Serenity


Directed by: Joss Whedon
Written by:Joss Whedon
Starring: Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, Adam Baldwin, Jewel Staite
Released: September 29, 2005
Grade: B

Four weeks ago at my local cinema, there was a one-off Thursday night advance screening of Serenity which was open to the public.  I hadn’t heard of the film at the time and it struck me as odd that the studio would allow an advance screening so far ahead of its release.  When that Thursday night came around, I was at the cinema seeing another movie (Red Eye) and on walking out, saw a very, very long queue.  Sure enough, it was for Serenity – sold out and despite not starting for another hour, the lucky ticket holders were already in line for the best seats.

It was then time to do some research to find out what I was missing.  Joss Whedon (the creator of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer television series) had created a new sci-fi show called Firefly.  The show aired in 2002 but was cancelled after just 11 episodes had screened in the U.S.  Many television shows develop a cult audience but the fans of Firefly were incredibly passionate about the new series.  They campaigned strongly for the show to be continued on another network and for the episodes already made to be released on DVD.   

Releasing there was a lot of love for these characters, Universal Studios took the unusual step of commissioning a movie.  This brings us to today.  The early box-office numbers aren’t strong and I don’t think it’s going to be a very profitable exercise for Universal, but it’s nice to see “people power” having its influence in Hollywood.

Serenity is set well into the future.  Earth has become overpopulated and so its people have now moved to a brand new solar system which has had its planets calibrated to give them the same look and feel as Earth.  Mal (Fillion) is captain of an aging spaceship which has travelling through space on a series of adventures.  He has an eccentric crew with whom he often has disagreements but it’s a fun-loving bunch, similar to what you’d see in a Star Trek movie.

This film sees the team rescue a girl named River from a top-secret science facility.  She is the sister of a fellow crew member and was being used in a bizarre experiment where memories were being erased and replaced with others (or so I thought).  The escape goes to plan but what follows is a massive search by the authorities to find her.  What is so special about this girl?  The crew know they are jeopardising their own lives by protecting her but their curiosity for the truth leads them on a journey to the far reaches of the galaxy...

Writer/director Joss Whedon has a cute sense of humour and there are several scenes which “spoof” the science-fiction genre.  Even during the film’s most dramatic scenes, Whedon still manages to weave in a few jokes.  If you’ve seen the film’s trailer though, you may have already seen the best of the jokes.  

It’s not a bad film but I did struggle to keep involved with the story.  There are a many characters (one of whom meets an unexpectedly funny demise) and those who have seen the television series will already understand who they are and what makes them so interesting.   Firefly is now showing here in Australia on Foxtel but having not yet caught up with it, this film didn’t pinch my funny bone as much as it will for others.