Serenity (Review)

dir. Joss Whedon

After being disappointed by most of the Star Trek movies, I wondered why the filmmakers just didn’t make a film as if it were a two-part episode. Afterall many of those two part episodes in (Star Trek: NG anyway) are very good, and I’d be happy to see a film like that. It would be preferrable to seeing the films that they did make. Well, I felt like I got my wish with Serenity, a film based on the TV series, Firefly.

If you have not seen the series, seeing the series before the film is not necessary, but I would recommend watching at least the first episode (which is 1 1/2 hours long). That’s a pretty good introduction to the characters, and it’s one of the best (in terms of entertainment and directing) in the series.

To give you an idea about the series, I would say imagine Han Solo and Princess Leia go on adventures stealing, transporting and fighting the Empire, add the crew dynamics of Star Trek, and place these characters in a world that brings together the old west (i.e. speech, dress and…well, horses), and you’ve got a good idea of the series. (I was skeptical about the cowboy western elements, but Whedon has blended it within a sci-fi context.)

As I mentioned earlier, Serenity feels like a good episode from the series. The special effects and the look of the series is upgraded, but some of the sets, costumes and even use of the camera have a TV flavor to them. The character arc doesn’t feel self-contained either, more like one part of arcs that range over one or more seasons. Aspects of the character and relationship are left hanging as if they will be addressed in future espisodes. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I did feel a slight letdown because of that aspect.

Still, the witty and effective dialgoue are there. The characters and relationship that I have grown to like are all there basically intact. The story is descent, too. I particuarly like several tight situations the characters get into and then get out of. First, I liked the way Mal and Inara get away from the assassin (played by a miscast and wasted Chewetel Ojiofor; the second time this year! The first occurred in Four Brothers.).

I also liked the way the thwart the Alliance by having them run into the Reavers.

I was sadden by Wash’s death, and when the crew is in siege, I thought Whedon was going to kill everyone off. (I imagined Whedon thinking something like, “OK, I know no one is going to turn this into a series. I’m going down in the blaze of glory!”)

Overall, the film entertained me, and despite the drawbacks, I much prefer him making a film that feels a good episode in a series, rather than a movie that completely sucks.

1 Response to “Serenity (Review)”

  1. Chris

    Hey —

    I’m glad you liked the movie, Reid. We took a friend who had not seen any of the series, and she was very entertained. Joss Whedon has serious storytelling skills, and a way of quickly creating characters to care about. It had some very good moments. And the deaths were shocking.

    Three movies? That is a challenge.

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