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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 15 February 2006
I went to see this film because I was bored on my day off...and then went back twice more with friends and bought the Firefly box set bcause I enjoyed it so much. I am a die hard sci-fi fan, and this is just brilliant. I had never seen Firefly before although I'd seen trailers for it on The Sci-fi channel and occasionally idly thought, "Looks good, maybe I should watch that..." and then not bothered...big mistake! I agree that it is criminal that Firefly was cancelled, and I can only hope that it makes a comeback through this film, but I also think it's a shame that Serenity was so let down by the promotion campaign pre-release. It was completely mismarketed and probably lost at least half it's potential audience as a result. My boyfriend hates sci-fi and westerns, but he loves this, and is currently working his way through the Firefly box set (I watched all 14 episodes in one go when I got it). The film Serenity is a little different from the series, but the Reavers have to be some of the scariest baddies in sci-fi, on a par with the Borg (who give me nightmares), and I would like to know what happened to the guys with blue hands who were chasing River, but that said, buying this movie or the box set of Firefly will not disappoint and will leave you gasping for more - especially if, like me, you develop a slight crush on the gorgeous Captain Reynolds in the process...top-notch sci-fi, can't recommend it highly enough!
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on 7 October 2005
Just saw the film at the cinema last night - it's going to be a loooooong wait for the DVD! THIS is what SF is surely supposed to be - real stories, real characters, no need for green aliens in rubber suits (or CGI ones) or techobabble to save the day... Funny, very dark in places and a script that isn't a string of clunky cliches. Wonderful! (And if it comes with a commentary half as good as the Firefly box set, well that would be just even more... shiny!)
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on 3 March 2006
I have had a funny relationship with this movie and its predecessing series. I was interested in seeing the movie when it hit cinema's as i had read all the great reviews and liked the look of the movie. Due to commitments to work and university, i missed the movie on the cinema, which i was dissapointed about. I was shopping one day after the movie had gone off and saw the Firefly DVD for only twenty pounds. After much deliberating i decided to buy it, fancying something new. Needles to say i was skeptical when i put that first disc in and watched the pilot. But within 10 minutes of watching, i was enthralled, i couldnt stop watching it, and began to curse myself more and more for not seeing Serenity at the cinema. So i had to wait four months for the Serenity DVD to come out.
By the time i bought Serenity, i had watched each of the 14 Firefly episodes 3 times. So my expectations were fairly high for the movie, but, Serenity took my expectations and blew them into the black. The movie really is great, and you wouldnt have to have seen Firefly before it to enjoy it, though it would help with some character interactions.
Everything strong from the series is here, the characterisation (which is brilliant, you WILL love every character), humour, action (though it is bigger and better in the movie) acting, and the excellent music. The movie also has the unique ability to make you laugh out and cry at the same time.
It really is a great ride of a movie. The story focuses mostly on Mal and River and the secret River carries that is a threat the ruling government The Alliance. The cannibalistic Reavers(men who have grown wild on the edge of space and like to eat people alive) also play a big part in the story. There are some great action set pieces, from the hovercraft chase at the start, to the spectacular space battle between the Reavers and the Alliance, with Serenity in the middle, to the climactic stand off within a planetary facility.
This is a movie that should be seen by every Sci-fi fan around the world, and it at least warrants and rental from casual movie viewers. Highly recommended and one of the best movies from 2005.
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on 12 February 2006
I remember seeing this film out in California back in September '05 after seeing a trailer for it and thinking - why not! I'd never seen the Firefly series so had no idea of what to expect (didn't actually realise it was a spin-off from a series). I'd have to completely agree with some of the other reviews and say that it was an awesome film covering quite a few genres (sci-fi, western, comedy, drama......even some Steven Seagal/Jet Li style fighting) that left me thinking afterwards, "When this comes out in the UK I'm going to have to see it again". Also loved the fact that there were quite a few unknowns (apart from guy who played 'Steve the Pirate' in Dodge Ball!). I don't think any big named actors/actresses could have pulled it off either and it was great that they were the original series cast.
