I swallowed a bug.

Film Every now and then some film will jump up and smack me across the face so hard that I'll find it almost impossible to write a review. Joss Whedon's Serenity is one of these films. From beginning to end I sat agape, wondering when the next thrill, laugh, cry or scream would occur. And that's just from me. But really, in a summer of disappointment (well alright just Hitchhikers) it's amazing to find a good old fashioned adventure film, but in a break from the norm that's about something.

I'm a fan of Firefly the tv series for which this is the continuation or sequel, and the what's particularly gratifying is that the film actually deepens the viewers appreciation of those stories. In giving some backstory to bring the uninitiated up to speed, the film actually gives some of the geography and characterisation which has gone before. This is material which surely would have been eeked out in the drip drip of weekly television, but here it's a shot in the arm, and enough to tempt me to go and watch the series again, even though I only just finished the last run through.

Strikingly, the film is not riddled with kisses to the past. The theme song does not appear and neither do we get to hear about the hero of canton. Old jokes ("I'll be in my bunk!") are not rerun for comic effect or catchphrase value. Those moments have become iconic because there were so few episodes of the series to be poured over and to give them extra weight here would be wrong.

This is about re-affirming the values and ideas of the series. Even with all the action and ship chases, this has a very literate script. There are conversations about faith, spirituality, what it is to be human and those values we hold dear. But the mood of the series has largely been replicated, but the crew have moved on. In some cases this is presented subtly -- the odd use of a christian name instead of a title, or arguments in places were once there was detante. In some cases, status quos which had developed by the final episode have slipped backwards for the needs of the story, but this feels generally natural. Relationships and friendships ebb and flow.

There performances are uniformally excellent, much as they were before. Stars will be made here and that's as it should be. Luckily everyone has largely signed on for future films so even if Summer Glau goes off and becomes the new Jodie Foster, she'll be back for more. As you would expect with the format, some characters simply don't get as much to do here, but that should be redressed in future 'episodes'. Vitally, though, everyone gets a memorable moment, a chance to shine, isn't forgotten.

The look of the series has largely been carried over. It's largely lensed with handheld cameras, sometimes right in the faces of the actors. The atmospheric lighting continues as well, keyholes all over. I've heard much criticism that it looks to much like the programme, but frankly that's idiotic because the look of the show was cinematic to begin with; in fact some of the photography has become a cliche in the meantime, for example the documentary feel to the ships in flight. The innovations continue here though -- there is a space battle which is positively impressionistic.

I don't know how the film played with a non-fan audience. The auditorium I was in laughed all the way through at the jokes and I even heard gasps. There was a man sitting behind me in a beany hat wearing shades and he seemed to enjoy himself. But as a biased fan I'd say that I can't think of a reason that you shouldn't be there over the weekend. I mean what else could you be doing?

Hi there, Terry.

Quote "Basically, I remember being afraid a lot of the time. I felt incredibly unsafe. I remember a couple of trips to the hospital after being in freezing water for long periods of time, losing quite a bit of my hearing for days at a time due to explosives, having my heart monitored when one went off relatively close to me, etc. I remember running through this long sort of corridor where explosives went off every few feet, things were on fire, etc. I cried hysterically in my dad's lap and begged him to make sure I wouldn't have to do it again, but I did. I think I did it quite a few more times. I remember the terrifying scene where we were in the boat and the horse jumped out and ended up surfacing a plastic explosive that went off right under my face. I remember being half trampled by a mob of extras and then repeating the scene several times. I remember working very long hours." -- Sarah Polley emails Terry Gilliam about her time working on The Adventures of Baron Munchausen [via]

Dusk of the Dead

Life I'm at the main university library, spending time between the end of the school day and meeting people for this evening's escapades. I suppose in future weeks, this could usefully be taken up with college work - reading and whatnot, but today, still chasing down the remnants of my cold I just felt the need to be in motion. So I took a bus into town and wandered about for half an hour, then returned to the campus looking for a hearty meal at the refectory. What I found was stodgy fish and crispy chips. Probably in my top five worst and loneliest meals ever. If something is making you cough whilst your eating it, it's probably time to put it aside and go and eat a Bounty instead.

At this time the campus is largely deserted, a few odd, lonely figures wandering around. It's a bit like the empty mall in Romero's Dawn of the Dead -- you can tell that life has been here. There are still the smells of a day full of people going about their study. Oddly, the library is busier - there are more people around, talking, some smiling. I wonder how many will still be here at 11:30pm when the building closes. I'll hopefully be on the train by then. I've a busy day tomorrow and staying up until all hours would probably not be a good idea.

Welcome to ...

TV I promised to post this onto the internet somewhere. My parents went on a coach tour a couple of weeks ago and stopped off at Pease Pottage service station. When they called from there to say hello, I was unnervingly excited because (oddly) I thought it was fictional birthplace for a Doctor Who companion not somewhere on the map. The holiday pictures developed today and this was amongst them. It's comforting to know that if she's ever back in the area, Melanie Bush can tuck into a full English breakfast for just under a fiver ...

Wyrd for sound?

The Law A band called 'The Wyrd Sisters' are sueing Warner Brothers because a group with the same name is appearing in the new Harry Potter film. Their argument is that they've been using the name for fifteen years. On that basis couldn't Terry Pratchet sue the both of them? He he published his book 'Wyrd Sisters' in 1989, a year before the band started...