parents are aristocratic, but broke.  This isn’t so much a wedding but a business transaction, designed to elevate both families.  Lucky for us, though, that with Victor and Victoria, it’s love at first sight.  Victor, however, always stumbles over his vows and darn near burns down the church.  The priest (an absolutely fantastic Lee) sends Victor out to practice his vows.  Victor does so in a forest clearing, and he slips the ring onto a branch.  But it’s not a branch.  It’s a bony finger, belonging to the Corpse Bride (Carter).  Now, wedded to this undead woman, Victor gets whisked off to the Land of the Dead, to be with the Corpse Bride forever.  While Victor scrambles to return to “upstairs,” Victoria has to contend with the advances of the villainous Bittern Barkin.  Will Victor be reunited with Victoria?  Will the Corpse Bride ever find true love?  Will everyone get married to the right person?

I just loved this film.  Despite the morbid setting, this film actually follows a fairly routine romantic comedy/Disney animated formula.  What makes it special are all the macabre touches that the setting brings.  It’s just so full of dark humour that I was giddy.  And again, the animation is amazing.  The Corpse Bride has a certain beauty to her cold, dead face.  The voice acting is wonderful, especially Lee as the priest and Michael Gough (Alfred in Tim Burton’s Batman) as the priest’s Land of the Dead counterpart.  Sadly, though, the songs don’t quite click like they did in The Nightmare Before Christmas.  This film didn’t haunt me like Nightmare, but it is just grand, dark, twisted fun.

3.5 Nibs


A Rather Different Set of Friends

Chaos in Print

Time manifests itself in many ways. We see it in the clock on the wall. We see it the rise of the sun, and in the change of the seasons. But no where is its manifestation more pronounced than in how we age. We grow taller. We gain wrinkles. We grow hair in places that we never expected to grow hair. At times, it can make us feel rather desperate and alone, but then we look around at those that we’ve known for significant parts of our lives, and we see that we are not alone. Our friends, too, grow and change. But perhaps the best part about aging is how it affects the memory. Given enough time, things that seemed incredibly important in the moment have lost their significance. Arguments are forgotten, and friendships are renewed.

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Who I Am, How I Came to Be

Chaos in Print

There was absolutely nothing on TV the other night, so I sat down and popped Jersey Girl in the DVD player. I like Kevin Smith films and, despite its flaws, I still find Jersey Girl to be an enjoyable film. In case you’ve never seen it (which is likely), let me give you the Coles Notes. Ben Affleck is a successful publicist. He meets, falls in love with, gets married to, and knocks up Jennifer Lopez. J-Lo dies in childbirth, leaving Affleck to play the role of single father bereft with grief. He tries to deal with his grief by ignoring his infant daughter and burying himself in work, but that ultimately gets him fired. At this point he decides to turn his life around and become a dedicated father. Don’t worry, I haven’t spoiled the film. This all happens in the first 15 minutes.

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Grilled Cheese

Chaos in Print

So there’s this movie out right now called The 40-Year Old Virgin. And yes, I have heard the jokes. “Hey Mark, is that your life story?” And I respond, “No! It’s not going to be my life story for 12 more years.” Now, while I have not seen the movie yet, I have read a certain character train of the titular character that I identify with. Seems that the 40-year old virgin is on a quest to create the perfect egg salad sandwich, and he spends most of his time looking for ingredients rather than looking for sexual gratification. And I can’t help but realize that I, too, am on a similar quest. Only, instead of the perfect egg salad sandwich, I seek to create the perfect grilled cheese sandwich.

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