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October 2005

By Wilson Morales

Distributor: Universal Pictures
Director: Joss Whedon
Producer: Barry Mendel
Screenwriter: Joss Whedon
Cinematographer: Jack N. Green
Composer: David Newman
Cast: Morena Baccarin, Adam Baldwin, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nathan Fillion, Ron Glass, Summer Glau, Sean Maher, Jewel Staite, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk
Screened at: Loews Lincoln Square, NYC


There have been so many films this year that have failed to connect with audiences, especially films based on classic TV series such as Bewitched and The Honeymooners, so why should another film based on a TV series be any different and good? Well, unlike the two films just mentioned, there hasn't been a film based on a cancelled TV show that only lasted 11 episodes. It takes a support from the fans and as well as the producers to convince a studio that there is life outside the TV medium and that with the right marketing, their failed project could be resurrected. Funny, intelligent, and filled with a lot of action, "Serenity", known as "Firefly" in TV land, is as good as any sci-fi film ever brought to the big screen.

One doesn't have to be a fan of the series to know who the characters are and what tickles their fancy. The film quickly brings you in the fold without having to explain what the TV series was about. At the start of the film, a young woman is being held captive by a group of scientists when her brother, pretending to be someone else, turns the tables on them and frees her. Moving forward, Simon and his sister, a 17 year old telepath named River (Summer Glau) are aboard the Serenity being watched and unknowingly protected by Malcolm Reynolds (Fillion) and his crew. Reynolds is a war veteran who opposes anything that the governing board, The Alliance, does or mandates. Meanwhile, The Alliance has sent out an enforcer (Ejiofor) to go out and find River. The motive behind her re-capture isn't known but the Enforcer is not the guy one can easily deal with. Malcolm's crew consists of his right-hand, Zoe (Torres) and her pilot husband Wash (Tudyk), Jayne (Baldin) his combative partner, and Kaylee (Staite), the ship's engineer. When their lives and the lives of those they have befriended, such as Shepherd Book (Glass) and Mr. Universe (Krumholtz) are put in danger, rather than run, Malcolm decided to challenge the Operative and find out what's the reason behind their pursuit of River.

In watching "Serenity", one can get the feeling that this isn't the normal sci-fi film that they have seen before. Director Whedon keeps the same intensity and humor that the TV series presented. At times quirky and corny, the characters are still engaging and fun to see. As the leader of the group, Fillion gives a commanding performance. His no-nonsense, non-committal attitude is somewhat bravado and appealing. Torres is the scene-stealer in the film as well as Ejiofor. As the first female right hand in recent memory, Torres deserves the same respect that Sigourney Weaver had for "Aliens". She plays her part with strength and determination and when situations threaten to buckle her down, she quickly says, "I'm here for the job". You will need to see the film to know the impact of that statement. Having played the bad guy recently in "Four Brothers", Ejiofor's character here has more dimensions and range and his fight scenes are quite fascinating to watch, almost zen-like. Almost every character has their moment to shine and Whedon makes great use of giving something for the fans as well as us newcomers. Energetic and thrilling, "Serenity" is captivating and a joy to watch.