on November 2, 2005
This movie has been a long time coming and hasn't had an easy time of it. Through the process of not knowing if it would even come to term, to having the release date pushed back, dozens of pre-screening sneak peeks, to most recently fearing about the state of the box office and what that means for futue Serenity-related releases. Strip all the drama away and, even as a stand alone, you have one hell of an amazing movie.
Joss Whedon's creativity shines through brilliantly in his amazing theatrical debut. You don't have to be a fan of the unjustly canceled Firefly to enjoy a movie that will tear at your heartstrings and still keep you laughing as you jump in surprise.
The stars of the movie shine just as a brilliantly: relative unknowns (Two Canadians, a ballerina, a comic genius, an old time TV regular, a fake Baldwin.. just to give you an idea) who have more range and ability to emote than most of the high-paying stars of our generation. They have nothing but great futures ahead of them.
Even if you know nothing about the show, or can't recognize any familiar names in the cast, watch the movie. If the genre starts to turn you away, don't. Give it a chance; this movie may be set 500 years in the future but that's not the focus. It's the people. How does one survive in that far off time? It's about connecting when you're deep in the black and all you have are those around you. It's about fighting the oppression, not being afraid to question your government and look beyond, to educate others of the misguided truths that are offered up to the general populace. And at the same time, it's about good ol' ass kicking, big explosions, witty repartee and moments that make your heart stop.
Rent, watch, buy. Whatever you do, be open to loving Serenity. It really can't get any better than this.
on December 31, 2005
I am a very new fan of firefly/serenity, but even now, a very loyal and fanatic one. my wife and i decided to see the movie this fall and it is now my faorite of the whole year! it is something sci fi used to be but had certainly lost in the past 20 years: ORIGINAL! there are flaws but most of this movie is so compelling and captivating i am willing to overlook them in my 5 star rating. the music, acting, humor, special effects are all top notch. but you will for once FEEL for these characters and care what happens to them which i didn't even feel about darth vader/ anakin this year. see it. or better yet, buy it!
on January 3, 2006
Serenity is my top movie for 2005, and I'll tell you why: the characters. It is based on, and in conclusion to, the prematurely cancelled (thank you Fox) TV show Firefly. If you have seen the show before, you probably already love the characters, if not, you will.
Instead of being inexorably drawn by the tides of the universe, even though the main character at one point states that he simply follows the wind, this movie is drawn forward and driven by the characters. Their choices, their emotions, and their relationships are what guide this. Not technology, deus ex machinas, or even their desperate situation (which becomes increasingly so, as in any great sci fi flick).
Yes, the action is great, though not on par with the Matrix as some commercials state for some reason. Yes, the special effects are spectacular, although obviously not created by ILM. And yes, the story and the big twist revelation at the end keep you guessing. But what makes this movie is the characters. Believable, fresh and compelling.
If you were thinking that Joss Whedon wrote and directed "Serenity" to be the first in a series of movies based on the crew of his late and lamented television series "Firefly," think again. Whedon knows this might be his only bite of the cinematic apple for his creations, so fans will see this being more like the series finales of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel." In other words, not everybody is going to be around for the final credits.
To get everybody on the same page Whedon begins with Simon (Sean Maher) breaking his sister River (Summer Glau) out of the Alliance laboratory where they are busy playing with her brain. River is both a psychic and a living weapon, and it turns out that it is the former that is of the biggest concern to the Alliance because she knows something she should not know. That knowledge, rattling around in her head, is part of the reason that River is mentally unstable, and so the Alliance has sent an Operative (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who has neither a name nor an official position, to bring her back. Then we jump to Serenity and a tracking shot in which the boat's captain, Mal (Nathan Fillion) starts in the cock pit with Wash (Alan Tudyk), and then walks all the way through the crew deck and returns back through the cargo deck, meeting Zoe (Gina Torres), Jayne (Adam Baldwin), and Kaylee (Jewel Statie), along with Simon and River along the way. Inara (Morena Baccarin) and Shepherd Book (Ron Glass) are no longer aboard, but rest assured they will pop up. So, Mal has River and the Alliance wants her, so the Operative is coming to get her and he is coming "sideways."
