I am both annoyed and charmed by the Firefly series, and I felt the same way about Serenity, for some of the same reasons and some different reasons.
The thing that charms me the most is the dialect Whedon made up for the series. I find it poetic and easy to listen to. I like the fake swearwords like "gorram" and the use of Chinese for conveying intense emotions and the word 'verse. (But see below.) Sometimes he lays the dialect on a bit thick, but overall he has a touch with it that I like. It makes me feel like I'm part of something.
I like the humor. I like the play between predictable science fiction and Western tropes and the unpredictable twists that sometimes get thrown in. (It's very difficult to surprise me in a TV or movie plot without cheating; Whedon occasionally surprised me without cheating.)
I love love love the relationship between Wash and Zoe and the character of Wash in general. It's rare to see a geek character done with subtlety and realism on film. (Although I liked the Mr Universe character in Serenity, he was precisely the sort of geek character done without subtlety and realism that I'm contrasting Wash against.)
I like that Jayne has a few non-tough-guy elements and I like his moral egoism; it's hard to do a character like that with any sympathy.
I like that the engineer is a femmy but salty woman, although I sometimes thought her femininity was played wrong.
I thought the "character" of the Alliance was very poorly drawn. The way the main characters seemed to feel about the Alliance and the way agents of the Alliance actually behaved didn't mesh up with me. The Alliance didn't seem like much of a threat; they were forever interacting with it and getting away without much difficulty. I thought the episodes where the characters went up against local hoodlums were more realistic.
I liked the way Inara and the concept of "companions" was used to set up stories, but I got very tired of the constant reminders that she's "not a common whore". I also couldn't reconcile all the talk of her training and her inability to deal with how she felt about Mal. Didn't companion training include anything about what to do if you developed romantic feelings for people, clients or otherwise? The OH said that the relationship twigged his Strangers in Paradise alarm, a remark that a few of you might grok.
Would have been nice if there were some male "companions".
I liked the brother-sister relationship but I didn't like the character of River. She was too convenient of a plot device - a character who could either act crazy and make chaos as required, or evince some amazing talent previously hidden and save the day as required - and then go back to her craziness so they couldn't actually rely on the talent.
As for the Chinese, the OH made this comment after seeing one of the DVD interviews where Whedon said that in the backstory of Firefly, the two superpowers China and America had joined forces and as a result everyone spoke both English and Chinese. The OH said "If the two superpowers joined forces, then where are all the Chinese people?"
On to the movie itself. I enjoyed it in that it included all of the bits of Firefly that I had liked in the past, and the action sequences seemed pretty well done (not that I'm a connoisseur of action sequences). It kept my interest while I was watching it.
It bugged me for all the same reasons that Firefly did. But in addition, I thought the plot of the movie had more holes and hard-to-believe elements than the TV episode plots. Nitpicks follow.
The first bit that annoyed me was the dream sequence that turned into a scene in a lab that turned into a recording. I couldn't suspend disbelief that the dream would have been recorded.
I wish the character of the agent had been better drawn. He seemed very inconsistent. The OH and I both wished that one of the deleted scenes shown on the DVD had been in the movie because it helped draw his character a little better.
The backup forces available to the character were also inconsistent. He was acting on his own, and then suddenly he had so many backup forces that he could take out multiple entire towns simultaneously. I couldn't suspend disbelief to reconcile this with his supposedly being a deep dark government secret.
I had a problem with the main plot driver, about the Alliance's secret about the planet past Reaver territory and how the Reavers came to exist. If this planet was dead and secret for a decade, then how could it have been worse for the Alliance to just blow it up than to keep it out there as a secret? And as for the Reavers, if they mostly all hang out in a small portion of space near the planet, why doesn't the Alliance just blow them up? If I thought that the Alliance was keeping the Reavers and the planet around for some purpose, I wouldn't have had a problem suspending disbelief here, but no such purpose was hinted as far as I could tell.
I also find the notion that the Reavers are "humans with their aggression on overdrive" a bit unbelievable because they seem to work in groups. (But not groups so tight that they'll question a random ship just wandering into their territory, as long as it has bodies trailing off it.) That's a minor nit, though.
I really loved the Oaty Fruity Bars cartoon.
So what did you think?