I was therefore slightly disappointed not to see it in the UK cinemas (at least not where I was). However, I did see 'Firefly' the series so bought it, and the series was just as good as the movie. For the movie, it seems as though Joss has tried to combine the 14 episodes of firefly and what he feels should have been in the second series into one film. Which is no bad thing as you don't have to have seen the one before the other.
For those of you who aren't totally sure about this film, I'd definitely give it a try. Even if you're not into Sci-fi movies, as it's goes off into so many other genres you forget. My brother's girlfriend is not a sci-fi fan at all, but came out of the cinema having loved it. The film's slick, well crafted and is more than deserving of a second installment.
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If you were thinking that Joss Whedon wrote and directed "Serenity" to be the first in a series of movies based on the crew of his late and lamented television series "Firefly," think again. Whedon knows this might be his only bite of the cinematic apple for his beloved creations, so fans will see this being more like the series finales of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel." In other words, not everybody is going to be around for the final credits.
To get everybody on the same page Whedon begins with Simon (Sean Maher) breaking his sister River (Summer Glau) out of the Alliance laboratory where they are busy playing with her brain. River is both a psychic and a living weapon, and it turns out that it is the former that is of the biggest concern to the Alliance because she knows something she should not know. That knowledge, rattling around in her head, is part of the reason that River is mentally unstable, and so the Alliance has sent an Operative (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who has neither a name nor an official position, to bring her back. Then we jump to Serenity and a tracking shot in which the boat's captain, Mal (Nathan Fillion) starts in the cock pit with Wash (Alan Tudyk), and then walks all the way through the crew deck and returns back through the cargo deck, meeting Zoe (Gina Torres), Jayne (Adam Baldwin), and Kaylee (Jewel Statie), along with Simon and River along the way. Inara (Morena Baccarin) and Shepherd Book (Ron Glass) are no longer aboard, but rest assured they will pop up. So, Mal has River and the Alliance wants her, so the Operative is coming to get her and he is coming "sideways."
Mal Reynolds is in the reluctant hero Han Solo/Rick Blaine mold; he and Zoe fought against the Alliance in the war and now his entire world is Serenity. His crew is his top priority and the Alliance is making a big mistake in forcing him to care about larger issues. Besides, he has an ace, or at least a wild card, up his sleeve with River. So the character arc of the captain is certainly a familiar one. But one of Whedon's chief attributes is that he likes to play with established conventions. Every time you think that you are ahead of the characters and that Mal does not know what is about to happen next, you are wrong. So it is nice to play with expectations and Whedon does so, to provide not only humor but some pathos as well (Whedon likes to make you laugh and then give you a reason to suddenly stop laughing).
Yes, those of us familiar with "Firefly" have an advantage in watching "Serenity" because we know the characters, not only in terms of their histories but also their temperaments. That is why we were expecting a lot more cursing in Chinese in this movie. We are also going to be more accepting of attempts to fast forward some of the interpersonal issues that afflict the crew of Serenity, as well as the attempt to suggest what is to come down the road. Whedon could get bogged down in trying to finally untangle the love-hate affair that Mal and Inara have been having, but he rightly keeps the focus on working out the River plotline. Most of the crewmembers of Serenity get their moments, but this film comes down to Mal and River, which is what both the television series and the prologue here have set up. I am perfectly willing to grant that such insider knowledge is worth at least a half-star in terms of rating this film, but that is just the way things break with this movie.
Ultimately, I ended up rounding up on "Serenity" because in the sequences where River goes to town Whedon uses long shots to depict the action. Yes, it could be that he is cutting or morphing together shots of the living weapon at work, but I am so sick and tired of seeing fight sequences reduced to a rapid fire montage of cuts where I can never tell what is going on. It seems that you do not get to see what is really happening in a fight unless it is not really happening because you are using CGI for your fights (a prime example being Spider-man versus Doctor Octopus in "Spider-man 2"). But when River takes her turn we get to see what she is doing and enjoy her whirling ballet of death and one of the joys here is watching Glau turn off the crazy little girl routine and show exactly what the Alliance has created. In other words, Whedon provides the payoff we were denied when "Firefly" was summarily cancelled after only eleven episodes had aired, which is exactly what the mission was here. Also, stick around for the entire credits and you will get to hear the "Fireside" theme song as a nice little acoustic guitar piece.
