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Worth A Look: 21.32%
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15 reviews, 182 user ratings

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Serenity (2005)
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Misses what was appealing about the show."
3 stars

Where's the twang? In 'Serenity,' a feature-length continuation of the prematurely cancelled TV series 'Firefly,' there's no hint of the show's mournful country theme song ("You can't take the sky from me"). That song struck many home viewers as iffy at first, but it grew on them, much like the show itself, a self-conscious shotgun marriage of westerns and science fiction.

Firefly made explicit what was barely concealed in many so-called sci-fi shows and movies -- that they were really just oaters with spaceships -- and created an unstable but gradually charming world, in which men in cowboy hats bartered stolen goods for cattle, and then stowed the cattle aboard their spacecraft. As if afraid to alienate sci-fi-geek newcomers who wouldn't like the show's Reese's Cup approach to entertainment -- hey, you got your Louis L'Amour in my Gene Roddenberry! -- Serenity all but drops the western aspect. And that isn't all that's missing.

For what it is -- viewed as filmmaking in and of itself -- Serenity is tense and smoothly put together. I speak not as a Firefly die-hard ("Browncoats," true believers are called) who wept when the show was jettisoned after only eleven aired episodes in 2002, but as a recent convert who spent the past week or so curling up with the complete series on DVD. I enjoyed the show very much, mainly because of the characters: gruff, bluntly practical Captain Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds (Nathan Fillion); his trusted war buddy Zoe (Gina Torres) and her goofball pilot husband Wash (Alan Tudyk); kindly mechanic Kaylee (Jewel Staite); elegant "companion" (i.e., call girl) Inara (Morena Baccarin); idiotic but violently useful Jayne (Adam Baldwin); more-than-meets-the-eye preacher Shepherd Book (Ron Glass); and brother-sister team Simon (Sean Maher), a doctor, and River (Summer Glau), a genius whose head has been tinkered with by the universal government, the Alliance.

The movie introduces these characters to the newcomer in a flash, with telling dialogue and situations that are supposed to define them. But here we run into the difference between a TV show, even one truncated to fourteen hours, and a movie limited to two hours: There's no time for character nuance or development. Serenity is like the particularly hectic two-hour premiere episode of the Season 2 that Firefly never had. As such, fans of the show may go along for the ride and enjoy this jumped-up TV episode. The action is certainly stepped up, as if the movie were afraid of boring the newcomers. Everything is plot, plot, plot -- in this case, the crew trying to keep River out of the clutches of an assassin (Chiwetel Ejiofor) while avoiding the violently insane Reapers, the show's equivalent of Klingons or Borgs. But the best episodes of Firefly -- like the hilarious "Jaynestown" or the poignant "The Message" -- didn't really advance the show's narrative. They just paused to show us something we didn't know about the characters, often changing the way we felt about them.

Not much changes here, other than River's being revealed as a master of martial arts and the loss of two characters. One of them has barely five minutes of screen time here, and whatever secrets about his past that the show had been hinting at go to his grave with him. Joss Whedon, who created the show and wrote/directed the film, seems to want to bypass Star Trek: The Motion Picture and go directly to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. He forgets, though, that there were a lot more Trekkies than there are Browncoats, and that even non-Trekkies at least knew of Kirk and Spock and the rest. Serenity reeks of insecurity that borders on desperation: Please see my movie so I can do more of them, please, please, I'll take out the corny western stuff and give you lots of action and take out most of the humor and the boring character stuff too.

In brief, Serenity feels like a capitulation to the dumb mass audience. The show had an oddball mix of East and West (cowboys and Chinese culture) that the movie scarcely touches on. And does it mean anything that this movie's cold-blooded assassin (like the cold-blooded bounty hunter on the show's final episode, incidentally) is a black man? Maybe Chiwetel Ejiofor was the best actor for the job, but it comes off as yet another white-nerd touch in which the villain is dark of skin as well as soul. It doesn't smell right in a time when the world was horrified by post-Katrina accounts of rape, murder, and general animalistic black behavior in the Superdome which all turned out to be lies.

Did the Browncoats falling over themselves to get everyone to see 'Serenity' think about things like that? I was thinking about it because 'Serenity' didn't offer me much else to think about.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12621&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/01/07 21:33:28
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Edinburgh Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Edinburgh Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival For more in the 2006 Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival series, click here.
TV to Screen: For more in the TV to Screen series, click here.

