Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Serenity: Epitaph to the Firefly Series (2005)

Director: Joss Whedon
Starring: The Ole Firefly Cast

"Half of writing history is hiding the truth."
-Malcolm Reynolds

I love Firefly. And when I heard there was this movie about it also available for viewing, you can bet I was excited. I didn't get my hands on it until recently, but it was worth it - but also so different from what I expected.

Yes, Mal and his crew are all back for one more roaring ride through space in an adventure that will close the series for good. I really wish they had gone further and created more movies about these characters, as they really are priceless, but it could not come to pass, and will not, with both the events in the film and the external limits like money holding it back. A tragic case...let us glorify this last voyage, though.

The plot is that apparently when the government was operating on River Tam's brain, they let in a host of high class officials to examine her, and what was in their minds was transmitted to hers, being that she is a psychic. Now, a bounty hunter is out to kill her before the information in her brain can get out. But since she's with the Serenity crew...it will prove harder than he thought.

All the trademarks of the series are here. There is no one reason why this is good; it just is. The characters are wonderfully written and acted, the action is top notch, the storylines are gripping and draw the viewer in, and the scenery is just wonderful, imaginative and creative as hell. These are very basic facets of creating a quality story that Serenity and Firefly both exhibited in spades. You really care about these characters, and if you've seen the whole series before this, which you should have, then it's like you've been traveling with them a long time. It was good to see them all again when this started up, after a month and a half of no Firefly related material. All the action is kick ass, the chases exciting and the dialogue as sharp-ended as ever. It's like mana from heaven for a seasoned Firefly fan hungering for more.

Some of the best moments include Mal's ending fight with the bounty hunter in the control room - looks like something out of Star Wars. But somehow it being a fist-fight makes it that much more gripping and vital than anything that series ever put out. Also, I just love the scenery here. Look at the scene when all of the armies are coming together in front of that planet - gorgeous, just pure beauty. And Mr. Universe was a fun guy while he was on screen.

But things take a darker turn - perhaps darker than expected. Without a warning, at around the halfway point, we see some of our favorite characters beginning to get killed off in shockingly quick, startling deaths. What happened? My reaction was one of dull-edged shock. It was hard to watch, but at the same time, I knew it was inevitable. I won't spoil who dies here, though. That's one thing I can't do.

It is a bold move from Joss Whedon, but understandable all the same. He isn't pandering here to an audience of impressionable teenagers who don't understand Firefly beyond the hot characters and the flashy battle scenes; he's making as much of an artistic statement here as can be made with the series. This is, as much as I hate to say it, the end of the series for good, with no chance of coming back. It makes sense that some of the characters die. That's what would happen - do you think they'd really all survive these intense battles and come out alive every time? This is a series all grown up and packing to leave. And we can only watch in silence, jaws on the floor.

Oh, sure. In their world, they will continue on. They will find new members of their crew, and they will have more adventures in space, burning through the fields of stars and through plains of sand on planets unknown, but with that funeral at the end of this movie, it's clear: the best days of their lives have come and gone. It will never again be the same without the entirety of their crew from the old days, and sometimes, that's the way it has to be, as sad as it is. RIP.