Sam and I just got back from a lovely visit of our friends Steve and Kim and their son Teo in Edinburgh. Hence the delay in posting and the gap in our bloggedness.
We of course, along with walking many if not all of the streets of the city (this according to my feet/legs/hips, by the way) also saw Serenity again at the big-city movie theatre in town. very fun, and the second viewing revealed a few more elements of the film that were interesting, predominantly the directing. the near "one-er" from the title through the next, oh, 5 minutes, in which we are introduced to everyone and the ship in one long, uncut shot (except for a bit of fudging as they go from upstairs to downstairs), was amazing. the way Joss framed individuals from steep angles above and below was quite effective, I thought, to heighten the mood/make you feel trapped/whatever he was going for at that time.
I'd like to comment on a few things noted elsewhere. Yes, the uber-state theme is seen in other SciFi contexts, from Star Wars to Star Trek (on next generation it seems that the heroes are in fact part of said uberstate as well), and all of the distopic scifi contexts you can name. Unlike many of those, and Star Wars in particular, the driving thrust of this film is not the overthrow of the Alliance, (that battle is lost prior to the film's timeline) but the negotiation of the Alliance—a much more Foucaultian understanding of power and the state, in which Mal's crew is able to retain freedom, liberty, whatever "value" you'd like to call it by following the path of the Western: being outlaws when the law is, well, not so hot. or not so hot for you and yours. And, like the Klingons (my heroes and a blog for another time) the crew has a code, not ultra codified, but one that Joss articulates in brief, clear moments, whether the early encounter between Zoe (fab fab fab. we love her) and Mal over the man he sentenced to death in an earlier scene, or the protestations of Jayne regarding his ostensible distance from the approach of the Reevers to killing people.
We talked after the film about how Joss was trying to do so many things: the genre of the western, with its cameradierie, outlaw culture, and internal code; the humor sometimes found in those westerns, but often not, set up not with one-liners or slapstick but by characters colliding and situations allowing it to come forth; the message about governmental fiddling with societies and the problematic outcomes of most if not all of these fiddlings over history; the action-movie requirements of the studio that led him to spend a bit too much time on fights and action and not quite enough on character development/relationships.
All this to say that my earlier assessment still stands: Joss is a serial type guy, and this film is awesome. But it's not Firefly. What to do?
it looks like it did alright in the US on the first two weekends, so let's hope for one of two outcomes: either Universal grants Joss the 3-pic deal to continue its fabulousness, or perhaps (and one can only hope) Joss decides that a return to the serial format is where it's at, HBO gives him unlimited funding, and we all live happily ever after.