A note to the anti-science fiction crowd: please keep reading. It’s worth it.
This marks the third time I’ve seen this movie, and it most certainly is not the last time. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention why this movie was made.
While at GenCon this year, some of my cronies were watching scenes from a movie called Serenity, and buying books called Firefly to be autographed by Ron Glass. They were very excited about it, but I had never even heard of it.
Then my evil friend Oz lent me his DVDs of the Firefly series, a show that was cancelled midseason before some of the episodes ever aired. The network had poorly promoted it, then moved the time slot several times. Seriously, how did I not hear of this until it was off the air for two years? About halfway through the second show, I exclaimed, “why was this cancelled?!?” It is a question that has been asked by me- and by millions of others- countless times. Needless to say, as a geek and a lover of good dialogue, I was hooked. I won’t review the entire series here, but I recommend it highly to anyone who would like to watch it.
I had missed the special BrownCoats screening that was held a few months before the general release. As Joss Whedon says in his intro, this movie was a miracle. Failed TV shows aren’t made into major motion pictures. But the fan base that had built was so tenacious that the movie was made.
The movie had a shoestring budget of $40 million (that is low for a SciFi picture), but most of the effects are very good. The things that distinguish this film from most in its genre is that A) there are no aliens and B) there is a plot.
The movie doesn’t rely on elaborate alien beings (no JarJar here!) to be visually interesting, and the musical score is amazing. The first time we see the spaceship Serenity, the score has an amazing crescendo in keeping with the Wild West flavor of the television series. I had chills the first time I saw it- and this time too.
The world created is interesting- allow me to explain. No, takes too long, let me sum up: of the superpowers on earth, North American and Mandarin Chinese cultures have survived (with a bit of Indian flavor on the Registered Companions- the new Geishas). Both languages are spoken in the film, but Mandarin is reserved mostly for cursing, so don’t worry about needing new language skills. The ship is a “Firefly” class (hence the series name) and the specific vessel is Serenity (hence the title). Some of the more interesting background plot points are explained in the DVD’s deleted scenes.
Joss Whedon is clever, funny, and inventive with his script, creating a world of the future that seems plausible (no Tribbles here!) and interesting. Best of all, though the world itself is fascinating, the movie would carry just as well if it were set on present-day earth. The film isn’t leaning on its SciFi roots and settling for interesting concepts and fun special effects. The characters are each interesting (except for Inara, who tragically has so little screen time that unless you’ve seen the series, you’re out of luck. Go buy the TV series on DVD…but again, I digress).
This is worth at least one look by anyone who enjoys action movies with good dialogue (what a rarity!), and is worth multiple viewings by all of us nerds. For the supernerds, quoting the movie’s quasi-western-southern slang is necessary. For the UltraNerd: quote the Mandarin Chinese.
Don’t rent it. BUY IT!!!