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"Biggest disappointment would have to be the total lack of nudity."










The Masked Reviewer

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 more.

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 be lost.

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 character development.

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's also not as irreverent and goofy as "Buffy", but it's interesting, well-acted, and entertaining enough.  To sum up: Serenity Now!


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 action.

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, Chiwetel Ejiofor

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