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Is Serenity better than Star Wars ?

Tuesday 3 April 2007, by Webmaster

It’s tempting to answer yes to the idea of any film being better than Star Wars - even if that film is Carry On at Your Convenience - such is the fantastic smugness of the Star Wars brand, with all its action-figure merchandise and the decision by its creator George Lucas to inflict an abysmal prequel-triology on his loyal fans.

SFX magazine recently solicited votes for the best sci-fi movie ever from its own top 10: fans could cast their votes by clicking on the website. Serenity has just emerged as the winner (one place ahead of Star Wars). It’s a feisty little sci-fi action adventure from 2005 based on the cancelled TV show Firefly, and created by Joss "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" Whedon. The great man’s fans will now be checking into hospital A&E departments all over the world with repetitive-strain injury on their clicking fingers.

Admirers of the lost tradition of darkness and subversion in sci-fi movies - from Kubrick’s 2001 through Tarkovsky’s Solaris to Ridley Scott’s Alien - will be chuffed to hear of any rotten egg being chucked at the Church of Star Wars.

Serenity, though? Well, it’s all about an idealist rebel against imperial tyranny who turns into a space pirate with a supercool crew. It is, of course, influenced by Star Wars, and particularly by the original movie, now reconfigured as Episode IV: A New Hope. But when it came out two years ago its sheer energy and fun made it a breath of fresh air compared with the obese catastrophe of the prequels. It has a stunning opening sequence, and the first half-hour is thrilling - after which, very sadly, it tails off. It may not be particularly dark or challenging, but a DVD rental is a must.

As for being better than Star Wars: well, unless you interpret that as meaning the whole six-pack and its bargain bin of attendant tat ... well, I would have to say: no.

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