Not that it’s any surprise, but I have a new favorite movie. Serenity far exceeded my expectations in terms of story, film work, acting, action and CGI. While not a perfect movie, it came damn close.
The movie picks up about 6 months after the television series Firefly ended, and very soon after the three comics end. In it, we see River get rescued by her brother, then see that they have a new agent after them, an Operative. Fast forward, and the crew’s on a job- robbing a bank. Simon’s pissed at Mal because River’s been included in this op, in which she performs very well and they get off almost completely- except that while they’re robbing the place, Reavers hit the town. We knew they were scary in the series. Up close, we see what they look like and what they do, and they’re downright terrifying.
Crew goes back to space to finish the job, and Simon and River intend to leave. River, on the other hand, goes into a fighting mode while in a bar, destroying the place and forcing Mal to leave again with them. They realize that there’s something major up, and they find out what triggered her, and found that River is essentially a time bomb, created by the government. They turn around to hide again, and find that everywhere that they have hid has been destroyed by the Operative, who’s encountered them once already, at Inara’s planet. The rest is amazing, and you’ll have to see it to see what happens. Let’s just say epic space battles and the origins of the Reavers.
Storywise, it’s extraordinarily strong. We have the same caliber of storytelling that we had in the series, but more epic and more packed. This entire movie could easily be the second season, but with a much larger budget. Seeing the series is handy, and you feel like you’ve never left it. The characters are the same, Serenity is the same, the ‘verse as a whole is the same. It’s like returning to a room that you haven’t lived in for a while, and found that your books are in the same order in which you left them.
There are some minor differences in the verse here and there, such as the Alliance ships, uniforms and soldiers, as well as costumes and other random things, but these are minor differences.
Characterwise, Nathan Fillion stands out the most as Mal. He’s the way that Fox wouldn’t let him: Dark, grim, slightly funny, but an empty man who’s just trying to survive, and when the prime opportunity to hit the Alliance gets to him, he takes it, no matter what the costs. The next biggest character is River, who’s still crazy, but even more so. We learn WHY she’s gone crazy through, which is part of the focal point of the entire movie. We see that she’s conditioned for combat, and has some amazing fight scenes towards the middle and end. Simon and Kaylee finally get together, Wash and Zoe are about the same and Jayne’s never going to change. Inara comes in about half way, and she’s great, while Book’s role has been reduced to a smaller cameo, which is a shame, but his character is a little darker this time around, and we don’t find out anything about him, just more questions.
Film wise, this is also really amazing. Opening right off from the Universal Logo, we are launched right into the story, and is given a huge explanation for the universe. We’re then treated to one of the best opening sequences that I’ve ever seen, that shows us the ship and all the characters, all in a 4.5 minute continuous take. Must have been hard as hell to shoot, but it’s worth it. Throughout the rest of the movie, we’re treated to a lot of the same film work that we saw in the series: Handheld, zooms, following characters and some cool angles. The consistency is very well done.
Zoic, the special effects company that was responsible for the series, as well as the new Battlestar Galactica once again did the CGI, doing an outstanding job. There are some inconsistencies in some scenes between the movie and the series, such as how things move and things like that, but that’s to be expected with a big budget film. Serenity looks spectacular, as to all of the CGI scenes that it’s in.
There are a couple of things that I wasn’t a fan of. One was the deaths. Book and Wash both are killed, and while I applaud Whedon for killing characters, Book’s death seemed kinda out of place, while Wash’s was done perfectly. I’m not fond of their passing, but it worked well. Same thing with Zoë’s reaction. Some people that I’ve talked to seem to expect that she’d stand over Wash’s body for a long time or something, but that wouldn’t fit with her character. Her acting suicidal and without hope was much more accurate, although I think that they really could have spend a little while longer on what happened there.
Action scenes: Amazing. River is definently a very, very deadly and graceful opponent, and man, her action scenes were just mind blowing. Same thing with the space battle towards the end- excellently done.
I can’t really think of a lot more to say that hasn’t been said, but man. Go see this movie. Many times.