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September 28, 2005
Frank Movie Reviews: Serenity
Posted by Frank J. at 10:03 AM | View blog reactions | Comments (19)

"I am a leaf on the wind."

Holy.

That movie was so intense it was like a punch to the guy afterwards. It was definitely not just a two hour long episode of Firefly. It had a lot of the humor fans of the series love (especially all the times the main character, Captain Malcolm Reynolds - no relation to the puppy blender - starts to get dramatic and then deflates the scene with a humorous line), but the humor was just short breathers from the plot of the movie which had the crew of Serenity looking about as hopeless as possible. It's their one ship with no guns versus the entire Alliance government with its battleships and unlimited resources.

For the uninitiated, mankind has spread out from Earth to terraform other planets. Some, the central planets, became huge advanced civilizations. Others remained backwater planets. Eventually the Alliance was formed to unite all the planets - whether they wanted it or not - which led to war, the scrappy rebels known as the "Browncoats" fighting for independence from the Alliance.

And they lost.

Captain Reynolds (known as "Mal" to most of the crew) was on the losing side of that war – which, at the beginning of the movie, had been over for a number of years - and captains a ship where they take any job they can, legal or illegal, to keep on going and being free, something that has become harder as the Alliance continues to grow.

Furthering Mal's problem, a while back (that would be the pilot of the T.V. series - which, incidentally, FOX didn't air first) he picked up two stragglers: a doctor used to only living on civilized planets and his sister, River, who a brilliant schizophrenic who apparently was some Alliance government experiment. At the beginning of the movie, the Alliance becomes determined to do anything to get her for reasons that eventually become quite clear.

The cast, as I knew coming into this, was phenomenal. Of course, it's too large for all to get equal time, and most of the focus of the movie was with the Captain himself. The bad guy, The Operative, while not quite as menacing personally as the trailers mad him seem, made for a very effective villain, evil enough to push the main characters into danger that would otherwise be unbelievable for them to take up (by the end, everyone has a chip on his or her shoulder).

The special effects were very special, and at times it almost seemed to be aiming to look like a summer blockbuster. In the end, though, it stayed true to being a very character driven action/drama/sci-fi movie. It even had a central theme - beliefs - which sounds kinda cheesy but plays out well. Honestly, I can't remember a better movie going experience in a long time (SarahK kept suddenly blurting out, "That was so good!" about fifty times on our way back from Orlando - a long with quoting many of the memorable lines), and, since The Operative knew martial arts and carried a sword, I'll declare him a ninja (a prerequisite for the coveted five star rating).

So, yes, I give this movie five out of five stars and order everyone to see it this weekend. SarahK and I will see it again Friday at our local theatre, where, hopefully, it will be shown on the digital projector (cigarette burns are so distracting to me ever since I've seen the movie Fight Club). Monday, there will be a spoiler discussion and vote for best line from the move (so many to choose from!).

Oh, and I'll give one minor spoiler (and there is more than you'd think to spoil): the theme song from Firefly only appears as a guitar solo at the end of the credits.

For the view of someone who had never seen the series, here's Glenn Reynolds’ thoughts (and, apparently, he's now a convert - I've converted four people to Firefly fans, myself) and links to more blogger reviews.

Also, I met three other bloggers at the screening. One couple, Rachel and Jim, and a guy named Duane. They'll probably have reviews up soon, but, in the meantime, make sure to check them out since none of them seem to have heard of SarahK or me, so it'll be funny to hit them with a big traffic surge.

One last thing, there was only one preview for this screening - the trailer for Doom. As long time FPS player, the FPS sequences of the trailer made me giddy (and got a big reaction from the crowd). I want to fight demons with a chainsaw!

Rating: 2.2/5 (15 votes cast)

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