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Serenity (2005)

May 11, 2010

8/10 Andrew Daniels

Wow. Turns out those Joss Whedon fanboys were onto something.

Serenity is about a merry band of space cowboys who rescue one of their old psychic crew mates from the control of a tyrannical government who’s using her as a guinea pig and while avoiding capture themselves, manage to unravel the mystery behind why their pal was captured in the first place and the dirty secrets The Man has been hiding from its intergalactic citizens.

The neat thing about Serenity is that it’s the swan song for the short-lived TV show Firefly that features the same cast, crew and story line as in this here movie. Don’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of the show because it was only on for one season, but after being widely followed after its cancellation by a growing population of sci-fi junkies who know a thing or two about quality when they see it, the underground masses rose up and rabbled to Hollywood for a fitting end to their beloved series and, amazingly enough, it paid off.

At least I think that’s how it goes, pretty cool story though. Now if only they’d give us a fitting end to Seinfeld instead of that shitty clip show episode.

But whether you’ve got a shrine to the box set of Firefly hanging over your TV or if all this nerd jargon is breaking news, this is just a damn good movie, sci-fi or otherwise.

Now, I’ve never been into Angel or Buffy and I’m pretty sure I never will be, but Joss Whedon deserves all the nerd love he’s gotten for this one. As good as the entire cast is, so much of what makes this movie work not only as a continuation but as something new and whole in its own right goes back to his script and the world he’s created. In short, there’s few things cooler than bounty hunters/smugglers in space (Han Solo, Boba Fett, Cowboy Bebop, I’m sure there’s others but those are three choice examples), but that fact aside, all of Whedon’s flesh-out, unique and memorable characters with all their whip-sharp dialogue and endless one-liners are really what bring it all together.

The fight scenes go from decent (River’s stuff seemed kinda stiff) to pretty kickass (everything with Mal), the special effects are pretty solid, the pacing is so on point, but it’s hard to miss good writing when it just won’t quit for two full hours and immediately connects you to a world you’re completely unfamiliar with. It’s rare you see a cast of six or seven people who all play a significant role, who are all easy to connect with and all have very different personas that play off one another beautifully, and I’ll be the first to admit that I really wasn’t expecting to find that in this movie. Then again, that’s probably why I won’t shut up about it.

But nonetheless, the one guy in the bunch really worth watching is Nathan Fillion as Mal, the captain of the space ship. It’s too bad that Fillion’s not more of a household name, because the dude’s a total badass and he’s a got a chin that could cut through granite. Mal’s an awesome protagonist because he sticks to his guns in more ways than one, he doesn’t take shit from anyone, ever, and Fillion makes it look pretty effortless. After all, the coolest cowboys always the ones who make it look effortless.

Not to take away from the rest of the cast because I wasn’t kidding about every last one of them being a great addition to the mix, but Nathan Fillion’s the man, simple as that.

Serenity and Firefly are two things that my friends have been hounding me to watch for far too long now, and after finally getting around to seeing how it ends, I’m chomping at the bit to see how it all began. This is just a fun, funny and refreshingly dark sci-fi Western that doesn’t let up and creates a totally wild story that’s appealing to both noobs and Dungeon Masters alike, and that can’t be an easy thing to do. It’s sitting pretty at a high 8 right now, but I can easily see myself giving this a 9 after being properly educated in the ways of Whedon.

Not surprised in the least that so many folks opted to take this on a desert island with ’em, Wilson and I would watch this sucker like crazy.

29 Comments leave one →
  1. May 11, 2010 12:28 am

    8??? BLASPHEMY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    haha… I’m glad you finally saw this, Aiden… told ya! I just got it on Blu-Ray for my Birthday… very excited about that. If you dug the movie, you will love the show. I too am not versed in all things Whedon although, I like this so much that I just borrowed Buffy Season 1 from a friend… yeah… I’m willing to take it that far!

    • May 11, 2010 7:24 am

      hahaha, it’s an 8 now, but i foresee it getting bumped to a 9 in due time. and good luck with buffy, people fuckin’ LOVE that show.

  2. May 11, 2010 1:07 am

    Love this movie. I love pretty much everything Whedon touches with his under appreciated hands of awesomeness. He is directing the Avengers movie. How sad is it that I have hope for the Avengers movie? If anyone can make that good, it’s Whedon!

    • May 11, 2010 7:25 am

      That’s the only reason I’m looking forward to The Avengers right now, the only sign that it might not be a total clusterfuck of a movie.

  3. May 11, 2010 5:22 am

    Love this film. The series is just as strong. And you’ve hit the point exactly – it’s so accessible, regardless of what you know of the series (or even the genre). Can’t stand Buffy though.

    Oh, and is Han Solo really a bounty hunter?…or just a stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder? Now Boba Fett on the other hand…

    I’m writing on a blog about serenity, star wars and buffy. I think I need to go and re-evaluate my life.

    • May 11, 2010 7:27 am

      Haha, nice to see you appreciate the finer things in life, man. Yeah, Han’s more of a mercenary in hindsight, but I think he still counts, and you’re dead-on about Boba. The necessary changes have been made.

