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FireflyStandout cast makes "Serenity" Movie a hit
By Ben Saylor
Thursday 13 October 2005, by Webmaster
Take a seat, George Lucas. Joss Whedon has trumped you with his freewheeling sci-fi western "Serenity."
Whedon, best known for creating "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel," makes his feature directing debut with this big-screen adaptation of the cult TV series "Firefly."
"Serenity" follows the exploits of a ragtag group of space adventurers, including the tough, clever Captain Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), perky mechanic Kaylee (Jewel Staite) and second-in-command Zoe (Gina Torres). Mal and his crew find themselves in big trouble for harboring River and Simon Tam (Summer Glau and Sean Maher, respectively), a pair of government fugitives. River’s brain is tinkered with, giving her extraordinary fighting skills as well as a batch of secrets that the galactic governing body, the Alliance, desperately want kept quiet.
Though the film’s opening scenes do a good job of quickly catching up viewers unfamiliar with the TV show, "Serenity" (the name of Mal and his crew’s ship) is doubtlessly much more enjoyable for "Firefly" fans. Still, Whedon acquits himself nicely, especially considering this is his first feature. In the case of both "Firefly" and "Serenity," Whedon’s characters are the main attraction. While all of them are interesting and well played, there are some standouts. The roguish Mal is the Han Solo character that Lucas’ "Star Wars" prequels sorely lacked. Fillion’s portrayal mixes quick-draw bravado with expert comic timing to create a charismatic hero everyone will root for. Chiwetel Ejiofor is also excellent as an eccentric but lethal Alliance Operative dogging Mal and his crew.
Whedon engages the viewer by combining interplay between the characters with edge-of-your-seat action sequences including shootouts, a thrilling space battle and a climactic showdown between Mal and the Operative. Simply put, this is one of the most entertaining movies to come out all year.
With this said, the film has its drawbacks, mainly in the characters’ romantic relationships. Zoe is married to the ship’s pilot, Wash (Alan Tudyk), but only scant references are made to this effect. The will-they-or-won’t-they pairing of Mal and the lovely Inara (Morena Baccarin) also is given short shrift, as is the relationship between Simon and Kaylee. The relationships were explored in much greater detail in the TV series.
Still, for sci-fi fans and fans of well-made entertainment in general, "Serenity" is well worth hopping aboard.