The second chapter in Ed's Serenity Chronicles is another WINNER!
It is by far the most challenging of the three part trilogy, as War Stories weaves together material from four different episodes. But Ed pulls it off wonderfully, tying the stories together with underlying series stories arcs and further connecting it with the River Tam sessions. It truly feels like a complete story rather than a bunch of episodes stitched together. Yes, it has a slightly episodic feel (or rather a three act arc with an epilogue), but that is not a bad thing -- ever seen the The Godfather? It is very episodic in structure. So Ed is in good company.
And the best thing, you do not need to be a Firefly fan or have any knowledge of the series to follow, understand or be entertained by this movie. I watched with my bride, who has never seen the show or even part one, and she was completely enthralled from beginning to end. So fantastic work on narrative!
And the trailer for Part Three has left me salivating! Bring it on!!!
I'm going to use the same review for all three parts of the Serenity Chronicles, because in my opinion, they need to be viewed as a complete package for maximum effect.
MusicEd921 does an outstanding job of tying together the entire series, plus the feature film Serenity, and condensing the essence of the show into 3 feature length DVDs. When I originally contacted MusicEd921 regarding these edits, I mentioned that I was planning a weekend binge-watch of the entire series plus Serenity, something that I do every year or so...
From now on, I'll be binging on these DVDs instead--they're THAT good.
I give a 9 rating on A/V quality solely because of the quality of some of the deleted scenes that were incorporated into the edits. As mentioned previously in other reviews, the quality of these scenes was lower simply because they were not remastered for the DVD release. Not MusicEd921's fault at all.
If you are a Firefly fan, you need to see these edits. :)
MusicEd921 has created a sequel edit here that is actually better than his first edit, in my opinion! I'll say again (as I did for part one in his series) that I'd still prefer to show someone the actual TV episodes, which really aren't that much longer. But this is a fun way to do a 'cram-session' rewatch for those who are already fans of the show. The addition of the "River Tam sessions" internet content are very well-integrated into the narrative to keep it moving and keep a growing sense of purpose for River. This edit actually feels more balanced about hinting towards River's evolution in the theatrical film because we are making consistent progress rather than seeming like the writers only decided what to do after many episodes.
On the other hand, I did miss some elements that were skipped over in the show... it's a shame to lose nearly all romance with Mal, most of Book's narrative arc, and arguably the biggest bads of the series (the blue-handed men). But if you didn't know what you were missing, MusicEd921 does a fantastic job at choosing which parts of episodes to include to bridge the pilot episode to the theatrical movie. Nearly every character gets an arc and a bit of depth. We get a real sense of the crew coming together, and developing a sense of morality and a purpose. And we clearly move from a slightly (but not overly) episodic feel into a growing sense that River and the Alliance will take center stage. This actually does a pretty remarkable job at working as a standalone film that also bridges the 2 parts of MusicEd921's trilogy.
If I were to quibble, my one issue would be that the editor sets up a great villain early on in the film to be paid off at the end. But there's then another 15 minutes or so afterwards of character stuff which honestly feels like an anti-climactic finale to the 'film'. I know these scenes were necessary to set up the events in the final part of the trilogy, but I wonder if it wouldn't have been better to end with the big showdown and save everything that happens "2 Months Later..." for the start of the third 'film'? It's honestly a small quibble though, and I was really impressed with the narrative work here, and found only a couple of minor hard cuts or clipped audio bits. It's all quite professional, and leaves me eagerly anticipating the final part of the trilogy.