User Comments

10/04/12 mike miller A must see for any Firefly fan(like myself.) 5 stars
3/08/12 fuzzylizard Intelligent without being highbrow: characters discover simple but powerful message 5 stars
9/23/11 psychoillogic expressing anything positive about this flick exposes ones lack of movieviewing experience 1 stars
8/08/11 WENDY Not quite the ending I wanted but better than nothing 4 stars
1/09/10 Ben C Big fan, saw the movie without having seen the series went out and got the seriies 5 stars
11/03/09 Kurtis Serenity is a great conclusion to the short-lived series. Touching and exciting. 5 stars
9/12/09 Miriam This film is absolutely brilliant! It's funny, slick, emotional, and awesome! 5 stars
7/19/09 Leonis Boring and overrated! 8 on IMBD! Nerds/Buffy fans need to get a life or get laid! 2 stars
10/09/08 man huh? 1 stars
6/22/08 J Black OK, like the series better. Wish Firefly hadn't been cancelled 4 stars
5/06/08 Neil Foster If only everyone who saw it had watched ALL the Firefly eps first ! 5 stars
3/29/08 Chiya Recently discovered firefly. serenity was mostly just mal &river, but brilliant. Shiny. 5 stars
12/09/07 Russell Liscomb Note how everyone giving it one star has poor grammar skills and no valid argument? 5 stars
11/26/07 dude boring and confusing 1 stars
11/21/07 fools♫gold I agree with all who like this. And only people who give it 5 stars like it! :P 5 stars
10/04/07 Akbar For Firefly fans only, otherwise boring soap opera tripe 2 stars
10/01/07 JohnnyFaye Melcom Renolds is a great caption you, a man you can follow. 4 stars
7/21/07 ben dover amazing fuck off lucas you fat cunt 5 stars
7/16/07 Andy Just brilliant, and shiny to boot 5 stars
7/02/07 Transid Great admiration for Firefly, but dissapointed in this 2 stars
6/16/07 Tom Lifelong Star Wars fan, but sorry folks... Firefly/Serenity takes the cake! 5 stars
5/16/07 Letter Liked It, but loved the series so something was lacking 3 stars
5/15/07 Dave Didn't like it 1 stars
5/01/07 Dude Sith was way better 1 stars
5/01/07 Tracey Chambers great movie 5 stars
4/02/07 Guido Sanchez Not the show, but pretty damn good nonetheless. 4 stars
2/09/07 -Cruden- I saw only one episode before the times started switching around and still loved the movie. 5 stars
1/31/07 Jeff Anderson A great valentine for fans of FIREFLY(long live them)& a blast. JEWEL STAITE ROCKS!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
11/28/06 Veritas Anyone who doesn't like this movie ought to be fed to Reavers 5 stars
11/27/06 Bella awesome awesome romp - very funny and touching. Bring on the sequel or bring back Firely 5 stars
11/26/06 sirina the story line sucked and it was way dum!! 1 stars
10/24/06 Drew G I probably have to see it again, but I wasn't blown away 3 stars
10/23/06 Browncoat If you have any brains,you loved it.If not, you don't count. 't 5 stars
10/17/06 AJ Muller in my Top 5 Best Flicks Ever.(seen 1 ep. before this)simply KILLER 5 stars
10/14/06 Ron Newbold There should be penalties for Fox cancelling the TV series! But the movie is fantastic 5 stars
8/25/06 michael just wish it was still on TV 5 stars
8/21/06 fozzybear loved the series,loved the film.if you don't get it,you never will!! 5 stars
8/13/06 Sharon pretty good I didnt expect much but it was awsome 5 stars
8/05/06 nicklor24 great movie, great action, they need to make a second one or bring back firefly 5 stars
5/22/06 sarah h can be made better 1 stars
5/19/06 UnpluggedCrazy Pretty much the best movie ever made. I may be biased, yes, but it's still impressive. 5 stars
5/03/06 ES Didn't make it thru this one. Bad acting, strained humur and no one worth mentioning in it 1 stars