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on 9 November 2005
What you have in Serenity is action that is always building right from the start of the movie. The acting is superb for such a large cast, but these people honed there skills in Firefly, the TV series which the movie is a continuation. You don't need to see the TV series to get into this movie as it stands on its own. However having said that, not many movies have 15 odd hours of back story for you to watch.
As with alot of good sci-fi there is a message to this movie which is very relevant to our present day, however if you aren't interested in that you probably won't even notice. The writing is very tight, with the usual Joss Whedon humour interpersed through the movie.
NOTE: This movie is not like Buffy, so if you aren't a fan of it then do not cross this movie off you viewing list.
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Even though I'm a big science-fiction fan who watches Fox more than any other network, I somehow managed to never see an episode of Firefly. That means I came on board the Serenity with basically no knowledge at all about the series or the characters. Naturally, I now plan on watching the Firefly episodes in the near future, but there is a very real chance I will say something in this review that will be deemed rather stupid by loyal fans - but, rest assured, I intend to have nothing but good things to say about this movie. It definitely can be enjoyed on its own merits, but I did feel as if I were missing out on some background, especially in terms of the recent war and the true natures of the Alliance, the colonists on the outer, wilder worlds, and of course the Reavers. It was also a little hard to fully embrace the heroes at first because - well, they are basically criminals who aren't averse to leaving a few bodies in their wake when they do a job. These are deep characters, however, and it takes time to get to know them, especially Captain Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), who seems to run hot and cold all the time. Of course, his mood swings are nothing compared to those of River Tam (Summer Glau), the young psychic super-girl currently being protected by Mal and his crew. River was trained by the Alliance government to be a superhuman with extrasensory powers and lethal fighting skills. I must say I always enjoy watching a woman stomp mudholes in wave after wave of bad guys - and this girl doesn't bother with taking any names when she gets her groove on. What a woman!

River was saved from her life as an Alliance-controlled guinea pig of death by her brother, who can be a little annoying in a Jerry O'Connell sort of way. Naturally, the Alliance wants her back - not just for whom and what she is but also for the highly classified information she might have gleaned from people in authority. Since she doesn't officially exist, the government can't just put out an interstellar APB on her; instead, they send in a smooth-talking, highly trained assassin (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who doesn't let a little thing like countless innocent deaths get in the way of his mission. As for Mal and some of his crew, they aren't even sure they want to keep River around anymore, especially after she goes Bruce Lee on a whole bar full of tough hombres for no discernible reason. It's bad enough the Alliance is gunning for them just for having her onboard, but it starts to look like she could be a danger to them in and of herself. Mal wants to know what secret she has buried in her fragile brain, though - given the hated Alliance's determined effort to find and eliminate her, he knows it must be a real threat to their position and power. He's right, of course.

Serenity is a remarkable movie - nay, concept - in many ways. The very story itself represents a unique take on science fiction (although I can't say I saw a lot of Firefly's vaunted Western tie-in in the movie), one built on fascinating characters as much as futuristic technology and marvelous (and they are marvelous, by the way) shoot-'em-ups in space. The ever-ingenious Joss Whedon likes to diverge from common wisdom and prove all the "it will never work" critics wrong, and part of that involves some pretty unexpected fates for his characters here in this big-budget crowd-pleaser of a feature film. I can see where fans of the Firefly series might come away rather shocked on a couple of occasions.

I could quibble about a couple of things in the film (such as the melodramatic romantic pause at one point just before the climax and the bad guy's decision to risk his life going after the hero when he had ample opportunity to just blow the guy's brains out as easy as you please), but I won't. Serenity is a great movie and the ultimate vindication for Joss Whedon and his hand-picked actors who were mismanaged and then dropped mercilessly and far too quickly by Fox. These TV execs gave the horrendously over-marketed and downright weak Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., a full year to prove itself, yet they axed Joss Whedon's Firefly after a mere 11 episodes (which they didn't even show in the right order)? How stupid was that? Just look at the rave reviews and sales of both Firefly and Serenity. The show deserved better, and Serenity proves Mr. Universe right - they really can't stop the signal. Let's hope there are further Serenity adventures to come - in any format.
