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Firefly - "Serenity" Movie DVD - Ign.com Review Part 2

Matt Casamassina

Tuesday 13 December 2005, by Webmaster

The Video

Serenity’s transfer to DVD arrives with few videos issues to report. The movie is presented in its original 2.3:51 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio and there are noticeable compression problems. That is to say, viewers will not encounter any video artifacts, not even during some of the darker scenes in the movie. We’re happy that Universal has given Serenity a fair treatment, especially since the movie oftentimes takes place to the backdrop of black space.

Whedon’s film tales viewers to a variety of different locations, from the depth of dark space to blooming desert locales. The picture is always sharp and the colors bright. In fact, our only complaint is that colors were occasionally too bright, appearing overly saturated on the high-definition televisions we tested the movie on. Even so, this is a minor gripe and will probably be a non-issue for most.

Score: 8 out of 10

The Audio

It’s unfortunate from a fan boy’s perspective that Whedon opted to drop the television show’s country western-like theme jingle from the movie update. The new orchestrated soundtrack is, however, very well implemented and highly fitting of the material. The songs range from moody to downright epic, and successfully draw on the backgrounds of the material. Some of the tracks, for example, merge Asian and country influences for a sound that is unique to the movie.

Serenity runs in both English and French Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound and effects and dialogue are appropriately separated. Center channel audio may become occasionally muffled in high-action, sound-effect drowned sequences, but that’s really our only criticism. Those with higher-end audio systems will find themselves very impressed with the booming effects that are used for immersive results. Whedon likes to zoom the camera closely toward ships so that audiences are practically shaking with each engine rev. But in contrast, he’s not afraid to use silence to his advantage either, and occasionally does so to emphasize key dramatic moments.

Score: 8 out of 10

Packaging and Extras

Serenity doesn’t exactly overwhelm with flashy packaging or special features, but there’s enough in place to satisfy fans and give newcomers a good helping of insight into the movie and the television series. There’s nothing particularly special about the box - no embossed logo or folding out homage to characters. Universal undoubtedly wanted to keep the package to a minimum in order to amass a bigger profit. That noted, the disc does include all of the following special features:

* Deleted scenes
* Outtakes
* Future history: The Story of Earth That Was
* What’s in a Firefly
* Re-lighting the Firefly
* Joss Whedon Introduction
* Feature Commentary by Joss Whedon

There are about nine deleted scenes, most of which are short and unnecessary sequences that Whedon was right to remove. Even so, fans will undoubtedly like to see extended "quiet moments" between Mal and Inara, or added sequences between Simon and River. Best of all is that Whedon offers commentary on these snippets and why they did or didn’t work, in his opinion.

Documentary-style programs including What’s in a Firefly and Re-lighting the Firefly offer an inner look at the making of the show and the movie with insight from the cast and the director. The film quality of these documentaries is grainy, but the content itself is still welcomed, particularly since it shows firsthand how the show became a movie. It also provides some good laughs from the stars, including Whedon himself. An outtakes section complements these documentaries nicely with five-plus minutes of good-humored on-film accidents.

Fans can also check out an introduction from Joss Whedon, which was developed for the initial un-finished screening of Serenity to fans. The piece is short, but heartfelt. Whedon is as well-spoken on camera as he is off it.

Easily the most valuable feature the DVD has to offer, however, is full-length commentary from Whedon. Oftentimes directors coast through these commentaries as though they recorded them at gunpoint during a quick lunch break, but Whedon optimistically talks about Serenity and offers repeated insight into its making. Watching the movie again with his commentary reveals quite a bit more about the picture and provides for another round of completely entertaining cinema.

Score: 7 out of 10

IGN’s Ratings for Serenity

Rating Description out of 10

9 The Movie Firefly’s big-screen incarnation proves a bittersweet finale for the fantastic series.

8 The Video Other than minor oversaturation, the transfer is terrific.

8 The Audio Minor muffling in the center channel mars and otherwise pristine audio presentation.

7 The Extras Deleted scenes and a couple of docs chronicle the show’s journey to the silver screen.


(out of 10 / not an average)