Recently I posted about the short-lived Fox series Firefly and its
upcoming related film Serenity. This past weekend, A & I saw Serenity at the theater. Overall? 3/5 stars if you’re unfamiliar with the series. 4/5 stars if you are. As I mentioned re: Firefly, it’s a pretty refreshing take on the sci-fi genre and worth watching if for no other reason than the novelty of a good Western/Space Opera mash-up. But I also happen to strongly favor the premise and think that there was a lot of unrealized potential there. (Cancelled after 11 episodes? That’s barely a warm up!) They fit the story nicely into the two-hour block and it works OK on its own but definitely lacks and/or takes you by surprise if you don’t know the setting and characters too well.
Mal and crew are back. We pick up in Serenity where we left off in Firefly, though the arc of the entry into the story could give you half a suspicious start if you are familiar. But it works because if you don’t already know, if gives you some limited context. There’s some missing pieces though — some of the final episode of the series isn’t tied up. And we arc quickly into this new-ish scenario where Mal isn’t so suspicious of River that he’ll bring her along on a job. Something happened in the month or so of unscreened time. Inara is noticeably absent at first (though we can also assume that that took place in our missing month-or-so) and Book is gone (though it feels right for him to have peaced out).
The good? Characters are nice and consistently portrayed. No “amp this up” or “tone this down” re: the switch from the small to big screen. The story makes sense and shares the suspenseful hooks that made the series good. We get a decent villain out of the Alliance (for a change) and we also get lots of Reavers. (NOTE: the idea of the Reavers always freaked me out a little but they were downright CHILLING in the film.)
The not-so-good? Inara’s entry totally lacks context — and with the way it’s written, you wouldn’t get her connection to the crew unless you knew the back-story. (Didn’t Stephenson write some stuff about that sort of thing re: Star Wars?) Mr. Universe is OK but comes out of freakin’ nowhere. Too much deep space action — the series got its flair from the cowboy overtones — which felt more like an undercurrent here.