SERENITY

(2005)
Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Summer Glau, Ron Glass, Alan Tudyk, Adam Baldwin, Sean Maher, Jewel Staite, Morena Baccarin
Written and Directed by Joss Whedon
Reviewed by JB

That's gotta hurt     In 1997, screenwriter Joss Whedon (TOY STORY) managed to make an excellent series out of his failed movie BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER.  In 2005, he managed the reverse - making an excellent movie out of a failed TV series Firefly.

    The series "failed" only in that Fox TV sabotaged it by playing episodes out of chronological order and then yanking it from the schedule after only a handful of episodes.  But, although seen by hardly anyone, Firefly was a typical Whedon product, meaning a superior television show, and became a huge cult hit on DVD.  Knowing the show and characters ahead of time is a definite help, so if you can, rent Firefly (13 episodes) and if you like it, finish off your experience with SERENITY, which acts as a season finale.  However, the film provides enough excitement and humor to keep you hooked even without being fully versed with the history of all the characters.

     The film is basically one long space chase, as a group of mercenary space pirates try to elude an assassin sent by the powers that be ("The Alliance").  As with those other Whedon creations Buffy and  Angel, SERENITY features a group of memorable characters and sharp dialogue, as well as plenty of well-choreographed fight scenes. Nathan Fillion heads the cast of non-stars as Captain Malcolm Reynolds, a no-nonsense, self-centered son of a bitch who nevertheless inspires a strange loyalty amongst his ragtag crew as they maneuver their way through dangerous illegal missions on the most violent of outlaw planets.  Fillion is a star waiting for the right part, and in a just and sane world, his portrayal of Captain Reynolds would have given Fillion the kind of name recognition of, say, Sarah Michelle Gellar. Because it is a continuation of the television series, not every character is defined well enough for the uninitiated, but Ron Glass as man of God Shepherd Book stands out strongly, as do Adam Baldwin and Gina Torres as crew members Jayne and Zoe.

     Then there is the oddly beautiful Summer Glau, who will be known to fan's of Whedon's Buffy-spinoff Angel as the ballerina trapped in an eternal performance in one of the series' best episodes "Waiting in the Wings".  Glau, who plays River, a strange, sometimes violent girl whom the Alliance wants dead, surely has a long career in genre films and television shows. 

     In a year of giant special effects blockbusters (and isn't that every year these days?) SERENITY had little chance of making any impact in the theaters. Yet, in retrospect, it was one of the most intelligent films of 2005, easily more entertaining and certainly less bloated than several of the year's biggest CGI-treats (it's approximately a gazillion times better than Spielberg's WAR OF THE WORLDS, for instance).  It ranks with the best of the STAR TREK franchise and is far more amusing then even the best STAR WARS film.  And if you see it and don't like it, just remember the words of Joss Whedon to fans of the show: "This is, in a sense, your movie.  So, if it sucks... it's your fault."  - - JB

Science Fiction     The Secret Vortex


ADD ANOTHER QUOTE AND MAKE IT A GALLON

"This is the captain. We have a little problem with our entry sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and then explode."


THE BEST THING ABOUT THE WHEDONVERSE? THE BABES.

Just one of many in the Whedonverse     Joss Whedon's television shows and films are known for their wit, intelligence and deft blending of genres.  But most of all, they're known for the beautiful women.  Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan, Charisma Carpenter, Amy Acker, Julie Benz, Emma Caulfield... the list goes on for quite a bit.  Here is a short tribute to just one of the many beautiful and talented actress brought to us courtesy of Joss Whedon: Gina Torres.

    New York-born actress Gina Torres may not be a household name, but she has become a fan favorite from her stints on several television shows such as Hercules, 24 and The Shield, as well as playing Zoe on Firefly and in SERENITY.  She first worked with Joss Whedon at the end of the fourth season of Angel where she played one of the series' most memorable villains, the ancient goddess Jasmine.  She's also been seen in two of the MATRIX movies.

     However, for many fans (including me), she will always be most fondly remembered as Anna Espinosa, the infrequently recurring kickass superspy character who was a thorn in the side of Jennifer Garner's Sydney Bristow on J.J. Abram's television series Alias.

     In real life, she is married to actor Laurence Fishburne.