Saturday, December 17, 2011

Review: Firefly/Serenity

(This post is dedicated to Luke Alistar, who figured I'd be a fan once I watched 'Serenity' and figured correctly.)

What did I love about Serenity? Everything. The music, the cinematography, the characters, the plot, the jokes, the tragedy... it is a masterpiece of film, and proof of how amazing good science fiction can be. But let's start at the beginning, shall we?

I've heard a lot about the film Serenity, but every time I sat down to watch it I rediscovered that it was the sequel to a TV series called Firefly. Of course, I'd seen and loved Doctor Horrible, and this was by the same director, but I really didn't have time for an entire show, and I really didn't want to see the movie out of context. One day, however, I decided that Firefly was only one season, I should be able to get through it eventually, and I really wanted to see this movie everyone had been talking about.

Firefly was good. Not my personal definition of brilliant, but good. It is unique as far as scifi goes, and has a definite Western flaire to it. It's got a very lovable cast of characters. I was very dubious of it for the reason that the main character, Captain Malcolm Reynolds, is played by Nathan Fillion, who is Doctor Horrible unlovable nemisis Captain Hammer. I thought "Am I going to be able to take this guy seriously, or am I going to think "Captain Hammer" every time I see his face?" It's a testimony to Nathan's acting ability that the two characters have absolutely nothing in common. There is maybe one or two "Hammer" moments in the entire series. They don't even look the same.

When it came down to it, though, I was still only watching Firefly so that I could see Serenity. And as time went on and I got closer to the end I began to be afraid that Serenity would not live up to all I had been promised. I inadvertently encountered spoilers and I was afraid it would be too gory, and not as beautiful as I had hoped. Thankfully, I was wrong.

Serenity was, in a word, beautiful. Definitely on my list of favorite science fictions. Every bit as good as Firefly and, in some cases, better. My one complaint is that the characterization seems to have gotten messed up, but that's because of the time lag between series and film, I suppose. That brings us back to the beginning:

What did I love about Serenity? The cinematography was some of the best I'd ever seen. The settings were incongrous, and really drew your attention to the story. Realism is one of the major selling points for Firefly, and Serenity carried this to it's maximum potential. Planets of peace and harbour were dusty, dirty, and people worked hard. The planet where death waited behind every door was a shiny, ideal science fiction city. The contrast was brilliantly portrayed, both in story and in film.

The story... the story is about the crew of a space ship who make their living on the fringes of the law. The entire system is under the rule of the overbearing Alliance who think they can control people's individual lives. The Alliance is afraid of rebellion, because their rule was won in a war not long past, and there are still those who resent it. The Captain of Serenity, Malcolm Reynolds, is one such who fought against them. And during the course of the movie he becomes ready to fight again.

River Tam
Malcolm's first mate Zoe fought beside him in the war, and she is married to their pilot, the funny and lovable Wash. Their mechanic is named Kaylee, and she can fix anything. A mercenary, Jayne, fights only for personal gain... most of the time. Simon Tam is a young doctor, a surgeon with a brilliant future, who left it all behind him to rescue his sister, River. River is quite possibly my favorite character. Whatever the Alliance did to her it left her strange, unpredictable, and possibly dangerous, not to mention the most wanted fugitives in the inhabited universe.

In short, I loved it. It was violent, yes, but not gratuitously so. And actually, the movie was cleaner than most of the Firefly episodes. It's a brilliant portrayal of realistic futuristic scifi with some of the most incredible characters I've ever seen. We need more films like this. But then, we need more films by Joss Whedon in general. 


  1. I noticed you didn't mention Inara at all. What did you think of her? I like the show, but some of the more sexual elements drop it lower on my list than it would otherwise me. I actually got in on it for River Tam--I kept seeing her mentioned next to River Song on TV Tropes

  2. I've never seen any similarities between River Song and River Tam, but others do, I suppose. Inara... I actually really liked Inara, in spite of her occupation. Most of the sexual elements in the show I think were rather pointless to the story, and I certainly would have enjoyed it more without them, but I never actually watch those kinds of scenes so they don't really bother me. I also found it interesting that Mal disapproved of her occupation. It adds a lot to his character, and to the entire worldview of the show.

  3. Basically what I thought. The main comparion between Tam and Song, especially after season six, is that they were both made to be weapons.

  4. My dad says: Great that movie.

    :D I haven't seen it, so I can't really comment, but there you have his comment. :)