500 years in the future The Alliance, an oppressive Parliament,
controls human civilisation. They are willing to engage in
any atrocity for the sake of a debatable greater good including
scientific testing of a teenage girl, River. Saved by her
brother Simon the two fugitives hide onboard rebel transport
Captained by Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds, Serenity
takes on any job that will pay, even if it's not exactly legal.
His loyal crew includes his second in command and trusted
ally, ZoŽ, her husband, the pilot, Wash, mechanic Kaylee and
the muscle, Jayne...
rights this movie should not really exist. Taking a cancelled
TV series (Firefly)
and resurrecting it for the big screen sounds like financial
suicide. In fact it's the sort of project you expect a group
of dedicated fans to make in their spare time with friends,
and shoot on digital video. But Joss Whedon, the show's creator
(as well as the creative genius behind Buffy the Vampire
Slayer and Angel), thought it was a good idea.
And, to be perfectly honest, it was. Okay, I have a few issues
with Serenity, but in truth fans of Firefly
will not be disappointed (on the whole).
difficult to give all of the characters something to do in
such a short space of time. In the TV series, episodes could
revolve around one or two characters in order to flesh out
their personalities and define where they are coming from
to the audience. In a two hour movie that's just not possible.
Serenity is more a River tale than anything else. We
get to see her origins and we wind up discovering why she
was experimented on by The Alliance.
biggest complaint is that more wasn't done with Shepherd Book
(the preacher). This is a crying shame as Ron Glass was one
of the original show's most memorable actors. He really could
start his own cult - every time he speaks I believe everything
he says. Shepherd doesn't appear until almost 45 minutes into
the movie, and then he only appears for a few scenes. Whilst
Anora doesn't appear until the scene after we are reintroduced
to Shepherd (if you ignore her brief video playback scene
near the start of the movie) she does get to partake in quite
a bit of the action.
Wash, Kaylee and even good old Jayne take back seats to Mal,
River and Simon (it's like the old Kirk/Spock/Bones relationship
all over again). As I said earlier, it's difficult to give
everyone a fair crack of the whip, but Jayne? Come on... there
was bags of potential to bring out his cowardly streak and
while there was an element of this thrown in I'm surprised
it wasn't milked for all it was worth.
slight issue I had was that I seriously doubt anyone that
hasn't seen Firefly will get this movie. Well, maybe
on a certain level, but it's only really a great movie if
you've seen the earlier shows and you have already fallen
in love with the characters.
are at least two nasty surprises in store for fans of the
original series. I won't spoil them for you, but I was totally
unprepared for what Whedon threw at me. And it was this that
made me realise why I've always loved his work. That's what
he does best - throw you off kilter, like in the real world.
Everything is fine one minute, and then something unexpected
comes along and knocks you for six.
Ejiofor has to be about one of the most believable villains
ever seen on screen. His character, The Operative, has more
layers to him than your usual Bond-like villain that Hollywood
seems to love so much. I actually thought his arguments made
sense - even if he was just a "yes" man following
orders. Although, as he made such a monumental cock-up why
did he not fall on his own blade as he earlier demands of
someone who had made a similar mistake?
I was so glad they didn't do a Star Trek: The Next Generation
and make everything so dark that you feel like your wearing
sunglasses for the shot onboard the space ships. The movie
pretty much recaptures the feel off the TV show - even down
to the fake handheld camera look for the CGI and model shots.
are fairly interesting. We get a full audio commentary by
Joss Whedon; deleted scenes (14 mins 40 secs) with optional
commentary by Whedon; Outtakes (6 mins); Future History:
The Story of Earth That Was - featurette (4 mins 33 sec);
What's in a Firefly - effects featurette (6 mins 34
secs); Re-lighting a Firefly - a look at how the cast
felt at getting back together for the movie (9 mins 41 secs);
Joss Whedon Introduction - a short intro to the movie
that played at preview screenings (4 mins); and A Film
Maker's Journey - featurette (20 mins). There's also a
pretty funny extra - it's very fruity... I'll say no more.
at the end of the day, it's very difficult to give a balanced
review of this film. Non-Firefly fans will probably
not enjoy it very much to be perfectly honest. I'd strongly
advise watching the series first and then viewing the movie.
Despite my issues above, I did enjoy Serenity, and
I think you should at least give it a chance. Anyone who takes
their project away from the studio system that failed them,
and produces a movie this good deserves to have an ongoing
series of movies. Although, sadly, I think this will be the
last you hear of Serenity
and her crew.