Quick Hit: Wild whooping science fiction that occasionally packs an emotional punch.
Firefly was the ill-fated Joss Whedon show that was once released on Fox (I think it was Fox). The show famously had the episodes air in the wrong order and was canceled mid-season. Therefore, it’s pretty cool that prior to the Avengers, Joss got a chance to direct another big budget blockbuster in Serenity. While not held in the same high esteem as some other science fiction hits, Serenity packs a solid cult following – just look at any convention where Summer Glau or Nathan Fillion attend.
Serenity follows River Tam (Glau) and her brother as they live life aboard the Serenity, a busted up spaceship that is captained by Mal (Fillion). The crew is a bunch of misfits, and they will do just about anything for money. Serenity does a good job of giving us these characters quickly through one long cut that introduces us to everyone, and allows those going in that have never watched the series to have an idea of what’s going on. Most of the crew fought in a failed war against the Alliance and now they’re just struggling to make ends meet. River is just trying to escape The Operative (Chiwetel Ejiofor of The Martian and Doctor Strange), and her psychic gifts make her useful when committing crimes.
Ok, so when you type out the plot, it sounds extremely schlocky. And it kind of is. But it feels right for the film, which is equal parts space opera and wild-west action film. Most of the action has some dubious effects that fit right in, but the choreography of the fight scenes is really good. River is a hero in the first degree, fitting the mold laid out by Buffy before her in Joss’s line of female heroes that kick tail. And even if the dialogue allows for a little too many “did they really just say that?” moments, its nature is solid and fun.
What is most surprising to me about the film is the fact that is still manages to hold emotional resonance. There is a really effective scene that takes place on a nearly abandoned planet as the crew watches a hologram message (ala Princess Leia) from a former Alliance member. It’s emotional and taut, and fills the rest of the story with a bit of importance that was missing. When coupled with the crew’s obvious chemistry (probably because of the rigors of shooting both a television show and a movie), there are some really poignant parts about a government that just wants to have everyone get along.
So overall, Serenity is worth watching, especially if you like science fiction. I’m giving it a “B”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"