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About 10 years ago a show called Firefly premiered in America, the show itself was a mixture of science fiction with a western twist and so this gave the show a unique feel and something that was fresh in its approach, to be honest if I was to say something that this was similar to then it was Blake's 7 with less hardcore science fiction and a lot more adventure and scope. However Firefly wasn't really given the chance to grow and was cancelled after only 10 of its 14 first season episodes, which is a shame as the series had a great premise to start off with. So as you can imagine the show has become something of a cult classic and to fans of Firefly the story was simply dropped without any endings. So a decision to make a film set after Season 1 was a brave decision to take and what has been produced has shown the executives that this was a missed opportunity. At the beginning of the film you are told how the Earth has been literally evacuated and new planets are discovered and terra formed, this leads to a civil war taking place between factions and causes some serious problems for the Alliance who believe they control the new colonies.
The plot of the story is simple, the crew of the Firefly, a Serenity class vessel, are paid to perform "jobs" for people who pay them well, in fact they are mainly robberies yet the robberies are for items that are important rather than money as you get the idea that money is irrelevant in this society. And so the tasks the crew of Firefly are given are mainly to obtain tech rather than cash. When the Alliance take an interest in a member of the Firefly crew they find themselves caught in a middle of a game of cat and mouse and soon discover that River Tamm is a threat to the Alliance, however its unknown why and so Mal and the crew are in a precarious position with an Alliance operative called The Operator played by British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor whose job is to bring in River and her Brother. His role is good and Ejiofor delivers his part with charm, yet the early part of the film shows what a dangerous character he is.
Leading the band is Mal, played by Castle actor Nathan Fillion, Mal Reynolds is a bit of a mystery man, a soldier who has a mysterious past that keeps haunting him. You are aware that his background is mysterious and with the early part of the film explaining the settings of why a western flavour is introduced you get a feel that the man can take care of himself. Fillion is a good actor, delivers the comedic lines where necessary and also manages to play the hero with gusto. He looks the part and being dressed in civilian clothes yet they have gun holsters being worn. Backing up the rest of the cast are the main stars of the TV show, it's nice to see them come across in this film and so the stories can continue seamlessly from the show. Unlike the early episodes of Star Trek, all actors in the main group play a part in the story, with the inclusion of Summer Glau as River Tamm, she and her brother Simon enter the story as new crew members who joined the ship under mysterious circumstances. The character of River Tamm comes into her own later in the film in quite a stunning, if not violent manner and as the story opens she slowly starts to become the focus, which was a good approach to take as it allows an evolution to take place that could potentially take the story into a second film. However this looks unlikely at this time.
The film as a whole does deliver on all levels; this isn't a film that you have to watch all the Firefly episodes to grasp a grip on the story as this is all done throughout the first half of the film, in fact this can literally act as an introduction to the TV show. The scenes are presented in an interesting manner that allows the person watching to be part of the show, what I mean by this is the lighting and the set décor is substantially higher quality that makes it far more believable for someone watching this to believe that the story is set in the year 2517 and is off Earth. Obviously with a western flavour the locations are set in the desert and have that old style cowboy flavour to them as they are travellers and explorers using the opportunity to start a new life. This is shown to quite some extent in the film with sets that resemble something out of a John Wayne film, yet the attention to detail is always high. The film allows the constraints of a 45 minutes TV show to be eliminated completely as the film is just a minute shy of two hours and this is a good adventure film that allows the writers to expand the Firefly universe.
With the film being watched in Blu-ray, the colours are rich and vibrant; this is especially evident in the scenes set outside a planets atmosphere in space as the star fields are dark and rich in detail with the vast planet being seen in the background giving the depth and luminosity to make the scene believable which is continued throughout the film and at no time drops in quality. Extras wise there has been no expense spared to bring the effort and work done to produce this film. A vast plethora of documentaries covering the making from script to screen are an utter delight to watch, as well as multiple commentaries and deleted scenes that in places do tend to show the frustrations of the original show being cancelled. A nice touch is the picture in picture service that gives you parallel breakdowns of the film whilst watching further information on that particular part in another window... fantastic stuff!
Overall this is a good film, this isn't the nice cleaney clean film that delivers a moral to the younger viewers, simply put that as the film evolves it does have a lot of blood and gore is seen on screen. In fact the combat scenes are quite hard hitting and the characters have to be balanced out and so there is a price to be paid as the film approaches the end, and seeing that the characters suffer by different means is actually quite refreshing rather than seeing them survive "against the odds" by the inclusion of luck or the reset button being pressed. Not here as this gritty and rough by all means possible. No hand held laser guns, all use bullets, where as the spaceships have lasers, which are kept apart quite nicely.
If you watch this film then I am sure like me you will be hooked on the show, if only for curiosity and the stupid decision to cancel what could have been something epic.