Mal Reynolds is in the reluctant hero Han Solo/Rick Blaine mold; he and Zoe fought against the Alliance in the war and now his entire world is Serenity. His crew is his top priority and the Alliance is making a big mistake in forcing him to care about larger issues. Besides, he has an ace, or at least a wild card, up his sleeve with River. So the character arc of the captain is certainly a familiar one. But one of Whedon's chief attributes is that he likes to play with established conventions. Every time you think that you are ahead of the characters and that Mal does not know what is about to happen next, you are wrong. So it is nice to play with expectations and Whedon does so, to provide not only humor but some pathos as well (Whedon likes to make you laugh and then give you a reason to suddenly stop laughing).
Yes, those of us familiar with "Firefly" have an advantage in watching "Serenity" because we know the characters, not only in terms of their histories but also their temperaments. That is why we were expecting a lot more cursing in Chinese in this movie. We are also going to be more accepting of attempts to fast forward some of the interpersonal issues that afflict the crew of Serenity, as well as the attempt to suggest what is to come down the road. Whedon could get bogged down in trying to finally untangle the love-hate affair that Mal and Inara have been having, but he rightly keeps the focus on working out the River plotline. Most of the crewmembers of Serenity get their moments, but this film comes down to Mal and River, which is what both the television series and the prologue here have set up. I am perfectly willing to grant that such insider knowledge is worth at least a half-star in terms of rating this film, but that is just the way things break with this movie.
Ultimately, I ended up rounding up on "Serenity" because in the sequences where River goes to town Whedon uses long shots to depict the action. Yes, it could be that he is cutting or morphing together shots of the living weapon at work, but I am so sick and tired of seeing fight sequences reduced to a rapid fire montage of cuts where I can never tell what is going on. It seems that you do not get to see what is really happening in a fight unless it is not really happening because you are using CGI for your fights (a prime example being Spider-man versus Doctor Octopus in "Spider-man 2"). But when River takes her turn we get to see what she is doing and enjoy her whirling ballet of death and one of the joys here is watching Glau turn off the crazy little girl routine and show exactly what the Alliance has created. In other words, Whedon provides the payoff we were denied when "Firefly" was summarily cancelled after only eleven episodes had aired, which is exactly what the mission was here. Final Note: Stick around for the entire credits and you will get to hear the "Fireside" theme song as a nice little acoustic guitar piece.
on October 9, 2007
Not having seen the television series, I was lured to the Theater with some trepidation. Would I even know what was going on? Would I somehow be missing out?
The answer was no. Serenity held nothing back. It gives the audience everything to feel like a part of this film with or without having seen the series that preceded it. It welcomed me in, then hit me with experiences I thought were impossible in a sci-fi movie. I was made to truly love, and believe every character in the film. It moved me, it scared me, it shocked me, and uplifted me. For two hours, I WAS aboard the Serenity, and lived what the characters lived, felt what they felt.
You may now call me a Browncoat. Serenity changed the way I look at movies.
This HD transfer is spot on. If ever you need an example of High Definition and what it can do, just pop in this title. Not one frame is without the all important WOW! factor. Every pixel, eye popping. The Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 audio gives everything it has, and lets you feel every rumble of the Serenity's engines, every pulse of pure death dealt by the Reavers, and the Alliance. 30 seconds into this movie, and you'll forget your living room exists. Beneath your feet will be hull plating, beyond your wall, the cold chill of hard vacuum. Hold on, this ride is about to get bumpy!
The bonus features are without flaw. The behind the scenes footage makes it feel like you are one of the gang, here to make one kick butt movie. Nothing is neglected. Not one stone unturned.
This title is THE #1 reason to own an HD DVD player. From the content of the film, to the stunning sights and sounds offered up by the format. Serenity will be watched over and over, and you too will become a Browncoat.
