by Philip Ellwood, Tuesday 18th October 2005
The last thing you expect when a little-known sci-fi series gets cancelled is the release of a feature length theatrical movie. That is of course unless said TV series is by sci-fi legend-in-the-making Joss Whedon - he of ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer‘ and ‘Angel‘ fame. Back in 2002 Whedon launched the TV series ‘Firefly‘, a show he described as cowboys in space. Despite critical praise and a cult following the network dropped the show after only 14 episodes. Disappointed fans tried in vain to save the show but the network refused to go back on their decision. Three years later the fans have got what they wanted with the release of ‘Serenity‘.
‘Serenity‘ keeps the original cast of the show and transfers to the big-screen surrounded by hype and rave reviews. The film focuses on a team of outlaws, led by the charismatic Mal (Nathan Fillion), who rescue a telepathic young girl and her brother who are on the run from a Government assassin - The Operative. What ensues is a fast-paced, witty, emotional and intelligent sci-fi masterpiece that puts a certain George Lucas‘s efforts to shame.
The strength of ‘Serenity‘ lies in the writing and direction. For a first-time movie director Whedon does a fantastic job. (He also wrote the screenplay for the movie). With ‘Serenity‘ he creates a movie that will appeal to genre fans aswell as the hardcore ‘Firefly‘ fans. The screenplay is full of witty exchanges and banter and prevents the film from being dragged into turgid sentimentality - one of the reasons why George Lucas‘s ‘Episode III‘ failed. There isn‘t a single dull moment and when the movie ends the audience is left desperate for more, despite the 2-hour running time.
Another strength of the movie is the casting. Whilst the faces of the cast will be familiar to sci-fi fans (Whedon has used many of the actors here in both ‘Buffy‘ & ‘Angel‘) they will be relative unknowns to the rest of the world. This prevents the distraction often caused by casting a big name in the lead role. Nathan Fillion is reminiscent of a young Harrison Ford in his ‘Indiana Jones‘ days and has equal charisma. His ability to change expression and mood creates a rather contradictory and complex leader in Mal. Chiwetel Ejiofor is only major addition to the cast of the original show as the evil Operative. His performance is solid and creates a surefire sci-fi baddie to remember.
‘Serenity‘ is fantastic. It‘s the best sci-fi movie that I‘ve seen in years and already I want the DVD. Fingers crossed that after the movie‘s performance on both sides of the Atlantic the TV network might reconsider and bring the show back. Don‘t be put off if you haven‘t seen the TV series because it really doesn‘t matter. ‘Serenity‘ is easily one of the best films I‘ve seen so far this year.
Certificate - 15
Director - Joss Whedon
Distributor - UIP
UK Release Date - Friday October 14th 2005
Celebrities Worldwide Rating - 10 out of 10