Serenity
Starring:
Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk
Directed By:
Joss Whedon
Grade
A-

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.

- - Kinderfeld

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