Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Serenity (2005)

SerenityThis is one incredible movie. No, you don't have to be familiar with the series to enjoy it, but the familiarity will make several moments in the movie that much more tragic. The action here is incredible, and unlike several of the Star Trek movies, the characters don't deviate from their series personnas. The emotional impact of several scenes is so intense it was hard to stay seated (a crash landing sequence can almost give you motion sickness). This brings a satisfying end to the storyline the original series had started. It's a shame the show never got to tell this story in its entirety. You can see where some parts of the movie are rushed in a way. Something that could have been stretched over weeks in a series had to be handled in minutes, and that robs it a little. But you have to applaud Whedon for being able to tie up all the loose ends he started with just two hours. Shame on the network for cancelling this, but congratulations to Whedon for giving the fans--both old and new--the ending the show deserved. Heroes will shine, and some will fall, but Serenity will live on.

Now bring the show back!

It wasn't suppose to happen like this...

Back in the summer of 2001, Fox announced that "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" mastermind Joss Whedon would be creating a new television show that was a cross between Science Fiction and the Western Genres... For months Fox spent millions of dollars promoting the one "sure fire series of the season" but then the problems started... the pilot was too slow, Executive Heads Clashed, and Baseball season all got mixed into the mixing pot... and in the end fans where left with an out of order, mixed up, tale of identitify (which is ironic if you think about it).

But the fans of Joss Whedon and of the character he creates would not let this be the end of the "firefly" universe, and after much fanfare, petitions, and literal Bitching; Universal Pictures did something rather uprecidented: they green lite a "big-screen' movie which Joss Whedon describes as "a thank you to the fans."

And that is exactly what the film version of "Serenity" is. On the exterior it is a fast-past, character driven, science fiction blast for everyone to enjoy, and the people that did see it did enjoy it alot. It has survived over a month on IMDB's Top 250 Movies of All Tilme List, and has recieved glowing reviews from THE NEW YORK TIMES, EBERT & ROBERT, THE SAN FRANSISCO CHRONICLE, and more... I distinctly remember a quote from the New york Times saying "George Lucas eat your heart out."

But on the interior the movie was about the salvation of people, and it was a political commentary on big brotherism, and how if things in our society today keep going down the same road are future generations won't be much different from mal and zoe.

If your a fan of science-fiction or just good storytelling this is a movie for you.

Buy Serenity (2005) Now

A wonderous vision of the future started in the all too short run of the TV series Firefly continues in the big screen version of it, Serenity. The TV show and movie is about the crew of a star ship that is as much unlike the USS Enterprise as it can get. It's a ranshackle freighter skippered by Mal Reynolds, a man part Han Solo, part Jesse James. He was on the losing side of an intersteller civil war against the Alliance, a buraucratic, oppressive government that seems to consists of people who believe quite fervently they know better than other people how they should live their lives. Captain Reynolds and his motley crew, including his former second in command from the war, her husband the pilot, an engineer who is as cute as she is sharp with the hyper drive, a muscle bound mercenary in a constant state of mutiny, a preacher, a courtesan, and a doctor and his troubled (to say the least!) sister eck out a thin living doing odd jobs out on the frontier, some of them not exactly legal. They bicker and at times almost come to blows. Especialy due to the fact that the doctor's sister is wanted by the Alliance government for having been "enhanced" and damaged by a top secret government labortory.

Oddly enough, this crew might well save the human race among the stars. The story is a paean about how the unlikeliest people can become heroes and how the right of individuals to live free if an absolute. I hope there will be many more films in this "verse."

Read Best Reviews of Serenity (2005) Here

If you're already aquainted with the greatness of Joss Whedon's cult television series "Firefly" then this is a no-brainer. "Serenity" is the best science fiction film since "The Matrix" and for true fans of the series, it is a literal dream come true. Essentially, this film is not so much a stand-alone popcorn affair so much as it is the greatest series finale in history. It's emotional, funny, action-packed, full of quirky characters both familiar and new, and just plain cool to boot. There is also a deep philosophical argument explored as the costs of personal freedom and government control are contrasted in a brilliant manner. Would you choose to live the life of a criminal if it was the only way you could be free? Does a government have the right to take any step necesssary to keep it's citizens under control and happy?

