003797Reviews & Counting
DVD disk
01.20.2006 By: Jason Coleman
Serenity order
Joss Whedon

Nathan Fillion
Adam Baldwin
Summer Glau


star Printer-Friendly version
When the thieving crew of the ship SERENITY decides to harbor a dangerous girl with a deadly secret, they get more then they bargain for. Dodging a cunning assassin, a space government known as The Alliance, and flesh eating monsters called Reavers, takes the rag tag bunch of rebels to the edge of space. Think SILVERADO meets STAR WARS.
I must admit, I’m a fan of FIREFLY. It was the cancelled series that spawned this film. (When does that happen?!) It actually started by chance on this very site. I'd watched the SERENITY trailer, and it got me interested enough to rent the series. Great work and I’m not a fan of either BUFFY or ANGEL, Director Joss Whedon’s previous two shows. So how does FIREFLY translate here, into a full length feature film? Just fine. Even if you’re not a fan or will never (fool!) watch the early series, this one works all by itself. Whedon has an eye for both great dialogue and great actors, and both are in full force here. His script has just the right balance of action, sci-fi, horror and humor, crossing genres within a film is definitely his specialty. As for his direction, SERENITY being his debut, it’s very inspired. We as an audience can tell he is very much in love with this universe and the film is better looking for it.

But the true greatness here, mentioned earlier, is in the performances, yes, all of them. I agree with Whedon that actor Nathan Fillion, who plays the multi-faceted Captain Malcolm Reynolds, is a true leading man; it’s the work of someone to watch. All the rest of the SERENITY crew are back in their various guises - from Summer Glua’s River Tam (now the Linda Hamilton of kung fu!) to Alan Tudyk ‘s Wash, the gutless, ready with a quick quip pilot. Even newcomers like David Krumholtz, playing the quirky Mr. Universe, and bad guy Chiwetel Ejiofor (whom I frigging hated in FOUR BROTHERS!) make a long and lasting impression. But the best work here is from Adam “MY BODYGUARD” Baldwin, who gives both humor and brawn to his Jayne Cobb. It’s great work from a great actor, who has been languishing in purgatory for much too long. So will SERENITY have you itching to see its t.v. predecessor FIREFLY? Maybe. Do you need to see it to understand or appreciate this film? Absolutely not. SERENITY is a stand alone, impressive first outing that both fans and non-fans will get a kick out of. Bloody monsters, tons of guns, and a sexy girl who kicks ass. Yeah. If this film is bad, I aim to misbehave.
Feature Commentary With Writer/Director Joss Whedon: Coming from a writer’s background, Whedon gives a very different look at his film. He discusses a lot of written elements, not giving so much info on the filmmaking side of his experience. The result is a very interesting and witty commentary that has something for everyone. He gives insight into his process (telling us he shot 45 takes of the opening sequence!), reveals technical tricks (there is a cut in the long opening sequences, which is hidden with a whip pan!), and the difficulties in taking an already character rich t.v. show and making it accessible to a new audience. Whedon says he’s shy, but from this commentary, I’d say he’s about to come out of his shell.

Deleted Scenes (14:39): With only 14 minutes of extra footage, the pickens here are slim. (But on a good note - do you really want to see hours of footage that was cut 'cause it sucked?!) Plus, most of the scenes were cut or trimmed for reasons that are clear as day, but the good news is that Whedon’s optional commentary is great. Even though some of the pieces are less then a minute, he still manages to get out pertinent and interesting info very quickly, with a just a splash of Whedon humor - he was definitely born to do commentaries. You can watch it as a play all (again, with or without optional Commentary) or in pieces.

Extended Lilac Entrance (0:25): A short extra moment of wacko River and Mal’s reaction to it. Quick and quirky, but like Whedon says on the optional commentary, the scene ends when Baldwin’s character Jane says “Let’s be bad guys!”

Extended Kaylee and Jayne (1:09): Could see why this was trimmed, as there is too much character background, boring for fans, tedious for new viewers. But I do love to see any and all extra Baldwin bits.

Inara and Sheydra (2:22): Again, no need for this scene. The script is so good already that we get what is voiced here in a mere look later on. Good to see Whedon knows when to say when.

Operative Tracks Mel (2:16): More scenes with background info, which is self evident. Seeing this definitely gives you a respect for Whedon’s talents as a filmmaker, he has a nose for cutting the obvious. (At least we finally get to see where Fillion says “I think we better go”, which up till now, was currently only in the film’s trailer!)

Extended River And Simon/Haven Opening (2:26): I actually liked River’s cut powerful moment here, but it doesn’t make me like the film any less! (And love when Whedon states that he told executives that he would never cut this bit, then cut it anyway!)

Escape From Companion Training House (1:31): Loved the added Fillion humor in this one. The studio thought it made the Alliance seem too bumbling – that’s like saying George Bush’s moronic statements make him seem a little slow. Give me a break!

Mal and Inara Shuttle Chase (0:17): Short, but the ending made me laugh. Should have kept this one.

Mal and Inara Quiet Moment (2:20): Highly boring and obvious, good to see this was excised. Less is always more. (Shit, Whedon is honest in his commentary!)

Extended Mal and Operative Coda (1:11): Great Mal moments, both sullen and funny. What a shame!

Outtakes (6:05): Actually laughed out loud for some of these outtakes, mostly at Fillion, who really should try his hand at comedy!

Future History: The Story Of Earth That Was (4:33): Interesting background on the story and its various elements, but could have done without so much film footage! (Although I loved seeing the bits from FIREFLY!)

What’s In A Firefly (6:33): A Look at some action sequences in the film, special effects, with some behind the scenes stuff and yes, more film footage. The only difference here is that it’s mostly used for comedy, not as filler. Good job.

Re-Lighting The Firefly (9:41): In an adult film, this would be the money shot. A great story about how Whedon took a cancelled t.v. series and got Universal to make it into a movie. And if you’re a fan who knows this story already, there is plenty of cast faces and stories to keep you flying!

Joss Whedon Introduction (3:55): For those in the know how (including me!), this was an intro that Whedon clipped onto special advanced screenings of SERENITY. It’s a piece of SERENITY history, but I must say, it’s much more exciting seeing this intro with the hard core fans. (It’s like watching THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW at home, instead of with an audience in the theatre!)

Plus, check out the Hidden Easter Egg on the making of the wacky Fruity Ooty Bar Comercial!
You don’t need to be a FIREFLY fan to get or enjoy Joss Whedon’s SERENITY. It’s got a little something for everyone and in this day and age of crappy flicks, it's like discovering America. It’s got a knockin’ cast, an original story, and a bitter and crusted Adam Baldwin. Who could ask for anything more? So no more running, this one’s a keeper. (And - shameless plug – go rent FIREFLY you stubborn bastards!)
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