“…I knew that I had to see Serenity. My geek credentials were on the line, and in a very real danger of being revoked. Finally, due to a few extraordinary events at home, I found myself at the movie rental place du jour and there was Serenity. I had no choice but to take it home.”
What you’ve got to understand first and foremost is that I don’t have cable and rarely watch TV. If I am caught in front of the tube with the control of the remote I’m watching one of the many PBS channels that come over the airwaves for free in glorious HD. Commercials to me are more than an irritant, they’re representative of all that is wrong with society. That having been said, I don’t see commercials for movies or ever really watch any sort of “regularly scheduled programming” unless it happens to be on while I channel surf (because, as much as I love having over a dozen channels of PBS, I can only watch so many hours of documentaries). I pick up news about movies from my daily regiment of websites and it was in this way that I knew that I had to see Serenity. My geek credentials were on the line and in a very real danger of being revoked. Finally, due to a few extraordinary events at home, I found myself at the movie rental place du jour and there was Serenity. I had no choice but to take it home.
You should, by now, have inferred that I did not watch Firefly. I came to Serenity not as a Browncoat but as a Jaded Jedi. (Honestly, good Sci Fi is just getting harder and harder to find these days.) I think I was about fifteen minutes into the movie (just after the four-minute crew introduction cut) that I realized what a fool I’d been for not having seen this already.
A review must be written with the lowest common denominator in mind, I guess, so please ignore my glossing of the history of Firefly and Serenity. The television series was written by Joss Whedon of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel fame, as well as having written the screenplays to Toy Story, Titan AE, and Alien: Resurrection. (I’m sure that last one is right up top on his resume [yes, I know he feels his screenplay was ruined by the director]). The series was on for one (1) season before it was canceled by Fox. Joss, the crew and the fans fought tooth and nail to continue the franchise in some way resulting in the movie Serenity which I plan to get around to reviewing at some point in this article.
Firstly, up front and without any mincing of words or literary ballet, it was amazing. The characters were fully fleshed out and felt real, real in a way that made me care about them. The dialogue and the body language of each actor in the way they interacted was believable. [Note to George Lucas: let your actors know more about their characters and you might get something more than wooden acting.] The villain, simply known as The Operative, is by far one of the most interesting and chilling adversaries I’ve seen. No one is made to be stupid or easily foiled. You won’t see any expendable redshirts or dimwitted stormtroopers in this ‘verse.
The story revolves around a ship (Serenity), its pilot Malcolm Reynolds (a former war volunteer and current space privateer) and its crew of six others. I’ll spare you the bios on all of them, not because they’re not interesting but because I’m in more of a summary mood than a documentary mood.) One of the six, River Tam, happens to be somewhat cookoo for Cocoa Puffs after some governmental testing, leaving her to be not only great for a loopy one-liner, but seriously dangerous to be in the same room with. This is not a girl you want to let channel surf for any extended period of time.
As it turns out, the government (the Alliance) wants River back, and has sent the Operative to get her. Malcolm (henceforth referred to by his standard moniker of Mal) has her on his ship and since she’s a bit of a liability is happy to drop her and her brother off at the next port. As things often go in movies, the drop off doesn’t work out very well and by then the plot is off and running. River has a bit of a secret in her head that’s scrambling her noodle and the Operative is right on their tail.
The movie is somewhat horrifying in short segments, deserving of its PG-13 rating. There are a race of men called Reavers who raid towns and “eat you alive” and “rape you for hours”, which begs the question: If two hundred Reavers get on a ship to raid a small town, how many are alive to exit the ship when they arrive?
Serenity is a Sci-Fi Western, which is a fairly exclusive genre and I’m sure that Back To The Future 3 is thrilled to have some company. I’ve had the DVD in my house since Friday night and I’ve watched it three times. It is nonstop, literally, it will keep you guessing (and worried) all the way to the end.
Now. Which one of you geeks is going to let me borrow the boxed set of the series so that I can honestly and truly get my geek on?