Friday, May 06, 2005

Serenity: Post-Screening Follow-Up

Alright, so the Serenity advance screening was last night. Here’s my (spoiler-free) report.

First of all, the evening was a blast. As a testament to just how not a slobbering fan-boy I am, I actually thought meeting with my brother for beers and then showing up an hour before the screening would ensure me a place somewhere in the front half of the line. Silly silly me – having a life tends to blind one to the whole “monomaniacal fan” thing, I suppose. People were lining up as of 5:00PM for the 10:00 show, so when my brother and I arrived at 9:00 we were back in the last 50 or so folks with tickets to the sold-out screening. No biggie, though – I figured we’d just get crap seats and deal with it. Hardly the end of the world or anything.

So, anyhow, there was a camera crew there with a boom mike, just sort of doing crowd pics, walking up and down the line, etc. After hanging for about 45 minutes security gives everyone on line a good wanding to check for cameras and whatnot, and then the doors are open. We shuffle in, looking for whatever seats are still available. As luck would have it, the handicapped accessible row, about 4 rows back, is pretty much vacant, so we head there.

As we sit, I notice that the 6 or so seats immediately to my left have VIP tags on them. Hmmmm.

So anyway, they close the doors, some guy from Universal named Scott does a quick intro/thank you and then someone pounds on the emergency exit. He does the basic “Hmmm! Who could that be?” shtick and opens the door, and in walk Ron Glass and Nathan Fillion. Woot! Crowd goes nuts. Fillion is a very popular guy, and well, Ron Glass was on Barney Miller ;-).

So they introduce themselves to the crowd and then sit down 2 seats down from me. I get LOTS of dirty looks from the people who had been online since 5:00. See, having a life has lots more advantages than the basic getting kissed and laid bit.

So, the movie. In my opinion, what we saw last night varied from “very good” to “great,” with a couple of minor problems that will probably be worked out in edit and post-production.

This screening was in fact the first showing before any audience, including the actors, of a finalized work print. In other words it’s more or less what the movie will be, content-wise, but it still has a ways to go in the spit-and-polish category. I’d say that what we saw last night was in the 80-85% completed stage.

The screening started off with a brief intro/trailer of Whedon’s talking head, thanksing the fans and making some pithy comments about how the movie shouldn’t even exist because “failed TV show’s don’t get made into feature films” and that the entire movie happening “because of you, the fans” so, “if it’s good, tell lots of folks, and if you don’t like it, keep it to yourself because it’s all your fault.”

A lot of the early portions of the film looked pretty rough – clearly rushes that had been enlarged, color balance WAY off in some portions, and most of the early SFX shots looked iffy. It seemed almost as if the working order for the SFX team goes from the end of the film to the beginning, because the later scenes looked way more polished than the early ones. Go figure.

The soundtrack was incomplete – distractingly so at times, particularly during a couple of space-chase action sequences toward the end of the film where all you’ve to go on are CGI spaceships – and music cues -- and the film has some ways to go in the editing department before it hits a nice tight pace. This is particularly noticeable in the early scenes, which are necessarily exposition-heavy. Lots of backstory, and lots of forced/clunky dialogue-driven character sketches to attempt to make the uninitiated feel at home. Some of it worked, some of it didn’t work so much, but none of it was terrible. The opening sequence on the Serenity, in particular, I felt was fairly rough and pace-challenged as they go through the motions of introducing all 7 members of the crew. I don’t think it’s anything to be concerned about, really – fixing this sort of stuff is what work prints are for, so I expect the opening will be significantly tighter come opening weekend.

“I expect the opening will be significantly tighter .” Heh. Yeah, I’m just gonna leave that there for y’all to play with.

After the bumpy intro section, the movie got far more solid. The story is terrific – no spoilers, don’t worry, but I will say that it is FAR darker than the series, with some developments that will certainly anger portions of the fanbase. Whatever – I think it worked, and I’m glad that Whedon didn’t create a candy-coated franchise vehicle.

So, the movie ended, and we had a nice hour or so of Q&A with Fillion and Glass. Being a fan function, the questions quickly degenerated from intelligent (impressions on the whole TV vs. movie process, character observations, impressions and experiences on the whole con/interaction with fans thing, etc.) to goofy (of the “were you upset that you didn’t get to kiss so-and-so?” variety) to downright pathetic (questions of the “on a scale of 1 to 10 how mad do you think Fox is for canceling the show?” variety which are always asked by people who are both overwhelmed by the presence of an adored actor and the desperate desire to talk directly at them, regardless of what they actually have to say). Afterward, we got some autographs and a keychain, chatted briefly with Fillion and Glass on my way out, mentioned I’d hopefully see them at Dragon*Con in September, and drove on home.

For those who are interested in such things, Fillion and Sean Maher both go shirtless at some point or other, but otherwise the film is essentially (and sadly ) skin-free.

This morning, my wife (who was dead to the world when I rolled in the door at 1:30 or so this morning) said “So, who did you say was there last night? Ron Glass and who else?”

“Nathan Fillion was there too, and he sat about 3 seats to my left.”

“Oh. You totally suck.”

Sigh. L’amour!

Mood: So... sleepy...
Now Playing: Beck, "Guero"

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