Back in the day, I read Warren Ellis' run on StormWatch and loved the strange stories, the nuanced characters, the optimism, and all the little quirks. Then, when that book ended and a group of the characters went on to star in its widescreen-style spinoff The Authority, I kept reading, but it wasn't quite the same experience. The stories were a lot tighter, the action was massive and incredibly choreographed, and the stakes were ratcheted up - instead of battling this baddie and saving that village, the heroes were saving entire worlds and taking on whole armies from alternate universes. The characters still carried out the plot, but they weren't exactly the same as they'd been in StormWatch. To me they came off as boiled down, simplified. The individual motivations that they'd had originally were all glossed into "wanting a better world", weaknesses were written out or ignored, and all of the characters became rock-hard badasses in service of the story. A lot of readers loved the book and its crazy mindblowing adventures, but I missed the character-driven aspects.
I'm bringing this up because it's the first thing that came to my mind after catching Serenity, the movie offshoot of the sci-fi series Firefly. I enjoyed the movie immensely - it's one of the better sci-fi films I've seen in ages. Aaah, Reavers and killing-dance-fu and big government experiments and Mal and Jayne and space dogfights and Jayne again! Yeah! Great story! But it did not feel as character-driven to me as the series did, which was a bummer for me since that's the kind of story I prefer. Somehow the characters felt more in service of the plot rather than driving it. Or maybe it felt more like River was driving the plot and everyone else was along for the ride and the shooting things. Could be that too.
I think I need to give it another round and see how I feel after a second viewing. At least this time around I won't scream like a four-year-old during the Reavers scenes. No, really. I was so embarrassed.