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Firefly - ’Serenity’ Movie - Leesmovieinfo.net Review

Sunday 29 May 2005, by Webmaster

Serenity is set to open in September and is based on a short-lived science fiction show called Firefly. The cast is all unknown actors, and considering the director had only done television productions up until now, I was a bit skeptical. There’s a certain tolerance on television with this genre, and movies are vastly different in structure - all you have to do is look at most of the Saturday Night Live movie spin-offs to understand the danger at stake in translation.

The film started off very much like The Chronicles of Riddick (C). The caliber of the special effects were out of a video game, the story setup was reminiscent to anything on the Sci-Fi Channel, and the acting was over the top. I thought this was simply going to be a very mediocre flick, but by the end of the first act it had hit me that I hadn’t seen a movie this bad in a long time.

Set 500 years in the future, the movie is about a crew on a ship named Serenity who, on their course, pick up two people who are running away from the Alliance. Together, they try and stay alive, and in the process they help the girl they picked up find a planet named Miranda.

This was a very awkward experience. I didn’t know anything about its premise beforehand, and I still didn’t know much by the end of the movie. The film heavily relies on fans of the show who are already accustomed to the story. Any movie should tell a general audience what they need to know without relying on any previous knowledge, and this feature fails in that first step.

If you took the sci-fi element of The Adventures of Pluto Nash, mixed it with the outrageousness of Steel, and added in the really bad dialogue from Paycheck, Serenity would be the result. The movie is set so far into the future that you’d want to see what the surroundings look like, and yet you can barely get a glimpse of anything. There’ll be a quick shot of civilization and then we immediately fade away to a specific room (almost in the fashion of Star Wars), which is presumably to hide the caliber of the special effects. And the sets look like a sound stage, which makes it hard to believe most of the situations.

The layout is so geared for television that it’s hard to believe anything that is going on. The way the characters talk comes off like a sci-fi series replete with “cute” one-liners and confused facial expressions, and characters saying and asking the obvious. The girl searching for planet Miranda picks fights in bars when they arrive on land, pulls unheard-of fight moves, and knocks anyone down - she is nearly invincible, and masters the art of a monotonous facial expression (think Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever). When she speaks, which is rare, she usually just says “Miranda,” suggesting that it’s where she wants to go. The depth of her character is about in line with everyone else in the story.

A lot of the dialogue is so stiff and staged, and the movie plays as if we should know who these characters are - the only thing missing is an introductory "Previously on Serenity..." narration. I found many of the scenes confusing considering I didn’t always know what was going on, and that was the result of poor storytelling. And possibly the highlight of the show for me (in terms of noting the depth of creativity) was discovering that there’s actually a character named Mr. Universe (think about that for a second). He runs a universe and is referred to on a radar screen for guidance. You would think a plot point like that is right out of a Mel Brooks movie, and it’s hard not to laugh.

This movie might just demand a certain tolerance that I just don’t have. The director created Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and that’s a show I’ve never been able to endure (and my complaints are similar). Television in general can be very subjective; some programs are entertaining to some people and ridiculous to others. A lot of television is there for mindless entertainment, and is programmed so that viewers can have it on in the background so you don’t have to watch with your full attention. And the problem with Serenity is that it didn’t seem necessary to watch with my complete attention.

I have a hunch that this movie might not even get a theatrical release (if it does, it could be a very limited release like Below). I was having a hard time imagining it playing in many theaters, let alone anybody showing up; even undemanding moviegoers might walk out. This is the kind of material anyone can see on television for free, and in only a 42-minute time frame (without commercials) versus 120. Serenity is an early contender for the worst movie of 2005 and is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, period.

Grade: D+ (advanced screening version)

Lee’s Grading (233 reviews): [7% A] [48% B] [39% C] [5% D] [0% F]

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