Review: Serenity

Serenity is an OK movie. A bit too small for the BIG screen but overall it’s OK. All the Firefly fan boys give it so much credit, however, and no movie can live up to this much hype. It’s still waaaay better than Doom though.

There are no stars to talk about in this movie apart from the writer/director, Joss Whedon, who’s the guy behind TV shows like Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. His vision and dialog are good enough for the TV screen but frankly, he doesn’t quite measure up when projected on the big screen.

SerenitySerenity is the name of the cargo ship inhabited by the captain, Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), and his motley crew. The Firefly TV show and this movie are both set in a kind of Western Sci-fi world. The ship and its crew are brigands – taking different jobs, some more honest than others. The central parts of the system are ruled by the Alliance but the rim is pretty much left to its own means.

There’s just one significant source of menace, the Reavers, who are cannibals drifting in big ungainly ships painted in red. Their appearance is explained later in the movie but till that point they seemed to be based on the Native Indians. Judging from the portrayal though, Wheldon probably calls then Injuns.

SerenityIn addition to the regular crew, there are two passengers on board as well: Simon and River Tam (Sean Maher and Summer Glau). River is a psychic brainwashed by the Alliance and her brother Simon is the one who bailed her from the Alliance lab.

Hot on their trail is the Operative (Chiwetel Ejiofor), an assassin and a believer that certain people need to do the Alliance’s dirty work so that the others can live in peace. (Check out Riftforge)

It sounds complicated but it really isn’t. Some reviewers called it “the intelligent man’s action movie” but I didn’t find particularly engaging. The plot moves from one action scene to the next until the captain and the operative meet at last, the future of the multiverse in their hands.

If you haven’t seen a good sci-fi movie in a while (I haven’t!), Serenity is an OK choice. Don’t let the fan boys tell you otherwise though – it’s a just a 2 hour pilot. The lighting, the set designs, the performances all vary from OK to pretty bad which is OK for a TV show but hardly enough for a 40 Million dollar “epic.”

Note for indie producers: Serenity still has to break even. The movie made barely 25 million domestically and its international proceeds don’t look too good either. My guess is that its appeal is limited to people who have liked the Firefly TV show. Most of the other movie goers probably felt a bit cheated because of all the hype. A bit of suspence (e.g. The Descent) should’ve added to the action scenes.

Info: Serenity
USA, 2005
Running Length: 1:55
Cast: Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Summer Glau
Director: Joss Whedon
Producer: Barry Mendel
Screenplay: Joss Whedon
Cinematography: Jack N. Green
Music: David Newman

4 thoughts on “Review: Serenity

  1. adam

    Sounds cool enough. I haven’t seen much good scifi lately.
    Are you a Philip K. Dick fan? I think virtually any of his short stories could be turned in a scifi hit.

    Thanks for the review.

  2. Administrator Post author

    Hi Adam,

    I don’t think I like Philip K. Dick that much really. He does have some very good ideas and has been pretty popular with filmmakers too.

    My favorite sci-fi authors are Robert Heinlein, Frank Herbert, and Orson Scott Card. I’m very much looking forward “Ender’s Game” when it comes out…
    http://www.filmdailies.com/archives/enders-game-when/

    Cheers!

  3. adam

    Oh, you’re into some serious scifi. I like Dick’s short stories because they leave a lot for a screenwriter or filmmaker to fill in.

    But yes, I’m with you on Heinlein and Herbert. Unfortunately I’ve not read Card. I’m one of the few, I know.

    I think Herbert’s White Plague (I think that’s the title) would be a great movie. It’s the one where the guy spreads the plague through money.

  4. Administrator Post author

    I gotta read that White Plague… Unfortunately, I’ve set too high expectations for both Herbert and Card. Having penned a masterpiece can be hard in ways you’ve never imagined. Both of them created franchises based on their masterpieces so I don’t feel that sorry for them.

    In hardcore sci-fi, I think the movie that I will definitely love to make will be based on The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. I see it a bit as an Alien but with a lot more action/fighting instead of horror. Although originally it was done as an allegory on the Vietnam war, it does translate well to the 21st century.

    It’s been on the Sci-fi channel’s production list of years:
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0315007

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