Serenity is the closure Firefly fans deserved. When it comes to shows that were cancelled too soon, Firefly is often #1. Despite strong critical reception, Fox stupidly ended the show 11 episodes into a 14 episode season. Firefly gained a devoted fanbase of “Browncoats” who managed to do the impossible. Giving a short lived TV series a second chance as a high production movie. Since I’m a big fan of Joss Whedon, watching Firefly was easy. The space western aesthetic was wholly unique, the action was high stakes, and the banter was laugh out loud hilarious. Everything you want in a Joss Whedon production. Since most of his work was on TV, Serenity was surprisingly Whedon’s feature directorial debut. Serenity has the “shiny” cinematic scale, but it’s just low budget enough to honor the show. The Firefly-class ship is fully explored in an impressive single take. Like the series, the losing Independants resist the unifying Alliance. A central government that united America with China.
The Serenity crew continue to smuggle, firefight, battle Reavers, and aim to misbehave. I’ve always liked that the verse isn’t made up of aliens, robots, or anything else super science fiction. Most of it is fairly realistic. The entire cast returns just as charming as they were 3 years ago. Nathan Fillion as rough-and-tumble Captain Mal Reynolds, Gina Torres as second-in-command warrior woman Zoe, Alan Tudyk as her lighthearted pilot husband Wash, Morena Baccarin as nurturing Companion Inara, Adam Baldwin as untrusting mercenary Jayne, Jewel Staite as adorkable mechanic Kaylee, Sean Maher as unwitting doctor Simon Tam, Summer Glau as his mentally disturbed sister River, and Ron Glass as Christian voice of reason Shepard Book. Inara and Shepard are the only characters not initially on the ship for understandable reasons.
The best thing about the movie is that it answers almost every question we would’ve had, had the show continued. What did the Alliance really do to River?, How did the Reavers come to be?, Will Simon & Kaylee ever hook up? The movie adds David Krumholtz as a hacker ally named Mr. Universe and Chiwetel Ejiofor as the ruthless Operative who seeks to rid the world of sin. Whedon’s usual religious commentary is always a little uncomfortable, but at least the movie retains his trademark quips. Along with his annoying tendency to kill off beloved characters. The first death is expected, but the second death is such a “gorram” slap in the face that it nearly ruined the movie for me (Qiáo sī·wéi dēng zhēnshi gè húndàn!). Fortunately the film won me over with River fighting like a total badass. Though it never should’ve been cancelled, Serenity does a more than serviceable job of keeping the show alive.