Serenity review – Whedon’s sci-fi epic

Serenity marks fond farewell for Firefly fans

Having briefly only remembering seeing FOX’s commercials for Firefly, before it’s quick cancellation, I didn’t have any preconceived notions as to whether I thought Serenity, the big screen adaptation of the show should be the next end all, be all of science-fiction films.

After the two-hour thrill ride of a journey that often feels like an outer space version of Big Trouble In Little China, I think it’s safe to proclaim Serenity as the start of the next great sci-fi franchise and the jolt to the system the genre needed.

Nathan Fillion, stars as Captain Mal Reynolds, the leader of a ragtag group that use his transport ship, Serenity, for any mission that involves a paycheck within the limits of the law or not.

Mal’s crew, including Wash (Alan Tudyk, Dodgeball), Zoe (Gina Torres, 24) and Jayne (Adam Baldwin, Wyatt Earp) aren’t bad people per se, but they have to eat, so playing by the law doesn’t always work out for them. The cast is so well-written you almost don’t have to have seen the show to enjoy the characters.

As the film opens, the crew has just rescued one of their own, a mentally disturbed teenager, River (Summer Glau) from The Alliance, the big brother organization that controls the galaxy.

River may have learned a secret The Alliance cannot afford to allow to be made public and dispatches an agent (Chiwetel Ejiofor) to bring her in.

Being a longtime comic book reader however, I have become a great admirer of  Serenity’s Director/Writer Joss Whedon, who when he’s not making feature films, has made Marvel Comics’ Astonishing X-Men one of the best comic reads in years.

From his experience with his television shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, Whedon makes a solid director. He knows exactly what he is envisioning and can bring that onto the screen without any distortion of the creative phase, but his nearly unmatched talent is in writing sharp conversational dialogue.

Serenity’s crew all has well-defined personalities even within the scope of a two-hour movie and the actors seem to revel in playing scarred heroes, who are so much more interesting. They’re the kind of scoundrels that would make Han Solo proud.

In filming the fighting scenes, Whedon tries something a little different — he doesn’t splice the scenes in such a cut-rate fashion that one can actually see what is going on. Quite a novel idea. Hopefully, in his subsequent directorial efforts, Whedon won’t be swayed to go the trendy route of action scenes that give the viewer motion sickness.

After suffering through a summer crammed with TV shows being remade into movies, it’s refreshing to see a movie based on a TV show that is so entertaining that it actually makes you want to go and see the show of which the movie was created.

 

Rating: 8 out of 10