"Half of writing history is covering up the truth" is just one of the memorable observations made by our heroes over the course of this journey. The plot centers around insane genius River and her older brother, Simon, who rescued her from a mysterious government facility where she was being experimented on. Part of the genius of the series (and this film) are the insane rantings of River, which begin to make sense if you pay attention. "Old men, covered in blood. It never touched them but they're drowning in it" may seem nonsensical to some, but it is a rather poetic yet eerily accurate representation of both the government officials in her universe, and in ours. The events taking place in this future are vaguely familair as plot devices, but what makes them brilliant is the way they relate to what's happening in our society. Anyhow, back to the plot: River and Simon joined the crew of Serenity, the ship captained by Malcolm Reynolds, a true hero who isn't afraid to break the rules if it means doing the right thing. Serenity's crew includes an endearing assortment of contrasting characters that all get their moments to shine in the film: Jayne the hardcore mercenary, Kailee the loveable mechanic, Mal's old war buddy Zoe, and her pilot/comedian husband Wash are all well represented. Having left Serenity since the original series, Book the minister and Inara -Malcolm's love interest who happens to be a well-respected prostitute (not to mention unbelievably gorgeous)turn up along the way as well.

The style of the universe that our heroes inhabit is still a mix of all of the cultures of "Earth-that-was", primarily american and asian, with cursing in chinese being an amusing device for letting characters express their disapproval realistically and emphatically without getting an "R" rating in the process. If you've never seen "Firefly", do not hesitate; go buy it this very moment and see what you've been missing out on, then I can guarantee that this film will blow you away.

If you are just looking for a spectacle like "Star Wars", legendary action sequences like "The Matrix", or just some light sci-fi fare, you will be disappointed. This movie is both epic and personal, hilarious and heart-breaking, deeply thoughtful yet fun. It represents the fulfillment of a promise from it's creator and is a miracle unto itself that came about simply because the fans refused to let his brilliant creation die just because of a bad decision by a biased television executive. The story behind the film is almost as uplifting as the film itself and serves to justify those of us who support the things we love, even years after they've "died".

Not fitting into any particular established pop culture mold -not unlike the characters themselves-, "Firefly" and "Serenity" may have flown in under the public's radar, but for those of us who know what great entertainment is capable of, this is the stuff we live for seeing and we're happy to keep it our little secret.

Want Serenity (2005) Discount?

I'll admit it right up front: I'm a Firefly/Serenity geek. I've seen the movie nine times in the theater (by far the most for me, any film, any genre). I've never developed such a deep connection with any other entertainment franchise with the possible exceptions of "The Lord Of the Rings" -the books, mainly, though the movies were great too -the "Narnia" series, and "Watership Down".

So what is it about this fictional world that draws me in so? Has senility kicked in and I'm experiencing my second childhood? Maybe, but I think I still have a bit of critical judgement left.

I think the real reason is that this is science fiction done right. It's not about bumpy-headed alien monsters or supernatural forces. It's about people, ordinary people like you and me who find themselves caught up in events outside their control. It's about holding things together when every force in the 'verse is trying to rip them apart.

Technically, this film is beautiful, with just enough SFX to tell the story without having the effects become the story. The one really heavy CGI sequence is a head-spinning thrill ride, but it's not what the movie is about.

"Serenity" is far more fast-paced than the Firefly series was, and that's a mixed blessing. The serial television format allows for more deliberate pacing and character development, which is compressed in the movie. One side effect is that "Serenity" holds up well to multiple viewings, as you catch the nuances that might have flown past too quickly on the first pass. On the upside, the fast pacing means this film is action packed. There are more twists and turns in its first nine minutes than most movies give you in their entire running length.

Even so, "Serenity" takes enough time to show you the lighter side of these characters. There are a lot of laughs here, including a few really big ones. Some of them come just when the tension seems to be nearly unbearable. That's a sign of gifted writing.

Though it's never rubbed in your face, the movie also carries a timely political message, demonstrating how evil may result from the best of intentions.

It's no surprise that Firefly has more female fans than many other SF tales. If I may be permitted a gross generalization, women tend to be more empathetic and relationship oriented than men. "Serenity" has what women, and men who are in touch with that attribute, are looking for: people you care about, trying to hang on to their humanity at the raggedy edge.

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