      • Andrew permalink
        May 13, 2010 10:12 am

        Han was a smuggler, not a bounty hunter

      • May 13, 2010 10:20 am

        Jesus CHRIST! I GOT IT! I swear to GOD I’m gonna fucking FLIP if someone brings that up again! FUCK!

  4. May 11, 2010 7:03 am

    This is one of those cult films, that actually did really well critically, and financially. I have always wanted to see it, I just don’t know if I would get the references, cause I never had watched the show.

  5. Ryan permalink
    May 11, 2010 9:08 am

    Way to drink the kool aid…

  6. Moose permalink
    May 11, 2010 9:17 am

    I happen to actually be one of those Joss Whedon fanboys, but for some reason I never watch the show or the movie, now I plan on doing it eventually though.

    One thing you should check out is “Dr. Horrible,” it was an online movie, that also happens to be a musical, with Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion(Plus my crush that no ones ever heard of Felicia Day). Really funny, songs are catchy, and just got Whedon written all over it.

  7. May 11, 2010 12:40 pm

    Is this the movie where most of the characters get trapped in some kind of corridor where they all die cut down to bits by a laser beam?

    • May 11, 2010 12:53 pm

      That’s Resident Evil.

      • May 11, 2010 1:55 pm

        Ahah, yea then I need to see this film. It’s on SyFy every now and then I believe.

      • Darren permalink
        May 13, 2010 4:02 am

        No Castor, nobody needs to see that film…

        ((And Cube does the same stunt – just much better))

      • May 13, 2010 7:31 am

        I keep meaning to check out Cube, heard good things.

  8. mcarteratthemovies permalink
    May 11, 2010 1:37 pm

    You got it wrong. I don’t have a shrine to the “Firefly” box over my bed; I have a poster of Cap’n Reynolds! The shrine to “Firefly” as a whole is in my closet!

    Seriously, though, it’s rare that movies are made as a final farewell to a great TV show. It’s even rarer that they’re GOOD movies that retain the spirit of the show and amp up the volume a bit. “Serenity” did both, and it did them so well it almost stands apart from the TV show.

  9. May 11, 2010 2:08 pm

    Han Solo is a smuggler, not a bounty hunter.

    But anyway, yea, this is a pretty fine film and I don’t have a problem with you score. It’s good, but I think there are some mishaps and it falls a big short of being a great film.

    That being said, the show isn’t near as great as all the crazy fanboys let it on to be. I still like it a lot, but the show is rough around the edges and probably would have ended up being a lot better if it hadn’t got canned so early.

  10. May 11, 2010 8:51 pm

    We have something in common Aiden, the caseloads of this film that were being brought to desert islands all over the world during Fandago’s little excercise finally tipped me over the edge to finally see this film, following years of haranguing, by friends, bloggers and reviewers alike.
    I however, thought it sucked. Granted, I watched it VERY late and VERY tired last week during a visit to my sister’s in LA, and fell asleep about a half hour in. But I just thought it was very TVish. Yes, I know its based on a TV series, but it just felt like a feature lenght episode. The bad guy, the black dude with the sword and the forced English accent, Im sorry, he just wasnt convincing me. And as for Captin Granite Chin, I just couldnt take him seriously.
    I have to admit, I also watched Blade Runner for the first time the night before in similar conditions, and was equally unimpressed.
    Both films were very high up on my ‘must see’ list, and both probably deserve a revisit since I slept through most of em. But if they were as good as I have been continuously told, Im sure they sould have kept me awake.
    That is all.

    • May 11, 2010 10:17 pm

      I’m starting to think more and more that you and McG might actually go to hell for hating awesome shit… I pray I’m wrong and I pray for you McD! WATCH IT AGAIN!!! and have a coffe first! 🙂

    • May 12, 2010 7:32 am

      First time I saw this a couple years ago I just kinda half-watched it like yourself and didn’t think much of it. Definitely worth watching while awake, but despite how Blade Runner is always hailed as a classic, it’s slow as HELL. Been meaning to watch it again for a long time though, might finally have to get around to it.

    • May 12, 2010 7:37 am

      Oh yeah, it does have a very TV look to it. Kinda weird at first, but I got used to it.

  11. Darren permalink
    May 13, 2010 4:04 am

    I’m a recent convert as well. It’s a ridiculously fun movie that makes the most of its situation. I think that – despite everything it has to do – it handles itself very well. I don’t think it’s a classic for the ages, but it’s a very well made film.

  12. May 13, 2010 7:39 am

    Yeah, I guess it deserves another look, if anything you lot say is anything to go by!
    Haha Kai, Breakfast Club v Goonies ran in the paper yesterday, someone wrote in today giving McG stick for hating on Breakfast Club!

    Oh and Moose: your ‘crush that no-ones ever heard of’ is Felicia Day? what about the nine billion people who follow The Guild??!!
    You’re right tho, she is super-cute

  13. May 15, 2010 1:37 pm

    Why did they have to kill Wash? Why?!

  14. Branden permalink
    May 24, 2010 6:01 pm

    See, we are not crazy. It’s a solid movie. It makes me wish that Firefly is back on the air.


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