It's not every day that you see a feature
film that's based on a TV show that lasted only one season. If you
go see Serenity today, tomorrow, and every day for the rest of
your life, then the Masked Reviewer won't be able to say that to you any
Serenity is based on the television show "Firefly" which
aired on FOX, apparently. There were only ever 14 episodes made,
and only 11 of those ever aired. The film is from Joss Whedon, the
creator of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel". For some
reason, "Firefly" never took off, though apparently it has a group of
die-hard fans who love the show.
Not only had the Masked Reviewer never seen a single second of
"Firefly", he'd never even heard of "Firefly". So, this
review will be particularly relevant to those of you who decide to see
the film who know absolutely zip about the show. You're in the
Masked Reviewer's boat, and he's got the oars.
Basically, it's sci-fi with a strong Wild West influence.
What's interesting is how rich and deep the world they've created is.
The characters are interesting, the plot (while more or less straight-up
sci-fi) is compelling enough, and that's pretty much all you need.
There are special effects, though they're not all that special.
What's great about Serenity, though, is that it's sci-fi that
relies more heavily on good characters than on big explosions.
It's "up close and personal" sci-fi.
It is clear at various times during the movie that there are a number
of references that the first-time viewer won't get. It's a bit
like hearing two people referring to an inside joke every once in a
while, but it's relatively infrequently. Also, they do set up all
the characters and their relationships clearly enough that you won't
feel like you've missed out. It's not like seeing Police
Academy V without having seen the previous four parts -- you won't
The film stars, essentially, no one. That is to say, no "big
name stars". The characters are, nonetheless, excellently
portrayed and superbly written. Sure, they often play off sci-fi
stereotypes, but they each have their own quirks and nothing gets tired.
Unlike a lot of TV sci-fi these days, the writer/director wasn't
afraid to kill some people. Maybe some of the principle characters
die off. Who knows? The Masked Reviewer can't be sure who
was in the series and who was introduced just for the film, but it sure
seemed like some important people died off.
The sound effects were particularly good for such a small budget
film. In fact, the sounds were better than the visuals, which was
a rather cool experience...instead of focusing entirely on the ship
action from the outside, you got to see and hear a lot of the action on
the inside, like a submarine movie.
Biggest disappointment would have to be the total lack of nudity.
Also, the central female character seemed very Fifth Elementy.
Another thing -- the captain (played by Nathan Fillion, who you are
unlikely to remember but possibly might as the "other" Ryan in Saving
Private Ryan), who was probably the strongest character in the film,
had a relationship with some woman. Clearly that was a plot point
from the series, but that woman (Inara?) was kind of a dud in terms of
There is a chance a couple of the actors will look vaguely familiar.
If you saw the excellent Dirty Pretty Things (or Love Actually)
you might recognize the antagonist, Chiwetel Ejiofor, though you
probably won't be able to spell his name right. And, if you saw
Independence Day, you might recognize Adam Baldwin (no relation to
Stephen, William, or Daniel Baldwin) -- he was the guy who shot the
alien that grabbed Data in Area 51.
By the way, writer/director Joss Whedon will also be doing Wonder
Woman in 2007. Er, that is to say, he won't be doing
her, but doing the movie. Right.
Overall, if you are looking for an interesting sci-fi flick,
Serenity is a fine choice whether or not you've ever seen the TV
show it's based on. Fans of the show certainly seemed to be very
happy with the film. In fact, the best endorsement of this movie
is that, after seeing it, the Masked Reviewer wants to go out and see
the show. Don't expect non-stop action and spectacular special
effects...it's also not as irreverent and goofy as "Buffy", but it's
interesting, well-acted, and entertaining enough. To sum up:
Expectation from the Title: The first full-length meditation
film; while the 45 minutes of breathing in are a bit slow, the 45
minutes of breathing out are non-stop tranquil excitement.
Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):
You'd think that a bunch of space cowboys would be all dirty, but they
keep themselves very tidy.
The Pros: Good acting, great characters, some respectable
The Cons: Plot isn't exactly groundbreaking. Nothing is
exceptionally good. No nudity.
Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk,
Morena Baccarin, Adam Baldwin, Jewel Staite, Sean Maher, Summer Glau,