Serenity (2005) – Capsule Review

After hours of listening to fan podcasts and rewatching the entire TV series on DVD, there was no way that I wasn’t going to love Serenity. And as a fan hoping for sequels, I’m glad that most reviews and audience response seems to agree. Despite the sci-fi trappings of this movie, it’s the interesting characters that make Serenity fun to watch. At the centre is Mal, captain of the space ship Serenity, a conflicted, sarcastic and courageous leader who will risk everything for a job that could pay off, but would just as easily stand alone to fight the good fight. The rest of the crew is a similar blend of opportunism and nobility, the kind of group who will probably get you backed into a corner but who you feel ready to die alongside with guns blazing. At the climax of this movie the Serenity crew are actually in that position as they protect their shipmate River Tam, a psychic whose mind holds a secret, from the relentless Alliance military and the savage Reavers. For fans of the TV show Firefly that spawned this big-screen incarnation, Serenity is an expansion of story threads introduced in the series. We finally learn some of why River (and brother Simon) has been pursued by so many. We learn more about the legendary Reavers. I loved that after all they go through over the course of the movie, it does not end with the same crew, same jokes, and very little change. The story pushed this ship-board family to new, happier and sadder places than I would have expected. For new visitors to the Serenity ’verse, (though I can hardly be objective here, fan that I am) I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how human and enjoyable a group of sci-fi characters can be. Writer/director Joss Whedon has made it easy to slip into the story, and you’ll see why fans identify with so many aspects of these characters’ personalities and why they have gained such loyalty. Alongside great characters, sharp dialogue, and an intriguing storyline are some stunning space battle scenes and River has more than one thrilling hand-to-hand scene as well. If you like all those things I’ve described, I know you’ll think Serenity is an excellent movie. We of the ’verse just call it “shiny”. (4.5 out of 5)


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