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FireflyFirefly - "Serenity" Movie - Thezreview.co.uk Review
By Adam Whyte
Thursday 25 August 2005, by Webmaster
Drawing inspiration from “Star Wars,” various Westerns and, in one scene, “Blade Runner,” “Serenity” is a bold and entertaining movie in its own right, presenting a story that is probably ludicrous, but you’ll enjoy yourself too much to notice. Imagine the bits of the original Star Wars you loved the most, the broken space ships, the wicked one liners, the heroes that were as likely to shoot first as not and you’ll get a good sense of what to expect within. You’ll care and root for these guys. Could you really say the same of Episodes I - III?
Joss Whedon, known as the creator of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel” and “Firefly,” the cult TV series that the movie is based on, directs “Serenity”. I confess to never having seen “Firefly,” and rarely having seen “Buffy” or “Angel,” so I walked in to the movie with few preconceived notions, and was pleasantly surprised by the entertainment the movie provides. No doubt there’s tons within that ties up the loose ends of the TV show, but it matters not a jot for those without any previous experience of the show.
The movie tells the story of a band of renegades who, 500 years in the future, go from planet to planet pulling off heists. They are rebelling against the Alliance, which is the government in control of the universe. The crew is made up of the captain, Mal (Nathan Fillion), a few co-renegades, a doctor (Sean Maher) and the doctor’s sister, River (Summer Glau) who, being a psychic, the government was trying to train as a fighter; at the movie’s opening, her brother rescues her from their evil grasp. She wonders around with wide eyes for much of the movie, predicting stuff and occasionally going into insane-fighting-machine mode, which can be a bit awkward.
Meanwhile, a worker for the Alliance, known as The Operator, and played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, is hunting the crew. Ejiofor also stars in the soon to be released “Kinky Boots” as a transvestite. Here he uses a similar gentle nature in a completely opposite role that adds even more menace to the character.
The CGI in the movie is impressive without showing off, although slightly longer shots of the impressive visuals would have been appreciated. And how often can you say that about CG? The camerawork has a sense of fun, such as at the very start when we zoom through the letters of the Universal logo that sets up the premise of the movie beautifully.
One of the best choices the movie makes it to use largely the same cast as the television show; the obvious camaraderie that the show created with the characters translates well, and all power to Whedon for not replacing his relative unknowns with stars. As it is, everyone is well suited to their roles, particularly Alan Tudyk (whom you may remember as Steve the lunatic Pirate from “Dodgeball”) and Jewel Staite, who has the cutest face to grace the screen in many a moon.
“Serenity,”does follow the usual conventions of sci-fi adventure movies, this is where Whedon’s writing skills kick in, finding new ways of subtly twisting well worn elements, such as the relationship between Mal and the Operator. Our nominal good guy and bad guy which as you’re well aware is usually black and white with little room for any kind of shade. Thankfully that isn’t the case here. The Operator may not be a terribly nice person, but he believes so strongly in his convictions that you develop a certain sympathy for him, even without quite understanding him. All the more delicious to watch.
A lot of people will compare “Serenity” to “Star Wars,” but Whedon has delivered the proverbial kick up the arse that that trilogy so badly needed. Sure, both have the same sources: westerns, adventures and old serials. It follows reliable old conventions without seeming too formulaic; even the ancient lines are more fun in this movie than in the other dozens you’ve heard them in. At one point, a character shouts, ‘She’s sealed off the bridge!’ Uh oh. You always know things are in trouble when the bridge gets mentioned.
If you thought that the new “Star Wars” trilogy was bogged down by joyless, dull dialogue and a general lack of excitement, you may find that “Serenity” is just what you’re looking for. Joss Whedon has the same sort of determined ambition as the young George Lucas. “Serenity” cares about its characters and puts them in exciting and imaginative situations. It’s a lot of fun.