In an age where so many science fiction films are completely reliant upon visual effects and over the top production design, writer/director
Joss Whedon’s Serenity is a breath of fresh air.
Serenity is based on the hastily canned TV series Firefly. The show gained cult status on DVD and has been given a second chance as a film
series by Universal.
To put it simply, Serenity works because of its characters. The plot is adequate and occasionally quite interesting, but Whedon’s script wins
with a great sense of humor. There is some genuinely hilarious dialog here and it’s all delivered perfectly by the deceptively good cast. It’s
hard enough to read comedy, even more so when it has an interesting western tinge.
Nathan Fillion is our main protagonist and he is absolutely perfect for this sometimes serious, sometimes delightfully cheesy role. The
supporting cast that includes Adam Baldwin, Gina Torres, and Alan Tudyk is notable for exactly the same reasons.
Not that I would compare the two quality-wise, but this film works in the same way that Lord of the Rings does. We can’t help but cheer for
these characters. They are absolutely lovable and always enjoyable.
I also liked the setup of the universe the film takes place in and the introduction to a creepy lost planet.
The technical aspects of the film work, but not as well. The moderately budgeted production is hardly a visual spectacle. The effects and
designs are just decent and Whedon is not exactly a directing prodigy. In fact he comes very close to over directing the film with some
frantically unnecessary camera work. And I’m not just talking action sequences here. Never the less, it doesn’t hurt the film as more than a
More irritating is that David Newman’s score is catchy, but far too timid. Or maybe it was just mixed too softly. Either way, it should have had
a larger presence, especially considering the decision to have little to no sound effects in space. I know it’s realistic, but something is
However, Serenity is a lot of fun and the plot is just satisfying enough. Regardless of your knowledge of the series, I recommend this film
and hope that it does well enough to warrant a sequel. This film is good, but the next one could be great. Here’s hoping.
* * *
(out of four)
Written and Directed by: Joss Whedon
Starring: Nathan Fillion, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Summer Glau,
Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, Adam Baldwin
Cinematography by: Jack Green
Music by: David Newman
Released: September 30, 2005; 119 Minutes