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"Serenity" Movie DVD - Collector Edition - Dvdtalk.com Review

Tuesday 21 August 2007, by Webmaster

Every time I see Serenity, a slow-rolling tear falls from my too-moist eyes because I know it’s unlikely we’ll ever see another movie on the big screen. The Firefly ‘verse is the Little Engine that Could and Still Can, as the record-breaking success of the TV series on DVD proves (it still ranks in the top 100 on Amazon). Despite that success and despite strong positive buzz from both critics and fans about the feature before release, moviegoers just didn’t flock to the film. Once again, however, they flocked to the DVD when it was released in 2005, which gave rise to the special edition this year.

The film follows the low-rent crew of the Firefly-class ship Serenity. It’s been some unexplained amount of time after the series was amputated and the crew is slowly falling apart over the conflict that is River Tam, a cracked telepath on the run that has an incredible talent for taking folks down. The crew is desperate for cash and food and they’re not hesitant to take any job, legal or otherwise. During a bank robbery on a one-horse planet, the Reavers attack. The Reavers are a brutal, savage group of humans gone cannibal, living on the edges of the known galaxy and attacking ships and planets. No one knows from whence they came and no one is eager to find out until the Alliance, who made Tam what she is, run down Serenity‘s crew. They’re desperate to find River because she knows the secret of the Reavers and they don’t want the public getting a handle on the truth. Cap’n Mal and crew think otherwise.

It doesn’t go without saying, so I won’t: this is not just science fiction at its best; this is entertainment in the best sense of the word. It has heart and comedy and drama and action and above all characters that are true, whole and have as many dimensions as Dungeons & Dragons die have sides. The cherry on top is that Whedon was able to find actors who aren’t showing up just to get a paycheck. That love was brought to the movie and it shines through each and every performance.

Special editions are a spear in my side; if it’s a modern movie and you can be reasonably sure that it will do well, give me that edition. I shouldn’t have to go out and buy another edition later. With Serenity, we were given a decent edition in 2005 but not what it could have been, as this edition shows with its wealth of extra extras heaped on top of all of the original DVD’s special features. My personal favorite is a new commentary. The original was creator Joss Whedon by himself and, given what I knew about the friendships between the cast, it just didn’t feel right. It felt lonely. Luckily we get not only the original commentary from Joss, we also get a new highly amusing commentary with Joss, Adam Baldwin, Nathan Fillion, Ron Glass and an incredibly soft-spoken Summer Glau.

One tidbit from the commentary is that the original script for the movie came in at 190 pages but both that and the resulting film had to be chopped down because that would be War and Peace on film or maybe the flow just didn’t work. For the special edition we get to see a few missing parts in deleted and extended scenes with Joss Whedon commentary on the deleted. All of the original featurettes are in place, but we also get a few new entries that were previously only available on the Australian release plus a 2005 documentary from the Sci-Fi Channel hosted by Adam Baldwin. Joss Whedon’s unofficial viral videos known as the R. Tam Sessions are also packaged in. While I’ve always known that Summer Glau (River) was a good actress, the sessions really show her chops.

Lastly, the movie is packaged in a new, beautiful fold-out box with (insert bated breath) new cover art to replace the B-movie abysmality that was the original.

My greatest hope, aside from coming into ridiculous amounts of money, is that the signal won’t stop for the crew of Serenity. It feels like close family members are absent from my life and I just want them back in any sort of acting-type form the myriad of movie mogul gods see fit to deliver unto me. Give me life, liberty and the crew of Serenity. And Jayne’s yellow gun shirt.