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Whedon Finds Redemption in Serenity

Published October 3, 2005 in Movie Reviews
By Ryan Parsons | Images property of Universal Pictures
Serenity Serenity
Taking a cancelled television series of only after nine episodes, Whedon has finally realized his dream of Serenity by adapting the story to the big screen. What this means is that instead of being a solid film in its own, Serenity is more of a grand sequel to Firefly and all the fans, or should I say browncoats, who have felt stranded by the show's sudden cancellation.

In the terms of the tagline 'can't stop the signal,' Whedon has unleashed a full-budget sci-fi joy ride that should more than satisfy your average moviegoer; let alone anyone who owns a copy of the Firefly DVD. Serenity is an unrelentingly fun movie, with enough action sequences, space combat, guns blazing, hand-to-hand fights and witty lines to carry you through to the films end.

Serenity Movie Review

Serenity begins with Capt. Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) as he pays his debt to an on-board doctor by helping him rescue his mysterious sister River (Summer Glau). After a few brief introductions we learn that Mal is the captain of a ship titled Serenity loaded with a crew of misfits. Even though the ship and crew must do small crimes against the 'alliance' in order to survive, we quickly learn that they are typically good people with heart. The only two characters that Whedon does leave in question is Mal and River.

We are told that River is telepathic, a sense that she showcases repeatedly throughout the film. However, upon command River becomes an uncontrollable weapon without the ability to tell friend from foe. She is also the one that The Alliance wants back so desperately, as the government feels that she may have picked up a secret or two during her stay at a special training facility.

Serenity Fillion represents Serenity with his character Captain Mal
Mal, on the other hand, is where the entire conscience of Serenity lies. With a past that has led him through the losing side of a galactic civil war and a massacred squad, Mal is a lost soul looking for a cause worth fighting for. For the first half of the film we encounter multiple actions from Mal that have the audience, and his crew, questioning what type of person he is. Fortunately, Mal finds a reason to go on in River, which results in him fighting for the betterment of all.

One thing that a lot of sci-fi fans may miss in Serenity is that it isn't about the technology. Though we encounter many spaceships, transportation units, weapons and consoles, we are never given a lesson on what these items are, what they do or even what they are called. Instead, Whedon chooses to spend a majority of his time on understanding the characters, locations and the story; which, for me, was a sigh of relief.

If you do not know the Serenity universe before entering the theatre, have no worries. Whedon offers a brief five-minute introduction that explains the birth of The Alliance and the current problems revolving in the galaxy. The technique reminded me a lot of Lord of the Rings but much, much, shorter.

The only issue some may have with Serenity is that it does, at times, hope that the people in the audience are followers of the television series that the film is based upon. Having an entire crew means not enough screen-time to get to know the characters, even when Whedon is trying his best. Therefore, some may find it hard to have any type of bond with a good majority of the crew, especially when they are in peril. There are also a few inside lines and jokes that at least seem like they require some Firefly history to understand.

Other than that, Serenity is a fun sci-fi adventure that features enough action, and an impressive body count, that should impress most action fans as well. Whedon has successfully concluded a series that wasn't given a chance, and has now opened a wide enough door for a grand return to television or even a sequel. Judging by the success of both, I say bring on the sequel.


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Ryan Parsons
Sources: Images property of Universal Pictures

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