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By Emil

Take my love, take my land
Take me where I cannot stand
I don't care, I'm still free
You can't take the sky from me

It might have been mentioned once before, but regardless: time and time again, we've seen how many a good show fell to dust thanks to the cringe-worthy bad taste of the general American populace.

Firefly is yet another show which crumbled thanks to bad taste and silly networks. Created and written by the famed Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy, Angel, Dollhouse, Astonishing X-Men and so many other awesome entertainment material), it aired erratically, with Fox not only moving the show to varying time slots every week, but also out of the intended order. Viewers were left befuddled, puzzled and discouraged. Poor ratings followed thanks to this idiocy, and it was dropped missing three of the fourteen produced.

Firefly was not without fans, however. Loyal fans, at that. Petitions and campaigns came up. Dedicated fans worked together, and soon after, Joss Whedon was able to bring out a movie, titled Serenity, that tied up SOME (Firefly was supposed to run for seven years) of the loose ends.

Firefly is set in the year 2517 when humans have colonized star systems far away, and United States and China have merged to become a central government known as the “Alliance” after a bloody civil war with the Independents. This is a show done with passion and care by people who loved making it what it was. Though coined as a space-cowboy science fiction, it's gritty and dirty and is more character driven than the average TV series, focusing on their lives of the crew and their personal haunts and demons.

The series follows the story of nine people on board Serenity, a Firefly-class spaceship led by the noble Captain Malcom Reynolds, a former Independent Sergeant. A sharpshooter and with considerable efficiency in hand-to-hand, Mal is a very efficient leader, and respected by those that are under his command.

Following him are stragglers and survivors, people running away from their demons or just trying to survive doing odd jobs, not always legal, to earn some income.

Mal is joined by his second-in-command Zoe Washburne; a 'warrior-woman' and friend of the good Captain from the war days. Married to Zoe is Hoban “Wash” Washburne, one of the best pilots in the galaxy, and a bright light of funny in any deathly situations.

Mechanic Kaylee Frye watches over Serenity as if she was her own child with skilled hands and a keen mind. Jayne Cobb is the bodyguard of this crew, and don't let the name fool you. Good ol' Jayne has the know-how of any weapon that comes to his hand, never mind the assorted arsenal he keeps in his bunk cabin. Their freelancing crew is augmented by the addition of Inara Serra, a courtesan (a very respected profession in this future) and serves as their 'ambassador' as having her on board provides them a certain amount of diplomatic… resistance.

Joining them are Shepherd Derrial Book, an enigmatic priest who displays equal amounts of knowledge in regards to Christianity as well as the activities of criminals, not to mention deadly efficiency in unarmed combat. Quote: “While the Bible is quite specific about killing, it's somewhat fuzzier on the subject of kneecaps.”

The brother and sister duo Simon and River Tam, a pair of geniuses, complete the ennead. River, who has an extra-ordinary mind that makes her brother seem like a child, had been abducted by military government officials; and they did what every military government officials do- experimented on her and turned her into a lethal weapon. Until her brother, studying medicine at the time, rescued her. Soon after, they take refugee in Serenity and it's not long until they become part of the crew.

Trouble follows Serenity wherever they go, be it Alliance military, powerful crime lords or the dreaded Reapers. A new job comes along every now and then, and with every job is a new danger that the crew must survive. Life in outer space really isn't as glamorous as they show on TV.

Joss Whedon has done an amazing job on the series, not to mention the actors themselves. In fewer places have I seen better realism whether it's believable characters or believable worlds and situations. Nothing in Firefly seems impossible. Excellent cinematography and sound works brings out the finer details in Firefly. They actually built a Firefly ship to shoot their scenes in. That's amazing dedication right there.

This is one series that you should not be missing out on. With only fourteen episodes and a sequel movie (which is more awesome than the series itself), it won't take a lot of your time, and you will be experiencing something really wonderful, and… well, something worth experiencing.

Another quote from the series:
Simon: You had the Alliance on you, criminals and savages... half the people on the ship have been shot or wounded including yourself, and you're harbouring known fugitives.
Mal: We're still flying.

Simon: That's not much.
Mal: It's enough.


By The Anarchist Kitten

Why does Hollywood keep making shameless money makers? More importantly, why do we keep watching them? Anarchist Kitten is in a bit of an existential crisis today, after having seen a film starring two of his very trusted comedians turn out to be the most disappointing wasted opportunity of 2009.

They take Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau, a cast of hard-working actors, the great tropical setting of Bora Bora and the resulting mess is stale, lifeless and laughless. Vaughn manages to fire off a few chuckles near the beginning in a domestic setting, but that is the last time you'll come close to even smiling accidentally in the movie. This time one almost takes it personally with Hollywood and asks if they really think we are so shallow and dumb that we'd laugh at such mediocre comedy. Once the cast is moved to the tropics, everything goes wrong. Male on male embarrassment is overused about 5 times too many. Vaughn tried a few off the wall jokes that fell flat. Favreau had not one, but two alone time related 'funny' scenes.

There are four couples, all of whom have shaky or totally damaged relationships and then in a ten minute whirlwind finale, all solve their problems in a completely superficial way and the movie is wrapped up. This is surely an exercise in bad, lazy and witless writing. And since it was written by the comedians we've always had such faith on, the stars Vaughn and Favreau themselves, whatever the film lacks in the writing department is inexcusable.

Couples Retreat tries to be a zany comedy and a touching drama at the same time, only to end up failing at both. It starts out well, but somewhere about twenty minutes in, seems to lose its way and never comes back. One has obviously seen worse movies in 2009, and while there undoubtably are a few funny moments (it's Vaughn after all), by halfway in, one hopes it would end soon because it is just boring.

The target audience was obviously never decided upon while writing the movie as the humour seems to cater for everyone. One minute there are mature, real life moments that firmly fit into the funny-because-it's-true category, the next there are gags revolving around untimely and erratic manhood problems and other such scenes that would be right at home in American Pie. Done in the right way, and on their own, either of these forms of comedy has potential to be brilliant; however mixing them together makes for a muddled experience.

Maybe one is too harsh on the movie because of Vaughn and Favreau's status as heavy weights, and expects way too much. For a few very temporary laughs, Couples Retreat is not a bad popcorn movie. Some might even find this kind of humour funny. This review is not an exercise in what not to watch; one should rather think of it as what to expect from comedies written by and starring our favourite comedians- quite a lot.


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