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Serenity [2005] - 3.98

Serenity is a film that, by rights, shouldn't have been made. For starters, it's spun out of the short-lived and quickly-cancelled TV series Firefly, which has only itself got the full recognition it deserves on DVD. It then marries up two seemingly incompatible genres, the western and science fiction, has no major stars to speak of, and pretty much has `hard sell' written all over it.

Perhaps that explains its modest box office performance back in 2005. What it fails to reflect, however, is that this is one of the most energetic, downright enjoyable sci-fi flicks in some time. Not for nothing did many rate it higher than the Star Wars movie that appeared in the same year.

It follows renegade captain Mal Reynolds and his quirkily assembled crew, as they work on the outskirts of space, trying to keep out of the way of the governing Alliance. That plan quickly changes when they take on a couple of passengers who have attracted the attention of said Alliance, and thus the scene is set for an action-packed, cleverly written movie that deserves many of the plaudits that have rightly been thrust in its direction.

What's more, Serenity works whether you've seen the TV series that precedes it or not. Clearly fans of the Firefly show will be in their element, but even the casual viewer will find an immense amount to enjoy.

The only real problem is that given the film's box office returns, further adventures of Reynolds and his crew look unlikely. Unless Serenity turns into a major hit on DVD, that is. It's well worth playing your part in making that happen.--Simon Brew

Customer reviews (av rating: 4.5):

Rating: 5:
Sci-fi lives on : Great flick......one of the best sci-fi movies that I have seen in a long time!! Saw the movie, and then saw the entire TV series! Was a joy to watch and would recommend both to any sci-fi fans out there!

Rating: 5:
They did the impossible, and that makes them mighty. : This film shouldn't exist, failed TV series don't become big-budget movies, it just doesn't happen, it's impossible. But then, that Firefly did the impossible is only appropriate. The TV series was one of the most inventive and original series of all time and didn't really have any common points with the Hollywood sci-fi action adventure standard, so it's surprising that Serenity manages to keep it's spirit so well.
If you saw Firefly, if you got that show and wanted to see more, if you fell in love the characters, if you wanted more of the 'verse and wanted to see what happened with all those plot-lines then sit back, relax, and prepare to be blown away because this film is everything you hoped it would be and more.
If you haven't seen Firefly (and if not, why not?) then this is still a really great action adventure movie but odds are you won't get everything from it that you get having seen the series. For example, those of you who've seen Firefly are going to have an instant reaction to the cry of 'Reavers are coming!' whereas those new to the 'verse will need to wait for the explanations later on to fully understand what's happening. Not that the film is made exclusively for fans of the series - in fact it goes to great lengths to be enjoyable for everyone - but it's simply not as good without that pre-existing emotional attachment.
The movie's plot is also much bigger scale than that of the series, the fight matters more and there's more at stake, but that doesn't stop this being about the people. In fact the big-stakes movie plot-line is given almost all it's momentum from the importance that the characters place on it.
The action sequences in the movie (even the space battles) feel really raw and dirty, nothing like most movie violence, it feels like it hurts and it feels genuinely dangerous. Joss Whedon was clearly very aware that this could be the last time we ever see these characters so - though the film leaves space for a sequel - he makes sure if this goodbye that Serenity goes out in a blaze of glory instead of going quietly into the dark like Firefly.
This is a film that'll make you laugh, give you an edge-of-the-seat thrill ride, and leave you smiling. It's highly enjoyable entertainment from start to finish; like every good adventure movie movie it's got a plot you care about, a villain you want to lose, and of course some big damn heroes to boot.

Rating: 4:
Serenity - Firefly Reborn : Before you watch this movie, do yourself a favour and watch the amazing series "Firefly" with an open mind and, if you are a Whedon fan, a sense of expectation. Firefly was cancelled by the same short-sghted suits who ruin many amazing ideas before they are born. Star Trek anyone?
This takes Firefly onwards a few steps and allows Joss Whedon to open up the 'verse' a little more to let us see what becomes of the characters that many of us came to love as our own. The series was quirky and was something to be treasured as a true sci-fi classic, mixing the western and science fiction with great aplomb.
The movie steps it up and delivers with a bang. If you loved Firefly you will love this. If you haven't seen the series, watch and thens ee this and discover something that should be given at least a chance to breathe again before being stupidly axed. the reason it didn't do well? Suits with little or no imagination beyond a dollar sign and a lamentable sense of what could be.
Try this and you'll want more. I did!

Rating: 5:
The perfect conclusion to it's maltreated small screen counterpart. : Loaded with the traditional Whedon wit, this is Sci-Fi with a soul and should be adored by all who watch it. But only if you've seen the T.V. series. I found this for 4 in a cheap shop and quickly realised that without a knowledge of Firefly this was going to be a very confusing two hours, so I bought it, and watched it, and loved it. Then I watched this, quite possibly the greatest Sci-Fi film in the history of all the things. Great performances, beautifully choreographed action sequences and some awfully shiny effects mix with a truly engaging story and some stunning direction.

To not immerse yourself in the Firefly universe is to do yourself a disservice. So don't.

Rating: 3:
Decent sci-fi chase movie, but not a classic : I haven't seen any of the "Firefly" TV series so I came to this film with no idea about the characters.

It is science fiction, but the dialogue and most of the locations are so heavily based in the Spaghetti Western I was really surprised. As other reviews have said, there isn't a great deal of originality here- there are zombies, a military dictatorship, a deserted settlement, etc. etc. but it's not really covering new ground.

Like the Star Trek movies, the plot does it best to include an ensemble TV cast without sidelining any of them too much, but a couple of the characters end up 'Beverley Crusher'ed and could have been omitted altogether without too much loss.

On the extras side, there are many short deleted scenes but the best extra is the out-takes- some very funny gaffes.

I can guess why there might be some very dedicated Firefly fans- Nathan Fillion is a good leading man as Mal (and I expect girls find him cute) and there are some cute girls for the boy fans (Jewel Staite and Summer Glau) and the whole "on the run" story style lends itself to the fans really needing a conclusion. So "Serenity" may have been a Godsend to the "Firefly" devotees and a fun little run-around sci-fi flick for general SF fans, but a classic it's really not.

The fact this film was recently voted "best sci-fi film of all time" says a lot about the devoted fan base, but it's not true about the film.

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