Now, I've done my best to leave out any spoilers. I do mention a couple of plot points, but nothing that gives anything away other than setting up where things are at. I will hopefully get my other post out soon.
Serenity is Joss Whedon’s first big trip into the cinema. He’s visited before with the scripts for Toy Story, Alien 4 and Titan A.E. but this is his first go in the directors chair. Serenity picks up 6 months after the last episode of Firefly. Mal and the crew are still finding it difficult to get work, legitimate and not-so legitimate. River is as vague as always and Simon seems even more protective of her.
The film opens with an introduction that zips along; revisiting and revising some of the history of the show, and quickly setting up the universe for those unfamiliar or new. The introduction of The Operative who has been sent to retrieve River is deftly handled and Chiwetel Ejiofor instantly establishes himself as a worthy foe for the Serenity crew.
All the original TV cast are back in their roles, but sadly the format of a film doesn’t allow enough time for all of them to have meaty roles. Mal and River are the focus, with Simon, Zoe, Wash, Jayne and Kaylee as general crew and support. Inara has barely an introduction which may confuse the uninitiated. Book appears, but is sadly not around enough.
Serenity herself has had a facelift. Some major redesigns of the cargo bay make it much colder. There seems to be no extra living quarters behind the medical bay that were used on so much in the show, and there a few extra little rooms here and there. I like most of the changes, but I think overall the ship felt colder and not as homely.
Joss’ direction has the film speeding along. The crew run from fight to fight or away from The Operative. In essence this is a chase film that spans a few worlds and the action is what keeps it all going. After Buffy and Angel Joss knows how to film a fight scene and River is the star of the biggest ones. Mal is also in usual form: getting his arse kicked numerous times.
I did feel in some of the dialogue heavy scenes that the editing was a little TV-like. Cutting back and forth between people’s faces a lot rather than using an interestingly framed master shot. There were a lot of these types of shots, but I think old habits die hard, and it’s understandable for a TV-like element to inhabit this film.
As is typical of Whedon’s work, the surprises are good, and the shocks are like being hit with a sledgehammer. If you know Firefly, expect to be shaken to your core by what happens. For those unfamiliar, don’t get too comfortable in your seat because this is a wild ride that doesn’t wait around for anyone who’s fallen behind.
An excellent send off for the series. An excellent stand-alone product. A new glimmer of hope that quality sci-fi is still possible.