Review: Serenity

Posted by: Dean Kish  //  September 30, 2005 @ 11:59am

Filed under: Reviews

When Fox Television cancelled the short-lived TV series, Firefly, many of us mourned. But it was probably more the network's fault than it was the ratings for the cancellation of the show. How are you supposed to hook viewers when you begin with the second episode and never show any of the show in its proper order? I don't know what network genius thought up that strategy, but I hope he's been sacked.

What is kind of sad is that the same thing seems to be plaguing the movie version of the series. The studio is already screaming they have a franchise and that this could be the next Star Wars or Star Trek. You also have to realize this is the same studio who said the same thing about The Chronicles of Riddick and Hulk.

Underneath this promotional quagmire actually does beat the heart of a gifted writer who knows how to bring the unexpected and deliver it with some of the cleverest dialogue in any genre. The man's name is Joss Whedon and he is more than worthy of pulling off basically the same as what Gene Roddenberry did back in the late 1970s " bringing his own creation back from extinction in a bigger and bolder way.

Serenity reunites nine of the key cast members from the short-lived show and delivers them back onto their decaying cargo ship called "Serenity". One of the ship's crew members, River (Summer Glau), is wanted by an elite branch of the government who believes she is a lethal weapon whose telepathic powers hold the key to unlocking a most sinister secret. The government's lead assassin (Chiwetel Ejiofor) will stop at nothing to bring River in. The problem with his plan is that Captain Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) is just too stubborn to let him have her without a fight.

Serenity builds off the strong ensemble cast as Whedon is able to open up the world of Firefly and really show what his new universe really looks like. He has always delivered clever dialogue and always does the unexpected " this is evident throughout the film as it impacts the audience every step of the way.

I had some problems with the film's first half and wondered if a television "boy wonder" like Whedon could pull off a huge feature film. The first half doesn't flow, has some very deep valleys, and doesn't really find its footing. I know part of it was about bringing in an audience who hasn't seen the series, but it was so jumbled.

After the return of Inara (Morena Baccarin) and the ship's pitstop on her planet, the film takes off and doesn't look back. It was almost like a different kind of film. I was amazed at how Whedon was able to blend so much into the second half. The second half is definitely worth the wait for newbies and browncoats alike.

Serenity is probably the next great cinematic sci-fi experience, but this time let's give it a chance. I hope they heard me this time. (3.5 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.

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