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on 3 March 2006
Having been recommended Firefly by a beautiful woman at work, I decided to pick this up before I bought the series (strange I know). Greatest, Bestest strangest decision. Ever!
After the credits rolled up my TV screen, I felt drained. Emotionally, mentally, all the feelings ending in 'ally' to be honest. This was one of the best films I have seen in a long time. Even though it consists of mainly action and comedy, I still felt a connection to the characters because I felt they were somewhat 'real'. Im not going to give any details of the film 'on a plate' or describe what the whole Firefly/Serenity story is about. I'll leave that for you to unravel for when you 'hopefully' come aboard. Im still to find out the Firefly side of things myself.
I will say this though:
The action sequences and fight scenes are second to none, really well choreographed and acted out while never feeling tacked on for a dumber audience. The chemistry between characters is fun to watch and the drama that does happen in the film always plays an essential role no matter how long the sequence is.
I missed the film on release in the cinema's and now I have it and have seen it on DVD, my next port of call is to pick up Firefly the series as I feel duty bound to get the Firefly/Serenity name out to the masses, as what Fox did to this brand in the US is absolutley criminal.
If you are unsure of whether this will be for you, I urge you to take a chance on it, I promise it wont disappoint like so many supposed' 'blockbusters' of recent years have. Mr Lucas, Im looking at you!
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on 6 March 2006
My first encounter with the Firefly Universe was a chance buy of the season 1 (and only) box set. Not because I had heard anything about it, not because I particularly like the marriage of wild west / sci-fi themes. I bought it because as a sci-fi fan I was in desperate need of some new material upon which to get my sci-fi fix. I wasn't expecting much. The result? - I loved it and by extension I equally loved the full length feature Serenity.
Serenity / Firefly doesn't even try to place itself at the top of the serious sci-fi heap - it's tongue in cheek in many respects. But don't make the mistake of thinking this is pure spoof. I'm neither a fan of buffy or angel, but it seems to me that Wheadon has done something special with this universe he has created. It's fun, it's exciting and it's pure adventure. It holds room for a multitude of laughs and gags as well as heartfelt introspection.
Just as importantly Whedon is not the kind of director to shy away from killing off dearly loved characters - and the viewer feels this from the off.All in all, my only regrets with the Serenity feature were not getting enough of Jayne. Who'd have thought such a stereotypical lump could be my favourite character? But thats precisely the strength of Serenity/Firefly...it's the characters that will keep you coming back.
Indeed, back is the key word here. The reason I give Serenity 5 stars as opposed to 4 (a tough decision for a hardened sci-fi nut) is that I want to be able to come back to this universe. Serenity/Firefly is already well on its way to being one of those short lived 'cult' series...I'd much rather it was given a chance to develop. Who knows? perhaps someone in hollywood land is listening? After all, what can be a better reccomendation than to say you want more?
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on 8 March 2006
This is, without doubt, the best action film of 2005. It doesn't fail into the trap of many SF movies in disappearing into some mystical CGI-obsessed, budget draining, plotless mess.
Instead it provides a real story, with real characters, which just happens to be set in a future time, with all the accessories one would expect. Whedon's vision of a future in which ultra-low and ultra-high tech rub against each other in uneasy symbiosis is, among SF "universes", uniquely real-feeling. This is a place and time in which man can travel great distances through space at high speed, but also in which he needs to shower more often than he does, is sometimes short of food, and chooses his weapons according to his limited budget.
It isn't just for Firefly fans, either. No pre-knowledge is neccesary. In some ways, never having seen Firefly could be in advantage - it means you don't spend the 30 minutes after the end credits cursing the Fox Network for cancelling the show in the first place.
An excellent film. It's not often I pre-order a DVD and then watch it as soon as it arrives, but I did with Serenity. Enjoy!
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