SPOILERS AHEAD, so don't read if you ain't seen it.
I know I'm late to the party, but I have to say, I enjoyed it. A really good, fun sci-fi western.
I felt it had four real problems - and only four.
1 - The Reavers, while EVERYTHING was scary about them; people reacting in sheer terror, the stories, the idea they're a myth, the craziness, the lack of knowning why they're crazy - they... they just looked like Uruk-hai. I'm sorry, I think Whedon should've really shot the scenes with the Reavers with less light to keep 'em scary. Their ships were great. Their weapons, their tactics, everything apart from how they looked was great.
2 - The 'packs' that were designed to pacify the civilisation but instead turned 10% of them into Reavers - where did that come from? It wasn't set up at all. Part of me thinks it would've been cool if in that bank, there was a crate marked "Alliance" and was top secret. You know Mal would've taken it for his ownself, just to stick it to the Alliance. The Alliance discovers that the packs were taken - not by the Reavers, but by some bank robbers; Who they manage to work out is Mal. After being pursued by the Alliance, the crew reckon may be it has something to do with the stolen crate (River too, I suppose). Then imagine inside the crate, they discover these packs, which makes the Alliance really nervous and thus step up their desire to find Serenity, get the packs back, and River who may or may not know about it. As it is... the Alliance wants River incapacitated or returned, so they do this by sending out an operative to trigger her memories of Miranda... huh? You don't want her to reveal the secrets of Miranda she may or may not know about, so you broadcast a subliminal message throught the known 'verse to trigger the repressed memories you don't want her to remember? I... don't get it.
3 - The villain of the film has this super duper back attack that paralyses someone so he can make them fall on his sword. It's super sweet. He pulls it off once at the beginning, and not only does it rock, but we know it's gonna get done to Mal at some point. We all were biting our nails during both hand fights, and when he did it - well, we all were stumped. It seems Whedon was too because he had Mal be 'immune' to it - out of the blue. Just, "Oh, I have shrapnel there so I'm not hurt by it." It's cheap and its a deus ex machina. Would it have been so hard to set up that shrapnel earlier in the film? Couldn't it have been in his war record? When the villain is telling Mal he was in the war, he could'nt have said, "You fought in the war. All it got you was shrapnel in your back." Mal then repsonds by somehow turning the conversation on the villain, as he did. Just one or two mentions. There's no way any one would've gone "Shrapnel = He's immune" but it would've made us go at the end "Oh! Of course he's immune! Sweet! AND the villain was berating him about it earlier! How's that for comeuppance you arrogant, intelligent, Shepard killing bastard?!" Instead we got, "Shrapnel? Huh. That was lucky."
4 - There was a distinct lack of actual Alliance parliamentary figures. These were the big movers and shakers behind all the events in Serenity. Was it too much trouble to actually see them? I mean, they don't need to be mundane people in suits that Mal punches, nor do they have to be shadowy men in a war room. Couldn't they have been seen on TV on the news programmes? Names dropped? Instead we got this "Parliament" who we never saw or fully understood, which was a problem because if we don't understand Parliament, we don't fully get why the record is so important. What's worse is at the end, they broadcast the tape - and we're TOLD that nothing really happened. Wouldn't it have been better to see news footage, or even a payoff to a set up parliament character seen earlier in the film, anything? Wouldn't it have been good to see what the tape did to the Alliance? People all across the 'verse scared and traumatised by the record sent out everywhere. Reavers aren't a myth, and the record is quite graphic in proving how they're not. Lots' of places would never show the record. It's just - I understand why when I came out of the film, some people didn't fully understand what the whole point of airing the packs to the public was all about - because we didn't see what it meant.
That's it though, those are the problems I found in the film.
The rest was absolutely wonderful. Truly, truly was. I enjoyed myself a lot.
The feeling of down-on-their-luck outlaws was wonderful, with the ship falling apart, and the crew hungry. Mal shooting the guy who tried to grab onto the mule was great. The villain was great; "I don't kill children." "I do." The characters were on form, and all wonderful to behold (except Anara who was dull in the tv show and dull in the film - why is it we always have to have a 'pretty' woman on a show, the point of which is to look pretty and for some inexplicable reason create false sexual tension between her and the male lead by the two of them just having arguments and not having sex? Lana in Smallville, Kate in Lost, that woman in House... god, they're everywhere. All these characters seem to do is get in the way.)
Y'know, what I loved? At the beginning, we see Simon watching River be... 'experimented' on. For a second, I was **** scared. I thought Simon was one of the Blue Sun (and where were they? I love the blue hand guys) executives in charge of River and that he implanted a false memory into her head of the family and him as her brother. I mean, what if he'd been playing us all this time? He's not River's brother, she never had one. That said, I then realised we were just seeing how he broke her out of prison - not that it's a bad thing mind you. The prison escape kicked ***. Especially the villain's observations on it - great pay off.
Dammit though. Book dead? What about the identicard? What was going on with him? Walsh dead? I loved him. Dammit. I loved those characters. Curse you, Whedon. At least you didn't kill Mal or Jayne. Or Kaylee. Or Simon.
I have to say, the deaths were wonderfully done. Really brought a tear to my eye. I'm gonna miss those guys.
Also, I got cut up when the Serenity crashed. I thought we'd lost the ship. I care more for that ugly little firefly freighter than I do about the Enterprise. Whedon rocks.
Also, the origin behind the Reavers was great, too. (Though not neccessarily the execution.)
Seriously, I felt the film had those 4 problems, and the Anara problem continued from the show, but apart from that - the film was top notch, highly enjoyable fare and it worked. Great showing. Kudos to all involved.
I mean - it was just so... fresh, y'know? Filled with cliches, which got played on. "You wanna take command of this ship." "Yes." "... Well... you can't." Even the last line was funny. Really managed to balance the excitement, fear, sadness, and comedy all together. Impressive feat indeed.
I'm going to say, "I aim to misbehave" for weeks now.