4/19/06 Becky I love this movie!! Go browncoats!! I have it on DVD and it really gets better every time 5 stars
4/01/06 john smith would return of the jedi worked as stand alone? Serenity is a great sequel be satisfied...! 5 stars
3/31/06 Steve Newman Not sure what to make of this - would not watch again but glad I watched it 3 stars
3/28/06 mike turned it off after 30 mins. forwarded to cool fight scene in end 2 stars
3/19/06 Marlon Absolutely endearing, engrossing and entertaining--must have more! Sequel please... 5 stars
3/08/06 daveyt bought the box-set dvds, just watched film... blown away. Cheers Joss 5 stars
3/07/06 myzzy A must See movie!! its worth every penny 5 stars
3/03/06 Kris Hall stereotypically Western and Sci Fi setting allow to sit back and enjoy the ride 5 stars
3/01/06 kaz rawked my sawks 5 stars
2/20/06 Sonja Nikolic Whedon > Lucas. This from a Firefly virgin. 5 stars
2/14/06 Perry Mason At least one space opera filmmaker puts some thought in his work. 4 stars
2/06/06 Jim Snappy dialog, good plot and special effects, lots of Buffy and Angel villains 4 stars
1/20/06 Reklc Great sci fi movie! 5 stars
12/30/05 GBFH fantastic background noise 5 stars
12/22/05 gummy Serenity is the best SciFi movie i've seen in a LONG TIME!(i nevr saw a episode of firefly) 5 stars
12/21/05 Steve Does the series justice 5 stars
12/19/05 Dan Awesome movie! Loved it. 5 stars
12/15/05 Rob Proctor This and the series from TV are incredable. 5 stars
12/02/05 Blair K. Ivey This is a good movie. Not a four-star classic but certainly worth more than "Worth a look". 5 stars
12/01/05 Marty Welll thought out and well crafteded piece of work. 5 stars
11/22/05 Guy The best space opera since...well, it's actually the best of its kind! 5 stars
11/18/05 Indrid Cold Why are all these Babalon 5/Andromeda/Farscape things exactly the same? 3 stars
11/13/05 Jade Loved it!!! Need I say more? Well, I could actually go on for pages, but I'll refrain! 5 stars
10/29/05 Jared excellent 5 stars
10/23/05 Pale Dim brianorndorf is a moron. Intelligent fans can have a blast with this. 5 stars
10/22/05 Lord Chu AWESOME. The best movie ever, suckers. 5 stars
10/22/05 momacress Smart and action-packed. If it starred Brad Pitt it'd be a blockbuster by now. 4 stars
10/21/05 Suzz unrelenting gore, violence, noise, bad acting and idiot dialogue 1 stars
10/20/05 Ole Man Bourbon Star Wars meets Judge Dredd meets Jason X. IT SUCKS! 1 stars
10/20/05 marajade29sm FINALLY! This is what sci-fi adventure is supposed to be! Whedon is my master now! 5 stars
10/19/05 Rob G With DVD sales this will be in profit easy. Helloooo sequel! 5 stars
10/18/05 mike brianorndorf lacks ability to follow fast plot points. Never seen firefly, loved the movie. 5 stars
10/17/05 Bradley Timm Sci-fi is once again legitimate cinema. 5 stars
10/15/05 Walter Hillman The reviewer must be getting paid under the table. 2 stars
10/15/05 mirasol eagerly anticipated and not dissappointed! 5 stars
10/14/05 Pooly Pretty decent movie for a space drama. Check it out. 4 stars
10/13/05 Roy Smith How is this movie not making money? Fuck! 5 stars
10/13/05 Eula excellent film - I'd wanted more backstory on Book and Inara but it was still just fine! 5 stars
10/12/05 R White Best Sci-Fi for years! 5 stars
10/12/05 James K Chambliss Nice comeback for a series sadly mistreated. Send in a sequel! 5 stars
10/11/05 Elizabeth S Extremely entertaining! Cast is marvelous! 5 stars
10/10/05 jimbo CGI isn't as good as star wars serenity sucked 1 stars
10/09/05 Meritaten Pure Whedon - a breathtaking roller coaster ride from beginning to end! 5 stars
10/09/05 S Gyles THE BEST MOVIE I HAVE EVER SEEN! 5 stars
