...."Luckily, Firefly had a somewhat rabid fanbase..." and "...what sets Serenity apart from other run-of-the-mill action movies is that it’s actually about something; specifically, it’s about faith, whether it’s faith in an ideal, a cause, in a higher power or just in the people around you."
Five out of Five stars
Running time: 120 mins
Effectively a Western in space, Serenity is a thoroughly entertaining, smartly written, beautifully acted, rip-roaring action-adventure movie, that will appeal to both Firefly fans and newcomers alike.
The name Joss Whedon will no doubt be familiar as the writer-creator and sometime director of cult TV shows Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel. What’s less well-known is that he also created a space western series called Firefly that ran for 13 episodes before being cancelled by the suits at the Fox network.
Luckily, Firefly had a somewhat rabid fanbase and the huge DVD sales convinced Universal Pictures to let Whedon make his Firefly movie and to let him make it his way. The result is Serenity, a terrifically enjoyable, rip-roaring adventure movie that will appeal to both Firefly fans and newcomers alike.
The premise is established brilliantly in the opening few minutes. Suffice it to say that Serenity is the name of the Firefly-class ship captained by renegade Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) and his trusty crew: nervy pilot Wash (Alan Tudyk), first mate (and Wash’s wife) Zoe (Gina Torres), trigger-happy musclehead Jayne (Adam Baldwin) and geeky genius mechanic Kaylee (Jewel Staite). Also on board are a pair of fugitives that Mal has taken in: Dr Simon Tam (Sean Maher) and his psychic sister River (Summer Glau), whose powers have been meddled with by The Alliance, the fascistic government.
When The Alliance send a sinister figure known only as The Operative (special guest star Chiwetel Ejiofor in his second movie released this week) after the fugitives, Mal and his crew have to unlock River’s secret before it’s too late.
Serenity delivers handsomely on just about everything you could possibly want from a movie like this: you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, it has heart-stopping action sequences and, crucially, characters you really care about. It's also brilliantly acted by the entire cast, but particularly by Nathan Fillion (who cheerfully admits stealing everything from Harrison Ford) and Adam Baldwin (no relation to Alec), whose character gets the biggest laughs.
As you’d expect from someone who’d developed an entire TV series about these characters, Whedon knows this universe inside out and he makes it remarkably accessible to anyone coming to Serenity for the first time. He’s also, as it turns out, a brilliant director – his action scenes are exciting and well-staged and he’s capable of making you laugh and gasp with shock in the same breath.
However, what sets Serenity apart from other run-of-the-mill action movies is that it’s actually about something; specifically, it’s about faith, whether it’s faith in an ideal, a cause, in a higher power or just in the people around you.
In short, Serenity is a thoroughly enjoyable action-adventure movie, with an intelligent script, terrific action sequences and wonderful characters. If you’re already a Firefly fan, you’ll adore the movie; if you’re not, it’s a safe bet you’ll want to buy the DVDs after seeing the film. Highly recommended and one of the best films of the year. Here’s hoping it makes enough money to greenlight a sequel.