This is the kind of thing you donâ€™t usually see in a typical space opera. Instead of taking a helm seat during the greatest struggle in the history of the galactic republic, we get to watch moments reminiscent of Han Solo making the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs.
But then, that is what makes this film so great.
Serenity follows the story of Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) and his ragtag crew of misfits. Popularized by the cult TV series, Firefly, we get a feature length look into the lives of a band of space mercs bent on collecting the almighty dollar. And, Gorram it, itâ€™s shiny.
Without delving too deeply into exposition explaining fourteen episodes of brilliant dialogue and beautiful character development, Serenity is a continuation of an ongoing storyline, that of River Tam (Summer Glau), a gifted young woman, and her brother, Simon Tam (Sean Maher), who rescued her from the blue-handed clutches of the insidious Alliance.
On the run from the law, the siblings manage to take up keep on a Firefly-class transport ship named Serenity. Despite corruption and thievery, they manage to make themselves useful enough to keep most of Malâ€™s ire at bay, and become members of the jolly bunch.
Flash-forward to the beginning of the movie, and it seems as though trouble has once again caught up to our big damn heroes. A nameless man, identified only as â€œThe Operativeâ€, has begun tracking the ship and its crew, forcing them into a number of difficult and dangerous situations.
The crew eventually manages to elude him long enough to figure out just what the secret is hidden inside of River. After the revelation sinks in, that the knowledge they possess could actually threaten the great and mighty Alliance, they decide to misbehave.
Rounded out with the rest of the crew, Jayne (Adam Ballwin), ZoÃ« and Wash (Gina Torres and Alan Tudyk), Inara (Morena Baccarin), Kaylee (Jewel Staite), and the good Shepherd Book (Ron Glass), this action-packed feature-length film brings back all that was good about the show.
However, appealing to a niche group does have its drawbacks, and to some, the film might come off a hint confusing. All of the interplay between characters is painstakingly preserved, and though a delight to listen to as it flows beautifully, some might feel a bit awkward without the afore knowledge granted by the TV show.
What struck me as most entertaining about this film, however, was the way it was driven. Unlike films such as Star Wars, or anything Star Trek, Serenity is driven entirely by its characters, and they are strong. Where as most supporting roles are usually flushed out more fully in the course of additional novel tie-ins, and comic book adaptations, the characters aboard the Serenity just feel real enough already.
Joss Whedon (Writer, Director) employs a large number of interesting tricks and tacks to make this movie work. From the sweeping camera shots in the beginning that help to introduce and establish the ship and its crew, to the dramatic and shocking moments near the end, and, letâ€™s just say, Joss plays for keeps.
All in all this movie is packed full of style and grace, enough for any Science Fiction fan, and is a cult classic. If you donâ€™t quote the film regularly, itâ€™s just a gorram shame.
Final Score â€“ **** (Excellent)
Fanboy Score â€“ **** (Excellent)
Final Word â€“ I really wanted to find five stars for this movie somewhere, but I just canâ€™t bring myself to do it.
As a critical viewer, the movie is stunning and innovative in terms of both dialogue and character development, but it falls short of perfect due to a somewhat muddled back-story and poor translation for those not privy to the TV show.
As a fan of the series and the movie, I canâ€™t give it a perfect because I feel some important decisions were not taken as seriously as they should have been, and I believe it was evident that Joss Whedon unleashed some of his hostility towards FOX and the cancellation of his show on this film.