Ah – the dichotomy of space travel and cowboys, laser guns and revolvers; this is the universe of Joss Whedon’s Serenity.
This is a film that was made because it already had a loyal fan base, demanding a movie.
Serenity is based off Whedon’s television series “Firefly” that originally showed on Fox, but was seriously mishandled by the station. Only 11 of the 14 episodes were shown, episodes were shown out of order, and even the pilot episode was shown last! Yet the fans still fell in love with this series and were begging for the DVD, more episodes, and for it to be restarted.
Now, don’t get worried and think you need to see the entire series of “Firefly”before you rent “Serenity”. This movie is just fine as a stand-alone film. The opening sequence does a fantastic job of explaining how the Universe that the crew live in came to be, and the follow up scene nicely sets up the story line for the movie, and actually sums up many questions left by the dangling series as well.
The best part of “Serenity” is easily its characters, and the way they work off each other. Here’s the breakdown.
Mal – (Nathan Fillion) Captain of the ship Serenity, Mal was also a Sergeant in the Independent Army (called Browncoats) against the alliance. His crew is technically a band of outlaws pulling old-west style robberies, but think of them more like Robin Hood and his Merry Men. They are thieves, but honorable ones, and Mal is the charming rogue with a heart of gold that always stands up for the little guy.
Zoe – (Gina Torres) First Officer of the Serenity, Zoe is Mal’s right hand woman. Having served under Mal in the battle of Serentiy, Zoe is the most formal of all the crew – calling Mal “sir” in typical military form. She is tough, she is loyal, and there is no better person to have at your back in a firefight. However hard her professional side is, her personal side is just as tender. She is married to the ship’s pilot, Wash and is completely in love with him. While she will defend Mal out of loyalty, she will defend Wash out of love.
Wash – (Alan Tudyk) Serenity’s pilot extraordinaire, Wash can fly the ship out of (or into) just about any situation Mal can dream up (or get caught up in by accident). Zoe’s husband is the least military member of the crew. He is the voice of reason and comedic relief when things get too tense on the ship, and often plays mediator between the regular crew and those who have newly joined up. He is completely devoted to his wife, and tries to sneak as many romantic moments in with her as possible.
Jayne – (Adam Baldwin) – A mercenary, Jayne is Serenity’s weapons expert. He loves weapons. As a matter of fact he sleeps with his favorite autolock fullbore rifle that he has lovingly named “Vera”. Jayne is great in a fight, as long as he gets paid. He and the Tam siblings have a very tenuous relationship, especially since River has laid him out and since he found out she is worth a lot of money.
Kaylee - (Jewel Staite) – As the mechanic for the ship she keeps the Serenity running in more ways than just patching the ever falling apart engine back together. Kaylee is a genius when it comes to anything mechanical. It almost seems she has a psychic bond with the ship; able to patch it up with duct tape, spit and baby talk if needed. She is also a little burst of joy and energy in an otherwise dark expanse of space. Always the optimist, she tries to pep the rest of the crew up. She also has a terrible crush on the ship’s doctor Simon Tam.
Simon – (Sean Maher) – A very new addition to the Serenity, Simon Tam is a surgeon who is on the run from the government for breaking his little sister out of a research facility. Originally just a passenger on the ship, he now serves as the ship’s doctor, fixing up the many injuries that the crew incurs from their not-so-legal activities. He also is working hard to figure out what the government has done to his sister, who seems to have suffered severe psychological damage from the research performed on her. He is equally attracted to Kaylee, but afraid to return the affections. His first priority now is his sister, River.
River – (Summer Glau) - Simon’s little sister, River at first seems to have no place on the ship other than passenger. She suffered much psychological damage from the government experiments performed on her. She is missing much of her memory, which can burst upon her at any time. Over the course of time the crew comes to realize that Summer possesses psychic powers, that this is the true reason the government wants her. Mal also realizes that having a psychic on his crew can come in very handy in certain situations. This does not make her big brother very happy, however.
Inara – (Morena Baccarin) – The only true paying passenger of the Serenity, Inara is a companion. Companions are women highly trained in many arts – including the art of lovemaking. She is beautiful, intelligent, sensual, and can be deadly when necessary. Inara can play many instruments, perform a tea ceremony, or kill you with a sword, cross bow or martial arts. Mal taunts her – but it is really because he has fallen head over heels in love with her and cannot stand to think of her with anyone else. Inara feels the same for him, but neither has worked up the nerve to tell the other.
Believe it or not, I have not given away the plot with any of the above – I have just teased you with the opening scene. This movie is fantastically layered. You will find something to love in it whether you are a SciFi fan, action/adventure fan, or comedy fan.
Just rent it, you’ll see what I mean.
Serenity is rated PG-13 for violence (it does get quite bloody in parts, it might be too violent for even some younger teens that are sensitive), fighting, action, and sexual references.
I bought this DVD with my own funds