10/09/05 DMF Not perfect, but miles better than the competition! 4 stars
10/09/05 CA Goosmann I love the crew...sign me up 5 stars
10/09/05 ajay wasn't laugh-out-loud funny, but an enjoyable esperience. 4 stars
10/07/05 Titus I vote we eliminate Star Wars I-III and replace it with Serenity. This ROCKED. 5 stars
10/07/05 Bob Roberts absolutely f*cking awesome 5 stars
10/06/05 Jef Stellar. Great action, emotional, fearful...wonderful. 5 stars
10/06/05 S McBurnie Best SF movie I've seen in years. 5 stars
10/05/05 Amy Long One hell of a ride! Really cute guys! 5 stars
10/05/05 RevRob More TV Eps Please! (plus additional movies...) 5 stars
10/05/05 Jack Handy This movie was lacking plot, acting, plot, humor, plot, script, plot. 1 stars
10/04/05 Jeremy Absolutely the best movie I have seen all year. 5 stars
10/04/05 Mark This movie sucks 1 stars
10/04/05 Vince Outstanding 5 stars
10/03/05 Jonathon Holmes Half Outlaw Star, half Cowboy Bebop, all fun 4 stars
10/03/05 Elizabeth S Great fun! Stands alone for those unfamiliar with "Firefly" 5 stars
10/03/05 Brenden Rogers The best Sci-Fi I've ever seen 5 stars
10/03/05 bob Loved it, better than most stuff lately 4 stars
10/03/05 mwr Superb movie! 5 stars
10/03/05 strider3700 Great, when's the next one comming? 5 stars
10/03/05 Lynn Huls Joss Whedon at his best! 5 stars
10/03/05 Duckman Freckin' Sweer 5 stars
10/03/05 Mike Haggar It's Like Cowboy Bebop? More like Outlaw Star. I smell a Rip Off. 1 stars
10/02/05 Bob Roberts excellent 5 stars
10/02/05 McNab any sci-fi fan should enjoy it... bring me more 4 stars
10/02/05 Chico Dude Great movie, go see it 5 stars
10/02/05 Tamara Bycroft fantastic 5 stars
10/02/05 Wally Conger I couldn't have been happier with this FIREFLY "sequel." 5 stars
10/02/05 Surfaday Totally entertained - see it!! 5 stars
10/02/05 J. Marra The best in a long, long time by a far, far piece 5 stars
10/02/05 Susan A terrific movie - more, more! 5 stars
10/02/05 Michael Y. Better than Star Wars Episodes 1-3 combined! 5 stars
10/02/05 E. Milo witty, clever, original, and as far from stifling Star Trek morality as you can get! 5 stars
10/02/05 bullit16 Joss Whedon is a god. Best movie of the year, easily. 5 stars
10/02/05 KingNeutron I was really looking fwd to this, but OMG THEY KILLED KENNY! 3 stars
10/01/05 Dan Absolutely awesome and stunning sci-fi movie! Right up there with Star Wars! 5 stars
10/01/05 michaelb14 smart, witty, dialogue; characters you care about; great action; best scifi in a while 5 stars
10/01/05 Wildcarde1 more than mindless sci-fi action, real feeling 5 stars
10/01/05 KGWyly Long overdue successor to "Star Wars" 5 stars
10/01/05 Norma awesome is the right word! watch firefly though! 5 stars
10/01/05 J. O'Brien great sci-fi 5 stars
10/01/05 dj hanson the best sci-fi adventure ive ever seen!!! 5 stars
10/01/05 Heath This has all the elements of an excellent movie no matter what the genre. 5 stars
9/30/05 Green Gremlin Great sci-fi movies don't need CGI !!! 4 stars
9/30/05 Wyatt Allbright Leaves Lucas in the dust. Stunning, brutal, funny, intense and compelling Sci-Fi. 5 stars
9/30/05 what the fuck is wrong with you this movie is the most overrated peice of shit of all time the show sux and so does this 1 stars
9/30/05 Nick Smith Trek what? 5 stars
9/30/05 Jessica Guilford "Roller-coaster" pretty well sums it up. 5 stars
9/30/05 Trevor Hanson Excellent, shocking and unforgettable, there are scenes that are simply staggering 5 stars
9/30/05 Ashley C. The space battle beat ROTS. Fan gold. Action fun. Being a fan, I rate it 5. 5 stars
9/30/05 Keely333 Thank you, Joss! 5 stars
9/30/05 BrianWilly Pure, unadulterated awesomry. 5 stars
