Movie Review: Serenity

Serenity. In theatres September 30, 2005

This is the little fan base that could. When Fox cancelled a show called Firefly after only six out-of-order episodes, who would have dreamed that it would get another chance to shine? In the words of Joss Whedon, “flop TV shows don’t get made into movies.” Well, here’s the deal, the fans spoke up loud and clear. Their united message was “if you keep flying, we’ll keep watching.” (Trust me, I have the patch.) The browncoats petitioned UPN and WB to take up the show. They sent post-cards and flowers and email to SciFi channel. Universal took a gamble. They gave Joss Whedon a budget and let him shoot the movie. The result, one heck of a rocking movie.

“Serenity” is a unique sci-fi movie. There are no aliens. And that’s just the beginning. Set in a future where terraforming has become common-place and settlers have spread among the stars away from Earth-that-was, Serenity follows the exploits of Captain Malcom Renoylds and his not so merry crew of smugglers. Zoe is his second in command from the war and on the ship. Her husband Wash is the piolet. Kaylee is the perky mechanic and Jayne is the resident tough-guy mercenary. Simon and River Tam are their passengers. River is being pursued by the government of this brave new future for information and talents she doesn’t even know she has. But all of that you could pretty much have gotten from the preview.

What you don’t know from the preview is that the dialog is sharp and quick, filled with wonderful turns of phrase and sparkling dark humor. There’s a strong mystery plot that underpins the whole thing and it’s not about the special effects, excellent though they may be, or the fight-scenes as perfect as they are, it’s about the characters and the choices they make along the way. The whole movie is about choice. What is honor? What is right action? When do you choose to fight? When do you walk away? And what is belief? What is a hero?

If you watched the television series, either when it first showed, on a DVD someone loaned you, or the reruns that are on SciFi, then you’ll be happy to know that everything you loved about the show is in the movie. There’s in-jokes for those of us in the know. If you didn’t watch the show (go get it. Netflix offers it…), you can still watch the movie and not feel out of your depth. There is enough information for someone who’s never seen the show to understand what’s happening. And there’s enough familiarity and carried on history to make fans of the show jump for joy.

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