Serenity [HD DVD]  [US Import]
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Serenity is a film that, by rights, shouldnt have been made. For starters, its spun out of the short-lived and quickly-cancelled TV series Firefly, which has only itself got the full recognition it deserves on DVD. It then marries up two seemingly incompatible genres, the western and science fiction, has no major stars to speak of, and pretty much has hard sell written all over it.
Perhaps that explains its modest box office performance back in 2005. What it fails to reflect, however, is that this is one of the most energetic, downright enjoyable sci-fi flicks in some time. Not for nothing did many rate it higher than the Star Wars movie that appeared in the same year.
It follows renegade captain Mal Reynolds and his quirkily assembled crew, as they work on the outskirts of space, trying to keep out of the way of the governing Alliance. That plan quickly changes when they take on a couple of passengers who have attracted the attention of said Alliance, and thus the scene is set for an action-packed, cleverly written movie that deserves many of the plaudits that have rightly been thrust in its direction.
Whats more, Serenity works whether youve seen the TV series that precedes it or not. Clearly fans of the Firefly show will be in their element, but even the casual viewer will find an immense amount to enjoy.
The only real problem is that given the films box office returns, further adventures of Reynolds and his crew look unlikely. Unless Serenity turns into a major hit on DVD, that is. Its well worth playing your part in making that happen.--Simon Brew --This text refers to the DVD edition.
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Disc 1: Serenity 120mins.
Disc 1: Bonus features: Deleted scenes / Future history / Outakes / Whats in a Firefly / Re-lighting the Firefly / J.Wheadon Intro. / A filmakers journey / Option for J.Wheadon film commentary.
The features are nice, filmaking journey, deleted scenes & re-lighting a Firefly make for the bulk of it, around 44 minutes worth, while the rest are about 4-6 minutes or so long, 64 minutes total. It was nice to get an insight into the film from the actors, crew, fans & Mr Wheadon. And that they had the exact same feelings about the show/film as we did watching it. As well as the thought process into turning the t.v series into a film that everyone would understand, editing it & seeing the preperation work that went into Serenity. Mr Wheadon's commentary on the film is great, the option can be turned on in the bonus features, i reccomend that after you've watched the film.
Captain Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds (Nathan Fillion-Castle) an ex-solider who fought against the Alliance(the goverment of the time), reprises his role at the helm of Serenity, a smuggler, Firefly class ship. Along with his motley crew. Pilot, Hoban "Wash" Washburne(Alan Tudyk-I Robot) his wife Zoe(Gina Torres-Suits), engineer Kaylee Frye(Jewel Staite) & all round tough guy Jayne Cobb(Adam Baldwin-Full Metal Jacket).
The film Serenity picks up sometime shortly after the series finished. Where upon we witness Dr. Simon Tam (Sean Maher) rescuing his sister River(Summer Glau) with the help of Mal & the crew, from a top secret Alliance base. They set off escaping the Alliance military, but have a new enemy on their trail, The Operative (Chiwetel Ejiofor-Salt), an assassin after the gifted River, due to her unique abilities as a psychic & the Alliance secrets she holds in her head after experiments were done on her(River's abilities were being uncoverd towards the end of Firefly). So off they set once again on an action packed ride, meeting old friends who left the ship, Preacher Shepherd Book(Ron Glass) & lady of the night, Inara Serra(Morena Baccarin-Homeland) (who with the exception of Mr Ejiofor are crew members in the series & only Inara was setup to leave the ship as the series left it) along the way. All the while trying not to get killed against superior odds, but uncovering some big secrets along the way.
Serenity is a great Sci-Fi space western, with a good story & strong likeable cast of characters. The dialogue has a mixture of futuristic terminology, including the use of Chinese/Mandarin used at times in short bursts for emotional moments, mixed with distinct 19th century western tones & humour. Likeweise the appearance is a mixture of old wild west & chinese themes with futuristic spaceships , but the characters wield sci-fi style western 6 shooters etc.. the music also has a very western/chinese feel, with the use of guitar, fiddle & lute as the main instruments & country style lyrics. The special effects are good, and do a good enough job to keep things beliveable, when you consider this is on a tight B movie budget.
I've been watching the series after seeing this film, and it's a shame that the series never matured as it had everything going for it to succeed. Lead Nathan Fillion is brilliant(as he is in Castle) with his tongue in cheek/serious acting style, and has a great rapport with all the characters, who in turn are great too. The setting & banter between the crew is a winner, no wonder the series is so well thought of & that carrys over into the film flawlessly, it's like they have never been away. Although i still prefer the series, with that more personal touch with the gradual progression of getting to know the characters & the banter, relationships between the main 9 characters(and the 10th Serenity ;-)).
In conclusion, for those who know the series, this Serenity film focuses on River's character, which the series began to focus more upon upto the end, after she was in the background for the majority of the episodes. So it seems quite fitting she gets to be the focus point. It also brings in the Reavers that were only touched on in the series. We get some conclusions to the series sub stories, although not all had the time to be put to bed. And finally, trust me, have some tissues nearby, becasue there are going to be some big developments. Reccomended.
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