no we are all going to die' kind"
After running low profile, small jobs in the region of the
outer planets Capt. Mal Reynolds (Fillion) and the crew of the Firefly class
spaceship Serenity have managed to keep themselves off the radar of the
Alliance. The main reason for avoiding any Federal presence is two of their
passengers, Simon (Maher) and his sister River (Glau). After breaking River
out of a Federal research facility, Simon instantly made his sister and
himself their most wanted fugitives and Parliament has sent its most dangerous
operative (Ejiofor) to track her down which puts the whole of the Serenity
crew in great peril.
In their infinite wisdom Fox TV cancelled Joss Whedon's 'Firefly'
after only fifteen episodes in 2002 but now the so-called failure is heading
to the big screen.
Gaining huge successes with the TV series 'Buffy the Vampire
Slayer' and spin off show 'Angel' but the failure of 'Firefly' is the only
blotch on Joss Whedon's televisual résumé. Despite critical acclaim and
positive reaction from fans, the low audience figure for the shows first
run lead to Fox wielding the axe. Three years later the crew of the 'Serenity'
After becoming a cult classic on DVD and syndicated television,
building a huge following of fans, Universal decided to give Joss Whedon
the chance to say thank you to them and introduce everyone else to his vision
of the future. The good news is that Whedon and his team have made this
so that you haven't had to have seen the series to follow what is going
on but for those of you who have, the film is an absolute joy.
Set five hundred years in the future, 'Serenity' continues
the story of Capt. Mal Reynolds and his rag, tag set of smugglers and thieves
who scrape a living on the outer rim taking the jobs that no one else would
touch. This is a future that isn't all shiny technology, federations, aliens
and lasers but one more similar to the Old West than anything that we usually
see in science fiction. With spaceships replacing wagon trains, the universe
of 'Serenity' fells more realistic in as they really do travel on the frontier.
All of your favourite characters return for the big screen
outing. Nathan Fillion is Mal Reynolds, the ex-independence soldier turned
freighter captain. He is the strong rouge, partial to taking risks but fiercely
protective of his crew and friends, like a certain other famous galactic
smuggler. Gina Torres is his first officer Zoe, who served under him during
the war between the Independence and the Alliance. Still a soldier to the
end, Zoe only steps out of her military persona when she is with her husband
Walsh, Serenity's extremely gifted pilot played by the excellent Alan Tudyk.
The muscle of the crew is Jayne, played by Adam Baldwin. Always hungry for
a fight, Jayne has his favourite gun ready at all time for the riskier jobs
the crew take on. Kaylee is the heartbeat of the ship. Played by Jewel Staite,
she is Serenity's engineer and the only one who can keep the ship going.
Companion Inara, played by the stunningly beautiful and talented Morena
Baccarin, brings some class and dignity to the ship but Mal and she never
really see eye to eye. Simon and River, portrayed by Sean Maher and Summer
Glau, are passengers along for the ride. Ex-Alliance doctor Simon brings
his expertise to the ship but his sister River is a whole different story.
Add to this a short but welcome appearance from Ron Glass as Shepherd Book
and a menacing performance and a menacing villainous performance from British
actor Chiwetel Ejiofor and you have a fantastic ensemble cast.
'Serenity' succeeds on every level as a quality piece of
science fiction. With an excellent story, engaging characters and visuals
that can compete with any film in the genre with a far greater budget, this
is not just a joy for 'Firefly' fans but a great movie on its own. While
the film is action packed, it is Joss Whedon intelligent script and characterisations
that draw you in from the off. Switching from moments of comedy to tragic
drama, this shows that Whedon has a real gift for storytelling that is currently
lacking in Hollywood today. 'Serenity' is not just a gift to 'Firefly' fans
but an exceptional science fiction movie.
PICTURE & SOUND
Presented in Widescreen 2.35:1 Anamorphic with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack,
the transfer is extremely good. Jess Whedon's vision of the future looks
awesome, showing that you don't have to have a mega-budget for a science-fiction
film to look good.
Feature Commentary with Writer/Director Joss Whedon
This special feature was missing from the review disc but will be updated
Deleted & Extended Scenes (14.37 mins)
Entitled 'Extended Lilac entrance', 'Extended Kaylee and Jayne', 'Inara
& Sheydra', 'Operative tracks Mal', 'Extended River & Simon/Haven opening',
'Escape from companion training house', 'Mal & Inara shuttle chase', 'Mal
& Inara quiet moment' and 'Extended Mal & Operative coda', these extended
and deleted scenes could have been improved by the inclusion of an introduction
or commentary track.
Outtakes (6.02 mins)
A collection of gaffs and mishaps from the cast in this funny montage
for 'Firefly/Serenity' fans
Future History: The Story of Earth that was (4.30 mins)
Writer/director Joss Whedon talks about the future he envisaged for 'Firefly'
and then later 'Serenity'. He reveals the influences behind the look,
the combination of Chinese and US cultures, the civil war setting and
the utopian vision/nightmare of the Alliance.
What's in a Firefly (6.30 mins)
Writer/director Joss Whedon, executive producers Christopher Buchanam
and Alisa Tager, producer Barry Mandel and visual effects supervisor Loni
Peristere talk about bringing some believability to science fiction. They
talk about the Mule/Skiff chase and the other SFX shots in the film, highlighting
how even a lower budge movie can push the bar when it comes to visual
Re-lighting the Firefly (9.39 mins)
Writer/director Joss Whedon, executive producer Christopher Buchanam and
stars Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, Adam Baldwin,
Jewel Staite, Sean Maher, Summer Glau and Ron Glass talk about the cancellation
of the 'Firefly' TV series and its return to the silver screen. The featurette
looks at how the fans contributed to its comeback and the reception the
cast and crew received at the San Diego Comicon as production started
on the film.
Joss Whedon Introduction (3.52 mins)
The writer/director introduces a preview of the movie (before the film
was actually released) and gives a rallying cry to the fans to support
the movie and he gives a personal thanks for their help in bringing it
A filmmakers' journey (19.54 mins) (Region 2 only) Writer/director Joss
Whedon, executive producers Christopher Buchanan and Alisa Tager, stunt
coordinators Chad Stanleski and Hiro Koda, editor Lisa Lassek and stars
Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, Adam Baldwin,
Jewel Staite, Sean Maher, Summer Glau and Ron Glass take you behind the
scenes of 'Serenity'. From the first cast read-through, to filming and
postproduction, showing the friendships and fun of the set as the cast
return to their TV roles. The featurette includes interviews with the
cast and behind the scenes looks at fighting sequences. This is a really
good featurette for UK fans.
Region 1: North America
Universal has done a decent job with the DVD transfer of 'Serenity' but
for a cult science fiction film you might have been expecting more. The
featurettes are good however, covering most aspects of the movie but fans
of the film and 'Firefly' might have been expecting more detail and a
little more fun. This is still a good DVD that all fans should buy however,
especially if they want to see a sequel or a new TV series.
Region 2: UK
Universal has done a better job with the UK version of the 'Serenity',
other fans of the film a bonus twenty-minute featurette that takes them
through the film's production in a lot more detail. This should make fans
of the TV series and the film very happy making this even better than
the North American version, for once.
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