Even though I'm a big science-fiction fan who watches Fox more than any other network, I somehow managed to never see an episode of Firefly. That means I came on board the Serenity with basically no knowledge at all about the series or the characters. Naturally, I now plan on watching the Firefly episodes in the near future, but there is a very real chance I will say something in this review that will be deemed rather stupid by loyal fans - but, rest assured, I intend to have nothing but good things to say about this movie. It definitely can be enjoyed on its own merits, but I did feel as if I were missing out on some background, especially in terms of the recent war and the true natures of the Alliance, the colonists on the outer, wilder worlds, and of course the Reavers. It was also a little hard to fully embrace the heroes at first because - well, they are basically criminals who aren't averse to leaving a few bodies in their wake when they do a job. These are deep characters, however, and it takes time to get to know them, especially Captain Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), who seems to run hot and cold all the time. Of course, his mood swings are nothing compared to those of River Tam (Summer Glau), the young psychic super-girl currently being protected by Mal and his crew. River was trained by the Alliance government to be a superhuman with extrasensory powers and lethal fighting skills. I must say I always enjoy watching a woman stomp mudholes in wave after wave of bad guys - and this girl doesn't bother with taking any names when she gets her groove on. What a woman!
River was saved from her life as an Alliance-controlled guinea pig of death by her brother, who can be a little annoying in a Jerry O'Connell sort of way. Naturally, the Alliance wants her back - not just for whom and what she is but also for the highly classified information she might have gleaned from people in authority. Since she doesn't officially exist, the government can't just put out an interstellar APB on her; instead, they send in a smooth-talking, highly trained assassin (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who doesn't let a little thing like countless innocent deaths get in the way of his mission. As for Mal and some of his crew, they aren't even sure they want to keep River around anymore, especially after she goes Bruce Lee on a whole bar full of tough hombres for no discernible reason. It's bad enough the Alliance is gunning for them just for having her onboard, but it starts to look like she could be a danger to them in and of herself. Mal wants to know what secret she has buried in her fragile brain, though - given the hated Alliance's determined effort to find and eliminate her, he knows it must be a real threat to their position and power. He's right, of course.
Serenity is a remarkable movie - nay, concept - in many ways. The very story itself represents a unique take on science fiction (although I can't say I saw a lot of Firefly's vaunted Western tie-in in the movie), one built on fascinating characters as much as futuristic technology and marvelous (and they are marvelous, by the way) shoot-'em-ups in space. The ever-ingenious Joss Whedon likes to diverge from common wisdom and prove all the "it will never work" critics wrong, and part of that involves some pretty unexpected fates for his characters here in this big-budget crowd-pleaser of a feature film. I can see where fans of the Firefly series might come away rather shocked on a couple of occasions.
I could quibble about a couple of things in the film (such as the melodramatic romantic pause at one point just before the climax and the bad guy's decision to risk his life going after the hero when he had ample opportunity to just blow the guy's brains out as easy as you please), but I won't. Serenity is a great movie and the ultimate vindication for Joss Whedon and his hand-picked actors who were mismanaged and then dropped mercilessly and far too quickly by Fox. These TV execs gave the horrendously over-marketed and downright weak Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., a full year to prove itself, yet they axed Joss Whedon's Firefly after a mere 11 episodes (which they didn't even show in the right order)? How stupid was that? Just look at the rave reviews and sales of both Firefly and Serenity. The show deserved better, and Serenity proves Mr. Universe right - they really can't stop the signal. Let's hope there are further Serenity adventures to come - in any format.
on July 11, 2006
I LOVED SERENITY. The humour, the action, the characters, the plot. All of that was very well executed. You wouldn't expect anything like Serenity to come your way, due to the bland, predictable big smash films out in Hollywood, but when you watch a film like Serenity, it just blows you away. River is the main focus of the film, as she's the biggest mystery left off from the cancelled Firefly. I enjoyed watching River/Summer Glau's fight sequences, she did them so smoothly and beautifully. Mal/Nathan Fillion is another great actor, who delivers the humour when you least expect it. The DVDs extras are great too, although I am a little disappointed about the commentary. There's one scene that was so shocking, after watching Serenity in theatres, that I knew I had to hear the commentary for but Joss Whedon, sadly, did not say much about it. Serenity's commentary wasn't as interesting as Firefly's dvd set was, since it's only Joss. In any case, fabulous movie.
