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Happiness Is Serenity
Member Name: utero
Advantages: Good cast, Great Story, Entertaining
Disadvantages: I can't think of any
In 2002 Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy The Vampire Slayer branched out from all things sunnydale. With his stock high, Fox gave him the green light for a new show entitled Firefly. The best way to describe it was as a sci-fi western set in space. It followed the adventures of the crew of cargo ship Serenity as they trekked across the galaxy. The show was actually decent but Fox didnít think so. They broadcast episodes out of their intended order, viewing figures were dismal and despite rabid fan outrage the show was cancelled before it had time to find itís feet.
But undeterred, Whedon played upon the growing interest in the show and the subsequent DVD sales to get the go ahead to make a feature film spin-off. The result is Serenity, but is the result any good?
The nice thing about the film is that you really donít have to have seen the TV show to actually get the plot. The story sees the crew of Serenity travelling under the radar through the void of space. This is due to the fact that they harbour a couple of wanted fugitives. Doctor Simon Tam and his troubled sister River are wanted by the Alliance, a governing organization who subjected River to all manner of experiments. Hot on Serenityís trail is an alliance bad guy only known as the operative. What ensues is an epic battle as the crew evade capture, avoid rabid cannibals and keep their fingers crossed that the ship will stay in one piece.
I have see two sci-fi films of note on the big screen this year. One was Serenity, the other was Revenge of the Sith. One had a $100 million+ budget, the other was made for around $40 million all in. The difference is pretty staggering as Serenity has more heart, humour and fulfilment than Episode 3 could ever muster. George Lucas should sit down and look at the film as heíll realize that tons of CGI canít make up for a distinctly average story.
Serenity really does thrive thanks to it characters. There are many different dynamics on show but all of them are likeable in their own little way. In Nathan Fillion, you have a Han Solo leader with a dry sense of humour but also a lot of guts. Alun Tudyk and Gina Torres are a great ying/yang married couple while Adam Baldwin brings the affable muscle to the film. But the real star of the film is Summer Glau as River. Here you have a haunting character who says little but conveys a lot through expression. Some of the scenes she has in the movie towards the end are nothing short of outstanding.
Of course a film like this is only as good as its villain. British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor brings a lot to the film, his quiet manner is a lot more threatening than having someone who plays it over the top. As the Operative he causes some real damage but itís also good to have a villain who is also honourable.
If youíve been a fan of Buffy or Angel then youíll appreciate Whedonís humour and witty dialogue littered throughout the script. If you liked Firefly then the same kind of spark is evident here. Whedon also directs the film and creates a great world considering the budget. Some of the set pieces and scale put films that cost double to shame. Iíve read some comments that the film looks a little bit rooted in itís TV origins. I have to disagree on this count as from the outset I was impressed with the look of the film.
Naturally this film has a plethora of special effects and all of them are pretty good. Kudos must go to Whedon for getting the most bang for his buck. There wasnít anything in the movie that I really pinpoint as being dodgy. The film uses CGI as it should be used. It integrates effects into a world where itís believable. This is where the new Star Wars films fail as they look like expensive cartoons rather than having any sense of life.
As we come to the close of 2005 I have to say that Serenity would certainly make my top ten. Itís an entertaining two hours that actually offers the audience big bangs, thrills but also a great story acted out by a good cast.
Donít let it pass you by.
Summary: If you felt let down by Star Wars then let Serenity restore your faith in sci-fi