Directed by Joss Whedon.
Written by Joss Whedon.
Starring Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Summer Glau and Chiwetel
Release Year: 2005
Review Date: 10/2/05
Let the record show that I have never
watched an episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", "Angel", or
"Firefly", the three TV series that writer/director Joss Whedon has
dropped on the masses by way of either the WB (aka "The W-Black"),
USA or the UPN over the last ten years. I do know this,
though--fans that do watch any of these shows have a tendency to be
nerdtastic and also be a bit maniacal in their conviction that
everything Whedon touches is nothing short of genius.
You already know if you are one of those
people because when you saw the trailer for the new sci-fi flick
"Serenity", you nearly lost your shit wondering when it was going to
open and certainly you thought that the movie looked pretty cool.
If you are not one of these people, you saw
the trailer and thought
"Man, that looks like shit!"
I know I did when I saw the trailer for a
sci-fi film that had one-liners that made no sense and special
effects that were straight outta "Battlestar Galactica" (the '70s
show, not the new version). So, in the interest of padding the
stats, I decided to go see "Serenity" in the hopes that this dogshit
would be an easy entry into the Hard Vice category.
Not so fast. "Serenity", based on
characters from the "Firefly" TV show (cancelled after one season of
bad ratings, Whedon swore to put this on the big screen one day),
follows a crew of mercs led by Captain Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds
(Nathan Fillion) that uncover a plot by the Evil Empire--they are
called something else, but you get the idea--to purify the people of
the galaxy by introducing toxins to their blood streams that has a
slightly different effect than purification. With the help of
his ragtag crew, including the Muscle (Adam Baldwin), the Pilot
(Alan Tudyk), the Second-in-Command (Gina Torres), the Love Interest
(Morena Baccarin) and the Medic (Jewel Staite), Mal goes about
informing the galaxy about the Empire's evil ways...but he doesn't
count on two different factors. First, the Empire's top
assassin (Chiwetel Ejiofor, of
"Love, Actually") is coming after Mal's crew...and, one of Mal's stowaways, a 17-year-old wunderkind
named River (Summer Glau), is going to provide just that extra
little something to help get the team over the top.
In the tradition of shitty-yet-classic
sci-fi romps like "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai" or "Ice
Pirates" or even one of my faves,
"Serenity" does offer the release of going to a far-away world
hundreds of years in the future that are eerily similar to our own.
Like any sci-fi that has some action, some adventure, some cool
ideas, "Serenity" does offer the chance to watch Whedon rip off any
number of sci-fi classics of the recent or distant past; between
Mal's Han Solo-like costume and the assassin's efforts to play like
a guy out of the Christian Bale/Taye Diggs actioner "Equilibrium", I
actually liked the fact that Whedon doesn't try to paint a picture
that hasn't already been completed in recent films.
Like "Buckaroo Banzai"--the film "Serenity"
reminds me of the most--Whedon's flick depends wholly on your
connection to these characters and what you get out of the humor
being tossed out by their constant one-liners. The action is
so-so, the special effects are mostly bad, a space battle near the
end of the film seems to set these types of scenes back ten years,
and the subplotting is minimal due to what seems to be an assumption
by Whedon that you have heard of/watched some of his previous series
"Firefly", and therefore already know about the story with The Love
Interest or are familiar with Mal's hatred of The War, which has
taken place when the film events begin. No, for the common
man, it comes down to the team aboard the Serenity...and, I thought
the chemistry was just okay. I certainly thought that Mal was
a ham, and therefore great...after that, the characters just felt
like ideas, but this would certainly have been helped by viewing the
original series. Also, as mercenaries that are suddenly asked
to be heroes, only Mal seems to accept this right away, leaving me
cold to the varying interests of the others onboard (as they were
left to taking orders, as opposed to feeling any passion around
their new mission, i.e. Saving the Universe).
Overall, "Serenity" isn't bad and certainly
is entertaining to see in an audience where there are other Whedon
nerds there to whoop it up whenever something happens in the film
that reminds them of how cool "Firefly" was. Otherwise, this
is probably worth skipping.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard