Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk
You know, I really like the fact that Joss Whedon has always
tried to make television shows that appeal to a younger crowd
without pandering to them. It's a shame that each of his last
three shows (Buffy, Angel, and Firefly)
were prematurely ended. While Angel and Buffy
at least managed to get in a few seasons and got relative
closure, Firefly didn't even get to finish the first
season. But, with a loyal fanbase, Whedon managed to make
a follow-up movie in Serenity.
The story begins with a quick overview of Serenity's
universe, where settlers from Earth have moved onto another
galaxy. After a civil war between the Alliance and the outlying
planets, the crew of the Serenity must make a living
as "scoundrels" - doing jobs of varying degrees of criminality
for money. At the onset of the story, Simon Tam sneaks into
a secret facility and breaks out his sister, Rain. We find
out that the Simon is working for the crew of the Serenity
for their safe passage.
But, having Rain onboard leads to trouble as a professional
problem solver is sent to retrieve Rain. While she appears
to be broken mentally, deep inside is a hyper-violent killing
machine that wipes out a whole bar upon receiving a subliminal
key world. But, this is the least of Serenity's problems.
Rain is also psychic and she managed to glean some important
information from government officials who had visited previously.
It's this information that sends the crew on a life or death
mission to reveal a dark secret.
If you're like me and you never saw the original series,
you're going to have to pay attention. There is some effort
to bring new viewers into the story, but a lot of this is
inferred so as not to drag the movie down in backstory. Personally,
I think this works in Serenity's favor as the pace of the
story is quick enough to keep you entertained. The characters
work nicely together and have a solid balance. Mal is the
sarcastic and weathered veteran, while Harm is the violent
prone soldier for hire with more than a few good lines. You
have your heart (Zoe) of the crew and the quirky engineer.
One of the more interesting ways the characters are presented
is in a different manner of speak, taking older phrases and
implementing them into the flow of conversation.
Special effects are pretty impressive without being blatantly
obvious. You won't see excessive use of CG and even the monstrous
Reavers are shot in such a manner that you don't see much
of their makeup. Sets and costumes are varied and show a wide
range of civilizations in Serenity's world. From a direction
standpoint, Joss does a fantastic job. I've always liked the
way he shot his shows and as time has progressed, he's honed
his craft. In this feature, he pulls no punches and even drops
some nice twists, even for those who know his style.
In terms of sci-fi flicks, Serenity is one of the
few new features that are worthy entrants to the genre. The
space cowboy theme is well done and creates a believable interaction
of characters, political and society clashes. While it would
be presumptuous to liken this to Star Wars, I would say that
Joss' film is in rare company.