Serenity (2005) – Film Review

Serenity Movie PosterSerenity

Starring Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Summer Glau, Alan Tudyk

Written and directed by Joss Whedon

IMDB Rating: 8.0

The movie follow-up to TV series Firefly, and one of Joss Whedon’s first successes, Serenity is one of the best sci-fi adventures out there. However, I get the feeling you have to see Firefly to fully appreciate this.

The follow-up to the hit sci-fi series, the film follows the rebel crew of ship Serenity. Young girl River (Glau) has been moulded into a telepathic weapon by the Alliance, a totalitarian government in control of the centre of the galaxy. Her brother (Sean Maher) breaks her out of Alliance HQ and they hide on Serenity. They are all chased down by an unknown assassin (Ejiofor) working for the government, and also by the wild cannibals that live on the outskirts of the galaxy.

Firefly TV series poster

Serenity follows on from hit TV series Firefly, with the same cast and writer/director.

While the story was fairly easy to understand for a newbie, I do get the impression that it would make much more sense if I watched the TV series. Whedon does a good job of explaining the world (albeit not very subtly) and the characters, but again you get the impression that there’s a big back story that is being ignored in the film. The love interests on board Serenity also make little sense and seem overly cheesy, but there is probably more to that again in Firefly. Overall, you get the impression that Whedon expects you to have seen at least some of the TV series before watching this. Whedon does also bring comedy to what could have been an all-action, serious film, but does it in such a way that it doesn’t dampen any of the actual content – a special trait that you can also see in his more recent Avengers films.

The acting in this film is solid, but not great. Some scenes feel a little over-acted, usually by the minority crew members of Serenity, but the main characters are all on point. Nathan Fillion delivers a solid performance in film, and so does Summer Glau as the unstable bounty, but neither was truly captivating. Praise has to go to Alan Tudyk, who brings a good level of wit and control to his performance and was the best person to watch in the film for me.

It is also solid directing by Joss Whedon in Serenity. He knows what he’s doing with the camara and there’s no bad directing in this film (that I remember). That being said, there’s not really anything original or special about the directing in this film – it’s verging on safe.

This is a solid film that would have pleased the geek masses, but there’s nothing here that you’ll see and think ‘wow, I’ve never seen that’. It’s okay, but as a stand alone film there’s plenty out there that will feel more original than this. I’m convinced you’ll enjoy this more if you watch the TV series beforehand, but if you don’t then this is an okay movie if space exploration movies are your thing. I can’t say that watching this has made me want to see Firefly, but then again I’m really not much of a TV person (my TV history consists of getting to episode 3 of Breaking Bad).

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