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FireflyFirefly - "Serenity" Movie - Nytimes.com Reviews
Thursday 27 October 2005, by Webmaster
Serenity - 2005 - US - SciFi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Release Date: September 30, 2005
Rating: PG13 (for sequences of intense violence and action, and some sexual references)
Running Time: 119 minutes
Starring: Adam Baldwin, Alan Tudyk, Gina Torres, Sean Maher, Summer Glau, Jewel Staite, Nathan Fillion, Morena Baccarin Directed by: Joss Whedon
It probably isn’t fair to Joss Whedon’s "Serenity" to say that this unassuming science-fiction adventure is superior in almost every respect to George Lucas’s aggressively more ambitious "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith." But who cares about fair when there is fun to be had? Scene for scene, "Serenity" is more engaging and certainly better written and acted than any of Mr. Lucas’s recent screen entertainments. Mr. Whedon, the creator of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," isn’t aiming to conquer the pop-culture universe with a branded mythology; he just wants us to hitch a ride to a galaxy far, far away and have a good time. The journey is the message, not him. In addition to "Buffy," Mr. Whedon created a curious genre hybrid called "Firefly," which he had pitched as "Stagecoach" in space. Fox aired just 11 episodes of "Firefly" before pulling the plug. But DVD sales of "Firefly" were impressive enough for Universal to pony up for a big-screen version. Named after the ramshackle spaceship that hauls Mr. Whedon’s characters from one far-out adventure to the next, "Serenity" picks up where the series left off, with these plucky, shambling outsiders fighting oppression against impossible odds.
MOST HELPFUL READER REVIEW
While I’ve enjoyed Whedon’s work on Buffy, Angel, and Firefly, even he can’t wow me every time. Serenity wowed me. I got hooked by the adventures of these mismatched underdogs trying to survive in a uberdog’s world without forfeiting their human decency (well, except for Jayne, who’s forthright about his supposed lack thereof). The metaphor of space as a literal frontier presents a future that’s neither a STTNG utopia nor a Terminator/1984/Brave New World/Fahrenheit 451 dystopia. Isn’t it more likely that, assuming humanity survives, we’ll still face corporate and political powers controlling too much, and individuals rebelling against them? See, Serenity is believable. No aliens. No magical powers. Bad things happen and people get through. The good guys are flawed. Bad guys are motivated. The men are more than action heroes. The women are as competent as the men, which is still a bit unusual in the world of SF, even from writers (Star Trek) who try, and certainly those (Star Wars) who, beyond the odd blaster-wielding princess, do not. And the dialogue! Ah, to be able to write funny dialogue like Joss Whedon. Is Serenity blockbuster material? I dunno-I’ve avoided recent “blockbusters” because they rarely have writing to match the hype. But Serenity has foregone hype for sincerity. It has great characters, a fast plot, moments of horror and of absolute rightness, and optimism without condescension. It’s smart. It’s funny... wow.