**1/2 (out of 5)
September 30, 2005
Nathan Fillion as MAL
Gina Torres as ZOE
Alan Tudyk as WASH
Morena Baccarin as INARA
Adam Baldwin as JAYNE
Jewel Staite as KAYLEE
Sean Maher as SIMON
Summer Glau as RIVER
Directed by: Joss Whedon
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
There are some people out there who worship Joss Whedon, the creator of the cult television show “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” I’m in the minority to say that I actually liked the original movie (which Whedon thought was a flawed outcome for his script) more than I did the television show.
I suppose that if I had stumbled upon “Buffy” while channel surfing one night, I might have grown to love the show. However, by the time I ever considered watching, it was hyped by everyone around me as the beginning and end of television. Suffice to say when I finally sat down and watched it, I was underwhelmed.
Part of Joss Whedon’s style I don’t like is that he has his tongue so far in his cheek that it’s coming through his face. I don’t mind a little bit of light-heartedness and humor in my science fiction and horror writing, but I much prefer the straight, serious story with comic relief rather than a television show or movie that is basically spoofing the genre.
So, not being a fan of “Buffy” or Joss Whedon (the guy wrote for the penultimate white trash s*it-com “Roseanne,” after all), I never tuned in to the short-lived sci-fi FOX series “Firefly.” And when the Whedon legions scurried to Best Buy to pick up the DVD of the series when it was released earlier this year, I had no problem staying home.
Now I’ve got a taste of “Firefly” in the big-screen continuation feature film “Serenity.” And if you’re a Joss Whedon follower or fan of the show, you’re gonna love this movie. It will be a religious experience for you. “Serenity” wraps up storylines. It gives closure to some of the things that happened on the show. It explains some mysteries and ties up loose ends. It is the perfect follow up to a show that never saw its end on television.
However, if you’ve never seen “Firefly,” you’ll be lost… really, really lost. This isn’t like “Star Trek,” where the characters and technology is so fused into the popular culture that you can catch on easily. There was an entire history to the “Firefly” universe, and an entire season of shows that gave depth and complexities to the characters. If you don’t have that backstory, the film loses a significant amount of impact.
The plot is relatively simple. A smuggling ship is transporting two fugitives across space. One of these fugitives is a psychic that has some top secret government information buried in her subconscious. If the information gets out, it will mean certain doom to the government, which is called the Alliance. So, the Alliance sends an assassin out to kill her, and he chases the ship from one end of the galaxy to another.
Sounds like an interesting movie, but I spent so long figuring out who was who and how they fit into the story, that I didn’t realize how simple the plot was until I was a good hour into the film. And when significant things happen to the ship and its crew, the impact was lost on me.
For example, at one point in the movie, a major catastrophic thing happens to a main character. Of course, since this character had a relatively small part in the movie, I thought they were just another Star Trek redshirt. However, a friend of mine, an avid fan of the series, was sitting beside me and was in tears.
So if you haven’t watched any episodes of “Firefly,” you might be better off getting your hands on the DVD set and checking out the show, even if you only watch the pilot.
Hmmm… maybe that was the plan all along.