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FireflyFirefly - "Serenity" Movie - Moviehole.net Review
By Clint Morris
Wednesday 7 September 2005, by Webmaster
Nathan Fillion, Adam Baldwin, Summer Glau, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Sean Maher, Jewel Staite, Ron Glass, Morena Baccarin, Chiwetel Ejiofor, David Krumholtz, Sarah Paulson
When something’s badly wounded, it usually dies and.... stays dead. But in the case of "Firefly", a short-lived TV series that aired (out of sequence, mind you) for twelve short weeks in 2002, a knock on heaven’s door was met with no retort. The Sci-Fi Western was merely greeted by a ‘Closed - Come Back Later’ sign stuck on the pearly gates, and so, it promptly slid back down the white lights - and back to life for a second chance, or, lengthened existence. Bless those angelic fans.
Created by celebrated "Buffy" alumni Joss Whedon, "Firefly" was an episodical part sci-fi, part Western show that told of a small space freighter whose crew are willing to take whatever types of jobs come their way in order to preserve a way of life outside of the regimented Alliance.
Similar to what happened with the similar-themed "Star Trek" some thirty years before, Firefly garnered a huge following in such a short amount of time, and with sales of it’s DVD Box-Set going through the roof - it seemed only natural to give it a second chance - on a bigger canvas.
Less refined than George Lucas’s drastically more expensive sci-fi saga, and dirtier in both look and manner than GR’s Enterprise adventures, Whedon’s series, and now movie, is quite a unique experience. Everything you loved about the series is back on the big screen too - with $50 million worth of extras. Back is the excellent writing, the humour, the adventure, the distinct characters, the plight, the battles, the sexual tension, and the imaginatively designed starships - still as dirty as ever, and as wonky as a rusted bike. There are a couple of surprises in tow too.
Cocky space-smuggler Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) and his crew - engineer Kaylee (Jewel Staite), his second in command and most trusted ally, Zoe (Gina Torres), her husband, the pilot, Wash (Alan Tudyk), and the muscle, Jayne (Adam Baldwin) - are still harbouring fugitives, the telepathic River Tam (Summer Glau) and her doctor brother, Simon (Sean Maher) on-board their rust-bucket space ship.
The alliance’s hunt for the fugitives - especially River, who harbours some secrets and then some - is cranked up a notch when The Operative (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is assigned to find them. He’ll do anything - quite a nasty character he is - to get to River, and it poses quite a challenge for the crew of Serenity.
"Serenity" feels like a gobsmackingly-good two-hour season ender for the series. But that’s good. That’s what fans want. Who wants to revisit the beloved characters only to discover that they’re changed, or that the story’s drifted away from the one we were tuning in week-after-week for?
At the same time, Whedon’s - making his feature-film directorial debut here - need to please the fans might also have hurt his film a little. Those that are new to the world might soon catch on - you get a quick introduction - but they’re unlikely to be as emotionally invested in the characters as the fans are, and let’s admit it, it’s the characters that we keep coming back for. Some of the film’s surprises are unlikely to affect newcomers, as they will the regular browncoats.
Still, everyone likes a good movie - and this is definitely an A-grade experience. The writing is impeccable, the chemistry among the cast is fantastic, the performances are great, and the action is non-stop. The film’s skirmishes really kick in towards the tail end of the movie, and it’s everyone’s party then.
Summer Glau is inevitably the film’s standout as the puzzling Escapee River giving a multi-faceted performance and predominantly, kicking some royal bootie in action stakes, but series scene-stealers Nathan Fillion, as Mal, and Adam Baldwin, as Jayne, are still as amusing and boastful as ever. There’s a couple of equally talented newcomers to the Whedonverse too - Chiwetel Ejiofor as the ominous villain, and the always-dependable David Krumholtz as the amusing techno-head ‘Mr Universe’.
There are some slow spots - exposition does need to be slotted somewhere, I guess? - and it’s disappointing to see a couple of the show’s most popular characters sitting on the bench, but all-in-all, "Firefly" fans are going to be extremely happy with the feature-length treat Sir Whedon has rewarded them with here.
Many, I’m guessing, might want to pick up some cough mixture on their way home from the theatre too - with all the screaming, laughing, yahooing and shouting, they’ll be doing, they’re inexorably going to lose their voice.
Thanks Joss. This is a superb directorial debut - and one sensational bit of cinema.