Serenity (2005)

September 19, 2012 By Mike B
Movie Review

Serenity Film Review

What Worked?

Just like Joss Whedon’s amazing TV show Firefly, Serenity is a labor of love that’s made for film lovers and those that still appreciate creativity. It’s really almost essential that you watch Firefly first before you watch Serenity, just for all the references and tie-ins, but it can stand alone on it’s own, although not too steadily. Serenity has the entire crew back on board, as we delve deeper into the characters, especially that of River Tam, and further the stories of Captain Mal and his crew of misfits. With an Alliance assassin after River, and the flesh-eating Reavers on their behinds, Captain Mal only has two plans:  A.) Run B.) Fight, and sometimes they run while fighting.  Joss Whedon is now known mostly for the Avengers, but Firefly and Serenity are closer to his heart, and you can feel that pulsating through the celluloid.

Joss Whedon weaves this film with amazing dialogue and fantastic characters, whether you’re revisiting them or meeting them for the first time. Whedon makes you feel like these characters exist, and he doesn’t hold back in showing you their humanity, flaws, scars, and all. This Sci-Fi adventure is fresh and alive with guts, and by the end it makes you feel like your part of the crew or at least for Firefly fans it will. The special effects have been upgraded from the TV show, and the action has been kicked up a notch. When you’re watching Serenity, you’re in Whedon’s Sci-Fi world and everything is a treat to behold.

The entire crew does a great job of picking up from where they left off from the TV show, and everyone has their moments. One of the obvious standouts is Nathan Fillion, since you can’t help to root for his character of Captain Mal. Fillion’s Captain Mal is a sarcastic, savvy and rugged leader; he gives Han Solo a run for his money in the “flyest motherfucker in the galaxy” competition. Fillion’s Captain Mal displays courage and swagger with the best of them, as he’s pushed to the edge by the Alliance and their lack of humanity. The other standout has to be Summer Glau as River Tam. Glau has nailed the role of River, a psychic reader with mental instabilities  and amazing skills. She is a whirlwind of emotions and surprises, but she maintains a sense of innocent love that contradicts her deadliness. From Alan Tudyk playing the humorous Wash to Adam Baldwin playing the simple-minded brawny Jayne, the cast is perfect. Simply put, the characters are family.

Serenity is that fresh piece of cinema that comes few and far between all the remakes and recycled ideas that we’ve been force fed before. The film projects the importance of freedom, whatever our personal freedoms are for us, in this case a ship and it’s crew, as well as standing up for what you believe is right at all costs. “If you can’t do something smart, do something right.”

Love is freedom, and freedom is Serenity.

Potential Drawbacks:

There aren’t many drawbacks for this film from where I’m sitting, but non-Firefly fans may have a few discrepancies. Why are there cowboy-types in space? Why are people randomly speaking Chinese? Why is River Tam a crazy superhero? If you can’t dig Whedon’s style, and prefer something more straight-laced and standard, that’s okay. Serenity isn’t for everyone, especially for those looking for realistic or by-the-books cinema.

Something that could’ve been improved in the film, and I’m being a bit nit-picky, is Chiwetel Ejiofor’s character of The Operative. Ejiofor does a great job, but I feel like his character could’ve been built up a little more. In addition, the fights could’ve been more gritty and less choreographed.

Film Recommendations:


Pitch Black



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