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Firefly - "Serenity" DVD - Nzherald.co.nz Review

Friday 10 February 2006, by Webmaster



Herald rating: * * *

Joss Whedon enjoys a cult following with small-screen viewers of a certain age and stage. He conceived and directed Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Later he came up with another show called Firefly, but the sci-fi soap opera lasted less than a season. Serenity is the full-length movie based on that show.

Sometime in the future, the ruling Alliance is at war with a group of rebels.

Alliance brainwashers have captured River Tam (Summer Glau), a psychic. When River’s brother, Simon (Sean Maher), rescues her, he learns she was shown to a group of Alliance MPs. Bad move: she read their minds and learned secrets the Alliance doesn’t want voters to know.

River and Simon go on the lam with a gang of smugglers aboard an old spaceship, the Serenity. Led by Malcolm (Nathan Fillion), with his crew of Wash, the pilot (Alan Tudyk); his wife, Zoe (Gina Torres); Kaylee, the engineer (Jewel Staite); and Jayne, the hard man (Adam Baldwin), they are fleeing from the Alliance’s most feared operative, The Operative (Chiwetel Ejiofor).

Not a bad set-up, but Serenity doesn’t deliver. It’s not short of imagination, excitement, wit; but the plot zooms from here to nowhere with little explanation and many of the big scenes look as if they were done on the cheap.

The DVD extras include deleted scenes which help to explain the story, so it’s a pity they weren’t left in. Whedon explains the lengthy trail from the small screen version, to the big screen, and back to the home theatre. There’s a reel of out-takes.