The story itself isn't anything special, as it comes across as fairly generic sci-fi, much of which can be readily found in hundreds of other movies/TV shows. There are also a number of clichéd moments, but those are fortunately counteracted by the numerous scenes that go completely against expectations (gotta love the scene where the villain says he's unarmed, and Fillion blasts him anyway; good shit!).
Another sore spot on the production is the TV-ish feel that creeps in at times. This should come as no surprise to Joss Whedon followers, since his work mainly stays oriented in TV land ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer", "Angel"). Regardless of this minor setback, his direction impresses all the same. The first half of the film in particular flows beautifully, and I loved how Whedon managed to utilize transitions in cool and creative ways—certainly a step up from those awful "side wipes" seen in the STAR WARS films.
Ultimately, what makes SERENITY come together is its cast, style, and script. There's this western, swashbuckling mentality mixed with the futuristic sci-fi elements that somehow fits perfectly, and the hilariously witty dialogue helps bring it to another level. Some of the cast members go to waste, but key members like Nathan Fillion and Chiwetel Ejiofor are excellent. Their performances coupled with the film's snappy banter make for an unstoppable duo, and really act as the driving force for what makes this well-realized adaptation/send-off of "Firefly" so much fun.
Even the packaging is beautiful, with an undeniably cool (and partially see-through) cover, and a sturdy case that folds out nicely. The downside though, is that it may be a little bulky when stacking it beside your other DVDs. Seeing as how the set is only two discs, there doesn't seem to be a justifiable reason for why it's so thick.
Returning features have been marked with an asterisk.
*Audio Commentary (with writer/director Joss Whedon): An honest and enjoyable listen, especially for all you Whedon lovers out there.
Audio Commentary (with writer/director Joss Whedon and actors Nathan Fillion, Adam Baldwin, Summer Glau, and Ron Glass): This recently recorded track is fun if only because the returning cast/crew sound like they're having so much fun, and not because it's particularly informative. If you're looking for insight, check out the original commentary by Whedon alone.
Extended Scenes (6:45): There are four scenes available here, none of which provide any extra moments of substance. These are for the diehard fans only.
Take a Walk on Serenity (4:07): A short but entertaining featurette that follows Joss Whedon and the cast as they explore Serenity, the ship used in the film.
The Green Clan (3:08): A relatively worthless featurette that focuses on cinematographer Jack Green, his life, and contributions to the film.
*Joss Whedon Introduction (3:55): Not merely a DVD intro, this is the introduction Whedon put before the original preview screening of SERENITY. Very heartfelt.
*We’ll Have a Fruity Oaty Good Time! (1:39): This was originally an easter egg on the previous DVD, but now it's made easily accessible. It gives an inside look at a commercial used in the film, and it's hilarious.
Also returning from the previous release are *Outtakes (6:05) and nine *Deleted Scenes (14:39), all of which come with optional audio commentary from writer/director Joss Whedon.
A Filmmaker’s Journey (19:54): Not overly in-depth, but still informative, this great making-of featurette goes over the ins-and-outs of bringing SERENITY to the big screen.
*Future History – The Story of Earth That Was (4:33): An interesting yet all too brief look at how the world has changed from our time period to the one featured in the film.
*Re-lighting the Firefly (9:41): An earnest examination of how the cancellation of "Firefly" led to the creation of SERENITY, with a cast/crew trip to ComicCon topping it off.
*What’s in a Firefly? (6:33): This featurette delves into the special effects work on the film. Interesting, but fairly standard.
Session 416 (8:01): A cool addition to the set, showing extra bits and pieces of River's backstory.
Sci-Fi Inside: Serenity (21:46): This fluff promo piece, having originally aired on the Sci-Fi Channel, offers hardly any insight into the making of SERENITY. Skip it.