I own Serenity, and honestly, it's one of the few DVDs I've been truly excited and happy to have gotten.
on November 2, 2005
In 1992, after studio interference butchered his script for his first feature film, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," now-director Joss Whedon laughed off his wife's suggestion that one day he may actually be able to re-make such a thing with his own vision. More than a decade later, with two full, critically acclaimed and much loved series' (Buffy and Angel) under his belt, as well as an equally beloved half season of a little show called "Firefly," Whedon has returned to the cinematic ring with all barrels blazing.
'Serenity,' based on the cancelled show, 'Firefly,' is a miracle in its existence. The show was cancelled due to the FOX network's determination to kill the show: Changing air times, airing episodes out of order; those who cared to watch were still left dazed. But the series was given new life on DVD, selling well and attracting a fiercely dedicated fanbase. It was through this that 'Serenity' was born.
Taking place six months after the final episode of the 'Firefly' series, we meet Captain Malcolm Reynolds aboard his smuggling space vessel, the titular ship 'Serenity.' Along with his pilot Hoban Washburn, first mate Zoe Warren, mercenary Jayne Cobb and mechanic Kaylee Frye, the Captain (referred to by his crew simply as 'Mal') cruises across the solar system, living a life of petty but adventurous crime. Mal fought for the losing side (the Independents) of a Galactic Civil War six years prior, losing to the 'civilized' and totalitarian Alliance which now rules the Galaxy. The crew of 'Serenity' is eager to live life in their ordinary way, surviving as they know how to and staying under Alliance radar as they do their intergalactic heists.
But trouble soon comes in the form of River Tam, a seventeen year old psychic who was tortured and experimented on by the Alliance. The crew takes her, and her brother Simon (who rescued her) on as passengers, but soon get more trouble than they bargained for. Very quickly they find themselves in the sights of a dangerous assassin known only as The Operative, a fascinating villain who believes so strongly in the vision of the Alliance that he will stop at nothing for the goals they assign him - in this case, retrieving River Tam before the secrets she holds become known.
What makes 'Serenity' such a thrill is exactly what the recent Star Wars prequels lacked: Heart. The sense of humor, the wonderfully realized characters and their strong interpersonal bonds, masterful dialogue and emotional pain, everything is present. We get to know Malcolm Reynolds more than we did Anakin Skywalker. And the young River Tam's secret and story, being sort of a 'Chosen One' herself, is far more fascinating. And it's not just a Sci-Fi movie either. Like life, this film blends many things into one: Heart pounding action, brilliantly witty humour, thriller-quality tension and even a few scenes of unanticipated dramatic impact. If you saw the original Star Wars in theaters way back when, you will be left with a similar feeling of awe after watching 'Serenity.' To quote a reviewer: "...the film realizes what George Lucas has forgotten: Han Solo made Star Wars great, not those stuffy Jedi."
No need to worry about seeing the 'Firefly' series first either; the film stands solidly on its own. Though, you will probably appreciate the nuances of it more if you are a fan of the old TV show.
I've found 'Serenity' and it's been one of the best movie experiences of my life. I hope you find it too.
on December 22, 2005
Serenity IS the next big thing. It has everything: ragtag heroes, a totalitarian empire, action, drama, wit, and grandeur. The only thing that prevented it from becoming a blockbuster was the network's poorly-conceived decision to cancel Firefly, the show on which Serenity was based. But that's besides the point. If you like Sci-fi, you absolutely MUST check this out.
on April 23, 2006
I loved this movie. It convinced me to buy the series behind it (Firefly) and i enjoyed every minute of it! Everything about Serenity was great, i loved the actors and their characters, i thought the plot was fantastic...i just wish a certain part of the ending had been different, but i cant say anymore because if you havent seen it yet it will ruin it for you. This movie is fantastic and you should watch it first before making any final decisions about it. (Unless of course you dont like sci-fi, action adventure in which case you probably wont like this movie). :)