9/30/05 Jakub Wow, better than MENACE and JEDI?!?!?! THERE'S an accomplishment!!!!! 1 stars
9/30/05 Frank Lynch Best Gorram SF flick! 5 stars
9/30/05 cat It blows you away the first time you see it and is somehow even better the second time. 5 stars
9/30/05 GUSH!! OMG AWESOME OMG AWESOME OMG AWESOME the bestest movie ever...not. 1 stars
9/29/05 ellie totally amazing! 5 stars
9/29/05 Paul Rocks Such an awesome film, see it if you get the chance, you won't be disappointed 5 stars
9/29/05 Chris Original and Genera busting Action and Humor 5 stars
9/29/05 celticfeminist Fantastic and fun! 5 stars
9/27/05 Heidialyssa I have to agree that it was similar to the series. 4 stars
9/26/05 Mig Alonso About the same as the TV series 2 stars
9/16/05 kk Fantastic. TV show expectations were changed by JW, now he does the same to movies. 5 stars
9/14/05 Anthony Toledo Absolutely worth a look 4 stars
9/06/05 Chris Munoz Average....a big fan but dissapointed with certain aspects of the film. Missed oppurtunity. 3 stars
9/01/05 Igneous Triffic! A mantlepiece! 5 stars
8/30/05 Anthony Mangiarciana Awesome movie , we had a great time it was funny , sweet , exciting , scary and more 5 stars
8/25/05 robert murray absolutely brilliant 5 stars
8/25/05 Michelle It is incredibly amazing heart-stopping breathtaking movie 5 stars
8/25/05 jt best movie of the year so far 5 stars
8/25/05 Surzel outstanding 5 stars
8/25/05 J.A.A. Awesome. I've found Serenity. 5 stars
8/25/05 tony excellent 5 stars
8/25/05 sorcha silver Incredible - exceeded high expectations 5 stars
8/25/05 dorrie6 This movie surpassed all my expectations, including ones I didn't even know I had. 5 stars
8/25/05 Ste Amazing. Great action, great characters overall great film. You'll laugh you'll cry. See it 5 stars
8/25/05 Stephen Fletcher Fantastic, emotionally charged film, best I have seen in a long time. 5 stars
8/25/05 Ed Smith Saw it at the premiere on Monday. Was worried about the hype. Needn't have been. Fantastic. 5 stars
8/25/05 Douglas Hutcheson Must-see film! A roller coaster of emotions running up and down with humour and excitement! 5 stars
8/25/05 DSK Sometimes dark action packed sci-fi with heart and humour. Laughs and tears for all. 5 stars
8/25/05 Jane Burnett Surpassed expectations. A dynamic blockbuster with true (unschmaltzy) heart 5 stars
8/25/05 Jem Absolutely blew me away. Not what I expected... far, far better! 5 stars
8/25/05 jabby Wonderful Movie. A fast paced, exciting, intelligent and funny sci-fi movie. 5 stars
8/25/05 Jay Starr Wicked Awsome! 5 stars
8/25/05 Hannah It gives the world if SciFi just the kick its been needing. 5 stars
8/25/05 Earl Ferguson Real characters, compelling story, non-stop action, memorable music. Great entertainment. 5 stars
8/25/05 Angelique This movie is so much better than all the crap Hollywood has been coming out with! 5 stars
8/25/05 Duy Dinh Not just a good Sci Fi movie, but a good movie in all regards 5 stars
8/25/05 Diane G. fabulous, a great film 5 stars
8/24/05 Edith Simpson Awesome! Best movie this year! 5 stars
8/24/05 Shiny Very Very Shiny 5 stars
8/24/05 Denise M. FANTASTIC film! 5 stars
8/24/05 Geoff Roberts Hands down the best space SF movies in over 10 years 5 stars
8/24/05 Richard Kenneth Lenseth The best movie of 2005 if not this decade! 5 stars
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  30-Sep-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 20-Dec-2005



Directed by
  Joss Whedon

Written by
  Joss Whedon

  Nathan Fillion
  Gina Torres
  Alan Tudyk
  Morena Baccarin
  Adam Baldwin
  Jewel Staite

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