Serenity (2005)

serenity01Brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, I am here to preach the gospel, the gospel of “Firefly”, can I get an amen?! Like you I was once lost and now I was found by Joss Whedon’s amazing and brutally bastardized television series “Firefly” which was taken much too soon before its prime, can I get an amen?! Much like you, I was turned on to the “Firefly” series by word of mouth. A friend told a friend who told me, and I gazed upon the glory that is “Firefly” and I am now a brown coat, one of legions of fans, can I get an amen?! I then spread the word and made it my mission to do so! What, you dare doubt the power of “Firefly”?! Well, I cast you in to the damnation of “Harry Potter” fandom you heathen, and I tell you, that “Firefly” is the beginning, the middle, and the end of what a masterpiece is and should be! Can I get a fucking amen?!

Yes, Mal is bad-ass, Wash is hilarious, Zoe is rocking, Inara and River are sexy, Kaylee is adorable, and Jayne is one bad motha, and this is the word of Joss, can I get an amen?! As you can tell by my heated sermon there, I am a proud fan of “Firefly”, and I’m glad to spread the word to everyone I come across, and have yet to really hear anything negative about the show, and what makes “Firefly” so unique, is every fan has some sweet story of how they became one. For me, I saw the trailer for “Serenity” in theaters when I went to see “Land of the Dead”, and I was blown away. I later caught a marathon on the Sci-Fi Channel here in New York, and I was hooked. Short, but still sweet. So, when I finally got my mitts on “Serenity”, suffice it to say there was a giddy smile, and a few squeals here and there.

Whedon’s under-appreciated ahead of its time series finally gets a truly respectable, and utterly worthy send off with this film adaptation that I just enjoyed with gusto… and some zeal. The serenity crew is now close to finding out what is wrong with River, and after she spontaneously lays waste to a bar and all its residents, the crew is hard pressed to hurry up their search. Meanwhile, there’s a vicious one man army/spiritual guru named The Operative who is intent on finding River beyond all else. Fans of the series need not know much else from there; if you have never seen the show, you can still watch “Serenity” because Whedon lays out enough exposition for people to catch on, but I very strongly suggest you watch the show beforehand simply because you’d be a fool if you didn’t, and you could catch details that a general viewer couldn’t.

And I’d have to smack you with my bible (Read Firefly box set). Whedon makes the transition from television to film with utter perfection, and though I’m not one of his usual fan boys, I do appreciate that the man can squeeze so much in only two hours. The characters are here, in their prime, and the characterization is just as rich as it was during the series. And of course, everyone gives great performances, and Whedon is able to get them to reach back to their characters and bring about what made us love them from the very beginning. Each fan has a favorite character, and each character has their own moment that will let you beam with pride. My favorite is Mal; he’s just so bad-ass. A big ruttin’ hero. Whedon’s direction is crisp, and alternates from dark to bright in different scenes and he sure does know how compose a watchable action flick, and with a bigger budget, he’s able to give us some excellent action sequences that will just pull you in.

Anyone who’s anyone knows that “Firefly” is sixty percent western, and forty percent science fiction, and both elements come to play here. There’s even a beautiful homage to “Rio Bravo” in the climax. For the general audiences, when we last we left the crew, they’d been taken out by a very skilled bounty hunter named Early who was there to take River for his bounty, and she turned the tables on him, but for the fans, we’re given the little details finally. We see what the dreaded reavers look like, we close up the plot with Simon and Kaylee, and there are two utterly shocking plot twists that will surely piss you off as it did me, and oh so much more is accomplished. I’m drooling, now. Great. Regardless, Whedon is a true artist to be able to close off so many sub-plots with grace without ever ruining the flow of the story, or the characterization. He puts every character in the spotlight, and he leaves nothing untouched.

“Serenity” is a rollicking grand science fiction western in the tradition of science fiction fests like “Flash Gordon” and “Star Wars”, and Whedon has the right idea. Suffice it to say, “Serenity” is a magnificent closer to the series, and Whedon shows how much love he has for his fans by giving us a quality finisher. If there are no more films after this one, I’ll still be content in knowing that the story was closed off nice and tight. If you’re as smart as you think, go out, buy or rent the gorram DVD set for the series, and then watch this. You’ll be happy that you did, and you’ll thank me in the morning. Whedon is able to take such a heavy task and charges at it with poise and raw talent taking all the questions, story elements, and unfinished plotlines from his short-lived series and seals it up in a two hour jam packed action fest. It has drama, comedy, action, romance, and the atmosphere of the old time sci-fi serials that help to compliment Whedon’s last respectful nod to his loyal fans. “Serenity” lived up to my high expectations and so much more. It’s excellent.