Serenity
8

  • Joss Whedon
  • 2005

It is not often that when a television show is canceled, it gains more popularity than it enjoyed when it was on the air. 2002’s Firefly is a show that, at every level,balked at conventions. After only nine episodes aired, the program was cancelled. And somehow, three years later, a film based on the show opened on 1,500 screens.

The creation of Joss Whedon, who is well known for Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel, Serenity picks up where the television show left off, and functions as perhaps the coolest season finale of all time.

the ability to read minds as well as kick ass

The film follows the crew of the spaceship called Serenity, basically a group of criminals, who find themselves involved in an adventure that none of them asked for, after a young girl that they have taken in is revealed to be the product of a government experiment. River Tam (Summer Glau) fills the obligatory Whedon role of the superpowered teenage girl and is imbued with the ability to read minds as well as kick ass.

Set five hundred years in the future, the film recalls the old west on a great many levels, from the antiheroes to the fact that the main characters all carry old style revolvers instead of phasers, pulse rifles or some other generic futuristic weapon. This is just one of the many organic touches that allows this sci-fi film to feel more real than not. The sets, from Serenity herself, to the insistence on steering clear of hypermodern concrete bunkers, all contribute to an honesty that is found in this film, but is often lost on anything that is set after tomorrow morning.

The interaction of the crew members is classic Whedon. The dialogue is quick and clever, the characters always seeming smarter than their situation, which works very well. If this had been penned by anyone but Whedon, their sardonic forevision could come across as hokey or contrived, but he manages to make us believe that they could be as smart as we are, and see the touches of dramatic irony from within the story as clearly as we do from without.

The actors’ comfort with one another lends another level of credibility

Mal (Nathan Fillion) and his crew feel so natural and well worn, that one can almost sense the fact that all of these actors spent a year shooting a television series before this. The actors’ comfort with one another lends another level of credibility to this movie that could not be found if they had all met one another on the first day of shooting. This crew has been through tough times
together, and so have the actors.

A standout is Chiwetel Ejiofor, who portrays a character so badass that he is known simply as The Operative. His cool is so impenetrable that we become as frustrated with his passive aggressiveness as Mal does. He is nearly the perfect villain though, one who kills without thinking and threatens without caring. He is simultaneously terrifying and interesting.

The most endearing aspect of Serenity is the fact that it is an independent film in everything but studio moniker. The actors are relative unknowns, the story is something that defies normal conventions and is still able to work within them, the dialogue is smarter than most summer movies combined; and yet the special effects are great, and the camerawork is anything but amateur. The opening shot of the film spans the entire length of the ship, introduces all of the main characters, without cutting for seven minutes. This film could also be a great arrowhead that might pierce the big budget, explosion-scene-explosion formula that hollywood science fiction films have fallen into, and bring them back to what sci-fi should be about: Stories about people who just happen to be set in space.

I aim to misbehave

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